Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This Song Gets You Kicked Out of Rock and Roll, Alan Parsons Project

Where do we go from here now that all other children are growin' up
And how do we spend our lives if there's noone to lend us a hand

Seriously. Who cares? Empty Nest Syndrome is not appropriate for rock and roll. Sorry, APP, you're fired.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Is Over, Yo!

We made it. And, to answer your question: There were no tears Christmas morning. Riley wasn't looking for a kid's car with a roof and four seats. I did give her and Lucy their own tape measures and mentioned, "Hey! We can use these to construct the roof on your car!" And she thought that was a capital idea.


I'm looking forward to the new year and all it has to offer. I'm not making any resolutions, but I do have plans:

  1. I hope to knock the dust off my novel and get it going again. I actually had a dream that contained a great line I must include.

  2. I'm going to blog more and comment more. I'm struggling because I feel like I don't have anything orignial to add here. I just need to dig deeper...

  3. Oh, the old standard: Exercise/eat right. Maybe this year I can find my inner Richard Simmons and throttle him to death with my inner Billy Blanks
  4. Start preparing for Christmas in January. God, I hate being under the gun and not prepared. I felt like this year, I wasn't as thoughtful about others as I have been in the past. That's going to're all getting something handmade.
  5. I'm going to make our house sparkle from inside out. And I'm going to eat that elephant one hamberger at a time. I will perfect each square foot individually and start over next year. Circle of housework, we'll call it, Simba.

I'll stop there. Anyone in HR knows that 3-5 goals per year is the max. I think I can take it. Maybe I'll use them as themes and report on my progress throughout the year. Anyway, happy New Year to you. I hope you get kissed at midnight!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thanks for the Advice

Well, I've nipped it in the bud. I don't think I'll have to deal with disappointment on Christmas morning. I had checked in with my Dad, the Christmas Master, to see if there were any way to minimize the disappointment for Riley. There was no way I was going to buy her another kid's car.

"Well, can you think back to a time when you were disappointed on Christmas morning?" he asked me.

"No, actually." I replied. But I didn't have quite the wild imagination that my eldest daughter has. Do you know she has a colony of imaginary friends? That's what she calls it, "The Colony." She also has imaginary family now too. Complete with an older brother in middle school named Nick, a younger sister in pre-school called Emily and a Mom who looks like Tinkerbell. We've all been recast, my friends. But I've taken it in stride. I've even pushed back with, "What's wrong with your real Mommy?" and received lots of hugs and declarations that I was the best Mommy ever a thousand percent, which, of course I already knew. So, I don't complain much about my imaginary counterpart.

But it was seeming like I may need to reign her in before Christmas morning hit. So I did. Observe the conversation I had with Riley last night:

"So, what do you want for Christmas, Riley?" I asked.

"A Barbie car with four seats and a roof," she recited.

"You know," I said, glancing sidelong at my Dad for moral support, "I don't think they even make that kind of car."

"I know," she said.

"Actually," I said, thinking, "It sounds like something we could do to your Barbie Jeep ourselves...we could add a roof..."

"Yeah!" she said, enthusiastically.

"I don't think we could get four people in it, though; that battery isn't quite strong enough."

"Well, a roof would be good," she said.

"Yeah, it would be a fun project...we probably don't have to even ask Santa for help on this one."

"Nope!" she said and took off.

"What do you want for Christmas, Lucy?" I asked, feeling braver.

"Star Wars Clone Wars shirt and cape and pants and light saber," she recited.

"Sounds good," I said, relieved that most of that was already in the bag.

Thanks for your advice yesterday about this issue. I hope you all have a Christmas free of disappointments and full of unexpected joy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Do You Have Any Christmas Related Advice For Me?

My daughter, Riley, is on the brink of figuring out the Santa Claus thing. She's asked for an item that I don't think exists and if it did, I don't think I could afford it. It might be a test to see if Santa is for real or not.

She wants a kid's car that has four seats and a roof. Last year, we got her and Lucy a Barbie Jeep and it was exactly what she wanted. Now she's upped the ante and I'm not sure how to handle it.

I definately don't want to buy her another car. At least not until she's 16. But what do I tell her Christmas morning when she doesn't get her car?

Please help.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Classic Rock Wisdom: Michael Kroeger of Nickelback

To feel devine, to hold onto ones self, to give and to give and to never receive by myself.

---From Deep, 1998

Classic Rock Wisdom: David Paich of Toto

Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti, I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become.

---From Africa, 1982

Classic Rock Wisdom: Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull

The rivers are full of crocodile nasties and He who made kittens put snakes in the grass.
--- From Bungle in the Jungle, 1974

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pithy Memos from the Management

Hey gang,

I woke up this morning and put my slippers on. As I scooted to the bathroom to begin my morning ablutions, I reached down to pet the cat. Well, boy, let me tell you what! The cat and I were flailing around like cartoon characters! I could literally see his skeleton glow in the dark.

So I thought now was a good time to warn you all about the dangers of static electricity at this time of year. The amount of static electricity that is generated in these cold, dry days really can cause quite a spark, and Mr. Whiskers and I learned that the hard way! It can make your hair stand on end, your skirt stick to your legs (or your pants stick to your legs) or you could even be walking around with a sock stuck to your back and not even know it! In fact, it is so powerful, that if you pilot light should go out and you’re not careful about scooting in your slippers, you and your cat could be history!

Please, please, please use caution when scooting. Or better yet: get a humidifier.

Susan Johnson
Manager of Customer Relations
Consolidated Informatics

Classic Rock Wisdom: Steve Miller

Feed the babies who don't have enough to eat. Shoe the children with no shoes on their feet. House the people livin' in the street Oh, oh, there's a solution.

--From Fly Like an Eagle, 1976

Classic Rock Wisdom: Bob Seger

Try the handle of the road, feeling different feeling strange. This can never be arranged, as the light fades from the screen from the famous final scene.

-From The Famous Final Scene, 1978

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Numb3r5! The Green Monkey Mix

I'm in the mix for the Green Monkey Music Project (thought it may not be official yet). There is only one rule for this mix, and it is very simple.All the selections must have a number of some sort in the title. There can be an actual number in the title, or the number can be spelled out (i.e. "Two"). I'll even allow adjectives like "Seventh".

  • Four Minutes to Save the World, by Justin Timberlake/Madonna
  • 500 Miles, the Proclaimers
  • 1999, Prince
  • 99 Red Balloons, Nena
  • Just the Two of Us, Bill Withers & Grover Washington Jr
  • Gimme Three Steps - Lynard Skynard

I'll post explanations soon...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Celebrities Who Have Appeared in My Dreams: Kate Jackson

Oh my God! I had the worst nightmare last night!

I dreamt I was waking up in the pre-dawn hours. I heard rustling in the kitchen and around the corner in the hallway, I could see my neighbor making his way to our room and hopping in to bed with me and Doc. He snuggled up to me and I was feeling a bit put upon. Doc continued sleeping. My neighbor couldn’t quit fidgeting so I threw him out. I walked him down the hallway and into the kitchen.

I was stunned to see that my kitchen had been destroyed. The cupboards had been ripped off the walls, the stove was missing, the phone was missing. I started to panic. I wondered if we had left the doors unlocked. My neighbor let himself out the back door with a cheery, “Peace Out!” I looked around again and found my stove across the room from where it should have been. The phone was also in a different location: across the room and up so high on the wall, I couldn’t reach it.

I was scared. Whoever did this was both destructive and mischievous. Nothing was stolen but the room had been vandalized. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my cell phone to call 911. I wondered as I flipped my phone open whether or not this was a 911 emergency. But I decided I didn’t care; I was freaked. I started to dial the numbers and the display showed 622 instead of 911, which I had pressed. I kept trying to dial and the screen would either show the wrong numbers or it would melt into Yellow Submarine colors and little icons on the screen would start laughing at me.

Eventually I connected with someone and told them our address. I went outside to wait for the police to show up. As I wondered how the houses across the street were removed and replaced with forest, I saw a 1970’s era gold Plymouth Duster approach and pull in the driveway. Kate Jackson got out of the driver’s side door wearing a smart white pantsuit and a white leather shoulder bag. She identified herself as a detective and I started telling her what happened.
“I wonder,” she said, “if this has anything to do with the baby I saw wandering around your front yard the other day…”

“The what?!?” I said, alarmed. There was a baby in my yard?!? Wandering?!?

“The baby. I’ll make a note of it. By the way, do you want to see my new pet?” she asked.

“Um, well…” I stammered, wondering why she didn’t want to come in the house and take a look at the damage and maybe find some clues.

“Oh, I found him the other day,” she said and whistled, “Here boy!”

Out of the car jumped her pet: a jack-o-lantern. It bounced its way frenetically over to us and eventually bounded up over my head, opened its jaws and attached itself to my head. I knocked it off of my head and ran back to the house, deciding the police weren’t going to be much help and I’d better just get me and my family the hell out of there and then figure out what to do.

I went back into the kitchen and Doc was there I started to tell him what happened and he seemed unmoved. I thought maybe I was over-reacting until I saw a door in the kitchen wall that I didn’t know we had. I pushed it open and looked down to see a large atrium with another house inside of it that kind of looked like the Brady house. I slammed the door shut and decided I wasn’t over-reacting; Doc was under-reacting. I went back into the bedrooms to get the kids.

They were in my room sitting on a roofline outside of the bedroom window. They were in their jammies and they were drawing clouds…literally. They would move their little arms around and cloud images of rabbits and rainbows were forming in the sky. Then the clouds became real. This was freaky to me but still kind of innocent until one of them drew a tiger, which came to life and slinked through the window into our bedroom. I grabbed it by the collar and led it to Doc.
“Handle this, won’t you?” I said as I went back to get the kids.

I got everyone outside and I went back in to the kitchen to get my purse. Things were flying around the kitchen and it was very cold. I suddenly realized that the weird things that were happening in my house were because of ghosts! So I shouted, “Get out of my house! Get out of my house!” But of course, it came out like “Gerrrroouottmmmmhosssssss!” because my mouth and throat were semi-paralyzed. I began to panic, but I thought, no…this is my house, dammit and I’m going to get it back. So I continued screaming “Gerrrroouottmmmmhosssssss!” over and over until everything stilled and cartoon ghosts in cartoon sheets zoomed up above me and formed a row. Some of them were wearing pink glasses or blue scarves or pink vests and some were carrying handbags. As they looked down at me I finished my last chorus of “Gerrrroouottmmmmhosssssss…” paused and said, “Please?”

They swooped out through the roof of my kitchen and all was calm.

I woke up for real this time. It was 3:00 in the morning. I had the heebie-jeebies up my spine and I couldn’t move from fear. I lay there for a while, trying to get my bearings. I thought about blogging about this just to clear my head, but that would mean walking through the kitchen to get to the computer, which: NO WAY.

It was very still and I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that maybe I was still dreaming. I had an impulse to wake Doc and tell him all about it, but decided to turn on the TV. Maybe Nick-at-Night could ease my mind. Designing Women was on and I thought, that sounds innocuous enough. I settled in but was quickly alarmed when I realized the episode was about Charlene buying a haunted house. Where was Bob Newhart when you needed him?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm A Dork: Tracking Packages

I placed an order on Amazon that pretty much finished up my Christmas shopping list. I love shopping online for Christmas. The best part? The tracking feature. I love seeing the progress of my packages. First, I order my stuff. Then Amazon bills me and I fork it over. Then Amazon sends UPS a heads-up that my stuff is coming. Then they send my stuff to UPS. Then UPS scans my stuff and sends it up to me from Kentucky.

God, it's cool!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I Had To Beg For It: Splotchy's Viral Story

I had so much fun with the last viral story (see Pickles the Duck on my sidebar for Evil Genius' mad threadgathering skills) that I was totally psyched when I saw there was a new one over at iSplotchy. However, I wasn't included on the original list of tagees. After whining in the comments, Splotchy relented and added me to the list. Here are the rules of the game:

Here's what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don't know how realistic it is, but that's what I'm aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.

If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it's okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that's five interesting threads the story spins off into.

Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours.

Here is the virus:

The bus was more crowded than usual. It was bitterly cold outside, and I hadn't prepared for it. I noticed that a fair number of the riders were dressed curiously. As I glanced around, I stretched my feet and kicked up against a large, heavy cardboard box laying under the seat in front of me. [Splotchy]

It meowed. I looked up to see if anyone noticed. In front of me, a head of gray curls turn slowly and rheumy eyes floated a death gaze in my direction.

"Sorry," I said, shrinking down into my seat.

"Hmph," she grunted and turned back around.

To hide my shame, I took a moment to dig in my messenger bag to find my sunglasses and, while I was at it, hand lotion. I found my shades, but the lotion was a problem. My hands were still half-numb and cracked from my sojurn to the busstop and my 45 minute wait and so I kept fumbling. Eventually I found the lotion and put my sunglasses on. With my prying eyes covered, I was free to begin to stare at people. I squirted lotion on my hands while I looked around. Everyone was wearing backless, blanket-robes. The sleeves were bell-shaped and the fleece robes went all the way to the floor. These people look like they escaped from Logan's Run. I closed the cap of the bottle and returned it to my bag. I began to rub the lotion into my hands.

As my hands warmed and began to feel some relief, I began to feel claustrophobic.

I tag:

Evil Genius
The Cap'n
Skyler's Dad

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I had the strangest dream...

I was in Boston and staying in a cheap hotel with my parents. The room was paneled and the bed had brown bedspreads. There was orange indoor/outdoor carpet. We weren't there long until I couldn't find my luggage. I searched and searched until I found my duffle bag wadded up and filled with empty Walmart bags. When I started pulling the bags out, I noticed that there was rat poop in the bottom. Well, it's what I identified in my dream as rat poop, but it looked like this:

I was sufficiently skeeved out so I went out on the balcony to watch the boats in the harbor. There were many novelty boats like a river boat complete with paddles, a ski boat and a ferris wheel boat. they were all sort of miniturized and driven by people using a bicycle wheel rig. They were flying around in the small area of sky blue waters outside my window. The waters were cordoned off by boardwalks with no railing, which I found to be quite unsafe. But then again the water only looked knee-deep anyway.

I went back into the room, which was like three hotel rooms together. There were pigeons roosting on the drapery rods and the rat made an appearance. It was a big rat. It looked like a wet, white cat.

I bravely got up and let the rat out the patio door and went to talk to my Mom, who was lying on the bed. I told her I was sorry about the rat, but I'd never experienced rats in Boston before; I had always stayed "On the hill" and not by the harbor.

We went out on the patio and looked at the surreal water. I had a moment of peace where I could just enjoy the silence, even though I was still worried about what happened to my clothes and what I was supposed to do for work and why no celebrities had appeared.
What could it mean?

Monday, December 01, 2008


After the blessing and before the feast, my Mom wanted us to go around and say what we were thankful for. Of course, everyone mentioned they were thankful for being there for a meal with family. Then some folks mentioned they were thankful to know those who had passed. It was getting pretty sentimental. When it got around to Lucy, I asked her, "What are you thankful for, Lulu?"

She smiled and looked away, a sure sign that she would dodge the question. I was about to prompt her to say something when she yelled, "Hot dogs!" and took off running.

It was a great moment when we all could chuckle and blame the misty eyes on a good laugh instead of the pain of missing the dearly departed and the other emotions that aren't so deeply buried that reveal that we would all be seriously up a creek without each other.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Haiku Week: The Thanksgiving Finale!

Happy Thanksgiving, yo! And thanks to all who participated in Haiku Week! Namely, Deadspot, Skyler's Dad, Cormac Brown, Chris, Bubs and the Cap'n. Enjoy the gravy!

Walt Whitman was cool
Had a body electric
A beard and a hat

I can't resist you,
or the haiku's siren call.
Run away with me.

Haiku compells usto see
life's tiny beauties.
Let me get my keys.

Whirring props cut wind.
I grasp the armrests, breath deep
and choke on your Brut.

I used to wear Brut
Mom bought me some for Christmas
Back when I was ten

Low-flying airplane.
Four nervous friends glance upward:
This time no bombs fall.

you found a treasure
Three lines of strong visuals
I got the shivers.

Box, circle, and box,
Amid the shrinking houses,
Says my tribe was here.

Lavatory door:
It says you're occupado
but I gotta go!

Butter and shortnin;
Golden balls baked in a row,
Heaven in bite size

mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm
mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm
mmmm mmmm mmmm tasty

you said a mouthful!
those cookies were tasty, true
but very fragile.

I can not believe
with all that great taste and smell
it is not butter!

what else could it be?
playdough? Bacon fat? Swiss cheese?
it boggles the mind.

I've done smarter things
Than climbing in a hot tub
During a cold snap.

Terrible T.V.
and chicken soup's gentle steam.
This, Deadspot prescribes.

The Price Is Rigth, Friend
Soup and snuggles are just right
To ward off this bug.

Improve your meetings;
Puppets add flair and style
To boring topics.

Oh, hey, PowerPoint.
It's the devil's own software.
Please, please make it stop.

Transitions, clip art
Animated charts...and me
Sliding to stupor

with searching comes loss
and the presence of absence
"my novel" not found

A cryptic haiku
of personal loss and gain
I hope to read more

Water, yeast, flour
And some salt form stretchy warmth,
Yielding in my hands

bread is my weakness
I can almost smell it from here
when should I arrive?

bread dough in my hands
reminds me of Todd Rungren
beating boss's head

Was in your kitchen
waiting on a ride from Doc
flour everywhere

Uh, that last haiku
wasn't really true at all
SUGAR was left out

I prefer Doc's socks,
Warm, woolen; I pull them on
and he is with me.

Doc's feet freeze in Ohio cold
This must be true devotion
Is this correct?

Doc has tons of socks
But it bugs the shit out of
him when I snatch them.

True love/devotion, indeed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Haiku Week! Airplane Edition

Whirring props cut wind.
I grasp the armrests, breath deep
and choke on your Brut.


My old pal, Splotchy, has tagged me and, being desparate for material, I accepted. So, while I will put a haiku up later, I'm taking a break and doing a meme!!!

1. Five names you go by:
a. Flannery
b. Jenny
c. Jen
d. Darlin'
e. Jerry (from a mis-addressed response to a support email)

2. Three things you are wearing right now:
a. Faux diamond earrings
b. Doc Martin hiking boots
c. Doc's socks

3. Two things you want very badly at the moment:
a. Comments
b. More play time

4. Three people who will probably fill this out:

As Splotchy did, I'll tag a few people and see who salutes.

5. Two things you did last night:
a. Ate some chocolate lava cake
b. Drove in the snow

6. Two things you ate today:
a. A handful of Kashi Fire Roasted Vegetable crackers
b. I will be eating pizza we won for having the best (only) group costume at our work Halloween party.

7. Two people you last talked to on the phone:
a. A needy irrational woman who needed help with reports
b. A very bright trainee who forgot to email me that she was cancelling our phone training

8. Two things you are going to do tomorrow:
a. Have Thanksgiving with Doc's family
b. Drive

9. Two longest car rides:
a. Canton, Ohio to Florida
b. Canton, Ohio to Morrisburg, ONT

10. Two of your favorite beverages:
a. Diet Coke
b. Mojitos

Okay, I tag:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Haiku Week!

In preparation for the Thanksgiving Holiday, I plan on writing a haiku a day for a week. If you care to comment, please do so in haiku form.

Walt Whitman was cool
Had a body electric
A beard and a hat

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

February Snow In November

I'm ready for winter...I think. Just two weeks ago, we were still having weather in the 60's and 70's and this week? 20 degrees and inches of snow that seems to be staying put, at least until Sunday when temperatures will start to climb again.

Over the past five or six years, winter has taken it's toll on me. Of course, for four of those years, I was living and/or working in Cleveland, where winters are far more brutal than they are here, a mere 60 miles south. So, I always approach fall with trepidation, foreseeing what's around the corner. But I'm trying to avoid letting dread of the future step on my wa.* I don't need extra, unnecessary angst baggage, thank you very much.

On Monday, snow tumbled from the clouds and filled the windows in our office with static. We periodically craned our necks to get a look and proclaim, "Wow, look at all that snow." When lunchtime rolled around, I toyed with the idea of jumping in the car instead of walking to the grocery to get my salad lunch. But, I was wearing my boots, I had my gloves and winter coat...why not walk?

So, Jeff and I made our way to the Iggle in a light snow. On the way into the produce section, we were treated to a spectacular display of mullets. There was an older couple where the man had your standard mullet and his lovely lady friend had a modified femmullet (feathered on the sides, long in back). We sighed in delight and fought the urge to snap a picture. It's really the small miracles, isn't it? I got my salad and we tromped back to the front door and exited into a swirling snow extravaganza.

"Wow, look at all that snow!" we both said.

We continued our return to work, talking about this and that. But I couldn't help interrupting Jeff and expressing my amazement. The snowfall was so perfect: big, one-inch flake clusters, spiraling around us like fairies on crack. It seemed to have been choreographed by some crazy genius, maybe Paula Abdul.

Making our way across the parking lot, we were walking into the snow, so we had to look down, lest we take snowflakes in the eyes. It was so odd, because the snow was blowing by fast and it looked like we were not moving forward at all. It was a cool illusion of perspective. I wanted to notice this, point it out to everyone around me and remember it.

Throughout my journey through the snow globe, I could sense rumblings in the back of my mind: this snow is going to cost me money. I'm going to need to run the furnace more. I'm going to have to turn the lights on earlier in the evening. I'm going to have to heat the car up and leave it running. Yeah, maybe. But I'm ready for that. And I'm done being angry at the amount of money it takes to live. I've determined that it's my job to compartmentalize that shit and get on with life. I've learned I can't silence my negativity, but I can quiet it by acknowledging it's there and moving on, kind of like you would do with the arachnid exhibit at the zoo. As much as I don't like spiders, I recognize their value and I don't dwell on them. And my negativity does have keeps me from blowing all my money on stupid shit...for the most part.

But getting back to Monday's snowfall...I think I will always remember it, especially if I see the likes of it again. It's the kind of thing that could inspire me to write a poem. Maybe I will...

*This will probably be the only footnote you see from me. Ever. I'm using it because I don't want to break the flow of my paragraph defining what you'll probably understand if I just let you find your way in the context of the paragraph. But for those who get lost: "Wa" is a term of general well-being. I think it's from Doc's bag of phraseology, but it may be a bit of new-agery.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"A court of equity will not assist a person in extricating himself or herself from the circumstances that he or she has created."

Doc and I were just discussing maxims. He believed he had just come up with one. Observe:

Upon reentering the garage after an al fesco whiz, Doc declares, "I have just come up with a new maxim."


"You should never piss on your own firewood."

"A maxim, huh?"

"Yes," he replied.

"It's really more of common sense, don't you think?" I asked.

"Well, that's what a maxim is..."

"Huh...but I'm not so sure..." I replied as I headed off to look it up.

Long story short: This is a maxim.

What was particularly interesting was an example of a legal maxim, which became the title of this post:

"A court of equity will not assist a person in extricating himself or herself from the circumstances that he or she has created."

And yet we bail out Wall Street.

"If the courts were handling this shit, they'd say, 'Let 'em dangle," I said. "But think about who's handling this: The current government."

"And who's been in Big Business' pocket for eight years? W..." Doc said.

"Right...him and those fuckers in the Senate...excepting one, of course...he ain't been there long enough to be invested. But now that they're on the way out, Big Business is calling up and saying, 'We want our money back."

So, after this discussion, I'm thinking, "Don't piss on your own firewood" would be a pretty good maxim to hand over to the new administration. 'Cause when you pee on your own firewood, the odor will haunt you. Or maybe, "Don't shit where you eat." Or are those aphorisms...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sweet Home Ohio

I'm back! I'm burried in work! I've got lots to say and no time to say it. Check in with me late tonight...perhaps I'll get a chance to post my adventures in Nashville.

Missed you all!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Science Lessons

When I was in Kindergarten, I learned that water boils at a certain temperature, but in places of high altitude, like, say, Colorado, you have to wait longer or heat it higher for it to happen. It gave me this habit of mind, whenever I have to boil something, my mind wanders to Colorado or the Continental Divide (featured in the movie with the same name). Then I'd move on to other things.

But tonight as I was waiting for the water/milk to boil for mashed potatoes, I did go to Colorado...but it didn't stop there. My mind turned to Skyler's Dad, and GKL (both of them). It made me smile to have a reason to think about you away from the computer.

This recent Halloween Pagent was great fun, thank you officially Beth, from the bottom of my heart. I found some new blogs and reconnected with some old pals. (Cormac Brown, I'm talking to you.) The spirit of fun and commaradarie generated by this pageant were a breath of fresh air in this dire time. It was a fine example of what's best in blogging.

So to anyone new out there: Hello and welcome. I'm looking forward to holding you in my thoughts.

To everyone who stops in: Hello and I read your blog was AWESOME.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Was Wrong...Winning Is Bliss!!!

As a lifetime Browns and Indians fan, I'm no stranger to heartbreak. I was prepared to go home an also ran tonight. While anticipation of a thing might be wonderful, it is nothing compared to the the thing itself. Congratulations to Barak Obama and to all of us.

I am inspired and so proud of this country right now; the tears won't stop. Instead of feeling like the only hope I had was to endure and survive, I now feel like we can thrive. I believe that the personal feeling of responsibility for the people around me and the caring I receive in return is reflected in this new leader. Let there be no more talk of bootstraps and refusal to meet half way. Let's sit down together and figure this world out. And let's do it with everyone at the table.

We can make it happen...yes, we can.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ignorance Is Bliss

As I sit here waiting for the polls to close, I am savoring the possibility of a future where Barak Obama is president, Issue 8 passes, libraries are funded and schools can keep operating. I really want to know the outcome, but I can wait. Right now the future is wide open. Let's cross our fingers and hope for the best.

May The Best Candidates Win

So, then, who would the wizard be?

Monday, November 03, 2008

List of Good Things That Have Happened Recently

When I'm not busy working, I'm usually busy with household administrivia, crocheting, or playing one of the many iterations of the "Dash" games (Diner Dash, Wedding Dash, Fashion Dash, etc....really, I have a problem and will need an intervention soon). This means less time for blogging. When I used to work for the government, I had plenty of time. Now, I'm engaged in my work and have no good reason to procrastinate. Things happen instantly in a paperless world, so I don't have the lag time inter-office mail used to give me. Damn you efficiency! Thy name is blog-killer!

At any rate, I feel compelled to post. So, as I remember the good things that happened this week I'll continue to add them to this post. Here is my first iteration:

  • I got to eat hot French Onion Soup in Doc's bathrobe and my slipper socks at John's Bar on Friday, due to the fact that I was "in constume" as a hobo. It was a delightful experience that I highly recommend

  • I got to cook uninterrupted on Saturday night. My parents had the kids and I was making a special meal for Doc's birthday: Homemade pizza and chocolate cake. I do believe I have perfected my pizza recipe. It's so good that no take out/delivery pizza could stand next to it without whithering in shame. The next time you're here, I'll make it for you

  • Lucy helped me make cornbread last night, which also turned out perfectly; I remembered to add the sugar this time.

  • Doc's got his license so I can remove a layer of anxiety I've been carried around which caused me to imagine him calling me from jail and asking for huge amounts of money to bail him out.

  • I did the bills and had some left over

  • I paid 20 bucks to fill my tank, which was on E. Gas is $1.99 a gallon around here.

  • Tomorrow is the election and we will be looking forward to a new president named Barak Obama. All talk of "mavericks" and "hockey moms" will be quietened

I've got a lot to be happy about. How about you? What's on your list?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Unintentionally Funny List

I'm a fan of lists. I'm not sure when I started making them, but now I find myself compelled, so much so that I didn't realize how comical this was...

What's on your to-boo list?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Big Wicked Online Pageant

The lovely Beth has challenged us to post photos of ourselves dressed to the nines for Halloween. I've really enjoyed looking at all of your photos, so I thought I'd share some of mine. I'm a day late and a dollar short but I think I can still slip under the wire. I went searching through my parents' photos this evening and found a few that I couldn't decide on. So, I'm posting them all.

First, we have a group photo. See if you can spot my mug...

Yep, the crazed gunwoman...that's me!
A year or so later, my family and I went to a costume party...

That's my Dad as Groucho, my cousin is a hula girl, my Mom's Miss Piggy (she later threw up in that hat), and me? I'm Adam Ant, of course.

And the costume of which my Mom is most proud...

A terrorist! That's an automatic squirt gun in my left hand and a knife in my right...look out you capitalist pigs! Give me all your candy!!

I hope you enjoyed these as much as I've enjoyed yours. Happy Halloween and Trick or Treat!

Windows: Life Without Walls

I must say that the new Windows ad campaign is baffling. First all that nonsense with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld buying shoes. Now it's this whole "I Am PC" stuff where people are being encouraged to record themselves and post dorky videos online. The website for this is I'M A PC, which looks to me like imac if you squint.

But my biggest complaint is about their new slogan: Windows. Life without walls. It sort of clanged in my head like so many pots and pans. It made me wonder, if life had no walls, there would be no need for windows, right? I mean windows should be thankful for walls, else upon what would they hang? And if you slide that argument over the virtual "walls" that divide files and folders in their software, they really should be thankful for walls and not shunning them. Otherwise, it would be a file free-for-all and it would take hours to find anything.

I mean what's wrong with walls anyhow? This anti-wall campaign is disturbing, if you ask me. Whenever walls are removed, there's trouble. Take a look at the "open classroom" structures from the 80's: no walls. What happened? They realized it was too damn noisy when there are no walls, so they had to install walls later. I realize that Microsoft is trying to promote a sort of "openness" where people would feel free to let their dork flags fly, but really. Let's not forsake the walls, especially in a society where there is far too much revealed already.

I like walls and I say, let's keep them. They keep the wind, rain and snow out. They give me privacy. They shield me from others. They give me a place to hang pictures of loved ones and copies of famous paintings. I like leaning against them every now and then. I like the way they compartmentalize things, for example, I appreciate how they keep my food away from the toilet. I also like the support they give to things like roofs. Really, they are essential.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Celebrities Who Have Appeared In My Dreams: Rocco DiSpirito

I was at a wedding reception and it was very crowded. Lots of people and kids milling around. I remember being mildly frustrated and sitting down at a long table with my friends. I was looking around the room when Rocco came up to the table and plopped down in the chair across from me.

I was momentarily surprised to see him. He was wearing a brown suit and a black tie. He looked a little bit frazzled; his hair was a mess and he seemed to be a bit sweaty. I was just thinking about how cute he is when he pulled a small box out of his inside coat pocket. He handed the box to me and asked, "Will you marry me?"

I was about to say, "Well, gee, Rocco, you know I'm already married," but before the words could form in my mouth, I had opened the light blue Tiffany's box to see a small, brown enameld grandfather clock with diamonds around the face.

I looked at him and said, "You know, this is the most hideous thing I've ever received. What were you thinking?" I was outraged that he thought I'd like this and marry him because of it. Not to even mention the fact that I was already married.

He may be cute, but he sure is clueless...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What Should I Be For Halloween?

We are dressing up at our office for Halloween and I can't decide what to be. Can you help?

On The Road Again Soon!

I'm off to Nashville in a couple of weeks (November 10-12). Anyone care to meet? Just let me know. I guess it's the week of the CMA awards so I may get to meet the likes of Billy Ray Cyrus and those guys in that one band that not Kelly Pickler but that other blond on AI loved...she won...what the hell is her name? I can't remember...she knocked out headlights in one of her songs and she wanted Jesus to take the wheel. Seriously...I've totally blanked.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cap'n! Man Overboard!

This weekend, I enlisted the help of a well-known Cap'n to save me from drowning in the clutter. He gamely threw me a life preserver and we were off!

The upstairs has been spanked into shape with the Cap'n's cherry spirit and my evil genius...

I'm ready to seal up this place for winter. Doc and the Cap'n rearranged the living room so that we will be able to enjoy the fireplace. Doc has the hot tub primed and tested. And the kids are ready for Hallowween.

So look out Mr. Freeze! We're eating our breakfast and are ready to kick your ass.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Don't Be Alarmed! Help Is On The Way From Canada!

A Portrait of Flannery Alden as of 10/11/2008

Yes, I have been a victim of Great Cuts, which are not "great" as in awesome, terrific, fierce, but rather great in it's awfulness, as in the Bush Administration. My hair sits on my head like an inverted birds nest, flat on top and puffy around the ears. The back is a disaster that I don't even want to talk about.

I've been meaning to march back into that salon and tell "Wanda," if that really is her name, to try again. But I haven't yet because I don't want to start shit with a person with the stature and personality of Lurch and the personal style of Edgar Allen Poe. Also, I haven't had one possible minute where I could go to get this damage repaired, what with Doc almost dying and then throwing himself gamely back to work. Plus I'm working a lot and I'm going to need some time when someone can hang out with the girls while I investigate the 2 hours it's going to take to make this right.

Fortunately, the Miracle Worker called me moments ago. My Mom made an emergency call to her last night on her cell because we had spent the evening listening to me bemoan my "Moe." The Miracle Worker, aka Renee, is my mom's hairdresser and she is FAB-U-LOUS. She's also very busy and the reason I don't go to her regularly is that both our schedules are very nearly incompatible. She is in Canada on vacation and promises to get me in on Monday or Tuesday.

Fortunately, most people are letting me slide on this moment of unfierceosity and I'll be spending the weekend cleaning with the Cap'n. I can slap on a babushka til Monday when I can lean back and let Renee make it all better.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

When You Get Caught Between The Moon & New York City

It wasn’t until our plane finally took off 20 minutes later than expected that I placed my Metro card in my book to mark the page and I started to pray. I always do this while taking off. It’s usually the Lord’s Prayer, which never fails to get me and my plane off the ground. It was dark and we were leaving LaGuardia, which is truly a pit of human misery.

My colleague, D, and I wound up our tasks for the day and dubiously hopped into a cab for the airport. We had designs on catching an earlier flight out. Yesterday, when catching a ride with a cabbie from the same company, we were subjected to a cab ride designed by Satan himself. First, we nearly had to tackle him in order to stop him from taking off without us. Our hosts had ordered this cab for us and rather than getting us promptly to the curb, they delayed us with shop talk. So, he was grumpy and expressed it through an obvious vehicle: his cab.

As we bounced along the streets of the Bronx and onto the highway, we were forced to endure talk radio and gale force winds. The driver, obviously deaf or full of hate and bile, kept cranking up the political talk and rock. Also, the window controls in the back seat were locked so I couldn’t roll mine up, causing me to absorb blasts of wind in my hair and face. While all of these assaults were taking place on our persons, this maniacal man alternatively pressed the gas pedal and the brake pedal in an erratic fashion; one would almost call it “maverick.” We were jostled enough that by the time we arrived at our hotel, we were both nauseous and suffering from the effects of inner ear disturbances.

Undaunted, we stashed our stuff in our rooms, changed clothes, and gamely hopped on a bus to take us to the subway to take us to Manhattan. It was a beautiful night and we both enjoyed the luxuriously smooth ride we experienced on both the bus and the subway. We arrived at Grand Central Station and made our way out onto 42nd Street…Avenue…I can’t remember which, but it took us right out to the Pershing Square Café, where I met Coaster Punchman, Poor George, and BeckEye one lovely night a month or two ago. I stood there for a moment, remembering. I was sad that I wasn’t going to meet them there again; it actually bummed me out a bit. Next time I’m here, I’ll make plans again. In know CP is gone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t meet without him.

D and I pressed on. I think she was looking to me to lead a grand adventure in the City, having heard of my trip here and in St. Louis. But I was just not inspired. I was actually ashamed to admit that I was hoping to have dinner at our hotel and retire to an evening reading. It wasn’t the company; I just wasn’t feeling like seizing the day. But we wandered around, checking out the shops and gasping at the prices.

As we weaved our way around, we were drawn to a well lit set of windows on a mostly dark street. It contained the Mercantile Library. We moved closer and looked in. It was a marvelous little spot. Beyond the glass, we could see several modest book shelves full of library books. Toward the back of the main room, a young, willowy librarian stood reading behind a wooden counter top, which was home to several large pieces of parchment and oversized books. I was momentarily spellbound by the scene, which could have been captured Edward Hopper and displayed right next to "Nighthawks." I wanted to go in, but I didn't want to disturb the scene. I looked away and glanced at some smaller writing at the top of the windows. It read "Headquarters for the National Mystery Writers of America." It was really cool to be standing there. Someday, I'll be a member, I thought.

Satisfied at having Seen Something Special, we decided to move along. We came upon a road side vendor selling silk pashminas for five bucks. Ah ha! Something to bring home for the girls! I know they’d love to have long, beautiful scarves to drape around themselves. It sounded good to me too so I bought three.

Cheered a bit by this we tromped off to find someplace to eat. We were headed back to the Pershing Square Café, when we were seduced by the spells of Tequilaville. As we passed by the windows we saw heaping plates of “Mexican” food and endless bowls of chips and salsa. We diverted our trajectory towards the door and found a seat. The waiter brought us menus and I went to the bar to treat myself to a Dos Equis. I brought my beer back to the table and settled in.

Unfortunately, it was loud in there. The music was loud and there was bacchanalian cacophony pulsating from a group of about 15 people sitting in the back corner. They were yelling at each other, singing Mexican drinking songs, and doing body shots. At one point, they ordered another round of tequila. I mean, come on! It’s Tuesday night! It’s not even Tiki night! These fools are going to be sorry in the morning. That gave us some satisfaction, as we ate chips and cringed as the f-bombs dropped and some hyena-woman laughed her Wipe-Out laugh every 20 seconds or so.

By the time we left, my nerves were so rattled that I couldn’t bear the thought of using the taxi voucher I had, which would mean waiting for 30 minutes for our ride to arrive. So we decided to rely on public transportation. In Grand Central station, we found a quiet spot to examine the subway map and plot our route home. Nearly confident that we knew what we were doing, we spelunked our way to the right train and headed out.

Two trains later, we had to grab a bus to finish our journey. It was my first time using a Metro card on a bus, so, of course, I put it in the wrong way. When I tried again, the bus driver (I think his nametag read "Beelzebub") snatched the card out of my hand and said, "I ain't got time for this!" and jerked his thumb toward the back of the bus.

We took our seat and held on. At one point, near the airport, the bus was stopped at a light. It was also stopped at a bus stop, but the doors were closed. Some poor guy was standing on the sidewalk, signalling that he wanted to get on. The light changed to green and the bus driver looked at the guy, shook his head and took off, laughing maniacally. D and I looked at each other in fear as our bus ride turned into Space Mountain. We zoomed around the airport and I told D, "Let's get off at the next stop, shall we?"

We made it to the Northwest terminal and slipped through the back door, happy to be alive and to have escaped a fate of being fed ramen noodles in a bucket at the bottom of a well in this guy's back yard. We called for the hotel shuttle and called our families just to hear their voices again. The shuttle picked us up and we were greeted by a cheerful driver who seemed glad to see us. He made one more stop to pick up a gaggle of Air Canada flight staff. This cheered me a bit as the flight attendants had jaunty red bows tied at their throats and I love to listen to Canadians talk.

As I listened to the dulcet tones of the Air Canada Staff talking about how they felt sorry for the crews that have the "Sascatoon Duty," I was struck by the thought that I'm having an international experience that Disney tries to make me believe I'm having at places like Epcot Center. Here I was with Canadians, Carribeans, and a Conservative, having just gotten off an exciting ride. But it was for real. The hole time in NYC, I was working and sharing space with people from all over the world and none of us was wearing nametags. I recommend the experience.

The next day was pretty routine and we took another uncomfortable cab ride to the airport. We weren't able to get an earlier flight, so we had a pretty good meal at Fig's. We waited to board and finished up the books we were reading. I was really ready to be home. I thought back over the trip and some of the disappointments I experienced, mainly the missed opportunity to hook up with some of you folks. I must say, and I know others have said it too, it's really cool to meet fellow bloggers. There's none of the dread you experience when meeting strangers for the first time, because I'm pretty familiar with the quirks that I'm likely to face, like emptying an egg carton from the edges first and making sure the eggs balance before putting them back. I was kicking myself a little bit for not being brave enough to contact Beckeye and demanding another meeting.

We boarded the plane and got ourselves situated. I was feeling kind of blue because I'd finished a delightful book and starting a new one seemed kind of pointless. I wasn't really up for meeting new people. As we ascended into the night sky, I put my book down and looked out the window. We circled around New York City and I was suddenly struck by the fact that it was very familiar. It looked just like my map of Manhattan! Oblong and striped with different colors, glittering under the moonlight. My spirits lifted in time with our altitude and I decided to whip out my laptop and get crack-a-lackin' on this post. If I couldn't be with you while I was there, I sure as heck fire could try to make you feel like you were along for the ride.

See you next time I'm in town!


Monday, October 06, 2008

I meant to show you this a while back...

It's the watch I got for 330 Coke Rewards! Remember? Pretty snazzy, don't you think?

I'm in Queens and getting ready to take on tomorrow. I'm sleepy having filled up on brick oven pizza. My co-worker, D, and I road the bus to Forest Hills and spent a happy few hours wandering through the shops. We did find some post cards for our other co-worker, who has a quest to find the world's worst post cards:
I also found an Obama button, which I'm not 100% sure came from campaign central, but, hey, I can't get my hands on anything with his name on it for love nor money, so I'll take what I can get.
Besides, the back has a real, honest to God safety pin, so you know it's pure:
Well, kids, I'm off to bed. I'm going to finish reading this wacky book called The Matchmaker of Perigord, which has such delightful phrasings as:
Picking up the fork, the barber selected a piece of plump sausage for his first mouthful. But, as he went to spear it, he suddenly stopped and stared blankly for several minutes. Then, very slowly, he put down the empty fork. As he sat back, a warm fat tear slid down his corow's-feet, shot over a tiny scar, rattled over his stubble and came to an abrupt halt at the bottom of his chin where it hung quivering.
Lovely, isn't it?
In closing, I leave you with a kiss goodnight and a horse's patoot:

And, heck, how about a giraffe's patoot to seal the deal?

Peace out and more tomorrow!

NYC Bound

Well, I'm off in a couple of hours to NYC again...well, to Queens, anyway. I'm all ready except for my iPod, which Doc so kindly agreed to bring to me at work before I head to the airport. I'm hoping to have another travel video for you when I get back.

Wish me luck!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Financial Crisis Calls For Funk

Enjoy some Nina Simone instead of fretting over your 401k. Trust me. You'll feel much better.

Edited to add words of wisdom from John McCain: "The first thing I would do is say, 'Let's not call it a bailout. Let's call it a rescue," McCain told CNN. Because a change of vocabulary always works. Actually, I like bailout better, because it evokes images of us all in the same boat, working to save ourselves, where a rescue makes me think of a helpless person sitting on their roof in the middle of a flood, waiting for help.

Edited to add some more:

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said "doing nothing is not an option." Duh. At least he did not say "Failure is not an option." Because failure is always an option.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Are You Ready For The Apocalypse?

If Mel Gibson has taught us anything, it's that it's a dog eat dog world out there and we're all wearing Milkbone boxer shorts. There's this impending panic vibe permeating the atmosphere. I log on to my Yahoo email account, and where I used to get updates on Britney Spears and cat rescue stories, I'm now getting faced with dire warnings from very stern looking politicians. It's the topic du jour. It's so widespread, that it's even starting to worry the unflappable Coaster Punchman, and that just won't do.

I say we get ready for the inevitable. Taking my cues from Hollywood's portrayal of life after society crashes and burns, I will provide you with a list of things you will need once the shit hits the fan:

  • Go ahead and start the paperwork now for that gun. Beat the rush, is what I always say. You're going to need that gun so you don't have to stock-pile food.

  • Buy lip balm in bulk. Post-apocalypts always have dry and chaffed lips, so prepare for it

  • Get an animal to transport you around, but not a horse. Make it a mule or a St. Bernard, something quirky to enhance your own image

  • Make notes now on what you'd like your post-apocalyptic community to be like. Chances are, no one will no what do, so if you have a plan, you can set it up the way you want it.

  • Start making up new words for old things. Like start calling water "life juice" and triscuits "flav-o-fibes."

  • It's possible the blog-o-sphere will collapse or you won't have internet access anymore, so it's important to find another way to express yourself. Try going old school with a journal or the town's water tower

  • Start looking at your possessions as currency. Unload the heavy things now (trade it for gold, or some other substance you think might be valuable after the crash, like Ramen Noodles) or set them aside to burn for heat this winter.

  • Memorize survival books so you can start a fire, bind a wound, recognize edible plants without the aid of a lighter, bandages or a waiter, respectively. Also practice doing these things ahead of time so you remove the ill effects of performance anxiety. You're going to want to be successful so you don't get killed by the ragtag group that's going to follow you around.

  • Start referring to yourself as your Blogger username. This is a time to reinvent yourself. If your username is the same as your real name, like say Grant Miller, come up with something else, like "Skinny McKnees."

  • Come up with a plan to overthrow tyranny that involves guerilla tactics and locals in loin cloths. If we're going to ctrl+alt+delete society, we need to be ready to take on the assholes who will try to bully themselves to to the top.

Those should keep you busy and away from the TV for a while. Let me know how they work out. Also, if you have any other ideas, I'd sure be glad to read them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tailgate Party

Every month we have a themed luncheon at work. It's a time for us to recognize the birthdays for the month and break bread together. Once we had middle eastern food. Another time, it was healthy food. Some have been better than others, of course. We just got done with our big fall conference and things seem to be hitting equalibrium.

This month was to host a "Tailgate Party" luncheon, where we were to bring food you might have while tailgating for your favorite team. We were also sternly directed by the party coordinator to wear our favorite team's jersey. We even got to dress down for free, even though we had a client in the office.

I offered to bring my Sloppy Joe loaf, home made braided bread wrapped around Sloppy Joe mix. I was regretting this offer at about 9 p.m. last night when the bread was still rising. But it was worth it. I saved some leftover dough to carve the letters OSU out and decorate the top and it's in the spirit of the day. Just cut off a slice and carry it around while you mooch off everyone else.

Since having had my heart broken by the Browns when they left town in the dark of night on a stagecoach driven by Satan himself and led by the hounds of hell, I know longer give my heart to sports teams. Not that I'm bitter, I just got out of the habit of football. Besides, Doc's not a sports nut, so I'm spared donating any mental real estate to it. So, I struggled to find something to wear. I thought about just wearing whatever, but that passed when I found a Harvard t-shirt.

When I got settled in to my desk and turned around to greet people as they entered, I saw that almost everyone had a team jersey on. We had representatives for the Steelers, the Browns, the Buckeyes, the Sooners, Penn State, the Indians, the Yankees and even a CFL team. It was fun. We talked about our teams (Harvard plays football, don't they?) and had a good time.

About 10 a.m., they began plugging in the crock pots, which now sit right by our department. Before long, we were all turning our noses up at the scent of barbecued ham. It smelled wonderful. It reminded me of Christmas, because we traditionally have cocktail weenies in barbecue sauce cooking in the crock pot on Christmas Day. It made me feel happy. I just breathed it in and anticipated lunch.

When lunch came around, we mixed in together in the long conference room. Developers and analysts at the table with trainers and administrators. It was like the first Thanksgiving. We all laughed and ate and ate and lauged. Many people asked for my recipe (see below). At one point someone mentioned that it was probably time to head to the game, maybe after we toss the football around a little bit first.

We didn't, but we enjoyed the idea of it. We headed back to work. I was feeling such an esprit de corps, that I started razzing people who didn't wear a jersey with such pithy statements as, "Go, Abercrombie!"

At my old job, we'd have lunch out at a fancy corner of Cleveland. It was always remarkable, but never so comfortable. In the past I was all about Tah-da! About being "world-class" and a "destination place." Now, you can come to us or we'll come to you. Maybe we'll just talk on the phone. But when we're done, you're job will be easier and we will have shared something. And that's all I really want.

If I earn fame somehow, it will not really matter. I'll already have what I've been looking for: a place to make a difference, have a laugh and maybe think about tossing a football around.


Beef 'n' Bean Braid/Sloppy Joe Loaf
Retrieved from Taste of Home magazine

Prep: Recipe says: 30 min + Rising; I say: don't make any plans for your day (plan 2 hours for bread to rise)
Bake: 20 min

1 package of active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour

Filler (I use sloppy joe):
1 pound of ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 can kidney beans (16 oz), rinsed and drained
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water
Add butter, sugar, salt, egg and 1-1/2 cups of flour
Beat until smooth
Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough
Turn onto floured surface
knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes
Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top
Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour
Prepare filling: brown ground beef, with onion and garlic salt, drain, stir in the beans, water and seasonings; bring to a boil; reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes...or do whatever you need to do to prepare the meat filling of your choice
Back to the bread: Punch the dough down
Turn onto a lightly floured surface
Roll into a 16 in x 11 in rectangle
Transfer to a greased 15 in x 10 in cookie sheet
Spread beef mixture down center of dough (sprinkle with cheese, if you like that sort of thing)
On each long side, cut 1-in.-wide strips about 1/2 from filling
starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across filling;
seal ends
Cover and let rise until doubled, 30 minutes
Brush egg over dough
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
Remove to a wire rack
Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing
Bon apetit!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"I Want That In Writing," Doc Said

It was late, too late. We were in bed and Doc had a lot on his mind. He kept starting conversations just as I would start drifting off. He doesn't do this often, but every now and then he poses the most interesting questions. Like the one time he asked me if we had life insurance just as I was about to roll over and go to sleep. Scenes from the movie Double Indemnity immediately sprung to mind and I was instantly wary, wondering if he planned on bludgeoning me in my bed and making his way off to Tahiti with the settlement.

But getting back to the other night...

Doc had made a jibe about my earlier post and how I said "I was usually in charge in a relationship." He said, "You're in charge because I let you be in charge." Well, those are fighting words, such as they are in our house.

"What do you mean you let me be in charge?" I asked huffily. That is about as bad as letting me win at games.

"I let you make most of the decisions because we agree on everything, for the most part," he explained.

"How many times have I asked you your opinion before making a decision? A lot!"

"True," he admitted.

"I guess I didn't mean 'I'm in charge' in this relationship; I'm the one who usually takes action. We are both in charge...this is a partnership, right?"

"Right," he agreed.

There was a moment of silence and then he said, "Can I have that in writing?"

"You want me to blog about this, don't you."

"Would you mind?"

I don't mind.

Here let it be written:

We are neither of us in charge of the other in our marriage. I tend to make most of the decisions, but Doc has veto power. On the rare occasions when Doc makes the decision, I get the same rights.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mint Sludge

I just ate an after dinner mint. I realize it's nowhere near dinner time, but I've been training a group of 30 plus people and I needed to refresh my mouth. I grabbed one of the powdered monstrosities pictured above and popped it. As soon as mint met saliva, it began to dissolve. Not instantly, like Cotton Candy, but rather like a sandcastle hit by a sudden rain storm. It lost it's structure, but not it's gritty texture. It lost the will to mint. So I was stuck with a mouth full of what felt and tasted like gritty toothpaste. Seriously? I wanted to gag.

So now, I'm in search of the more civilized peppermint. Wish me luck and pardon me if I don't kiss you right now.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Slumber Party Baptism

Our usually temperate and climactically neutral home town was hit by high winds yesterday. (Thanks, Ike!) I believe the gusts got up to about 50 mph, which will knock a person down, if not some tree limbs. It was strange to have all that wind and very little if any rain. We were doing OK until about 7:15 p.m. when the power went out. Doc was working, so the girls and I went over to Frank's to check and see if he and his son were ok. They were. They had decided to head over to John & Michelle's house to finish cooking and watch the Browns lose.

We were standing in the driveway, talking about our plans when we heard a large, crunching noise, like a giant eating a Cheeto. We turned in the direction of the noise in time to see a large limb from a tall tree crash down on Frank's picnic table.

"Well, we'd better be getting in the house," I said, turning to gather up the girls. But they were already gone, two blond streaks of lightning. I was still making my traditional, lingering, midwestern good-bye when I heard the giant reach for another Cheeto...right over my head. I myself became a streak of lightning to avoid getting hit by a tree myself.

Needless to say, the girls were totally freaked out. We got into the house and I asked them if they wanted to go to Grandma and Pop's house. They did and Riley immediately began packing a bag. I thought that was a little much. Surely the power would be back on soon and we could come home. My parents still had power, so at least we could go there and...I don't know what...maybe stop freaking out.

I gathered the essentials plus the loaves of bread that were ready to go in the oven and headed to the car. I loaded the loaves on the shelf behind the back seat and the teddy bear, blankie and other comforting goo-gahs in the front. The kids buckled themselves in and we were off. On our way out of the driveway, I saw our other neighbors, Wally & Ms. Snap out in their front yard. We checked in on them and they were ok. Ms. Snap said she'd call me when the power came back on; they were staying put. We pulled out of their driveway and headed down the street, only to be faced with low-dangling wires. I maneuvered my way around them after making a sudden stop, where my bread flew off the back shelf. Luckily, Riley caught the tray and put it back, so no harm done.

We got to Mom & Dad's and I went to call Doc at work. They didn't have power at the bakery either and he wasn't sure if he wanted to come to Mom & Dad's or not. He said he'd stop home first, regardless. That should have been my clue that he wasn't coming to meet us at my folks. After baking my breadand waiting a good half hour after he should have been home, I called and let the phone ring and ring and ring. Finally he picked up; he'd just gotten in the door. He was still non-committal about his plans, but he said he'd call me after he got himself situated.

I waited and waited. I tried calling and got no answer. I didn't know what to do. I had no clothes with me for work the next day and I didn't want to bring the kids back to a dark house. I needed to talk to Doc, so, I got back on the road, leaving the kids to watch Return of the Jedi with Pop. When I got home, I found Wally walking around my neighbor, Jerry's, front yard. Jerry's truck was blaring the Browns-Steelers game, but Jerry was nowhere to be found. It was weird and kind of surreal. The wind was blowing like crazy and Jimmy Donovan was telling us all about the game as if nothing strange was happening at all.

We wandered over to Franks and found Doc over there, watching a movie and having a beer. Oooh, I was ticked. Frank kept asking me to sit down and relax, but I couldn't even answer him. I finally got a word in edgewise and asked Doc to come back to the house and help me out for a minute. He had the flashlight and we made our way through the back yards into the garage. We stood there for a moment trying to figure out what to do. We were at an impasse. The kids were at my parents, Doc wasn't about to leave and I wanted everyone to be together.

It ended up that I was able to find some clothes and all my stuff to take over to Mom & Dad's. Doc wanted to be home in case a tree fell on the house and it caught on fire. I kind of thought that was exactly the situation wherein I wouldn't want to be anywhere near the house. But Doc's a post-apocalyptic man; he's ready for the end of the world. So we parted ways agreeing to disagree and I made my third trip out.

By the time I got back to my parents, I was wound so tight from stress and PMS that I could have chewed through nails. The girls where asleep and Pop was not far from it. My Grandma and cousins were still up though and asked if I wanted to play poker. Why not? But then Wendi saw the box of hair color I brought and asked if I would rather she color my hair for me.

"Yes," I said, "That would be great."

We got into our jammies and I mixed the solution and she donned the gloves. We got a chair and some towels and a comb. I sat down and she spent the next 20 minutes applying the hair color. I don't know why this is, but if someone brushes my hair for me, it flips my switch from "torqued" to "mellow" in about 3 seconds. I could feel all that weird stress that had blustered around me all day dwindle and die down.

We chatted about this and that as she applied the color and we waited for the timer to go off. She also offered to rinse the color out for me and I almost passed out from gratitude. We got the water at the right temperature and I knealt on a towel in the bathroom near the tub. I leaned forward over the edge of the tub and let her begin rinsing.

She talked about what a great color this would be on me and how much like her daughter's hair color it is. She also told me it would be "glamourous." I just listened and felt overwhelmed by her kindness. I felt blessed to have her washing away the gunk, both physical and metaphysical. I could feel the tension and white noise leave my head flow out through my hair follicles and run down the strands of "Roasted Coffee" hair, into the drain.

I felt renewed; baptized by hair color. I was forgiven for being a basket case all day; all the tension and strain was washed away. I was glad to be in my jammies talking with the girls about hair and the mystery of men's minds. We eventually decided to head to bed. I hugged Wendi and told her to be safe on the road. She and Carol were leaving to continue their "Faith Walk" around the perimiter of the US. They wouldn't be back until Christmas. I told her I'd miss her very much and thanked her for coloring my hair.

I went to bed feeling loved and blessed and fortunate for having a family of strong, resourceful people. I was reluctantly proud that Doc was able to brave out the storm in the dark and protect the homestead. I felt lucky to have a homebase in my parents' house where we could all meet and find our bearings. And I was certainly blessed by an impomptu and healing slumber party.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Omens of Snowmen

The other night, I was laying in bed and I happened to look out of the window that gives me a view of the street. I saw amber flashing lights whiz by and thought to myself, "There goes a snow plow..." I snuggled up in the blankets and looked down at the remote, preparing to start an episode of Murder, She Wrote and enjoy a long winter's nap. But then I stopped in my tracks. Wait a's September! That couldn't have been a snow plow. It must have been a tow truck.

This has been a great summer, but the above episode makes me feel like I must be ready for winter. I'm looking forward to a chill in the air and snow on the ground. This is a good thing. Since we moved away from Cleveland, where winter was sent priority overnight by Satan himself, my level of anxiety about winter has ratchetedd down quite a bit. Actually, as Genn6 pointed out in the comments a few posts ago, my stress level is greatly reduced since I left there. She's right, of course.

I'm in a house I can manage in a neighborhood I love. My gas bill is $81 a month, thanks to joining the budget payment plan. Our lives have really stablized since then. We have a little bit left over most pay checks. Not enough to put any away yet, but soon we should be able to. My new job rewards me with more than platitudes; I usually receive a quarterly bonus which is like trading in a camp shovel for a backhoe to help us dig out of debt. Maybe someday, we'll have a savings account.

I used to feel like I was in a race I couldn't win. Nothing I did at my job was good enough for the powers that be, who had ridiculously high expectations. I was living in a house I couldn't afford. My family were far away. I transitioned closer to my family and commuted 120 miles a day until I could find a local job, which I did...right before gas prices went plaid on us. The race finally started to seem winnable. I had broken through the wall, as Skyler's Dad might say.

I say I did all this, but I had help: namely Doc. He's soldiered through right along with me. My parents and Grandma are also invaluable elements of my success. They gave me the extra support we needed to keep moving in the form of free babysitting, free dinners and lots of good times. Betty was always there to listen to me whine and cry about how I was ready to throw in the towel. The Cap'n was there with a laugh and an example of how bad it could get (I'm sure he's glad about that). Genn6 is there to provide the no b-s analysis of football and music. I've also had all of you to share things with and to receive encouragement from.

I say to old Frosty: Bring it on. I'll be here with my peeps, digging out.

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's Been A While Since I Hit Blogthings...

What Your Bed Says About You

Outward appearances are a concern of yours, but not your primary concern. You try to take care of yourself and your home, but it's not an obsession.

You are an organized and disciplined person. You do the right thing because you want to, not because people expect you to.

You are very high maintenance. You like everything a certain way, and you're grumpy if things aren't the way you like them.

In relationships, you tend to kick back and let the other person be in charge.

You tend to be a dreamy, head in the clouds type of person. You think in terms of possibilities.

You are a total homebody. You are happiest when you're at home.

I'm not sure I'm "high maintainance;" you'd have to ask Doc. Also, I'm usually in charge. Other than that, I think this is spot on.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Honey, I'm Home!

Phew! It was a whirlwind trip to Boston but I made it. Doc greeted me with bells on and we shared a drink from the Growler I brought home from John Harvard's in Cambridge. Then I shooed him off to Tiki while I thought I'd join the kids. But they were asleep, so I squandered my evening playing Cake Mania in my jammies.

I get to go back to work tomorrow and see my buddies. You might think I would groan to have to go back to work so soon after getting home from such a journey, but I don't. I like the people I work with and I look forward to sharing my adventures and getting back into the swing of things.

Doc just got back and brought me some pumkin seeds that Mark harvested and baked from our crop of pumpkins. Mmm...they're yummy. You should stop by and have some when you get the chance and before they're all gone.

I missed you all and I'm glad to be home. Peace out and sweet dreams.

Monday, September 08, 2008

One If By Land, Two If By Sea

I'm off to Boston today and I'll be there 'til Wednesday. My colleague, Di and I will spend the evening in Cambridge tonight and then we'll spend the next two days in Hell's Own Training Room, according to my pal Jeff, who recently returned from a training trip at the same place. Apparently, it's right near the boiler and it's super hot.
But I don't care. I love Boston. I love it so much, I ought to marry it. I'm looking forward to taking lots of pictures and I hope to see something awesome to tell you all about. I'm so psyched about this trip, I didn't even have any anxiety dreams. In fact, I'm currently experiencing no pre-flight jitters or other fears. I'm sure that means I'm doomed, but I just can't seem to get any angst up about it.
The next time you hear from me, all be in Beantown.
Peace out!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Watches?!? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Watches!

It's been years since I've worn a watch, probably close to 10. Up until that point I wore them religiously. It started out with my first Swatch when I was in middle school. I wore it all the time. I wore it to bed; I wore it in the shower (it was waterproof). Later, as I grew out of the Swatch watches and into the Swiss Army watches, I no longer wore my watch in the shower, but I did wear it to bed. It had glow in the dark hands so I could see it when I woke up suddenly in the night. For some reason, I wake up panicked and I have to know what time it is. This might be because I wore a watch to bed for so many years. Or I may have worn a watch to bed because of this time disorienting panic disorder I have.

And then I met Doc. He never wore a watch. "I don't need one," he expained. "There's clocks everywhere and there's usually at least one person in the room who will have the time and give it to you when you ask." He was also constantly breaking them and found them confining in more ways than one. I don't think he likes having one physically on his arm, but moreso, he vehemently demands freedom from the tyranny of time. Those who know him are probably familiar with his infamous "Gimme twenty minutes" gambit. Doc's "twenty minutes" are as flexible as taffy. Wearing a watch would turn his taffy into rocks.

As much as I've groused about this time taffy, I've also tried to learn from it. I believe a lot of my depression stems from the sorrow that this too shall pass. Even while I was in the middle of having a good time, my eye would be on the clock and I would be fretting about the fact that this good time would be over soon. Of course I was not wise enough to remember that just because this good time is over, doesn't mean that all good times are over.

Watching Doc saunter through his days, his time his own inspired me. I took my watch off as an experiement to see if I could be more like him and less concerned with "when" and more involved with "how" and "why" and "who." And so far, so good. I'm still worried about the time. I look at the clock often. I check my cell phone to see what time it is. I even wake up in the middle of the night, search for the clock on the cable box, note the time and drift back off to sleep. However, now, when I'm in the middle of something and I feel the time fluttering away from me like a long ribbon, I just hold on to my hat and let go of the panic. Sometimes, I even give myself "Twenty Minutes" to do things.

To this day, my Swiss Army watch with glow in the dark hands and the date indicator, sits in my junk drawer, a relic. As you know, I recently cleaned out that drawer and the watch made the cut; it did not get pitched, but it's still classified as "junk." Doc saw it in there and noted, "There's your watch..."

"Yep," I said giving it a look and closing the drawer, thinking I would never were it or its kind again.

That is until the other day...

I was entering my codes in the My Coke Rewards program. We had about 350 points and I was shopping through the items, not confident that I would find anything good. And what should pop up in the list, but an American Idol watch!!! It silver with a black face and band. The American Idol logo is splashed across the middle and the hands glow in the dark. I immediately ordered it and applied all but one of my points to obtaining it.

The watch arrived yesterday and I immediatly removed it from the packaging and put it on. I was somewhat concerened that this act would bind me again in the shackles of time, like I had been in the past. But so far, so good. It's not much more than a bracelet in my mind. Also, it's a great conversation piece. And, it's totally awesome. I'll keep you posted on my time frame of mind.