Saturday, December 29, 2007

Blogger Still Alive, In Holiday Stupor

It's been flat-out nuts around here for weeks. Between my return from Argentina and New Year's, our schedule shows a trip to Indy (for that Colts game - I owe you pictures), a trip to Michigan, a trip to Upstate New York (for Christmas with Hubster's fam) with an extended stay in Lancaster (which we're still on now), plus two weddings (one in DC and the other tomorrow in Pennsylvania), and a visit from sister-in-law G and the in-laws dog (who has multiple problems stemming from Lyme's Disease, poor pooch), and I think that's all the heavies. I'm just glad to be seated and relaxing at the moment.

I'll back in the saddle after New Year's. But until then, two awesome videos my choir director sent around from YouTube. Good choral-themed times, people.

The Hallelujah Nuns:


The 12 Days of Christmas Medley:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Yet another time waster.

I only post when I have something trivial or pictoral to present. In that vein . . .

The Blog Readability Test yielded the following results when applied to my blog:

cash advance

I am lame.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Five-Year-Old Erica Speaks

While I sit and contemplate the glacial pace at which Sprint is dealing with my complicated phone upgrade situation whilst listening to admonitions that indicate someone will be with me shortly, I thought I'd post something. It's probably better for my longterm prospects than the other option I was considering: gouging my eyes out with office supplies. I was thinking of using the thumb drive. It doesn't seem to be working on my computer anyway, so it's no grave loss to our media storage, right?

Gruesome notions aside, some of you noticed in my image dump of yesterday that my grandfather has the library of many a book-lover's dreams. It is, indeed, a sight to behold. Let's see it again.


My, that is PRETTY.

When I was five years old, my family had moved to Patagonia, so I was living at a distance from my beloved grandparents. Fortunately, some friends of the family in the South were headed back to my hometown for a wedding and they didn't mind bringing along little ole me. My suitcase was packed and I headed out with them on the 30-hr drive. I think a rock hit the windshield while we were going along so the windshield shattered and we lost some time. That was memorable. What I failed to remember was what I said to my grandparents upon landing on their doorstep. (Direct quotes supplied by Grandpa.)

"When you die, I would like to have your house. Now, I don't want you to die, but I know that you will. When that happens, I would like your house."

Five-year-old Erica has more stones than the current model, apparently. Unfortunately, there are a lot of book-lovers in the family so I will not have undisputed claim over that beaut.

Well, they've gotten to my call and it's time to try yet another hare-brained scheme to make this work. Wish me luck, or at least the courage of my younger days.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Argentine Dispatch #3 - Photos I

At last I'm done with my photographic processing. Earlier today, I was trying to white balance the ceiling in my own bedroom. As I was starring at it. In, like, MY REAL LIFE. I have spent WAY TOO MUCH TIME in Camera Raw of late, but at least my photo backlog just got cut in half. My pain and mental issues - your gain.

Note: If you're looking at this in Internet Explorer: 1) Why are you using that old thing when Mozilla Firefox is better and free? 2) You might not be able to get the captions and pretty picture-viewing interface that you're supposed to be seeing. I suggest you go straight to my flickr set or, even better, make the switch to Firefox and look at my site there.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Arco iris" is a much cooler way of saying "rainbow."

I'm almost halfway done processing pictures from the trip. The image header right now is from one of them. It's not the most spectacular shot because it was taken through a bus window and rainbows tend to occur in moist (and therefore grey) conditions, but it's nice. We took a bus ride for part of our journey to the part of Patagonia where I lived, and we saw a rainbow. We actually passed right underneath it as it spanned a valley through which we rode. And no matter how cliche I want that to be, it still makes me smile.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Overheard, While I Was Out Edition

While I was gone, Hubster's cousin got married and his father's family got together. This rare event was highlighted by the following conversation between K, his grandmother (with rather advanced dementia), and his reserved-but-bitingly-witty uncle.

Hubster: blah blah blah Erica's still in Argentina blah blah blah wine and steak.

Grams: Who's taking piano lessons?

Uncle: Darn right it's cold in here!

The End.


I swear this was like the first thing my husband told me about when I got home. "Welcome to the United States, baby! And now a funny and slightly cruel story about making fun of my elders. Glad to have you back!"

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Chasing a High

A week ago I was trying to pack for home. My grandparents' bathroom scale was waiting to weigh my bag, and I was trying to guess whether they'd charge me the overweight bag fee or just let it go like the last time. The details helped me stay numb about leaving. It's not that I'm unhappy to return to life here. The end of any vacation is bittersweet, and this was a lot more than a usual vacation. For one thing, most vacations aren't permeated by your favorite smell on the planet.

Argentina has a smell. When I told my friends there they were surprised - you can smell a country? The quality changes, as it does with any place, but it's fixed in my mind. My grandparents house has always had the most concentrated scent - wood, wine, leather, cheese, meat, soaps, books, coffee, pastries. The entire country smells of mate and beef and perfume and I don't know what. Writing about it makes me feel dumb, but then again so does sticking my head in my luggage just to catch a whiff of it. The folds of the clothes trap it. The insides of the packages I brought back contain a bit. It's been disappearing all week, but that doesn't make it any less real.

That smell always meant good things. When family would visit, wheeling their bags in their room (which was usually my room I'd given up for them) I would catch my first hint of it. Then the blessed hour would arrive and they'd unzip them and bring out our treasures. It was always Christmas when someone came from Argentina. Dulce de leche was handed out and before rationing would begin, my mom would often let me have a teaspoonful straight from the jar. Mate was unpacked by the kilo for Dad - Rosamonte, a brand I rarely stray from to this day. We kids usually got presents of some kind. Mom and I got that certain Spanish soap she loves. All those memories of delight were made over that smell of their bags, of the place in which they were packed.

Now that smell I love, the smell I lived in for twenty-six days is evaporating from things. It's dissolving into the air of my home, and I can't seem to find it anymore. It might not sound all that good. Maybe no one even knows about it by me, but that smell is one of my favorite things in the world, and it's disappearing again. I would almost trade it for one of the many beautiful and special things I brought back with me.

My bag weighed 33kilos (almost 73lbs). It was full of presents, clothes, almost 4kilos of cheese, and the best smell I know. Now it's empty. The cheese is in the fridge waiting to be cut and probably frozen before being transported to my family's house where my father will gleefully throw it on the grill and we'll all gleefully try to cheat each other out of the final bites. The clothes are in the laundry waiting to be stripped of their perfume in the washer and dowsed in a new scent from our detergents. The presents will be packaged and given away. But the smell will fade. The soap I brought back will give me a whiff of one facet. The mate and coffee and beef we consume in this house will do the same. I guess I'll just have to head down there again for my next true fix.

Cue the withdrawal symptoms.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Things I Missed

I'm home. I've had a hard time reintegrating at times, but these things have made it better:

1. Two-ply toilet paper. It's not necessary, but it sure is nice.

2. My beautiful pillow and mattress. There's no substitute.

3. My entire closet. Oh, how I missed thee. Everything old is new again. And also clean. I could go days and days without having to beg someone to wash my two pairs of jeans.

4. Tex-mex salsa, hummus, and Coke Zero Vanilla. Yuuuum.

5. My cell phone. I can actually call people now. And make plans and everything.

6. Paying with my credit card. When you run a (mostly) cash economy, you have to plan ahead. Me no likey.

7. Internet. All the time. Whenever I want it. And fast. 'Nuff said.

8. TV. I didn't watch any while I was there, and I didn't miss it at the time, but I now I rather like having my shows back.

9. My cats! They're soft, they let me put my ear to their bellies when they purr, and they ignore me until I play with them.

10. Hubster. He left me two weeks ago, and it was nice to not have to translate all day for him, but it's even nicer to be home with him.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Argentine Dispatch #2

I can't believe it's been almost a month. I've already started making plans for Monday's exit, and it's tinged the rest of the week for me. I was afraid an entire month without work would turn into sheer boredom, but I barely notice that I'm not occupied. I guess the structure of the days here in the Interior with their observance of siestas and the meals at strange hours has helped make the time fly. My family and friends work in jobs with more varied hours as well, so I've spent much less time than I anticipated in "entertaining myself" as we like to put it. I'm happy to have spent so much more time in conversation but my journal is woefully out of date. I believe the entry I have to finish is from October 2nd - at the beginning of Buenos Aires, before Patagonia, before my return and all the important conversations I've been having. Am. screwed.

I've had irregular internet access through travel and then problems with modems here. I wanted to post more, but I'll try to journal events and I'll keep writing Argentine Dispatches when I get home. Hubster took the laptop home with him so I'd have one less valuable item to secure everywhere I went. It was a good idea, but I sure would like to type my thoughts more than write them. It's faster and the pencil-and-paper method makes my inner editor cringe and mutter curses after a while. All this to try to remember, to hold on to the memories and the stories and the mental images.

I'm sitting in my friends' study, the family with whom we'd stay when we weren't with our relatives here in the Interior. Their daughter is about to arrive. We were best friends when we were little, and our families renewed our acquaintance with trips even when we moved to Patagonia. I went to school with her on our 6-week visit in '97. She wrote notes to me in a notebook and conjugated verbs on its pages for me to memorize. One page is titled in bold pink marker: "The Four Most Important Verbs in Life." Below it appear the present tenses for amar, comer, dormir, and comprar. I guess if I can say I've loved, eaten, slept, and bought that about covers the basics even today. She visited my family in the States for three months. The youngest with three older brothers, she lived like my sister during that time, and we loved it after lifetimes spent with just our brothers. She danced swing with my friends, slept on my bunk beds, borrowed my uniform sweaters for school, and backed me up in arguments with my brothers. It was awesome.

She left and went back home. She started med school at university in Córdoba, met her boyfriend more recently and became an aunt as her older brothers started families. I went to college, met my husband, graduated, got married, moved and worked. I'm hoping somehow that our friendship has once again survived the deep freeze of distance and time.

We'll be sleeping in twin beds in the same room. Maybe that'll jog our memories.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Argentine Dispatch #1

09/26/07 - On the flight from Dallas, Texas to Santiago, Chile.

She looks like so many of the grandmothers I met in Argentina - she´s got the same pallor, the hair dyed dirty-blond but imperfectly hiding its grey roots. She´s a bit round in the torso - too busy for too many years making and eating food with her family. She wears a blouse with a broach at the center of the neckline. It´s less schoolmarmy than it sounds but it is by no mean "hip." Her thick stockings and sensible shoes complete the picture. She comes around the corner of the ATM I´m hiding behind and asks if I speak Spanish (calling it "castellano" as they do in South America).

The flower of shame and fear blooms beneath my skin, as it always does at the question. I don´t blush; I just feal my chest tightening up a little, my brain clumsily revving up to prepare itself for the onslaught of strange words and continuous verb conjugation.

There aren´t many people around, so I say that yes, I do speak castellano, and I offer to help when she asks me if I know how to use the pay phones on the other side of the ATM machine. I don´t, of course, because like the rest of the USA it seems, I use my cell phone instead. I can read the instructions, such as they are, It might be enough.

She´s obviously flustered so she starts putting her bags down anywhere, and one of them falls over. I pick it up and (correctly) announce that I´m placing it near the phone. She says, "you speak castellano well." I´m embarrassed again - this time that I undersold myself and she might think that I didn´t want to help at all. Sometimes my inner life is so distruptive that I can´t believe I keep it up so obsessively.

She has no change so she gives me a dollar and we talk while I dig out quarters from my luggage. She´s calling her daughter who lives in LA. She´s on her way home to Chile from a visit with her. Where am I going? Córdoba, I announce and by now she´s caught my accented (if broken) Spanish, and she asks if I´m Argentine. I tell her about behing born there (the verb conjugation tripping me up again so that I must have said she was born there before I corrected myself and made it my birth under discussion). The quarters go into the phone. I dial as she rattles off the number, a bad idea I discover since I tend to confuse my 15's and 500's. We dial a couple more times and only once make a connection, but though it turns out to be wrong, we lose our dollar anyway.

I lose patience and pull out my cell phone. We make the call and she leaves her daughter a message, unsure that it'll work but happy to have made an attempt. I wonder how long ago I used a public phone. I´m glad I have my cell so I can help this woman who keeps sweetly asking my about my life. After we lament her daughter being out, she says she was so glad to meet me twice at least. She thanks me profusely. It takes the edge of my communication anxiety. Even if we had to resort to body language at this pount, we would have understood each other. Bebe (a nickname, her given name is Elisa, she tells me) gives me her address and says I´m welcome at her home, should I ever find myself in Chile. Maybe butchering the language every time I open my mouth isn´t such a crime. Kindness has fewer language barriers than I previously thought.

She bids my goodbye and I misunderstand something about the flight so I think that´s it for us. I end up sitting one row behind her and one seat to the right. I don´t notice until I come back from a bathroom visit in the middle of the night. She smiles and takes my hand as we greet each other, old friends now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We interrupt your itinerary to bring you a delay caused by terrifying backwardness.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

We leave tomorrow on the same schedule which we were supposed to follow today. We were boarding when the word came down on this, despite the problem having occurred about 2 hours before that AND despite our four-hour layover in Dallas. Our backup flight was coming from Dallas so we didn't have a prayer of landing in time for our first international leg.

It's scary to think there are no redundant systems in place for this sort of problem. Apparently all this squawking about updating Air Traffic Control and bringing it out of the 70s is actually kind of accurate.

Good night, friends. And I hope this time I'm really leaving.

Go time!

That blessed, terrifying, exciting, sweet-awesome, anxiety-inducing, long-awaited day is finally upon us. WE'RE GOING TO ARGENTINA.

I'm still unsure of the internet reliability factor. Apparently, a lot of the peeps we're staying with will have broadband, but only when their phones work. My grandparents (who live outside town a ways) have had half days of service for a while now. Uncool. I may post. I may not. I'm as capricious as a zephyr!

And with that little gem, you'll have to excuse me. I have some last-minute panicking to do. Ta-ta!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Random Picture Day

I've got to leave to my friend's wedding tomorrow, so you get some random stuff today. Weeeee! Also, my kitties left to be with their "grandparents" (Hubster's family) while we do our weddings and international galavantings, so I'm a little low.

OH, kittens! I miss you already!



Monday, September 17, 2007

Blah Blah Trip Blah Blah

I shouldn't have posted all those pictures at once. Not smooth. I mean, 79 images in one day? I could have gotten three solid days out of that. At least. Oh blessed content, I misappropriated you! Argh!

It's nearly go time for some important trips, so that's weighing on the old noodle. We leave for Cincinnati and K's wedding in three days and in a week, we'll be zipping up our bags, forgetting our toothbrushes, and praying our luggage arrives with us in South America, baby! WOOOO! Also, AAAAAH!

Today, for instance, I remembered to put in our request for the post office to hold our mail. I also bought German baking chocolate and marshmallows for my grandmother. Apparently, both are rather scarce in their area. I've also bought gifts for the people we know we're staying with, and general gifts for anyone else we're staying with but don't know that well. We also armed ourselves with those mini toilet paper rolls that fit in your purse - apparently their restrooms aren't replenished as often as they should be. To be honest, no matter how much planning I do, there's always a sense that I can't quite put my arms around this trip. I can't see it in my mind's eye, so how am I supposed to be prepared for every little thing?

I realized the other day that my working knowledge of Argentine fashion was seven years out of date. It was time to take action. I called my aunt, an Argentine citizen who married my American uncle and lives with him and their two children in Kansas. They each work for universities, helping with their language and exchange programs and teaching classes. They spent the first part of the year on a six-month sabbatical there. If anyone could get the skinny on what those crazy kids are wearing, it'd be her. I was glad to see that, while fads came and went like they do here, "chic and tight" were still the cornerstones of the moda nacional. In related news, I tried on and purchased some skinny jeans month ago when it was too hot to wear them. Boy, will they come in handy, no?

Aside from that, and trying to ascertain the weather for each of the regions we intend to visit (answer: 40-80ºF - packing's gonna be fuuuuun!), I've been enjoy having my husband back a bit more. Our respective busy times are past, and we can do things like egg each other on to exercise and later eat a bowl of ice cream so one of us doesn't feel bad. Ah, love.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Oregon Vacation Pic-tacular!

So I finally uploaded my vacation pictures to flickr. You may now enjoy them below.

Friday, September 14, 2007

500th Post - La Dee Frickin' Da

Since I last posted I have:

Turned 25, Hit the Quarter Century Mark, Officially Lived One-Third to One-Quarter of My Allotted Time on this Planet, whatever you want to call it. When asked my age, I'm now supposed to say "25."

Bought $800+ worth of domestic flights in Argentina. It was supposed to be cheaper, but no one in my family (least of all myself) can find my national ID papers which would have saved me about $200 on their national airline. That's $200 less shoes, belts, and assorted leather goods I can now reasonably purchase. Curses, foiled again. Also, major documents are missing. I should probably have mentioned that first because it's supposed to be important, but SHOES, people - LESS SHOES. OH, THE HUMANITY!

Endeavored, with a near-perfect rate of failure to acquire undergarments for the bridesmaid dress I'm wearing next weekend. I probably hit 20 stores, and as many online retailers trying to find a low-back, strapless bustier that wouldn't show up under the satin gown and would hold me in place so as not to flash the congregation. I have tried on dozens, googled as many, bought and later returned two items, and I already possessed two from other bridesmaid events. I'm not sure how I even had to buy another, but there it is - I've agonized and endured entirely too much in the search. If I had not randomly seen the store's marquee on a TV commercial for the new shopping center in which it can be found, I would never have had Bra-la-la to thank for finally, FINALLY solving my problem. It would have cost me $70, but the owner misquoted the price as lower, felt bad about it, and then gave me 15% off just because. Victory is sweet, let me tell you. I can finally stop making allusions to Hercules Labors and receiving blank stares from store clerks because apparently, not everyone took Latin in high school and memorized Greek mythology for several years' worth of exams. Nor did everyone take up dating a mythology junkie just as soon as I got rid of the classes in college. Hubster and I have named our cats after Greek and Norse mythological gods; IT'S NOT LIKE I CAN ESCAPE WHENEVER I WANT TO.

Seen Hubster's family's new home and painted one of their closets. Also, I went here and bought and ate lots of chocolate. Not all at once, mind you, but almost.

NOT posted. Not at all, not even a little. It's an achievement.

Noted that this post is the 500th post I've written. I think there are a few I haven't posted that contribute to the number, but not many. I'm big into milestones so I notice these things. And then blab about them.

Left you to fend for yourselves. I've got work to do. Ta-ta!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Just plain mean.

Yesterday, we had lizard number three in our home. Apparently, we attract them or something. I rescued him from both cats who had staked out his hiding place underneath my camera case, so pictures were out of the question, plus it feels kinda old - how many times can you snap pictures of your cat with a lizard, right?

Some of you are asking how I can take more pictures of my cats PERIOD, but I'm going to pretend you're not. And then share more pictures. Am. cruel.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Highlights and Lowlights

The mood at EAP HQ is dour tonight. My trip to Argentina was shaping up nicely, and then the other shoe dropped - our trip to the south of that great nation is gonna cost us mucho dinero. Uncool! I haven't seen the south (for my purposes that's just north-western Chubut province near Esquel) since I left at age 7, so it's REALLY important that we get there, but it's going to cost us a pretty penny to fly. We could save $400 or more if we were willing to take a 25-30hr bus ride on the way down. Tempting, right? Anyway, it's really put the kibosh on an cheerful disposition plans I had.

Although yesterday, the fine folks at Macy's made a little oopsie! and my friend and I scored $10 Michael Kors jeans like these. It's been keeping me going, let me just say. Apparently, the entire store was running a special of $10 off each pair of jeans, but the Michael Kors selections rang up at $10 instead of $89-99 less $10. Sweet. fancy. Moses. History was made, a couple of pairs each were purchased, we retired to our homes to savor our victories. And call our mothers.

Beyond my exploits in patriotic consumerism, I haven't been doing much. Oh, the friend I mentioned earlier (whom I shall henceforth call "Gringa") showed me a fantastic local Indian restaurant - House of India. I had their Paneer Masala (yuuuuummm) and they gave us a free appetizer. Quite good, and their white leather booths and chic decor doesn't hurt, either.

I would struggle on for a few more paragraphs, but I'm tired, so I'm going to hit the hay. And by "hay" I mean "TV." And by "hit" I mean "watch." Night!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Seriously, you've got to try this drink.

I'm sitting here with with a Russian Quaalude (equal parts vodka, Bailey's, and Frangelico, and before you ask, it's DELICIOUS). I've anesthetized, so I'm ready. Let's just rip the band aid off, shall we?

I haven't blogged in ages. My silence is reprehensible, and I'd like to stop hearing about it. Unfortunately, the only way to shut you people up is to do this thing. I'm not sure I remember how.

Where have I gone? Mostly around town, might have been a trip to Oregon that will surely yield fancy photographs. Then I bought some plane tickets for my friend's upcoming nuptials, bought a telephoto lens and some new filters (just got it, cats don't work as subjects, am pursuing other avenues), and started processing my current backlog of 500 photographs after knocking off the 300 from my brother's wedding. That's right, people, I'm positively drowning in RAW files, and it is ALL MY FAULT. Cry for the teched-out middle-class girl, just CRY.

Hmmm, what else, what else? Oh, I saw my brother in Oregon - Brother P from the Army. It was lovely to see him, kibitz, flop around in the Pacific Ocean together (it was cold), and plot our next visit for the holidays. Good times shall be had by all, now we just need to buy the tickets for it.

Speaking of, I have about a month to go before Argentina Fest 2007, Live From That Country Next to Chile. It should be good times, but right now, those times have very little planned about them. It's time to change all that. But I have to stop posting to do it. Hasta, amigos.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Shocking, I know.

I'm barely able to keep my eyelids open, but I thought I'd let you know I'm still around, not dead yet, all that. I'm in Indiana for business, but I'm managing to get plenty o' pleasure out of the experience. Obligatory visit to Bonge's, a massage and pedicure at the local day spa (Two services! I got to wear a robe because of it! Uber-exciting!), lunches out - all are being savored.

Unfortunately with that comes a penchant for that second glass of Sangiovese and sleeeeeep. I didn't bring my camera, figuring the current backlog of over 500 pictures is more than enough to keep me hopping without adding any. Instead, I shall savor my moments being lived without the aid of a viewfinder. And maybe drink some water. Phew this heat and toxin-releasing massage stuff sure makes a girl thristy.

You may hate me for complaining about that. I kinda hate me for it, if it makes you feel any better.

P.S. I might have uttered some absurdly drama-queen-esque statement about not knowing when I'd next see friends which is total crap but sure fit the post well last time. I do feel an inkling of that, but I might also have enjoyed a visit from my former suitemate (Shoutout, B!) within 24 hrs and then left for a visit to swampy Indiana, known to harbor many friends, within 48 hrs. I don't want y'all to worry or anything . . .

Saturday, July 28, 2007

There's a perfectly lame explanation for the dearth of posts, I swear.

All week I've been stressed. My work projects are in limbo and each hour that ticks by in which I don't move forward seems like an eternity I'll have to work off in Last Minute Purgatory. I can forget about it sometimes but big projects, like big life changes and big decisions are meant to be tackled head on and early, while I still have the energy. I may have awakened before 6am to get my hair done the day of my wedding, but I was walking down the aisle at 10 o'clock. Action saves me every time. But there is no action. Or there is partial action, and I get more pent up. Oh, and I bore Bee by complaining about it. I hate to bother her, but I hate to bore you with it too.

Then there's the small matter of Hubster being busy again, being gone when I want to sit and talk or not talk or just be in the same room with him. I rely on him so much, maybe too much, for the support and interaction and affection I crave everyday. I miss him. I miss being us all the time, with nothing on our slates, just a little guilt for being that fortunate.

I've also been busy with social engagements. Which sounds depressingly weird to announce.

Tuesday night was dinner in Annapolis with former Grovers. We ate sushi at Nano downtown. I enjoyed my Kama Kazi ("Spicy tuna, avocado, crunchy flake and eel with eel sauce on the outside" - YUM!) and the conversation. I felt a bit awkward since the rest of the group knew each other and hung out frequently, but even when we moved on to gelato and added a local boyfriend and the conversation touched on people and places I didn't know, it was nice to connect. It was nice to know they all went on, got lives, still thought I was worth dinner and a little Italian dessert.

Wednesday night was Chicken and Beer night with new friends from church. We had 25-cent wings and cheap drafts at a local wings place. I don't know the couple well, but I was there, eating and talking with their friends and coworkers. We ended up getting supplies at the grocery store and sharing root beer floats for dessert at our place. It was spur of the moment, but that made it more fun. I haven't done spur-of-the-moment like that in while. It's a step.

Later that night, I picked up my in-laws at the airport from their vacation. We had to skip family vacation this year, what with plans for trips, costs of trips, and Hubster's general off-the-hook busy-ness. I felt sad hearing the stories and knowing we weren't in them, weren't there to share the experiences that formed them. But as they talked with me for the next couple of days, I again appreciated having family. Hubster may not be there to referee every interaction, but that makes our relationship more genuine. We get to be family too.

Frankly, I'm just grateful I can have such friends and family. Each time life gets busy and my support structure seems shaky, I lament my lack of local friends.
"They're all an hour away! We're too busy to get across the distance."
"I don't have 'coffee friends,'I have 'clear your slate we'll do a weekend in eight months friends!'"
"Why did I not introduce myself to that person at church? It's my own fault I'm so lonely."
"My job is making me a hermit!"
"If I had a car, I'd have friends."
The excuses change, but the frustration and discouragement don't really budge.

And then I have a week like this. I haven't even mentioned the card I got from a dear friend who just shot to the top of my dearest list because she wrote such nice things to me. I got it after a wretched day, and I was just walking on a cloud afterward.

I haven't shown you the image I took today of my bed at Casa Pierce&Wife which contained a loofah, some chocolates, and a body wash for me to enjoy. Before I came, they said they'd pamper me, but I was content with their company. I never expected scented bath products and that bottle of great wine they splurged on to share.

Maybe my real problem is that it's feast or famine for me. I've feasted all week, and it's all so good, but I go from rich fare to bare tables. I wouldn't trade the delicacies for steady bread and water, but I sure would like a meal or two in between.

I haven't shared much with you all week because I've been trying to soak all I can. Sometimes I wonder where my next meal is going to come from.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The laundry, she's a pilin' up.

I got home from Phoenix yesterday morning. I slept very little on the trip, and I ended up napping for six hours yesterday afternoon. It was good for me. Then I upped the ante and managed to sleep all night, too. Apparently I was tired.

I've been putzing around the house and cleaning things sporadically. I barely accomplish anything in between conventions, so it tends to pile up.

I took some pictures in Phoenix, ate some decent food, and introduced my coworker to Greek food - huzzah for corrupting the youth with Mediterranean delights!

Right now, though, I need to keep plugging away at my chores list. Pictures and stories to follow.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

And She's Off! Again!

I have a convention to work. Again.

I waited till too late to pack. Again.

I changed my hair. Again.

I didn't develop my digital pictures from the last trip. Again.

I neglected to post while doing little of value at home. Again.

I was too liberal with the exclamation points. Again!


I'll be back soon, and this is my last one! Huzzah!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back NOT better than ever.

I got back from LA on a red-eye Saturday night to Sunday morning. I slept for at least a couple hours, which I NEVER do, but then I got back and had a hard time sleeping. My in-laws were in town Sunday night and I saw them off for their vacation today. My body is in no particular time zone and I've got some serious pain in my back. LA was as fun as we could make under the circumstances (back pain!), and I've got oodles of pictures to share, but tonight, tonight I'd best get to bed. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"It's like living in someone's mouth."

That's how the store clerk described the current weather - like living in someone's mouth. When it's 94 degrees and the humidity is through the roof, IT'S UNBEARABLE. Today I had to run lots of errands, and getting in and out of the car, feeling the temperature rise five degrees a mere moment after I turned off the engine, GAH.

I HATE DC SUMMERS.

Phew. That feels a little better.

Interestingly, I'm headed out tomorrow to sunny LA for a convention, and the temperatures there are at least 10-15 degrees cooler. Considering how hot it's purported to be out there, I'm just grateful I'll be getting a break. Of course that break comes with less blogging, but I'll take the good camera and let you know how it goes. Hasta la vista, Maryland.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Self-Indulgent Snaps

It's been a while since I took some good personal pictures, so I tried to do it myself because Hubster was busy. And I look really ridiculous and alternately young and old. Awesome. I also took a picture of my home's temperature for posterity. And, you know, self-indulgence.


Remember when I used to caption things?




Oh, I managed to get some fantastic stuff at Sephora last time, including a good foundation match - finally one that isn't too dark. I also got a bronzer that isn't too orange and a lipcolor that reminds me of Scarlett Johansson's at several events/in several movies. Because I was feeling brave and they take returns. I can't find a better picture than her work for Louis Vuitton. I wonder when I can expect my free bag for plugging their product?


What? Too self-indulgent?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Am Loving . . .

Eating watermelon with feta cheese. Sounds gross but is actually a delicious taste explosion in your mouth. Plus you've got your wonder fruit with your relatively-healthy cheese (I used reduced-fat feta which tastes delicious) so it's a great snack. Stop your looking askance and TRY IT.

Watching Doctor Who on TV Links (Hat tip to Jackscolon for helping me find that). That website isn't perfect as streaming video goes, but it'll do in a pinch and it's got tons of shows, including awesome British shows we rarely see over here.

Finding good deals on fabric at JoAnn. They may suck at selection and pricing on their fabrics usually, but good finds to be had in their Spring Fabric Sale. I found some awesome yellow eyelet for a skirt and some decent purse/makeup bag fabrics. I got everything for $3 per yard or less. Huzzah!

Eating homemade lasagna. It may be a pain in the butt to cook, but it's wonderful to eat. Also? Oodles of yummy (freezable) leftovers.

What are you loving?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Rain Out

Happy Independence Day! I was supposed to spend it initiating some local friends to the actual DC festivities, but then the weather said something about scattered thunderstorms, some severe enough to cause "large hail." Um, how about not. Instead we ate our picnic dinner on their living room floor - baguette sandwiches with potato salad and (spiked) lemonade. Then we went out to a movie, got Ben & Jerry's kiddie cones for dessert and then I came home.

The movie we saw was their choice, License to Wed, and it wasn't good. I liked Mandy Moore during her guest stint on Scrubs, but her part, along with the plot, script, comedic bits, and even the soundtrack were formulaic and blah. I like a good chick flick and I will coo and cry with the best of them, but this? No. Don't get me started on the overdone jokes about marriage. Still, it wasn't impossible to watch and my friends were having fun, so it was fine. I'm just lamenting that the Ratatouille showing was inconvenient because I almost got them to see that. I swear I'm going to see that movie if I have to buy a ticket and GO ALONE, darn it!

The rest of the night was fun, though, and I'm glad I went. Hubster's out of town at the moment, so he couldn't complain about the movie choice. I might not otherwise have gone out with the chicas. The picnic and ice cream hit the spot. Happy Birthday, US of A. And many more.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Pooper Goes to the Vet

Today I took Persephone to the vet. It did not go down well.

She meowed loudly and incessantly once I managed to drop her into the cat carrier - I had to tip it upward and put her into it because I couldn't push her in horizontally nor coax her in with treats. She continued meowing all the way to the vet's office. She sat in the waiting room where she would alternately meow in a sort of bellowing fashion and stare intently at everything, including the large cage containing a couple of kittens waiting to be adopted. She hissed at them occasionally, just to prove she was boss, and then began hissing at the room in general. With all the food on one wall and her inability to get a bite, maybe that's why.

Then began the exam where she protested having her temperature taken (although who can blame her since it was a rectal reading - fun!) and then she started wandering all over the room while we waited for the vet. She did nuzzle a wall-mounted machine that looked like it took blood pressure. She was none-too pleased at having her body examined, and the vaccines were RIGHT OUT OF THE QUESTION, YOU BASTARDS (insert hisses, growls, and violent evasion techniques). But we got out the door with a sound bill of health, except for her weight. She's a little overweight and we're going to put her on prescription weight-loss food for a while until we get her back in fighting shape.

At least she didn't poop in her carrier. Like last time.


And you thought we called her Pooper for laughs.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

New and Improved Cat Picture Action!!

In lieu of telling you all about my nice but boring-to-recount weekend, I present cat pictures. Fine, it's only more interesting because it's PICTURES, but I'm over it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Airborne Contemplations

"How do you feel about your little brother getting married?" I was asked that question several times, and the answers I gave while not untrue, per se, never really satisfied me. My opinions kept changing on me. I could never really put my finger on it, and I wasn't quite sure how "in control" I was of the emotional journey.

Spring had been so full after a quiet Winter. Sure, I fell asleep at least once a week writing/editting a toast for my brother, but I think that was more about my nerves than my feelings about his impending life change. Okay, some of that was in there, but not as much as there could have been. Why?

Part of it must have been his bride-to-be, Sister BrightEyes (as she shall henceforth be known here). He was marrying someone I didn't know terribly well, yet I though her delightful, beautiful, godly, and a good match, ultimately. My own thoughts about the timing never went beyond acknowledging that, while they were young, it was very hard to say whether the timing was good from the outside looking in on a relationship. I could only trust them - and that wasn't hard knowing the quality of their minds and hearts and having discussed it with them a little.

I'd come to terms with the many young marrieds that surround me - with the friends and family (and self, for goodness sake) I know who get hitched young. For so many of them it seems to have been a good decision. Life might later prove it was a tougher way to go, but so far it still seems to have yielded good fruit for so many. Why should I think that some of the most mature people I know would be any different?

All of this, however, only answered part of the question. How did I feel about Brother J getting married?

I felt pride in him as a person. He's delightful, responsible, mature, godly, and he's in love with Erin in a way he hasn't been in love with anyone or anything else. He's grown wise throughout his life and even wiser through this relationship. He's ready, as far as I can see.

I also felt joy for him and for Erin. They truly seemed to be happy and display a self-sacrificing delight in each other, too. I worried that struggle, pain, dull daily life, and plain old disillusionment and frustration will rob them of it. Still, Hubster and I have weathered that before and we're still standing together.

As the wedding day drew closer, I started to sense the simmer on the back burner was bubbling up a bit more. My thoughts for the toast progressed from trite platitudes to unoriginal-but-true reflections to a final resting place nearer to pithy and heartfelt, if not totally profound. God gave me inspiration to hold on to some of those ideas I'd already developed and drop others that weren't quite right.

The day dawned a shining testament to the Michigan summer climate, and thank God with the wedding and reception both outside. I saw my brother as I approached the site, and he looked unmistakably like a groom, less because of the tuxedo and more because of the purpose in his smile. He hugged me tight, and I prepared to stand and witness as he'd asked me to. I was surprised at how sisterly I already felt toward Sister BrightEyes. I listened as the pastors discussed and developed some of the ideas I'd rejected for my toast. They did quite well, and I was glad to hear the ideas properly explored.

Then it was upon me - the moment of truth. Soon I was talking, the words flowing out with the aid of my bullet-point notes (keywords in quotation marks - ever the student over here). My hands shook when I had to pick up my notes for the reading of the quotation I'd included, but my voice and my thoughts flowed from my firm purpose and God's unfailing strength granted for that moment.

I looked down as I talked, but Jon and Erin's faces only registered briefly - I had a job to get done and I wanted to do it well. This was no time to process. I could see it was pleasing them and I pressed on. When I finished (my arm shaking a bit as I raised my glass), I sat and turned to my pillar, my own husband for support and approval, in a sense - hoping that what I'd said was worthy of the moment. Only then did I hug the objects of my toast, my brother and new sister, and come down off the adrenaline a bit at a time.

It's taken until now, as I sit on a plane and contemplate those glimpses of their faces, can I truly see my own thoughts in context. That context is the look of love mingled with sadness and something unexpected that crossed Jon's face - admiration, aspiration, maybe just appreciation. And I cannot stop crying. The joy, the recognition of God's great gifts to me in the form of my family, my new sister, and my dear brother are too profound. My body cannot contain all that.

I catch the tears with the same tissues I took down the aisle hidden in my waistband for Erin and maybe for myself.

Strangely apropos.

Behind, but back in the game . . .

The wedding was AWESOME! We had a fantastic few days there, and we took ENTIRELY TOO MANY PHOTOS. If I ever I felt like I wasn't getting enough quality time with my Camera Raw interface, it is NOT now. I did just get my CS3 upgrade in the mail, though, so I get to play with Camera Raw 4 with the new design suite. So far? LOVES IT.

Moving on, I have some pictures of the famed J Morgan Birthday Weekend, Quarter Century Edition below. Goody, goody for you.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Farewell, Cruel Maryland

My brother's getting himself hitched this weekend, as I haven't ceased to mention recently. That blessed time in which I have to focus my complaint beams on something else is ALMOST upon us. It's not that I'm upset about him getting married, it's just that there's a lot of work to be done and a lot of obsessing to go along with that work.

Anyway, we leave shortly. I'm surprised at how some of the pieces have snapped into place, but others are still outside the frame, annoying my peripheral vision. Hopefully being within shouting distance of the bride, groom, parents of both, and some of my friends will assuage my anxiety about all the details. It brings back bad memories of my own stint as a wedding planner (that is, a bride-to-be).

It's been hot lately, and the forecast looks pretty good for home, so I won't miss being home too much. Okay, I won't miss the weather. I miss strange things while I'm gone. Sometimes it's yerba mate in the morning. Sometimes its my pillow. Often my cats. I'm sure I'll be fine, though, and it just makes me appreciate all those things when I return.

This drivel has gone on long enough. At this point I'm only typing to hear the sound of the keyboard. I'll be back next week.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fresh Out of Pithy Titles

The weekend hits keep coming! This time J Morgan, Mair, Charles and TheHair all showed at the casa for a fiesta. J Morgan had a birthday so what better way to celebrate that than with too much meat on a grill, Lemon Asparagus Risotto, and a chocolate cake from Whole Foods that killed any self-control I might otherwise have had?

None better, kids.

The posse arrived and we cooked and prepped to our hearts' contents. The meat was purchased at organic/halal establishments in Charlottesville, VA. Nothing but the finest meant we were all stuffed to the gills by the time we were through. Hubster manned the grill and the wine flowed and a fine time was had by all. It was delightful. Wish I could do that every weekend. Okay, not the cleanup, but IT WAS WORTH IT.

The next morning, we got up lazily. I made the obligatory cinnamon rolls (tradition!) and then we headed over to Daedalus Books. J Morgan and Mair had to go to a wedding in the afternoon, but we shopped for quite some time. I bought several books which I will read then forget to blog about like the stack of books currently on my desk. You're welcome.

Hubster had two wisdom teeth removed last Tuesday and he pushed himself a bit hard after taking only a day off, so he started feeling ill and Charles and TheHair decided to leave earlier so he could take it easy. It was sweet, but naturally a little disappointing. "Not wanting it to end" and all that.

He got back on his feet by Sunday morning. After church we did a little shopping to prepare for this weekend's festivities. And then the family calls started. We spent large chunks of the rest of the day on the phone with family which never really happens with us. Of course it was Father's Day so we talked to the dads. Then my family has a ton of stuff to plan in conjunction with this weekend's aforementioned festivities, so of course we had to discuss the wedding gift and who/what/where/how much. We managed to decide on something, but then I had to go and volunteer to make something to go with it. (Sorry about the ambiguity, but it hasn't been given yet, so mum's the word. Okay, "vague's the word.") I managed to make it yesterday night in one fell swoop despite my relative lack of experience with certain aspects of its construction. Also, my sewing machine totally needed to be oiled and I'm fresh out of that. I hope I haven't ruined it by my laziness.

Anyway, then my mother had a line on a cheap and awesome laptop and my brother had a line on the skydiving the groomsman and groom are going to be doing this week for the bachelor party (I KNOW!) and then . . . oh, we had to plan Hubster's family's visits - and yeah, that's plural - in the next few weeks. AAIIIIII!

Needless to say I got to bed too late last night, but I did get a lot accomplished but, as I may have mentioned before, IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cheapness is the Mother of Nerdiness

We've been trying not run the air conditioning as much as possible all spring. It's been hard not to cave and switch it on sometimes, but I've gotten good at remembering to open the windows at night, close them during the day, and keep a look-out for the weather to see if I can skip that step for once. We're both so lazy about that kind of thing, but we'd like to think we're a little more in tune with nature, but the truth of the matter is that there's not much truth to that. Like most suburbanites, our days are spent on suburban concerns and paying attention to what the weather does is way down on our priority list - unless it involves snow or rain. Sometimes even when it involves rain we can tend to get caught unawares and unconcerned. What's a little wet hair once in a while compared to constantly keeping posted to prevent it? Hair dries.

It's been refreshing to pay attention a little more, actually. I say "actually" because I fully expected to hate it. One more thing on the to-do list, one less minute of time for work or play or sitting around. I didn't expect to like it when I noticed an evening breeze. I didn't expect to like knowing which side of the house has the sun during which part of the day so as to keep air flowing without adding a hot breeze. The day is coolest during the morning, or after a cloud front has moved in mid-day and taken out our previously high heat index. Birds are loud until the garbage man comes at 8. Then they briefly shut up to note the extremely large and incredibly loud object encroaching on their perches before striking up the chirp once more as the beeps travel further down the street, become less menacing, and finally disappear to bother another set of birds somewhere else.

All that to say that today was the most rewarding yet during Nature Ain't Half-Bad Fest 07. The house was stifling because I forgot to close a sunny upstairs window earlier. I brought a big fan downstairs and pointed it straight at my gyrating form during my workout. I still had to keep a water bottle nearby lest my mouth become so dry and my skin so sweaty that I fall and slide across the floor and down the stairs, unable to cry for help. I went upstairs and showered only to find myself still sweating a bit. By the time I got downstairs again, the sky was dark and I could see the boughs of our backyard trees swaying in the wind. Rainstorm - SCORE!

I opened the back door, admiring the fact that our newly-installed screen (thanks, Hubster!) meant this could now be a big-ole source of fresh air for just such an emergency. I stood by the door, watching the wind swell like a wave and hit the trees, the sound so like the ocean, the sight strangely reminiscent. Finally the lightening and thunder arrived, but only after the wind had died down. I kept the screen open as I cooked nearby, the sound sometimes so loud it felt like a kick to the sternum. The rain seemed like an afterthought of the storm so it never sullied my carpet and made me close myself off, a suburbanite again.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Nietzsche Would Not Be Pleased

I might have been watching too many episodes of Heroes on NBC's streaming video portal, but I need to have a superhuman ability, and I know just the thing. I would like to be able not only to think of an entire post (which I can already do) but to be able to post it magically on my blog. Instant content, no need for a computer, an internet connection, or the time it takes to type it. What we they call me then? The Über Blogger? Yeeees. Yes, I like that.

Too bad you're stuck with the Underwhelming Blogger.

I went to Richmond this past weekend for the last of my three-in-a-row. The convention went fine, and AquaWoman and I did great work. Kicked butt, took names, drank a LOT of Diet Coke in between explaining, once again, "what all those CDs are." Not that this means anything to do you, but if I had a dollar for every time someone uttered that phrase, I wouldn't work have to work anymore. And then I could devote myself to developing my powers. That's why I don't blog - I haven't tempered my gift yet. Yeeees.

Anyhow, we ate at the Penny Lane Pub whilst there. Their Portobello Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper, and Spinach quiche will knock your blooming socks off, and everything is Beatles/British themed. Smashing. (Maybe I should stop blogging before your heads all explode from the relentless cheese of it all. No?)

I'm sure I could write more, actually, but my brain is fried from all the logistics I'm trying to run on it. I've got a posse coming over this weekend for a party, half a week at home, then I'm off to my brother's wedding (with a bachelorette party and a toast to execute), and then I'm back before Hubster starts working like mad and we barely connect for a while. Oh, and there's the church website I promised to work on, pictures to retouch/order for family, a house to clean, and a little thing called NO TIME LEFT FOR ME.

Enough spazzing out and whining. I'm out. Maybe I'll post some pictures Hubster took this week. They star Tiny and a lizard. Again. It's not über, but it'll do.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sweet mercy, I'm tired.

Okay, so Hubster had a wedding last weekend and I had a convention to attend. We were less than two hours apart in New Jersey, but I had to work most of the time. The convention was meh, though sales were low. I did, however, meet two fabulous people in the next booth. They watched my cashbox whenever I had to pee, which is a handy thing during the 7-8 hour shifts I endured alone. If memory serves, wetting your pants is definitely on the Bad Customer Service list.

The best part of the convention was eating at the Akbar Restaurant in Edison, NJ. I tried it out the first night and enjoyed myself so much that I returned the next night. Great service, delicious food, and nice atmosphere. I tried two dishes in a brown sauce whose names totally escape me. Murg Lababdar, maybe? I think that was chicken. Kashmiri Rogan or something for the lamb dish. I've had so much on my mind and no itemized receipts. Anyway, the food was out of this world. Also, they had a mint and cilantro sauce with the lamb. I shall no longer enjoy Greek mint sauce because this sauce? Kicks its minty BEEP. So, if you're visiting Northern New Jersey - eat at Akbar! If you're local, my jealousy burns against you.

Keith said the beach wedding turned out great. It was cool enough for all the lads in tuxedos (they went barefoot, which I kinda love) and the reception afterward was lots of fun. I got done with work and headed over for the after-reception party which lasted into the night. I crapped out at 10:30 from exhaustion, but I managed to stay awake for the snarking of most of Quicksilver, a Kevin Bacon movie that was just WAY TOO MUCH FUN TO SNARK. Rent it next time you need to vent some cattiness. The dancing scene with the prissy ballerina girlfriend and Kevin Bacon DANCING ON A BICYCLE does NOT disappoint.

So we got back Sunday and acted like zombies for the rest of the day. I got a little house stuff done, but not much. Today was work, work, then dinner at El Patio with friends, and now I'm up late talking to you. It's wall-to-wall around here. I'm gonna go find a corner and lie down.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cheating with Reheated Content

I just found this dandy new doohickey that allows you to make a slideshow of your flickr photos on your blog. And it's pretty. We'll see if this works.



I'm leaving today. Again. I'm off to New Jersey for a convention all by my little lonesome. I also might make a stop-off to see my husband who's a groomsman this weekend in a wedding in . . . New Jersey. It's a weird coincidence that might have been fantastic if the wedding weren't during the day on Saturday instead of at night like I'd hoped. Anyway, I might go hang with him after I get done for the day. We'll see.

Right now I'm killing time until everyone gets off the road for me. And then I'm leaving.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Conference + Holiday = No Posting

So our convention in Florida went well. Sales were up, companionship was great, food was good to FANTASTIC, and . . . (drum roll please) I GOT TO GO TO DISNEY WORLD!

This was my first trip to Florida, and it took me a grand total of 24 hrs to end up in Disney World. I credit on Bee, partner in crime, and our other convention rep, whom I shall call AquaWoman, who once worked at Disney's Living Seas exhibit (now Nemo themed, of course) in Epcot (look out, that page has audio - annoying!). She got us two free tickets, so all we had to do was buy one and split the difference for an entire day. Sweet fancy Moses.

We walked around the countries, we went Soarin' (highly recommended, by the by), we ate lunch in Morocco (Restaurant Marrakesh, by name), and we tried all kinds of Coca Cola Products from around the world. Plus the weather was perfect - warm and breezy. I'm sure the results might have been different if I'd had to sweat my way through the day, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Yes, I did bring my big camera, despite some question about doing that as I packed, and all the snaps are on flickr. The entire park was in bloom for the Spring, and I got a ton of fabulous flower snaps. I can't even identify them all. Not that I'm a botany buff or anything.

Speaking of buff (love that segue), I am a known food buff, and Bee and I got some seriously good food at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant at Downtown Disney. I had Pan-roasted Mahi-Mahi with fingerling potatoes and a delicious peach drink called a Bellini something-or-other. I also enjoyed the Banana Beignets, a smashing dessert that hit the spot. Seriously insane food. Not so great prices, but well worth the experience. The service was fantastic - our waitress, and especially the hostess were wonderful. The hostess convinced us not to skimp and go through their cafe dining (cheaper, lighter menu) and instead to hold out for dining room seating. Later on in the meal, she checked in on us to see how we were getting on. She certainly made us feel welcome, flip-flops and all.

We hadn't planned on hitting that restaurant up, but then we didn't plan much of our extracurriculars this time around. We never even hit up the four outdoor pools we could see from our hotel window. That might be a crime, especially when this is where we were staying. Best laid plans, and all that. Next year, I'm going to make sure we plan ahead and do some more Disney, I think. And maybe a little sittin' by the pool.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Me Voy

Later today, I'll be touching down in La Florida, so I've gotta run. Yes, a convention. Yes with her. Good stories and pictures shall probably ensue. Probably.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Feast for the Palette, Then a Feast for the Mind

We had such a good weekend, that I shudder to think how many things would be left out of any run-on sentence purporting to summarize its greatness. Even that one.

Zoofari is described here, but basically, over 100 restaurants and wine purveyors set up booths and give out free food and drinks for a few hours in the National Zoo. It's delicious. 1789 gave out lamb chops in the most delicious sauce I've ever tasted in my entire life. L'Oustalet gave out samples of beef roasted in the best gravy ever - I distinctly tasted orange in the gravy and was floored. Pinzimini gave out olives, pasta with gruyere and asparagus, and tiramisu. That's pretty much all my buttons right there. Anyway, well worth attending, might even be worth paying to attend in the future when we can't get free tickets because mmmmmmm. Also, I might have gotten TWO samples of Chateau Ste Michelle's amazing wines. My taste buds were very happy with their Dry Riesling.

J Morgan and Mair gave us the use of their car all week whilst they were on vacation and then stayed overnight Friday when they returned. We had such a good time. We grilled out on Saturday, made a side-trip to IKEA, and stretched more than one joke riff to the breaking point before diving into another line of reasoning. They had to leave Saturday, but we've already got our next visit planned, so it was easier to wave goodbye.

Now it's Monday night. I had a great conversation with Hubster about my career/school aspirations and a lot more. We'll see where it leads, but it was nice to wrap up some loose threads of thinking. All the eating, the smiling, and now thinking sure take a lot out of you, though. I need some beauty rest, kids. Good night.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Randomized Midweek Photographic Goodness


Persephone, in a rare sojourn beyond the walls of our luxurious home. Totally not into being photographed with all these SMELLS around.


The scene - Tuesday night, Non-Virtual Fyfdom, grilling out, hanging out on our decrepit (now fixed) back stairs, life is good.


Kebabs on the grill. Cue salivation.


Confined kitty, yearning to be free.


I have no idea why, but I think I really like this picture.


Two of kind. Okay, in no respect are we two of a kind, but it sounded nice for a second there.


Parting shot. Because she is so deliciously cute, my tiny-tiger/cheetah-belly.

Photo Credits to Hubster.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Linking Wednesday

1. We start out strong today with these musical words: beer power.

2. Honeybee populations across the country are declining because of a mysterious killer, and it might affect our food considering that 1/3 of our crops are pollinated byinsects, mostly honeybees. Someone help before we can't find avocados, asparagus, or cherries for love nor money!

3. Slate's Human Guinea Pig, Emily Yoffe takes one for the team to find out "What happened when I followed The Secret's advice for two months." A satisfyingly sarcastic take on following a stupid book's advice.

4. Back to food. This article purports to tell you which food to eat for your mood. Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn't. It's certainly interesting.

5. Inside the Bridal Industrial Complex. That's basically what author Rebecca Mead did to write her new book, and the NYTimes talks about the book and the experience of walking through the Great Bridal Expo with her. This article is behind the registration screen at this point, but her book is called One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding.

6. And the last one I found through dooce. Pictures, with captions, of Disapproving Rabbits. It's pretty awesome. My fav so far: "Hazel practices her disapprove-fu, allowing her to disapprove in any direction at any time."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What a Wonderful World

It's been a long few days since I last posted. Full days, too. From a relatively light Spring, we're careening into a heavy Summer of weddings, weekend visits, and conferences. Last weekend had Gold Cup, this weekend had all that and more!

So Hubster's dad got us tickets to the America's Cup of Polo. We had VIP tickets for the Cartier tent, very nice what with the free food and drinks all day and the fabulous views of the field. This year was the inaugural year so everything was new and exciting and less than perfectly organized, but it was a fun time.

It all got started with a cocktail party Friday night. Sister-in-law Slydig (henceforth to be her handle because she's a funny person with a penchant for the sarcastic) and I went through balmy Hades on the slow Washington Metro to get out there for it. Then we got a tour of the grounds for the game, lovely Morven Park, as well as the location of the cocktail party near a former Virginia governor's mansion. We ended up with all of 30 minutes to freshen up for the party and I am proud to say that we did it and looked HOTT at the end to boot. We are machines. Pretty, pretty machines.

Moving on, Market Salamander did the catering for the entire weekend. There was not a amphibian in evidence, despite their bizarre name, but there was plenty of food, most of which was inventive and just plain delicious. They had mini ciabatta breads for their slow-roasted leg-of-veal with amazing dressings. Their pork, mango, and basil-leaf hor d'oeuvres were amazing. Oh, and they had this poached pear tidbit wrapped in filo that made me fall in love with food all over again. We haven't even talked desserts. Very good stuff here. The drink of the event was a Polo-rita - a margarita with pomegranate and orange juices and Casa Noble tequila. Also quite good.

The cocktail party was fun, especially the part where Mumsie (mother-in-law) and Slydig and I sat around feeling awkward and fashion-policing to take the edge off. They're more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Man, I am FOLKSING IT UP around here. I am so obviously not one of the elite of this nation that I should have been BANNED from such a stately event. But I wasn't. Ha!

So we hit the hay once Hubster arrived (having driven down after work) and got up to a day whose weather could not make up its mind. It's sunny. Now it's overcast. Now it's sunny again. Now it's sprinkling. Now it's raining. Now it's clearing. Now it's sunset. Good night. Fortunately, the good and bad patches coincided with our schedule so we were able to watch the polo match in the overcast, dry sections and then retreat to the tents for the annoying drippy parts. It could have been better, from a planner's perspective, but it could also have been considerably worse given a weather report that had 40% chance of thunderstorms listed only the day before.

And what to say of the day? The US polo team was made up of mostly amateurs and the UK team was mostly professionals, so the final defeat of the USA was not all that surprising. The match was exciting throughout, however, except in the last chukker when the UK really brought on the hurt by widening their early two-point lead. I've blocked out the final score, but it was probably like 7 to 3 in their favor. Ouch. Still, next year's match should be with Italy and we'll see if there's enough interest state-side to garner an entire professional squad or not. Perhaps the best part of the game was one of the announcers, Cowboy SomethingorOther, who's been doing this since the 70s and was flat-out hilarious when he wasn't inappropriate and mildly offensive. When the US scored a goal, he bellowed "Well slap my pappy and call me happy!" When he was fitting in an advertisement for an inner-city outreach group, he was so inappropriate it was laughable. One phrase stuck out, though "so donate some money of and help them out to keep those kids off the streets of your neighborhood with guns." Words fail me.

But the match was the easiest part of the day. We had Hubster's entire family together so we wanted to talk and hang with all of them. Charles and The Hair came along and brought two friends as well, so that made more interesting brains to pick. Plus we invited a couple of Maryland friends as well. It was a full house. Good thing the champagne flowed all day, along with more Polo-ritas, Yuengling, New Castle Ale, and lots more good stuff. Did I mention it was Cartier branded champagne? Fortunately, it didn't taste like their jewelry which I would guess would be lacking in tasty effervescence and lean closer to cold metallic flavor with notes of polishing agent.

The day wrapped up with a concert by the reconstituted band of Journey, still rocking hard with their new members and ready to put on a pretty good show. We watched from the tents for a while, but closer to the end, we headed out on the field, Hubster having opened one last bottle of New Castle each on an abandoned caterer's table, and we rocked out to "Don't Stop Believing" and generally had a fabulous time. It was late, dark, and everyone was feeling tired, but we still had a blast.

And that's more than enough for this post. More, perhaps with pictures, tomorrow.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What is this "no" of which you speak?

It's hot. Okay, not "hot" but balmy. I just spent the last couple of hours upstairs working on a Mother's Day gift, and the cool basement feels great. Ah, room-temp goodness.

I did that thing again - biting off more than I could chew. I said, "I'll make both gifts with oodles of time to spare!" And now it's down to the wire, and though I found something lovely for my mother at IKEA, my mother-in-law is the only one with the homemade gift this time around. Even worse, my sewing machine is acting up. The feed dogs (called the "transporter" or something on this Wikipedia page, but every sewer I know calls them that) were acting very strangely, and there's a little wobble on the straight lines of sewing. ANNOYING. Meh, I'll get it serviced and life will go on, and you can bet I'll be volunteering to sew purses for most of the greater-DC population in no time.

I should have the phrase, "DON'T BE A HERO" emblazoned on my forearms or something. I could get it tattooed in a lovely design with an artistic touch, but it would have to be visible to me. Maybe on my hands. Although I hear hands are a pretty painful spot for that. Oh, I'm sorry, you wanted a point to this. It's not that I'm allergic to the word "no," I just have a sensitivity to it. And I really need to stop volunteering. Hubster asks me what to get for our mothers, and I should ask him for ideas instead of immediately marking off my time for the selection of the project, the selection of the material, the cutting out phase, the sewing phase, the ripping out bad seams phase, followed by more sewing and culminating in the hand-sewing phase. ENOUGH.

Okay, "enough" doesn't seem to hurt as much as "no." Maybe I should try that out.

Bets on how long that lasts?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Weekend Wonders

Last weekend was full. Friday night, Hubster and I took our coffee date to the mall where we could wander and double-check our prices. We managed to find some mark-downs on products we'd bought earlier, so we actually did that whole "price adjustment" thing retailers always hype because no one does it, ourselves included. We saved like 20 bucks on our bill, so I'm keeping both jackets, in case you're wondering. We decided to rent a movie, but then I needed to hem some new pants for Hubster and one thing led to another so we thought "no movie, we'll be up to late" and therefore stayed up just as late doing other things. Oh, we are that good.

We got up the next morning and ran final errands (it was surprisingly hard to find fully cooked, honey-glazed, spiral-cut hams nearby) and we got all dolled up for Gold Cup. We did this last October, and I even took pictures, but apparently, I forgot to post them or even go beyond a mention of the event. Way to drop the ball!

In a nut shell, it's a steeplechase with lots of fanfare and people wear preppy clothes (and hats) and bring delicious food and wine and hang about watching the occasional horse race. We had a fantastic time last year. We brought food, wine, champagne cocktails, and delicious desserts. This time, Mr. T and Southwest again asked us to come, but they added both sets of their parents to the roster. It was a bit awkward at first, but we quickly warmed up to each other and enjoyed an hour or so of eating and talking. Enter the rain, stage left. Pretty soon we realized the rain would not relent. We'd brought blankets and umbrellas, but it wasn't long before we were almost soaked and considering our options. One set of parents was staying at a hotel, so we hit up the lobby for coffee and cookies and relaxed there. It wasn't the day we'd envisioned, but it was worth it, if nothing else than for Southwest's amazing concoction made from champagne, pomegranate juice and fresh raspberries. Must repeat that one.

We bid everyong adieu in time to catch dinner with CharlesPeirce and his wife, whom I've only ever called "his wife" on this blog and shall henceforth call "TheHair" because of the hair. The last time we'd gotten together was entirely too long ago (again!), so rather than being stumped by our busy Friday and Sunday, we heaped on a visit to our Saturday. They made us pot roast with vegetables and mashed potatoes and had blackberries and delicious wine (George Duboeuf Merlot) and mmmmmm, it was yummy. We talked into the night and managed to plan a few more get togethers. We went from once every six months to four times in the next couple of months. We are people of extremes.

Sunday? Church, then lunch, then a movie, then bed. We watched Stranger than Fiction, and I loved it. The previews make it look like more of a comedy than a drama, and it's just the opposite, but it did tell the story with a lot of humor and insight. The music, the acting (Emma Thompson gets me every time), the cinematography, the plotting, everything. The ending wasn't as satisfying as I'd hoped, but it was still beautiful. Life, death, romance, guitars, space camp, and a seductive baker. Good times.

And good night!

Monday, May 07, 2007

A Moment for Elephants

Okay, let's face our pachyderm head on: I, LIKE, NEVER BLOG ANYMORE! In the past I've had a good reason for any hiatus - I'm traveling for business, I'm on vacation, I'm sick, etc. This past week I've had nothing particularly time-consuming on my slate, but it's been near impossible to make myself post. And yes, this is mostly about fun and games so if it's no longer serving that purpose, maybe it's alright that I don't post. There's just one tiny problem with that: I don't get to catch up with y'all if I'm not posting. No one comes to visit or makes a comment. I was talking about this with CharlesPeirce and his wife and we agreed: it's easier to use facebook because a few bits of your content and your relationships provide the reason to return to the site. You drop one sentence on your friend's wall and you read others' comments and you're done! With blogging, if you don't come up with content, that's it - no comments, no reason to the visit the site, no reason to come back till there's new content and if there isn't any for while, you're likelier to forget all about it.

I'm not sure how I'm going to handle this. I mean, 5 days a week of even crappy content takes time. It takes motivation. Some days, when I'm done with work I don't want to go downstairs and back to my computer at all. If there was a way to do it from my bedroom, maybe, but we haven't got a laptop, and frankly, how lame is it that I use THE STAIRS as an excuse? Less lame if you understand that the stairs symbolize all the trouble it takes - sitting in the cold basement, looking up Amazon links, writing and editting, etc.

It's still lame.

Maybe I'll decide to post less often. Maybe I'll find a method of preparing posts that's faster. I don't think I'm going to let this thing decay, but I do think I need a change. We'll see.

Hmm, this is already a post in and of itself, so I'm going to call it quits while I'm ahead. I'll tell you about my weekend later. Good night. Hopefully, I'll see you soon.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Listing Tuesdays

Because I joined facebook today, and it's already sucking up ALL MY TIME. CURSE IT.

Ahem:

1. This is a list of the best cookbooks of 2006. I was so sick of cooking the same things over and over. Stir-fry, chicken wraps, grilled chicken, ravioli, shuffle, shuffle, repeat. Breaking out of my cooking rut meant getting inspiration. Try out some of these picks from Epicurious.com.

2. McSweeney's does it again with: "Considered but discarded names for the Indie Band Someone Still Loves you, Boris Yeltsin." Short but sweet. Kudos to Hubster for spotting this gem.

3. I'm not sure I agree with all of the authors conclusions, but this piece from the New York Times (it's past the free window, so you might need to register, sorry!) got me thinking. It's not that I agree with Michael Pollan. Full disclosure, I haven't even read the Omnivore's Dilemma yet, but it's enlightening to learn a little about the laws that wind up determining our food options on supermarket shelves. Growing up in early life in Argentina, I didn't eat a lot of processed food and such because their food supply looks considerably different than ours (especially if you compare the 1980s there and 2000s here and now). When we moved to the States, I didn't really make a point to remember how strange food seemed. I let my mother worry about that. Full disclosure, I was probably obsessing about the last time my brothers broke into my room and hoarded my stuff for ransom. Anyway, it's an interesting piece illuminating a non-glamorous, but increasingly popular issue: how our legal infrastructure informs our health choices.

4. This one's already made some rounds, but in case you missed it, Joshua Bell plays a classical violin set in the Washington Metro system. Interesting results.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Reading Myself

"A photograph is not created by a photographer. What he does is just to open a little window and capture it. The world writes itself on his film. And the act of the photographer is closer to reading than it is to writing. He is the reader of the world." -Ferdinando Scianna, from Slate.

I was trying to capture the look of a couple of outfits today. I tried on the dress I'm intending to wear and I got both jackets together so I could take pictures of them each open and closed. Why just use a mirror when you can make it complicated, right?

Well, these pictures look as confused as I felt. I misplaced the focus and they definitely won't work for what I wanted. I was trying to read the world in the sense that Scianna described, but I failed. I had a good problem - choose between two lovely jackets to make a nice outfit. I also had a good weekend, enjoying dinner out with Gerkin and Hubster at Les Halles. Friday night, Hubster and I, too enjoyed a great evening with just the two of us and our unnaturally hyper cats. I did have a few darker moments, though. It seems as though I can feel a little too tied to practical matters of late - I'm bothered by how often I avoid deeper moments with K or just alone with myself. I'm stressing out, and I want to slow down but seem unable to focus on anything but the next task.

In some ways, these pictures capture that. I'm out of focus and the project I'm actually trying to do (decide which jacket to keep) is hopeless because the focal point of my camera is a foot in front me. My photographic ineptitude making my point for me. If only all these were solved so easily.







Thursday, April 26, 2007

Petroglyph National Monument

We quite enjoyed our foray into this park, but then again we're nerds. If you find yourself equally nerdy and curious, I've included some Wikipedia links for more information. Okay, okay PICTURES!


According to the placards arrayed throughout the site, it was considered a holy place where Native Americans (and later Spanish settlers) would go on faith quests, basically. The art pictured here is less representational than ritual. Sometimes we have no idea what they mean because no cultural artifact bears the same symbol. However, many symbols recur throughout the area, like the one pictured above.


This petroglyph was not dug as deep into the rock, but you should be able to distinguish a man with a mask over his left eye.


Such fluid lines on this little man. Love it.


We also learned that the cross was as symbol in the local Native American cultures long before the Roman Catholic Spaniards showed up. You can tell each culture's cross by whether it has an outline or not. This is a Native American cross; the Spanish would not have outlined it.


Another man, hanging out. I should really reprocess this picture, though, because it definitely doesn't match the tonality and color depth of the desert varnish well at all. Oopsies!


KITTIES! ON ROCKS! Although these were likelier to be jaguars than domesticated cats. Apparently, their range extended to Albuquerque, back in the day.


And you gotta love the modern graffiti. Was is worth it, Amanda '86?

For a pretty good primer on petroglyphs (stone carvings) see this Wikipedia article. Apparently, the reason you can get and retain these carvings is because of something known as "desert varnish," a darkened exterior which certain types of rock get in hot arid climates. This article seems to indicate that it's because of the rocks make-up as well as the interaction with the environment over time. When you scratch off the outer layer of varnish, it doesn't fill in again so your carving remains intact for centuries.

I highly recommend a visit. Maybe next week, I'll show you some images of the area itself and you'll notice as we did that it's not as easy/safe as most national parks. For one thing, you have to climb among all these rocks without many handholds and few stairs with handholds. I wore some adorable platform espadrilles which were TOTAL CRAP on those steep (and often tight) inclined spaces, but I didn't fall down and avoided going boom. I just wouldn't recommend flipflops.