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!