Sunday, December 31, 2006

I'm sorry, but 2007? COME ON!!

Happy seventh day of Christmas! I hope there are no swans in sight, unless of course you wanted them, but even then I hope you got fewer than seven because those are some large, mean birds and that had better be a large habitat you've got for them or the feathers will be flying in short order.

[You're confused. Think back to the carol about the days of Christmas. Yup, the long repetitive one. Start at the beginning NOT backward from twelve cause them you'll get lost somewhere around day nine or ten and your mind will wander among leaping lords and milkmaids for hours. You know what, just google it. There it is, and the joke wasn't even worth it. I don't know why you keep reading either. What can I say? We autocratic rulers like to remain inscrutable and at least vaguely aggravating.]

ANYHOW, we made it to Indy and are whiling away the hour until it's time to leave for the game - Colts v. Dolphins. Yesterday we went to see Jefe's musical which was delightful. This evening after the game, we'll be headed back to the casa for the New Year festivities and something called "Banana Split Martinis," I believe. Also champagne. Mmmm. I'm so glad I'm feeling better so I can enjoy it all. Everything but the cough is gone, so I'm pleased with my recovery.

I'm less than pleased with the fact that it's almost 2007. I can't fathom the pace of this (nearly) past year. I don't have any resolutions lined up just yet, aside from the usual ones of drinking more water and cleaning the house just the teensiest bit more frequently. Still, it's hard for me to avoid the powerful symbolism of the clean slate, so what the hey, let's hope 2007 is the year of . . . um, great hair. No, the year of . . . mad money and relentless happiness!

May your 2007 be equally as fabulous! ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Holidays and Happy Christmas, Peasants!

It's been a mad, mad season here in blustery Michigan, but I think we can declare Christmas a rousing success. We've been hanging out with old friends, seeing family constantly, and gorging ourselves on the obligatory fat of the land. Or just delicious cookies as the mood strikes us.

I got some good swag, so yay for me! My brother had me name on the Christmas gift exchange this year, and he hooked me up with some rather awesome shoes and a cute sweater. The gifts for the other bro (whom I had) were well received, mainly because of the presence of all three seasons of Arrested Development on DVD. (Bless you, Amazon, bless you for saving my Christmas-shopping bacon.) I have yet to hear how well or - potential horror of horrors - ill-received my homemade gifts might be from the sisters-in-law, but they can be forgiven for stringing me along since they're currently in Florida, and they have no power. Yes, folks, the in-laws traveled to snow-stormless Florida only to lose power. It'll be an old-fashioned Christmas for them if the electric company doesn't get on that.

Other than that, it's been calm. I'll write more (and post shocked present-opening pictures) when I get the chance. Since I earlier mentioned this would be Royal Gloating Week, I'll post pictures of the presents I managed to craft all by myself. Tomorrow my uncle's taking us on another drive through Detroit, so I have another excuse to promise you pictures and then not deliver like last time. Sweeeeet.

Happy Holidays, loyal subjects. Now go find yourself something more interesting to do. Eat some food. Hug a nearby family member, maybe a beloved pet. No, seriously stop reading.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Night and Day: Codeine's the One!

Oh, I love me some cough syrup with codeine, let me just say. Seriously, I slept like a wee babe. Then last night, I was trying to have a serious conversation with Hubster and my daytime cough syrup wore off and I said, WHATEVER, I'M TAKING THE GOOD STUFF, and it just made me beatifically calm. Sure, driving was out what with my reaction times being several orders of magnitude slow, but my brain was just serene. Fortunately, I'd done most of the thinking prep for the conversation earlier, but I still did much better than I thought I would when the doctor's mentioned the "drowsiness" side effect. Plus, no gut-wrenching coughing. Once again, LOVES IT!

So it's been quiet around here as a result of all the invalidity. I went out Sunday afternoon when I was feeling momentarily better, and I had some great conversation with Mr. T and Southwest (who are engaged! weee!). That was big fun, even if I was terrified of getting them sick (which I didn't! weee!). Afterward, I was also strategically close to a Barnes & Noble, so I used my birthday gift certificate to get this book: Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian. I finished it last night. If you know me, you know I love me some history, some culture, some mystery, and this book incorporates them all. The narrative style wasn't really flashy, but the sequencing was, yet it stayed fairly easy to follow. The various locations in Eastern Europe were interesting and some unknown to me before. The characterization was good to even great at times - lots of the minor characters were just as charming as all get out - loved them. It was certainly gripping, and I managed to read huge chunks of the book at a time. I didn't realize at the store that it's theme is Dracula legends. I wasn't really sure if I'd like it since I'm not really up on my vampire myths, but the author pulled from so many different sources of inspiration and discussed vampire myths across cultures, and it was ultimately quite a tale. I was really glad to have something so engrossing while I waited out my body's recovery.

I really didn't do much beyond that and minimal house upkeep. Boooring. Until, that is, I found this voice work by the cast of Scrubs over the Charlie Brown Christmas special, and I laughed heartily. You will, too:

Amusement is fun again!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Am Sick, Kiddos.

Well, it's pneumonia. It's mild, fortunately, so there'll be no hospital stay and no cancelled holiday plans. Okay, there's a teensy chance I won't be getting better by our flight time on Saturday, but I can always go in on Friday if that's the case, and see what we can do about it. Anyway, all the drama rama was true! Ha!

It was excruciating to smile and nod and be unable to talk to people most of the time for fear that if I tried to speak I'd dissolve into coughing and fall short of breath again. Every time speech was unavoidable, my entire body tensed up as I carefully pushed air over my larynx, wincing as I spoke. Oh, and when the doctor asked me to blow out my breath forcefully while he had the stethoscope up to my lungs, I thought I was going to smack him. Um, hello, NOT HAPPENING. It was the most pathetic exhale ever. It took a couple of hours, chest x-ray and all, but I finally walked out with cough syrup with codeine in it ("Do not drive while taking this cough syrup!), an inhaler for the breathing issues, and two-week's worth of antibiotics. Weeee! We'll see how all this goes, but I thought I'd let you know I finally got the tools for recovery. God bless modern medicine!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sick Bay: Day ARG!


If I had the energy, I would find a way to ooze wrath from my pores and generate a colorful light show for your amusement. I could video-blog it.

Unfortunately, any kind of physical exertion makes me dissolve in a puddle of coughs and abdominal aches. I have a doctor's appointment for tomorrow, and I intend to use it. Not sure when I'll be up to full blogging output, but it ain't today.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sick Bay: Day 2

I'm home alone all day, so I don't get much care for this raging flu thingy. Today, I got so wrapped in finishing a book that I forgot lunch. By 5pm, it was hard to tell why I was light-headed - was it the fever or the blood sugar? Only my pancreas can tell, and it's not talking. Still, I had an okay day, and it was a wee bit better than yesterday. I wanted to be able to get back to work so that I wouldn't lose two entire days, but it was not to be. I did finish a book and relax with the kitties. Actually, I've finished two books in the last three days. Not bad for Miss Piled-High-Nightstand. Not bad.

First up, The Kite Runner. Wow. I've had several friends recommend it to me, so I bought it with some walking around money. Months ago. I knew it was a tough book, so honestly, I was afraid to get into it. I wanted to make sure I was in a good place before I read it. It was as tough as they said, but I thought it was good. The characterization, the plot, the narrative style, the writing were all above-average to great. It was a fascinating read partially because I haven't read many stories from/about Middle Eastern writers, and thus a lot of the culture was new to me. Overall, I think it was well worth picking up, but you might want to read this somewhere where you can cry. I only cried at the end a bit, which surprised me, but I think some of the other points that I could have lost it, I wanted to move on to the next plot point and find out what happens rather than let it sink in. Still, tissues, people.

Second, The Diamond Age. Meh. See, I like Neal Stephenson. I've read a bunch of his books, and this is the last of his biggies that I've finished (aside from The System of the World which I am still, STILL reading GAH). It has some similar backgrounds to Snow Crash. The political climate (especially in structure), the technological themes (rational vs intuitive cognition, suprarational/collective mind), the culture of the world is somewhat similar, or at least you can tell he was giving his Snow Crash material a different story in which to be developed. However, the characters either bored or irked me most of the time. I bet it was a solid 200 pages before I was really reading intently. That, in a 500-pager, is a long time. Heck, that's a long time PERIOD. Still, I still like his style of writing, but it's just lost the edge I enjoyed so much with other books. Now maybe that's because I've now read several of them. Would I have liked it better had I read it first? I don't know. I did discover, however, one thing that's been sitting in the back of my mind for a while - his female characters are prominent but flat. See, they are strong, often smart, fairly capable heroines. But they're ALWAYS beautiful. It's like a woman's allowed to succeed but only by the Geek Fantasy Standard. She'll be savvy, but she'll still look good in her skivvies or she's out. Annoying. You don't need much skill to write that, and he doesn't demonstrate that he's got much of an understanding of what real women (be they pretty or plain) really are and experience. Lame. Maybe the rest of The System of the World will surprise with its better treatment of Eliza, but I'm not really holding my breath. It's still decent sci-fi, but I was hoping it would be better. Single tear.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fever

I've had a fever of over 100ºF all day. I woke up at 100.3º and after calling in sick and convalescing for 10 hours, I was up to 101.6º. When your skin is tender and it hurts to move your hair follicles, you have a problem. I've since hit the Tylenol pretty hard, but I'm still only half here. I skipped blogging last night because I felt so bad, but I hoped a full night of rest might help. Not so much. Weirdly, I avoided getting sick from Hubster a couple of weeks ago, so I'm not sure were it came from. I could actually feel my throat swelling progressively throughout the choral service on Sunday night, but I made it through. I just hoped that with the Zicam and other things I was trying, it would work out better. Sometimes the bugs just getcha.

I would write more, but even this much is getting tiring. Y'all be good and wash your hands after reading this entry. Just in case.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Curse This Wretched Torso Of Mine!

Back in September I glossed over the fact that I painted the drywall of our newly-finished basement storage. Apparently my back did not agree that this was a minor event and for two weeks afterward it was sore. Everything in my low back just hurt and eventually this would cut into the breathing mechanism which, I now know through experience, is partially run by your back! WHY WAS I NOT NOTIFIED?!?!

So after two weeks, which I thought was long but acceptable for a soreness, it started feeling better. I honestly thought that'd be it for the whole ordeal, but I work a desk job and tend to do back-centric yoga exercises and well, apparently my abs felt left out and decided reinjuring the back was a jim dandy way to exact their revenge. Awesome.

A few weeks ago, I hightailed my hind quarters to the doctor who told me, "Yup, you hurt it and you should get a wee bit o' physical therapy so you don't do that again. Your only other option is to give up breathing, and you're not a candidate." She had fabulous heels on, so I knew she had my best interest at heart.

Last week I trotted off to physical therapy. The applied electric shocks to my low back (wee, feels like pop rocks on my skin!) and heat pads and then used an ultrasound machine (as a therapeutic rather than diagnostic tool) and then she gave me exercises to do twice daily to help straighten our this whole musculature problem. It's been a good experience so far, belying Bee's warnings that physical therapists are sadists who chose their profession to put people through pain for poops and giggles. I still have a few visits to do ("Twice weekly for 4-6 weeks!" says the sadist who knows my copay is $40 a visit), but it's been great so far.

The first time I arrived, however, I kept hearing my name said. I couldn't understand it, ripping myself from the (admittedly boring) magazine a few times before realizing one of their young aids shared my name. You have to understand, there aren't a whole lot of Ericas in the world, or at least in this country, so I'm not conditioned to ignore my name. Frankly, I'm not sure how you Sarahs, Kaitlyns, Karens, and Jennifers handle it.

Today, she led me back to my room and set me up with the heat pads. She couldn't resist mentioning to me that we shared a name, but she seemed delighted by it. I didn't resent her for sharing my name, but I guess over the years I've grown to feel a certain ownership over my unusual(ish) name. It may be old, but it's still true "that's my name, don't wear it out." (This sentence sponsored by The Last Time Grease Was Popular). Anyhow, she seemed happy about finding a fellow Erica, so I made the obligatory comment about "the only other Ericas I've known." I mentioned all of them being in kindergarten, and she agreed that all the ones she knew were younger. The only problem is that my statement was worded in the past tense, and the last time that was true was when I was in elementary school. When we swapped ages, I realized she could have been that Erica. For once, I felt old.

At least my back felt fantastic.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Picture Post: Because I Can Edition

I should have photoshopped the sky in place our ceiling for dramatic effect.

Friday and Saturday, Hubster and I cleaned and picked up the house. He installed the new hall lamp all by his non-electrocuted self. (It looks like a boat portal from this angle. I've always liked portals.) He also installed our coat hooks:

Sweet Fancy Moses, I DO LOVE my coat hooks.

We picked up our room and the guest room for our dinner/overnight guests last night, plus finished attaching our new nightstands, so our bedroom looks better than ever:

Mr. T and Southwest came over for dinner. We had Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup with crusty bread, Broccoli, Cheese & Rice Casserole, and mini pumpkin pies with crumble topping. DELISH! I'll share some recipes soon (especially the mini pumpkin pies as soon as I can wrest it from Southwest). After dinner we hit up a local municipal's holiday lights display. It was pretty cool, although some things were more related to the season than others. Like this, for instance, was not really related:

Shouting out to one's homeboys, however, is always in season.

We came back and watched The Polar Express, and while the visuals were stunning, the pseudo-human animation was as creepy as critics said it was when the movie came out. Fortunately, there were a lot of scenic shots to make up for it.

After the movie we hit the hay. We woke up to head our for church and had a lovely service, although Mr. T and Southwest went to see the Messiah performed at another church so I don't know how they faired - hope their sopranos didn't suck or that's service! A lazy afternoon slipped into a late departure for the evening advent choral service for me, but I made it in time to sing, and the readings were beautiful.

Now it's beddy-bye, night-night, kiddos. I think my throat might be swollen, so let's hope I don't awaken to a full-blown cold!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Go Ahead, Live-blogging, Make My Day

This morning I woke up, got ready, and (GASP) I LEFT MY HOUSE FOR WORK STUFF. I know, I was scared for me, too. Let's tackle this chronologically, shall we? It'll be like live-blogging, except taped. Like Oprah!

Background (Show Intro): Part of my duties market research, and homeschoolers are difficult little suckers to nail down. I decided to hie me to a big library, preferably collegiate. Enter McKeldin Library, University of Maryland, College Park (stage right).

12:45pm - I drove down without incident, asked for help and found the parking garage closest to the library - look at me, being adult and capable.

1:15 - Talked to a very nice librarian who showed me some things to try. I decide to find a computer terminal to start searching. DURING TERM PAPER WEEK. My timing is, as always, impeccable.

1:23 - I checked both main computer labs for free terminals. Nada.

1:28 - The second computer lab was upstairs near the Government Documents Library. I decided to talk to those librarians, while I waited for a computer to free up and hell to freeze over since the two events would appear to coincide handily.

1:30 - I met two very sweet (very nerdy) librarians. They still didn't find much for me, but they gave me lots of interesting leads and they were delightful people with whom to conduct a bootless search for long-necked waterfowl (that is geese, not homeschoolers who have the usual variation in homo sapien neck lengths).

2:27 - Wrapped up with them and managed to find a terminal. Searched for an hour.

3:34 - I hadn't yet had lunch. I found the student union on the way back to the car, stopped in and had Chick-fil-a. Handy thing, too, because I didn't manage to eat dinner. (Foreshadowing - it's not just for novels anymore!)

4:02 - At the end of my meal, I was about 3 miles away from IKEA, and I had a return to make. Fill in the blank.

4:13 - I returned two wall-mounted wine racks which weren't working for us (even though they were really cool - wah). I bought the duvet for the second bedroom and our nightstands (at last). I also bought a ceiling light for the hallway because right now, the one we have? HIDEOUS. HEINOUS even. Plus it's falling apart and it hangs down low enough that tall people hit their heads. Not exactly welcoming. Oh, OH, and it takes those faux-candle lightbulbs which I never remember to buy.

5:30 - I packed up the car and hit the dusty road home.

5:50 - Arrived home to very hungry cats. Fed cats.

5:52 - Took opportunity to unload car while they were preoccupied with food to prevent jailbreak. (Note: Cats have really been on the lookout for an open door lately. Even Tiny's been into it. Must check house for tunnels and confiscate any digging implements.)

5:57 - Headed upstairs and commenced unpacking and assembling one nightstand. Because I am an idiot, that's why.

7:09 - Left for choir ten minutes late because I got engrossed in assembly. Realize I'll need to have Hubster drill holes in one thing and help me move another anyway. Whine to no one in particular.

7:32 - Arrived at choir, which was already underway. Practice went well, especially the part where we got out early. Yay, more time for nightstands!

8:51 - Unlocked door to find Persephone RIGHT THERE, trying to sneak out. (Note: The day they learn to leap without stopping to smell the air and whatnot, well, we're totally SCREWED.)

9:00 - SCRUBS. Enjoyed a beer while I watched. Sat down and didn't budge to do a thing for the first time all day.

9:32 - The show was over. Time to assemble the second nightstand!

10:21 - Finished assembly of both nightstands. I broke out sheets and the new duvet and decided to make both beds - master and guest. My father (The King Of Putzing Away EveningsTM) would be proud.

11:45 - Done that, tidied up both rooms, put our freshly-cleaned duvet on OUR comforter, and generally putzed away too much time. Realized that I haven't yet blogged today. Headed downstairs.

12:53am - Finished reading through edits and decided to post. I wish this format made me funnier, but y'all, I'm TIRED.

Credits: Me. Whoever invented live-blogging. IKEA. UofMd. Chick-fil-a. Yuengling. And my cats, who never fail to get on top of sheets and blankets I'm attempting to arrange. Thank you, and good night.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Yesterday I remembered that we had library books due so I walked over and dropped them off. I picked up some new ones, too: Patagonia: Natural History, Prehistory, and Ethnography at the Uttermost End of the Earth and The Penguin History of Latin America. GEEK.

After returning from the library, I settled in to cut out a new shirt for myself and, as usual, it took too long. I finished cutting the curved armholes and neck facings at 12:30am. It's one of those annoying tasks that you just want to finish so that the next time you pick up the project, you can start the actual garment assembly. GEEK.

I stacked the pieces neatly by the sewing machine and crossed the hall to the bedroom to get ready for bed. I crawled into bed and couldn't resist my just-arrived guidebook Lonely Planet Argentina for a bedtime story about the history and culture of Argentina. Say it with me: GEEK.

Now I'm torn between competing obsessions: read my books or sew my shirt?

Fortunately three different family members called this evening, and I enjoyed one of my other hobbies (which they probably wish were more of an obsession): chatting up my peeps.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Overheard in the Living Room

Advertising Voiceover: blah blah, scented candles only fill part of the room with fragrance.

Hubster: Effing candles.

AV: But now you can fill the whole room with fragrance with Glade Scented Oil Candles! blah blah

Hubster: I incorrectly divined the attitude of this advertisement toward candles.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Listing Monday for a Change

With the whole "blogging on Sunday" thing, I can start with the mediocre lists one day earlier. Sweet.

1. Yesterday's sewing? Coup d'etat, friends. I created a pattern for something from scratch, from PURE GREY MATTER, and then I executed most of it and it looks AWESOME. Just a little finish work and it will be all set to rock someone's fragile, giftee world. Unfortunately, I can't share this on my blog because, well, the recipient reads my blog. Almost all the recipients of gifts read my blog at some point or another, and I can't afford a leak.

2. As a direct result, I've dubbed the week after Christmas a Royal Gloating Week where there will be pictures and excessive details about my crafty adventures. Let the countdown BEGIN!

3. Have you met my cats? They're cute! (Blow up the one of Tiny - she looks hilarious but with all the shadows and bicycle parts in the picture, it's hard to see what's going on. Little is straight-forwardly scrumptious.)

4. I'm slowly making progress on the Christmas shopping. In the past I've shopped early, but this year's been a battle. Between making some and searching high and low for my perfectionist's definition of The Gift For [Insert Name], it's been harder than usual to just take a good idea and find it efficiently. I'm looking forward to winding down the neurosis and neurotic sewing for some quiet seasonal reflection. At this rate, that'll happen around December 22nd. When I'm packing to leave the state and all gifts must be stowed.

5. I found this method holiday peppermint vanilla handwash at Target, and it's strangely delicious. I can't stop smelling my hands. They almost went too nuts on the essential oils and didn't add quite enough of the "baked goods" edge that Bath & Body Works seems to think the American people require in their scented body products. Still, it's adding intrigue to a mundane task, so not only will I take it, but I will also use it to increase the mediocrity quotient around here. Method strikes again!

Wow, suddenly it's almost midnight, and I need to post this thing. Sleep tight!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

School-Night Blogging

Remember the "school night" concept - that annoying way mom would remind you that "You need to be in bed right this second lady/mister because tomorrow is a [wait for it . . .] SCHOOL NIGHT. NOW. BED." Mmm, those were the days. Except that they're still the days because if you swap out "school" for "work" it's not as catchy, but it's an almost identical concept. Although I do get to stay up past 10pm, so BONUS for me.

Without "school" the next day, I tend to throw myself into my evening and leave out the blogging bit. Hence no Friday entries anymore. I know, it's sad and you cry about it sometimes. I'm going to change all that by adding a blog on Sunday. I usually do it in the evenings anyhoodle, and y'all check my blogs on "school" days more than Fridays, too, so everyone wins. Except maybe for you because this will probably turn out to be a phase. Tune in next week when Erica completely forgets her solemn vow!

Okay, things other than meta-blogging. Hmmm. Oh, I know, Erica's Creative Overextension. I started sewing more lately, but I've got a million little ideas and nowhere to go with them. I want to make an advent calendar because I am a sucker for a countdown. But what fabrics shall I use? How shall I get numbers on the pockets? If I were to applique them on, would I shoot myself by number 7 or would I hold out till 18? Who knows. We've got some leftover slabs of pine from the basement shelf construction, but covering it with fabric and using it for the calendar, while lovely and sturdy, seems like sending a sledge hammer to swat a mosquito. We'll see what happens. Also, I've decided to try to sew as many gifts as possible. Am I nuts? Like a filbert (sorry but that word was too cool NOT to sneak in)!

But re: time-sensitive calendar: Why did I not commence sewing advent calendars before we were in the throws of the season? Because I am flighty and cannot work ahead, duh! I've finally decided to embrace it, though, so I can't avoid trying every year that I'm just past December 1st. If I finish with three days to spare, do I still have a lovely calendar for next year? Why yes I do. If I wait till I get it right next year, I'll never actually do it. My mom and I did that with stockings for something like 8 years, so lesson learned. Ahem, hopefully.

Okay, I'm off to sew and then probably get really cozy with my seam ripper. Later!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Picture Post: Shocked It Worked Edition

Happy Holidays, Fyfers. I dolled up my wreath with bulbs on Tuesday, and only now get a chance to share the magic. I added the ribbon last year. Do I get to call myself a "Crafter" now?

The view from our window at Casa De Parental Ps. Pretty, no?

Fifth Avenue Episcopalian Church. Too lazy to Google-stalk for name. (Credit: Hubster)

Speaking of google-stalking, I looked up my uncle's college (he's a prof) and called him up about a possible Argentina trip next year. Nearly wet myself, but I pulled through. I'm buying travel books and building castle in the air, people, ARGENTINE CASTLES, BOOYAH. Maybe I'll get me some wander-satisfaction next year. (Oh, and I think I said I'd called them in my last post, but I was GOING to call them, and I can't believe I'm clarifying such an inane detail. MOVING ON!)

Lady Liberty by sunset. (Click to expand if you think I'm making this up.)

NJ view of NY skyline. Sparkly lights. (Credit: Hubster)

Hubster catches the kids in the act. (Credit: Hubster)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Word of the Day: Wanderlust

Okay, Blogger is giving me fits again, so instead of your regularly scheduled photo essay of dubious interest comes a short little essay of indubitable DISinterest on the subject of Erica needing to leave the country STAT. We apologize for the inconvenience and are dutifully looking for someone to strangle or, you know, SOLVE THE FREAKING PROBLEM with Blogger's image uploader. Thank you for your patience.

I've got a real bad case of the PDSDs (Passport Disuse Stress Disorder). I've wandered the INTERWEB looking for destinations willynilly. I've focused on one particular destination and hashed and rehashed financing schemes. I've stared at hotel websites. Yes, you read that right. I am cracking up over here. LOSIN' IT!

Bee and I were discussing this today on the phone, and it made me feel better. She, too, has been making international journeys, even alone in her teens like me, and misses them. Sure, we both came from unmoneyed middle-classers, but we managed to eke out cultural experiences that most kids our age would have avoided had their families been able to afford them in the first place. International cultures, languages, and foods were an everyday part of life and were encouraged, even in her white-bread Indiana family. My family drank and ate weird things all the time, and I grew to realize they were a part of me, not just of my home melee. And now I miss them like all get out.

It seems like so many Americans could not care less about the rest of the world. I cannot sit at home anymore. There are coffees I've never tried in cafes all over the world. There are local greetings I've never witnessed. There's local dress and dance and food and music I've never experienced and it makes me feel . . . well what? Wanderlust is the only term I can conjure - "A very strong or irresistible impulse to travel." It makes me want to dust off my passport and go far, far away.

Of course CharlesPierce handed me The Best American Travel Writing 2000 and 2002 before we left his house a few weeks ago. Remember "Don't feed the bears?" Well, "DON'T FEED THE WANDERLUST!" Now I have to add Cuba, Northern Australia, and Bhutan to the list, thank you very much! And I'm only halfway through the first one, so things are looking good for my Achievable Goals List.

Argentina is chief on the list of Places To Go, and the ache to see it, taste it, hear it, and smell it - oh, that smell - has been a literal ache today. I'm going to look around at real, actual, non-imaginary options for a trip perhaps sometime next year. I've called my genius traveling uncle and aunt for help. I'm trolling the web. I'm going to be put together projected price and itinerary. I'm going to make the ache just as unbearable as possible, and hopefully, I'll finally get to assuage some of that wanderlust before I die of it.

Maybe by then, Blogger will have fixed its image uploader.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Picture Post: Thanksgiving 2006

It's been an entire hour. I've tried to upload pictures for ONE HOUR OF MY LIFE.

I will try this again when I won't have to waste that much time on it because of stupid, stupid Blogger.

Sorry, sports fans. Hasta mañana.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanks Given (Oh yes, I went there.)

Though the traffic about killed me, Hubster and I had a fantastic Thanksgiving with his family. We had a good portion of the crew on hand for the festivities. I only managed about 0.75 good conversations for each of the heavies, but it was still great to (partially) catch up. Thursday we lazed about and ate, much like the rest of the citizens of this great nation. Friday the older kids went in to New York City for a little wandering. G-man drove us to Soho for some delicious pizza at Pomodoro with their fantastic vodka pizza sauce. We watched the sunset at Battery Park and snapped ooodles of pictures which I am too lazy to upload at the moment. (And here I've been promising you the rest of the wedding snaps from the weekend before, too. Yeah, I'll get right on those!) We didn't accomplish much, but it was a lovely day in the city. The next day Mumsie-in-Law took both of my sisters-in-law and myself to The Container Store. I still can't believe how fabulous I felt after hitting that place up, but FABULOUS is right. It brought out all the OCD in me, and I LOVED it. I bought some cute stuff including but not limited to a new wine rack and some magnetic spice jars. I got the best coat hooks ever from Mumsie as an early Christmas gift. Check it: "Mr. and Mrs. Hangup" rock! Between that and her back issues of Real Simple magazine and treating me to coffee and whatnot, I told her she's my new dealer. We drove home on Sunday and didn't manage much of anything else, except that I thought about my next trip to the Container Store because seriously, it's a drug.

Today? Was Monday. Nuff said. More later, kiddos. Missed ya.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Linking Wednesday

1. I like to make fun of Lifetime Movies with the best of them (that is, if the best of them ignored them 90% of the time, but hey). This Television Without Pity article does a fantastic job for one of the best named, Mother May I Sleep With Danger?.

2. Go Fug Yourself - so much link fodder it's almost a copout to post them. Good one here. Ooo, and another one here.

3. In the weird and amusing category, "Who's the richest fictional character?," asks Forbes magazine in this news item. The results are good for a few chuckles. Econ/Biz peeps critique at will.

Abbreviated for the purposes of getting out of dodge AGAIN. Not sure if/when I'll be posting. Hope you have better things to do with your holiday than check my website obsessively just to see. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

All because they were out of cranberries.

My mom has made cranberry relish for Thanksgiving for years now. She buys Ocean Spray cranberries and follows the recipe on the bag which is just an orange, 1 lb of cranberries, and sugar. And it rocks my face off. I can't even LOOK at the cranberry sauce in the can without condescension anymore. Like it's even edible after you've had real, fresh, homemade relish! The best part is that it's so easy - the most complicated step is cleaning the stupid food processor.

But the grocery store is out of cranberries, and if I even have to see a can of cranberry sauce MUCH LESS PROVIDE ONE FOR THE FEAST, I will PUNCH the stupid food processor.

Boy, am I just full to bursting with holiday cheer! I might need to get that checked out.

We're going up to Hubster's parents' house for the holiday. The last time we had Thanksgiving with his side, we had to drive the 10hrs out to Cape Cod. Everything was fine (especially the part about us only bringing dinner rolls and pickles - yay for easy shopping!) UNTIL: 15hr drive home. Say it with me: FIF-TEEN-AH-WERS. In the car. I had to drive the entire way with a manual transmission and an entire thigh's worth of muscles screaming in protest with every depression and release of the clutch through the ENTIRE state of NJ. It was awful, yet it was also the first time Hubster and I ever managed to refrain from marital arguments on a trip. We were happy. Well, all except my sore left thigh. True story.

Anyhow, the familial residence is in NY state, so we're happy because we only have to drive about 5hrs. We'll see everyone gratefully, eat yummy food gratefully, share one shower with 7 people gratefully, and miss my family (also gratefully), and remember that this excuse to get out of work is state-sanctioned AND delicious. As long as I find some damn cranberries.

Persephone finds this all a tad big boring. Definitely not worth clearing her stretched-out napping schedule.

Loki pointedly ignores me while I desperately wrestle with the autofocus, remaining all up in her grill until I get this shot.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Clown Car Weekend

Such a full weekend! The centerpiece was the wedding - with 6 hours each of driving Saturday and Sunday mornings - but we managed to jam the schedule with a movie Friday night. I have so many pics, I think I'll upgrade my account at flickr to prevent having to choose among them because my friends? ARE HOT.

[aside] In between that first paragraph and this one, I've realized just how many pictures I took. And I realized why downloading pictures from my camera has taken on the emotional quality of swimsuit shopping - long, nit-picky, but with less cleavage. I take tons of pictures now, many of which are decent so sifting/editing is increasingly a problem. I don't really want eight pictures of the same thing, but arbitrarily dumping some seems really rash, like, what if I need #8 more than #34 because it's got a slightly warmer cast and GASP, I deleted it? "Ay," I say, as I run toward the hills. "Maybe I'll clip my cats' nails instead."I guess I'm saying I need to work on my workflow, peeps. [/aside]

Friday night, Hubster and I got tickets to see Casino Royale (good review here). And it rocked our faces off, partially because our faces became numb from staring up at the screen from row #2, like who WANTS to sit that close that they stock theatres with them? We landed in said seats because we waited until about the last 120 minutes possible to buy a gift for the wedding. We picked up tickets at the theatre at 7 for the movie at 7:45 and dashed mere yards away to Bed Bath & Beyond to get the gift. They did not have what we wanted to give because they suck and, I love BB&B as much as any bride who registered there and promptly returned frivolous wedding gifts for cold hard cash, BUT: why is it so traumatic to print the BLEEPING registry exactly? I can print things in mere seconds at home, no problem. It takes ages and ages at the store. And then they don't have the stuff you want so you kinda settle on something else and it takes forever to purchase. Then you ask them for gift wrap materials so you can do it yourself because you know if you ask for the labor on that, it'll be 9:04pm and they'll be on bow #5 and your husband will be forced to murder people because BOND, WE MISSED BOND. You make it out the door, PHEW, and dash to the movie theatre were hubby is CONVINCED the movie's started but you think they're still on previews. You trot into the PACKED theatre to hear Judi Dench on screen and your husband stifles the largest exasperated sigh ever to befall mankind until you realize it's a preview for another movie. The movie starts and the case could be argued that it's the Best Bond Flick Ever, and he finally settles down because although we spend some time staring up in the nostrils of the actors which encompass our entire field of vision, it's totally worth it. If you love Bond, go see it. If you don't, consider it. (Maybe I'll write a post about my love/hate relationship with the franchise sometime. Just to bore you further.)

Good times.

That night we stayed up way too late because the Equal Opportunity Procrastinators so the packing wasn't done. We hit the hay at 1:30. DUMB DA DUMB DUMB.

The next morning we're out the door at 8am and driving to Charlotte, NC where it's 60° in the afternoon and it's lovely. We ran into so many old friends. It's so elating every time - even if you were never that close that familiar face and voice just makes your heart jump. Best. Thing. Ever.

We got ready for the wedding without event, except for the part where none of us brought the invite and those with directions failed to give us directions and OOPS, we got lost on the way to the ceremony. We made it with ten minutes to spare, however, so alls well that ends with us making the ceremony, if you will. AND YOU WILL.

The ceremony was lovely. The church was simple and the altar diving with calas and ornamental grass framing the altar area in large, rock-filled vases. Dan said "awesome" when the pastor told him he could kiss his bride, and everyone laughed in delight. Linds and Dan were so happy and adorable I wanted to run up and hug the daylights out of them. Except that sounds disconcerting and my emotions were all positive. And not at all crazy. See? Look at how cute they are at the end of the night:

The groom zealously clutches his bride.

The reception was held at Tutto Mundo, a great bar/club with rattan couches on one side and a long, stately bar on the other side of a long room. The DJ was in the back and the entire place held the small crowd well. The drinks were AMAZING. Hubster made me the Designate Driver for the night, but not before I had a delicious Cosmopolitan assuming he'd do it. Throughout the night, he enjoyed a glass of Macallan 18 as well as several other drinks which he will describe in excrutiating detail if I don't elbow his ribs vigorously because WAY TO RUB IT IN, JERK. We danced to the fabulous DJ, and Hubster and I took copious pictures.

Erica half-sulks about the lack of top-shelf liquor that has tickled her tastebuds but is having altogether too much fun to make it stick.

Dance, Grovers, dance!

For one perfect moment, the suite was back together, as God intended it.

The Group Shot - because we're all not hard enough to corral individually. Also, my stance is really odd. Like, don't stare at my posture too closely or you'll think I've been hitting the yoga a weeee bit hard.

ENOUGH. I can't take any more photo editing and lengthy describing, and it's been three hours, so I gotta go. I'll try to post more pictures later. Lemme sum up, Inigo style:

The wedding was awesome.
The drives uneventful.
The peeps were enjoyable.
The bloggers represented? LVS, inimmortality, Cap'n Ganch, kokanut, T, GracefulPeacefulGermanFisher, bb2, neil, Hans, Rachel, and trey. Yes, half my blogroll.
The missing them now unbearable.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Linking Friday: Gettin Out of Dodge Edition

1. Maggie Mason is always good for a pithy entry. This entry, though? Fantastique! What would you expect from a big-time blogger who's tagline is "Famous Among Dozens?"

2. Share my pain. See, I just read this article on alcohol and its effect on body chemistry, and therefore weight gain, and the news ain't so good. Oh, and if ONE MORE PERSON tells me to "swap club soda for tonic" in my Gin and Tonics, I will CUT THEM.

3. I found this interesting source of information on weather-proofing your house. They describe a way to figure out where your house is leaking air and how to plug those holes so that you keep more of your heated/cooled air in your house and get more bang for your thermal buck. Some of it sounds kinda complicated, but I'm hoping it'll help us a bit. Hey, if I can use less energy and still keep my house warm, that would rock. Now, if I could actually get around to doing it . . .

4. You've probably found this from other sites, but this Wired article entitled "Very Short Stories" is hilarious. Famous authors write short stories in six words. Sweet imaginative action, Batman! How's this one for a sneak peek:
I’m your future, child. Don’t cry.
- Stephen Baxter
. . .

Epitaph: He shouldn't have fed it.
- Brian Herbert

That's all, folks! Tomorrow is the wedding in North Carolina, so tonight Hubster and I will pack clothes, sandwiches, and roadtrip essentials for the trip. We'll also be sneaking in a showing of Casino Royale, the first Bond flick that's intrigued me in ages. I'll tell ya how it goes.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Have Migrated to Beta; Hold Me.

I am e-scared. (That's supposed to be "short-'e'-scared" like how a native Spanish speaker would pronounce "scared" not "long-'e'- scared" as in virtually terrified in some way. And now it's lost whatever crumbs of humor were there to begin with. Awesome!)

I switched to Blogger Beta and it's all I can do to prevent twitching and muttering doomsday pronouncements under my breath every few minutes. You see, despite my experience with working bugs out of Blogger, I am still seriously spooked by changes of this magnitude. This is the woman who considers migrating to a hosting service and buying a domain name about once a week. My grip on reality is slipping, y'all.

Also, my grip on blogging has slipped this week. Brother P, henceforth known as Fraternal Fregal Nut because this "Brother" convention is bo-o-O-ring. The "Fregal Nut" part of his name comes from playing some game in Youth Group when we were younger and freer of cares. Anyhoodle, he left Tuesday. The last time I said goodbye to him, he had broken up with his girlfriend of two years the night before and he was looking forward to 24 hrs of travel back to Korea where he would be away from family and friends working his tail off for 8 months with all his leave used up for the year. Oh, and he would later leave for the Middle East and not see me again until now. This time we'll see him for Christmas at the family homestead in D-town in a month. The contrast was not lost on me. I am very happy for the contrast, let me just say.

Still, I did say goodbye, so I was feeling a little mopey and blogging was right out. Then last night we managed to wedge a ton of things into our evening, so I preferred to detox over less strenuous pursuits of reading magazines. Today, well, Bee decided to migrate to Blogger Beta over the phone with me yesterday, so I felt like a real chicken not doing it my own self. And there I was, trembling at my desk seat while Blogger told me it would email me when it was done. I waited an hourin that state. Hence "hold me."

Now? Now I'm looking forward to finishing work, making dinner, picking up dry-cleaning, and going to choir rehearsal although frankly, I'd much rather cut out and sew this blouse I want to make so I can wear it to LVS's wedding which? IS THIS SATURDAY, WOOOO-HOOO.

And now back to your regularly scheduled coherence.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Captain Distracto

So my brother's in town, and I can't focus. We spent all day today touring the monuments and talking. It's been months since I saw him, and I'm so happy not only to see him now but to have Christmas just around the corner to see him again. Brother P makes me happy.

In other news, we slept over Friday night with CharlesPierce and WifeOfPierce in good ole VA. We braved rush hour with nary a ruffled feather and arrived in time for dinner at Bonefish. My Longfin Tilapia with Lime Tomato Garlic sauce was AWESOME. The garlic mashed potatoes were top notch with garlic slivers in the mash. I also enjoyed the Raspberry Martini I had. I think we laughed more like people on drink #4, not 1, but the conversation made the night as we moved to the party to a coffeehouse and chatted on. We don't make an effort to get together enough. (And we always mention that but seriously, this time we TOTALLY mean it more. >;) Also, they knew I'd be blogging this, so they wanted to pull out all the stops - CP and Wife? You win the FyF Seal of Unqualified Approval. At ease.

Saturday morning after a huge breakfast, we set off for Manassas battlefield were we enjoyed a leisurely walk and more talking because, frankly, if we're not gabbing, we're asleep. It was November 11th and it was 74°. Ah, the flipside of our hellacious summers smiles upon us! It felt a bit odd to be sweating in the November sun, but I'll take it over snow anyday.


I loved this tree. The historical whatsit behind was just gravy.

Memorial to the Union artillery corps that gave it their all in the First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run. I failed to capture the giant munitions arrayed around this obelisk. Really, it was a thing to behold.

The Stone House - that's what they called it. It fits, no? Lovely white-bark trees, though. If the Fyfdom extended to the real world, there'd be a whole lot more of them.

Sweet cannonical goodness!

It's Autumn, people, and I LOVE IT. Someday, I'll be able to express just how truly, madly, and deeply I love this season, but for now, just stare at this picture and pretend it means as much to you as it does to me. (That is, a lot.)

Saturday evening we picked up my brother and then enjoyed his company over beers and Mission: Impossible III which, meh (actiony but I think I wasn't really in the mood for a thriller because I was kinda bored). Sunday we did more of the same because it was raining. Today, we hit up the Monumental Tour and wandered by the ground-breaking ceremony for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (now) under construction between the FDR and Lincoln Memorials. However, my dogs are currently barking, so I'm off to put them up on the coffee table and enjoy an evening with my boys. Later!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Squash Soup Symposium

So I made a soup tonight of butternut squash and just a few more ingredients. And it was kinda blah. So here's the recipe, and all you chefs out there help me out. What does it need?

Bear in mind this comes from Cooking With Just Four Ingredients, so it's supposed to be a minimalist approach to the dish, but let me know what you think or if you've got a better recipe. Okay, here goes (for real this time):

Winter Squash Soup with Tomato Salsa

1 large butternut squash or small pumpkin, halved ad seeded.
5 tsbp garlic-flavored olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4-8 tbsp tomato salsa

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the butternut swuash or pumpkin on a baking sheet and brush with some of the oil and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375°F and cook for 20-25 minutes more, or until the squash is tender.

2. Heat the remaining oil in a large, heavy pan and cook the chopped onions over a low heat for about 10 minutes, or until softened.

3. Meanwhile, scoop the squash out of its skin, adding it to the pan. Pour in 2 pints/5 cups water and stir in 1tsp salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Cool the soup slightly, then process it in a blender or food processor to a smooth purée. Alternatively, press the soup through a fine seive with the back of a spoon. Reheat without boiling, then ladle it into warmed bowls. Top each serving with a spoonful of salsa and serve.

I didn't have a good salsa for this recipe and the typical "chips and salsa" kind struck me as a bad match to the squash, so I skipped that step, which I now realize cut down on the flavor. Next time, I'll make sure to compensate or just have some real, non-Tostinos salsa on hand. Also, the author suggested that you could add fresh chopped marjoram or oregano. I didn't have any, so I opted for dried marjoram, but I think I didn't add enough.

However, one problem arises with the water - isn't a pint only 4 cups, not 5 as the recipe indicates? The author is great about giving all measurements in metric and English and other random equivalents, but I still think that's a mistake. That definitely would have made the soup richer. Still, should I add dairy? Does it need more spicing? I'm so inexperienced with both squashes and soups that I feel a bit lost. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Soups are a good choice for us because I can make a bunch at once and save half (or more) for later. Most of the other meals I made I halve automatically so I end up with one portion of leftovers at best and end up cooking every night of the week. I'd like a break that didn't cost as much as eating out and still included good food. (I'm advocating leftovers here; no one tell my dad or he'll die of shock.)

Anyway, your eyeballs and tastebuds are much appreciated. I'll be over here wondering what in the world happened. Hubster didn't like it, and he was so deflated to have to tell me that. Because he's a fantastic husband, he made sure to emphasize that this rarely happens since he loves almost everything I cook for us. Is he not dishy and sweet?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Todavida Leyendo

I haven't been reading as often as I was there for a while in the Spring, but I'm knocking back a few as I go. I'm stuck in some books right now and kinda unmotivated, too. As I used to do with food, so now I do with books. I ate my entire side of broccoli before attacking the pasta; I read all of Neal Stephenson before commencing with Nick Hornby. It's logical and yet not because authors different novels can vary enough to make at least some of their works uninteresting to me. It's not their fault, but there I sit, stuck on page 200 of an 800-page monstrosity, out of steam.

So instead I run to the library and find a diversion and continue finding diversions until I'm stuck in Emma for 8 years. Still haven't finished it! True story!

Happily, I finished The Constant Gardener after work today. I loved it. Le Carrè's style is so fluid that he can incorporate all the elements of a good novel seamlessly. His plotting, pace, and especially his character development are beautifully rendered and a delight to read. The story itself is inventive, and much more nuanced than most other thrillers. It's funny to think of it as that, but it has all the makings of a John Grisham novel, but it manages to be more than just a clever conspiracy theory. You meet so many different people along the way, and some who start out being clear-cut antagonists later get a chance for partial redemption, or at least some sympathy. There are layers to most of his characters, even some of the minor ones. Some have said that obviousness of who's behind the conspiracy is a minus, but I think it leaves the focus on how they pulled it off, usually the most difficult part of a plausible conspiracy plot. Personally, I thought it was quite good and worth reading, even if you've seen the movie. If you loved the movie? READ IT RIGHT NOW. Forget about your Emmas and forget the guilt until you finish.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Listing Tuesday - Election Day Edition

1. Today, I voted. (Pats own back.) While I can't claim to be of the hushed-reverent-before-our-awesome-responsibility school, I happen to think that, even with the huge responsibility, voting is fantastic. I mean, here I am, a Joe Schmo, and I have said my piece about how my government shall govern my slice of the planet. (Well, that is if no one took it upon themselves to hack the Diebold machine I used.) Plus I even got to choose if I would do it, unlike my compatriots in Argentina where voting is compulsory. Fun times!

2. This Saturday, my brother P will touchdown at BWI and stay for a couple of days. I am, let's be frank, geeked. This is my brother who is in the army, who's been in Korea for two years followed by being in the Middle East for most of this year. I haven't seen him since March 2005. Obviously, I Am. So. Pumped.

3. My house is cold. Hubster and I are trying to save money with the heating bill and save the planet with by being Energy Scrooges. It's currently 63 degrees in the house. I kinda like my house at 70. I am wearing a sweater and a scarf and warm socks and shoes. I am a wimp.

4. I seem to have a HUGE aversion to grocery shopping right now. I have no idea what my problem is, besides the inherent drudgery of grocery shopping. It's the next thing on the list after I blog, so of course this entry is taking for-ev-er. Honestly, if we weren't out of my mood-elevating English muffins I doubt I'd set foot into the wild at all. Ah, but I must have my English muffins. Toasted. With Sancor dulce de leche or Honey. Sweet morning delight!

5. I've all the best cat photos right here, and failing to share would be irresponsible.

If I weren't so lazy, I might submit this to Poor Persephone! She coulda been a contendah.

When I turn the camera on Tiny, she just glares at me and the camera seems not to function like the smooth machine I know and love - you can't see what she really looks like at all. This is almost good:

Here where we're trying to hold her in place to take a portrait and she's backing out of it. Literally. Grouch!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Lazy Weekend

Three Crappy Monologues, by way of Weekend Review

I was Erica's Friday night, which for once wasn't spent watching her husband doze and wondering if this constituted license for a prank or if she should let him sleep (hint: she always chickens out). I guess I was the whole day, but frankly, no one ever gets worked up about their workday when there's fun to be had in the evening. She finished up on time, took her shower (yeah, she showers after work, the lazy slob!), and got ready to head out for the evening. She took her iPod and braved stupid Beltway traffic, but she seemed to think arriving at Betty's house was worth it. Betty made a delicious dinner, which she enjoyed with a Pacifico. Instead of falling asleep on Betty's couch and pulling a move reminiscent of her much-maligned husband, she and Betty walked up to a pub for some bread pudding and Irish folk singing. The drive home was long, and she looked beat as she climbed into bed at one in the morning and forgot all about me. So much for painting the town red.

I'm the friend she's got all day to enjoy. Or so you think. She usually spends the whole time surfing online and doing a couple of chores and that's Saturday. Oh, she doesn't plan to fail but, true to clichés, fails to plan and therefore devolves into YouTube and Web Sudoku. She awoke lazily, thinking she'd outstripped recent sleep-in records of 9am to almost make it to 11. Unfortunately, her brain doesn't go to 11; her husband's clock had escaped the Daylight Savings Clock Update. Even with an extra hour, she managed to fritter it away on yerba mate and The Constant Gardener. Later she did on online errands, paid bills, but kept her focus on hardcore lazing about. Despite an attempt to go out for the evening, she and the Hubster managed to miss that crucial window of opportunity, and instead opted to pick up Chipotle, rent Lord of War, which she was surprised to like quite a lot (despite several friends recommending it in the span of a week). She's hopelessly lazy considering we only have one day of the week together.

I was her busy day. She got to bed on time Saturday so she would be well-rested for her solo work at church. Sundays are half weekend/half work in her mind - church looms large and seems to consume the day, although it's just her laziness that makes it so. The other two must have mentioned that from the knowing way you're nodding right now. Church itself, though lovely, was long what with the baptisms, the extra-full service, and the practice time on top of it. She and Hubster got home and made pizzas, spent the afternoon in useless endeavors like with Saturday, and managed to finally make it out the door for a showing of The Prestige in the evening. She also cooked two full meals, which is rare with my day of the week. She usually cops out with a bowl of cereal or some leftovers. The movie intruigued her. It was very entertaining and good quality, but she still seemed glad to settle in for some sleep and a full day with Monday.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Food Fight . . . to the Death

Hubster: Which should I buy pita chips or animal crackers?
Moi: I don't know! Buy whichever one you want.
Hubster: Okay, two foods enter, one leaves. In a fight to the death, which wins - the pita chips or the animal crackers?

My husband is a weeeeee bit obsessed with nutritional value, no?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Picture Post: Backlog Edition, Take 2

Is she not terrifying? Spooky! I just wish I could catch her in the classic black-cat-stretching posture. Money!

Behold Hubster's awesome and terrifying pumpkin. It has TEETH, people. Such dedication!

Now The Poops does not like Halloween's general "undignified nature of the proceedings" (her words, if she could have them), preferring instead to be stunningly gorgeous year round.

And I, in my scarf, prefer to be derelict.

Happy All Saint's Day, everyone!

P.S. A tip for my fellow beleagured Blogger users: I got Picasa in order to make this post happen without the web-based Blogger Picture Uploader crashing on me. Apparently my new, shiny, and large-image-sizing camera is wreaking havoc with this feature. It was easy as pie to upload with Picasa, even if it DID require another program on my harddrive. Just a suggestion if you find yourself in the same position in which I found myself, namely "Keyboard To Forehead Repeatedly."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Picture Post: Backlog Edition

Let's see if this works.

I was dressed as a hippie, FYI. It's lame, but it works. The dust on the mirror made it look like some 70's-era Vermeer's work for which, yay! But apparently, that's all I get, so saith Blogger. I had more fun ones to post, including the obligatory pictures of our resident black cat, but I've been trying for two hours and nada.


Monday, October 30, 2006

The Curse of Blogger

Blogger hates me. It's official. I can't seem to get a single image to upload right now and I have Pumpkin Party pictures. Yeah, as in, pictures taken whilst carving pumpkins. THIS IS IMPORTANT, BLOGGER! THESE PICTURES MUST BE ENJOYED BY THE PEOPLE!

Fruitless pleas aside, I had a okayweekend. Went to the dentist where I discovered the nightguard which keeps my jaw from shattering and my teeth from being worn down to nubs from the relentless clenching I do at night, yeah, it's gonna be $600. HE-llo. Oh, and hubby needs a root canal AND a crown. Big fun! Also, big bucks.

Aside from that bummer, not much happened. Hubster made a fantastic catch when he found out Hugh Laurie was going to be on SNL, so we watched the show, all the way through for the first time in months (maybe years). It's because we're total groupies, really. He was hilarious, but the sketch material was only so-so. The non-Laurie sketches were mostly boring. Sigh. Still, we got to see Hugh. And I searched for "hugh laurie" on YouTube to find a video entitled "Hugh Laurie The Panty Peeler." I was too busy giggling to watch it. Instead, I found this performance of a song he did on SNL but which YouTube can't broadcast. This performance is old, and the timing was even better Saturday, but it's still hilarious.

I'll try posting pictures tomorrow. Because pumpkins? Are important.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sssh! Be vewy, vewy quiet. I'm hunting content!

Sometimes I think I let this thing run my life. After almost two years straight of blogging every weekday or feeling extreme guilt when I didn't/couldn't, it can be rather tough to yank out anything worth reading.

I complain about this regularly enough, I guess, but it bears repeating: sometimes, I want to do anything but this. I hope you can't tell when I'm "phoning it in" from my end. Heck, I TELL you half the time, so I guess I'm shooting myself in the foot. It's not that I'm out of imagination or conversation or stories; it's what happens when I sit down to write at my desk. The story was funnier earlier and I can't find the best words. I'm posting about the cats. Again. Or I'm posting about something that not even I can bear reading.

Sometimes it's that I'd rather pursue one of my other hobbies. I had time yesterday, so I started my new library book, John Le Carre's The Constant Gardener. I loved the movie, so I thought I'd go to the source, especially after enjoying Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy so much. Today, I'm all tapped out. The time I could steal is being dedicated to this post.

And so it goes.

I think the difference between this hobby and my other ones is you. There are other people taking part in this whole debacle, and that means something. If I were sewing a purse for a friend, that would probably take a bit more precedence. If I were in a book club, the book would jump up the priority list. It's all a balancing act, and you guys matter to me.

That's probably why I keep ekeing these puppies out. I wish the quality were higher, the insights more frequent, the photos more copious (and just better). It gives me great joy to do this, and I'd do it just for myself at least sometimes, but you keep me coming back. Your comments, your related stories, your links and personalities. Your blogs, for those of you who have them, are also a big part of the fun.

I have a lot of reasons to shoulder on, it seems. But just in case, I think I'll ask for this book for Christmas. Can't hurt.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Linking Wednesday

1. This won't be of interest to anyone except my philosophy buddies, but man, is it of interest there. Analytic Versus Continental Philosophers on Fashion. He's a fairly interesting philosophy blogger in general, so check out the blog, too.

2. This is just so cool. Motors powered by bacteria? We've certainly got no lack of those, hand sanitizers notwithstanding. Wonder when this will be more than a lab trick.

3. Stephen Colbert is hilarious, and remains so even through this seven-page monstrosity of an article at New York Metro. Fun stuff.

4. The Fug Girls strike it rich again. Delicious!

5. I'm not sure I've ever linked to A Dress A Day, partially because I enjoy a good discussion of vintage fashion, but I'm not sure you do. Still, this piece is funny and apropos and the dresses are crazy. Oh, and this piece is more topical than she usually gets, but it's a good reminder: "You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked 'female'." Word.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

StatFest 2006

Wanna tip on how to drive up traffic on your blog? Host a heated comment feud and then follow it up with a very public breakdown and your traffic will rocket. Last Thursday, I had 244 hits. To give you some perspective, I've averaged probably closer to 50 pageloads per day in the last several months and for several days, I was averaging well over 100. Um, wowsers.

Honestly, when I finally got around to checking my stats, I didn't believe my eyes. I hadn't been keeping track really. I had only a few searches find my blog, probably more but my log file was overhwhelmed by the refreshers amongst you, and I failed to check it frequently enough to see the few searches that got logged. However, whoever it was that searched for "Graphic Clipart Jesus is the reason for the season," I salute you. I've always thought that clipart had great devotional value, but I guess I'd never realized that Graphic Clipart Jesuses are the entire reason for Christmas. By clicking on my site from that Google search (which were buried after almost 300 search results - you patient soul!), you've gained another convert. Bravo.

I know all these bigger blogs that do regular posts roughly summarized as "You found my while searching for this stuff, suckah!" I never have enough searches for that, but I've had some funny ones over the year plus, so here goes:

sadza glycemic index - Yeah, I used the words, but I wasn't too helpful, was I, Captain South Beach?

filosofo jeans peace - I haven't really heard of a Philosopher's Search for the Jeans of Peace or anything before, and I always figured philosophers were more the khaki-wearing types, anyway. Perhaps tweed . . . ? I'm out of the loop - check the grad student blogs next time.

tobias + "booyah"+ arrested development - I'm honored, but you should have started here anyway.

why is the death of a girl such a fixation in the U.S.? - I get the general drift, but it does sorta look like someone doesn't care about dying girls. Mostly, it's just a bit odd that this person thought they'd get an answer out of all the generic words they typed in. Got a name there, hombre?

my kitten ate a lizard what are the symptoms - Dude, I don't know, but I dodged the bullet, and I try not to think of it.

MICOPLASMIC PNEUMONIA - First, STOP shouting. You and everyone else who's found my blog under a similar search (or for other medical reasons) should know that I'm not a doctor who can explain symptoms or describe treatment. I'm a drama queen who likes to complain. Slight difference there.

Amidala my cat that I got while in college - haven't seen her, mate. Sorry.

Loki Presents Simply Sudoku - Ha! Heehee and HA! My mentally under-endowed cat and a logic puzzle. That's rich!

lineage 2 erica blah - This person clearly doesn't want any results. Or they know me and know I say (and therefore write) the word "blah" a lot. Hey, friend!

rainbow "rainbow dresses" - Someone in India is really disappointed! I have no rainbow dress. I don't even have "rainbow dress." It bothers me, too, bro.

"pees her bed" - Obviously, I'm doing something right here.

On a serious note, I got a comment from Louisa, an college friend with whom I'd lost touch on one of my recent posts. I had no idea she had ever struggled with depression. I find it hard to believe that I helped, as she said I had, but it made me so happy that she is seeking her way out of the well. God bless your search, Louisa, and email me if I can help in any way. My address is "" and it's always open to any of you, be ye Louisa or no.

Okay, I should run along to do responsible crap. Oh, believe me I'd much rather be discussing stupid searches, but (non-blogular) duty calls!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Shoulda Woulda Couldn't

Hubster and I are listening beautiful, reflective, sad music. I was going to write a long recap of my weekend, especially the part about the International Gold Cup (yeah, I know we're totally selling out to the elitist, Horse Country Man, WHATEVER), but I can't. Mostly because this song is so beautiful, I might burst.


Oh, and I already know the song appears in Donnie Darko, and no I haven't seen the movie, but my curiosity is definitely piqued after this sucker. Can't. stop. watching.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Wanna see my bug collection?

Thanks for any and all thoughts, communications and prayers. I've made relatively large leaps since last night, so yes, thanks for that. I threw on a bathrobe and trudged downstairs last night as a sort of last resort, but it reminded me again of what an ally words can be for me.

I tend to think in metaphors, so here comes a whopper, and I'm sorry if this one is stretched thin but I'm sure anyone who's really bothered by badly-done conceits has stopped reading out of sheer frustration by now.

My observations became a pin that secured this particular episode onto a display and added it to my collection of pests. Over the life of this blog, I've done this several times. I'm getting a tidy little sampling of tough mental episodes. Knowing that they're mine, that I've captured some of their essence and studied each terrifying angle, each logic-shattering feature of these funks makes me feel a little more of that elusive hope.

There's something about "facing one's fears" that's important when you're in that well. Quantifying, classifying, understanding the pain is key for me because that's how I am with anything. I want a big picture, and I want to know everything about something before I have to do/believe/act on/challenge anything. It took an hour from start to finish to write that post - the damn thing kept buzzing out of my grasp - the sorrow obscuring my thoughts. I kept thinking, though, that the best way to capture the pest was to do so while it was still buzzing around my head, unlike the rest of my posts which came from the other side, from a safe distance away. Maybe, maybe not, but between the concerted effort to understand and my prayer, I was able to climb back upstairs and sleep.

Hubster thinks I do battle with these bugs because I "have greater emotional range than most people." I tend to think my highs would be higher if that were the case. I really have no idea anymore. Ironically, I went out for lunch with KL the afternoon before and mentioned that I'd been having a rough patches for the past few weeks, but things had been getting better recently. I'm starting to think that though "pride goes before a fall," it's more often hope that comes before my falls, and that's more than a little terrifying. But these intimate posts help me feel like hope is not futile - the pain may return, but I can still fight it.

Look I'm tired, and I've still struggled today to find purpose, peace, strength of some kind. I want to this to be better, but I'm too tired to keep cranking this out. So instead of punishing myself, I'm going to keep myself going with proper rest and hope that you might want to see my bug collection another day. Good night, friends.

Notes From Underground

It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to climb back in the well. Ever since I read those words, I can't think about much else. My mind turns in circles, reaching out in all directions but finding the walls solid and unyielding to the logic of hope. I spent the first half hour afterward sobbing, almost uncontrollably. Every time I'd think I was making headway, quieting myself down, the vice grip of anguish would seal my heart, my eyes and my fate to keep shaking and sobbing and desperately trying to think of something other than my utter despair. After all, even if I couldn't get out, I wasn't doing anything productive but crying "like a little girl" (the phrase comes unbidden; it's engrained), and making mock arguments that sounded alternately convincing and spiteful and hypocritical and stupid, and ultimately futile. My thoughts remain a club on which are emblazoned the words: "I am a worthless Christian, worthless adult, worthless woman, worthless human."

I don't blame the comment for serving as a trigger. It was just there and all my backstory formed it into a bludgeon.

Eventually I got up from my chair and tried to move. I thought to distract myself and gain some kind of perspective. But I couldn't stop crying and shaking, the will going out of my knees, the pain finding me on the ground, barely breathing. I tried to catch my breath and my thoughts all night, but here I am, 1 AM, bleeding tears and pumping despair through my veins.

I won't make Hubster get up when he's exhausted and I'm unlikely to make any headway even with his help. Earlier he held me as I sobbed into his work clothes, always responding that he loved me whether it was the first of fifth time I had to hear that tonight. He staved it off through bible study and dinner and a relatively normal evening. I tried to hold out until sleepy oblivion ushered me to tomorrow, but my thoughts had no competition as I wrestled with my pillows, and pretty soon I had to go cry in the bathroom where there were tissues.

This is it. This is my particular brand of crazy - out there for the world to ridicule or ignore. Out there for me to dissect again and again. Out there, period. Unlike my last post, there's no persona here. I'm not the Queen of the Inane defending Her Pathetic Realm here. I'm telling it like I currently see it, and all I can say is "God of Joy and Despair, God over all, Forgive me for losing all sense of you and for slipping back to this place. Forgive all my sin and raise me up or I perish."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My blog asplode.

I wasn't really expecting to ignite a firestorm over whether "Evangelicals are thoughtful" or whether "the Roman Catholic Church's stance on contraception is counterculture" over my link to Prosperity Theology articles, but there ya go.

Fortunately, I'm listening to Bach cello sonatas so it's all good in the Fyfdom.

Before I wax poetic about just how off-the-hook Johann's tunes might be I will address one teensy thing that's been bothering me. To the commenters most embroiled in the discussion: ENOUGH WITH THE PISSING CONTEST ANGLE. Seriously. You've both said you'll stop insulting each other whilst diving OFTEN IN THE SAME PARAGRAPH into another ad hominem attack.

This is my blog, and I make the rules. I may be capitulating to my culture here, having been raised as a conflict-avoiding female of the American species called "woman," but I will now declare that you have to PLAY NICE.

I haven't posted anything because I've been intrigued to find out what happens here and nothing kills a conversation like lengthy descriptions of my groan-worthy daily activities. (Also, I'm lazy and tired.) Hy-evah! I am not above closing comments. You can feel free to continue dissecting, but I think you'll get further if you don't waste valuable debate time on barbs and instead focus, oh, I don't know, ON CONTENT?

Lastly, I happen to know you both and as you're both Christians, I must appeal to your shared faith and brotherhood. Make Jesus happy! Be ye kind one to another!

Oh, and listen to Bach.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

(Relentlessly) Linking Wednesday

1. Old-school McSweeney's: Ikea Product or Lord of the Rings Character? The author even included answers. I got them all right, because I'm a junkie for BOTH those things.

2. An article from Entertainment Weekly online entitled "Six Ways for Hollywood to Stop Alienating Women." Some good ideas in there. This point was interesting:

Keep counting after the opening weekend.
Women, unlike men, generally don't feel the need to be first in line on opening night. Quite the contrary, a lot of female filmgoers prefer to be coaxed into the multiplex by good reviews, an intriguing subject, and strong word of mouth; that's also true for all moviegoers over 40, another demographic group that the major studios bizarrely insist on treating as some sort of obscure minority even though they make up 43 percent of the total audience.

But that sort of foreplay isn't exactly Hollywood's forte these days — studio marketers are more slam-bam-sorry-that-was-over-so-fast types. However, shrugging off that audience by assuming they'll catch up with your movie on DVD is getting an entire generation of moviegoers out of the habit of going to movies — and that's bad business. . . . And by the way, it wouldn't hurt to make the kinds of movies that generate good word of mouth, which means less money spent on digital effects and more spent on script development and rehearsal time (yes, it actually helps).

3. I'm bad at keeping up with my friend's blogs sometimes. I freely admit I don't hit most of them everyday, but then again, most of you go quite a while before updating, so checking once or twice a week is just about right. I just found this post by neil about going back to Grove City two weeks ago, and it was a great post. The parts about feeling a disconnect from the alma mater really hit home. See, Hubster and I have guests this weekend, so Homecoming back at the Grove is right out for the second year in a row. I know I'll be missing lots of peeps, but I also know that going back is bittersweet in a way that surprises me. How can it be that hard when college itself was awful for large sections? I don't even think I feel that way about high school, but then again, my high school's building someone else's church, and I still see the people, so I guess that's different even if this sentence is a run-on. Whatever, his post was good and also adorable, and I wish him the best at sorting through it all.

4. This post by sbp is also quality. She also has some lovely poetry up right now. I miss having first crack at her drafts on our freshman hall. Sigh.

5. Another template site for ya. It's all in Italian and English, but his designs are nice, so wade through it and you might find a gem. Also, I haven't seen any of them before, so you won't have a unique site, but it'll be almost as rare a design.

6. I'm been giving ABC's episode player a workout lately. I arrive home from choir too late for the start of Grey's Anatomy, so I just watch the episodes when they go live on their free online player in the next couple of days. The screen size/streaming quality is quite decent if you're got fast broadband, and you only have four 30-second commercials to endure. Until Hubster gets the FauxVo(tm) up and running, this'll do quite nicely. NBC has a similar player(you'll never quess which show I'm watching on it) and Fox is supposed to have one soon on MySpace (ewwy), so hurray for networks getting with the program! And HURRAY FOR THE INTERWEB!

7. This is a wee bit antique by net standards, but here's TIME magazine's feature article entitled "Does God Want You To Be Rich?". It focuses on the Prosperity Theology folks, and it's fairly well done. Honestly, when I try to boil down my emotions on the subject, it's mostly just revulsion hanging out at the bottom of the pot. Mind you, that's revulsion at the leaders and the elites in those churches, not the common man who just wants to be free of hand-to-mouth living, but yeah, yuck. I wish I had something more enlightening to say, but you can add your brilliant analysis in the comments.

Okay, no more sharing. EAP OUT!