Monday, February 28, 2005

My mystery seeds arrived in the mail! I'm so very glad they're actually labeled and I won't have to wait for the little things sprout to find out what they'll be when they grow up.

In the full sun of my front yard, I get to plant (/plant/ v. 1. to sprinkle randomly around the bare dirt and cross fingers hoping for the best) a Colorful Annual Carpet Assortment.

That's funny, I have a rather colorful assortment on the carpet of my living room right now, but only because lately Gertrude + "clean up your toys" = tantrum.

What would I do at this time of year if I weren't daydreaming about what I'll do when the weather warms up?

Here's the first thing I'll do: strip off all extraneous clothing and lay flat on my back in the sun. I don't care who points and laughs. And yes, that dimple was there last year. Okay, okay, I'm putting my clothes back on. You can stop laughing now.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

This is me paying bills. I think I have ADHD.

Sit down at computer. Survey the situation. Realize the pile of bills is sitting across the kitchen on the counter. Get up, get bill pile.

Sit down at computer. Launch Money program. Tap fingers waiting for program to load. Glance out window and realize Sunday paper is here! Coax dog to fetch paper.

Sit down at computer. Good, program is ready and bills are within reach. Better reconcile receipts to see how much money is available to pay bills! Receipts are in purse. Reach for purse. Oh, forgot to bring in purse from car after grocery store trip this morning.

Walk out to car in garage. Let dog out to pee. Take out trash. Pick up bike helmets and skates. Glance at pile of Freecycle stuff. Realize forgot to reply to Freecyclers offering to come take stuff away!

Sit down at computer. Reply to emails. Hey, there’s pudding in the fridge – and Cool Whip! Get. Eat. Answer more emails. Get up and return to car to actually bring purse inside this time.

Sit down at computer. Get up and let dog back in. Get more pudding out of fridge. Notice leftover chicken still on bones. Decide to make chicken stock so as to feed family economically and retain more money with which to pay bills (related thought! see?!).

Spend rest of afternoon chopping vegetables, boiling chicken bones, and measuring stock into two-cup portions stored in zip-lock freezer bags.

“Are you making soup?” asks Gary, who thought I was paying bills.

“No, I’m paying bills!”

Did I ever let the dog inside…?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Children may not realize it, but any Valentine's Day candy not consumed within one week is fair game to parents. It's a cruel twist of fate. I only let them have two pieces per day after dinner, and at that rate, that's only 14 pieces of Valentine's Day candy. The average child in our household scores at least 121,000 pieces from grandparents, school parties, and (ironically) their parents.

And while we're on the subject, a pox upon whomever decided to disguise those nasty, fruit-flavored "creams" inside chocolate coatings in such a way as to resemble caramels.

I'm avoiding something right now. I'm avoiding the costume committee at Matilda's school. In a moment of weakness, I admitted to them that I can passably sew. Now I've been given a list of parents to call and interrogate about how they're planning to outfit their child for the fourth-grade musical.

"Hello, Mrs. Smith? I have here that your boy is slated to play a pioneer. How are you on period clothing? Do you need to check his drawer to see if his cowhide pants are clean? Oh sure, I'll hold on."

I hate, hate, hate making phone calls. So I'm wondering if I can just sew each child a brand-new costume rather than put myself through calling their parents. That's how much I hate the phone. If you don't hear from me for a few days, it's because I'm barricaded in my sewing room avoiding anything that threatens to ring.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I think one of the coolest things about having kids is seeing them develop into separate people and watching as they discover each new thing about themselves.

For example, Matilda comes alive on a stage.

This totally surprised me. Matilda is reserved, sensitive, bookish, and observant. She answers most questions with one-word answers.

I figured we'd ride out the musical theater class as a fun, after-school diversion and then move on to the next short-lived interest. There's nothing wrong with that. Nine is the perfect age to throw a bunch of stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

I mean, whenever she practiced the songs at home or talked about rehearsal, she just seemed so nonchalant about it.

I actually sat in the audience on Saturday, before the first performance of The Pirates of Penzance, hoping that she'd at least be able to keep up with the other kids or blend in and seem as if she knew what she was doing.

I was not expecting her to come skipping out onto the stage, arm-in-arm with one of the other Major General's Daughters, smiling from ear to ear and confidently projecting complicated lyrics. From her diaphragm! I didn't actually realize she had one until that moment.

Her face beamed expression. Her choreography was graceful, poised, and precise. She expertly downplayed a potentially disastrous wardrobe malfunction in which another girl's fan became entangled in the lace of Matilda's hat. I saw other performers flub their singing a few times. Not Matilda. She knew every word.

Proud doesn't even begin to describe how I felt.

Between shows, the kids had been instructed to "find a fun and relaxing way to unwind and recharge." Matilda instructed me to take her to Borders. She wanted to browse for a new book. Then she told me we would take the new book to Starbucks for hot chocolate.

As soon as we walked into the bookstore, she inhaled and said, "Ahh, I love the smell of this place!"

Is she the coolest kid, or what?

Monday, February 21, 2005

This time we’re trying something a little different in the garden (and by “garden” I mean the strip of exposed dirt along my fence line in which I attempted to grow tomatoes last year).

Instead of coaxing little tomato plants out of improbable little seeds in improper lighting on the window sill of my bedroom (last year’s approach), I’ve purchased some plants from Burpee. They promise to ship me healthy, happy plants just in time for Spring planting.

I’m more excited about it than I probably have a right to be.

On the offside chance that these happy little plants aren’t eaten by the dog within their first fifteen minutes of life in my garden, here’s what I’m looking forward to installing:

Burpee’s Tomato Hall of Fame

Sweet Pepper Collection

Blue Lake Pole Beans

And of course, the Hot Pepper Mix which I will lovingly grow so Gary can transform these various peppers into his own curiously wonderful blends of chili powders.

I’m sure it wouldn’t betray any confidence to tell you that if you enter BP53 at checkout you’ll save yourself five bucks. And spending more than $25 earns you a free packet of mystery seeds!

Life is good in the garden until everything fails.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

I’m wondering if my neighbors who are trying to sell their house would like me to rake my front lawn. I bet they would.

I did accomplish one yard-related task today while the weather was nice. I built a compost heap!

I bet you’re thinking I must know my shit to be throwing terms like “compost heap.” The truth is, if I’ve learned one thing about myself in recent years it’s that I would rather do something half-assed in the heat of inspiration than to wait two weeks, buy the proper materials, and learn the proper techniques.

Thus, I have a half-assed compost heap beside my shed that took me one hour to throw together. And I’m immensely happy with it.

In the spirit of Just Doing Things because the weather’s nice and you feel like it, I offer you today’s DIY tidbit:

Squeaky Composting System

Several pieces of concrete landscaping border
Because that's what I had laying around
Um, that’s about it
Are you still reading this list?
This isn’t a list
It’s really just one item
And yet, with all these words here it does look like a list

1. Pile border pieces on top of each other, roughly forming a box shape.
2. Dump old mulch and other yard waste into the makeshift box.
3. That’s it. And damn if it doesn’t look and function very much like an actual compost heap.

I mean, honestly. If I were expected to think these things through first, I’d never accomplish anything.

Friday, February 18, 2005

I'm happy to report we've had a V-Word breakthrough! I am no longer held hostage by the V-Word. In fact, I think I'm going to try to work it into most conversations I have with random people from here on out.

Here's what happened:

Matilda was off school today, so I swung by at noon to take her out to lunch and give Dad a break from the long day of Bored Matilda standing behind him at the computer silently watching him work. I am not insensitive to his plight.

We went to lunch. We were chatty. We joked. On the way home, Matilda picked up one of the dolls Gert had left in the back seat.

"Ew!" she shrieked. "This doll is not wearing any clothes!"

"So what?"

"This doll has… NIPPLES!"

"Well, so do YOU!" I giggled. "Just be glad it doesn't have a VAGINA!"

That's right, that was me. You should have heard how casual I sounded.

You might have thought I regularly shout "hey, vagina!" at passing cars.

Perhaps you would have thought I'd named my cat Regina Vagina.

You might have been inspired to discuss Georgia O'Keefe with me because you'd be confident I wouldn't bat an eye before wondering out loud if she intended this to so closely resemble a vagina (of course she did).

Now we can watch The Vagina Monologues! As well as any other Eve Ensler project!

I feel like I should be thanking the Vagina Fairy for bringing me the ability to discuss girl parts. But I know how she likes her anonymity. Hey... so would you, if you were the Vagina Fairy.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

One of the nicest things about knitting is the built-in guarantee* that if I simply pick it up and work at it from time to time, I'll end up with a finished object.

*May not be combined with any other offer. Guarantee does not extend to any implied quality of work, utility, or aesthetic. User assumes all risk and liability.

I'm not saying all knitting is automatic, but if you put one knit stitch after another knit stitch, and another, and keep making stitches, eventually you'll make something.

The same cannot be said of other things in life, say writing, parenting, love, baking, auto repair, or animal husbandry.

I find it soothing, the simple act of making one stitch after another, the same way putting one foot in front of the other in a routine of daily life is therapeutic in its own way.

As long as you have the occasional metaphoric equivalent of some lace gloves or a bikini to keep things interesting, it's fine if the rest of your life is one long, snuggly, garter stitch afghan. In fact, I think I prefer it that way.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I woke up with so much anxiety but no identifiable cause. Everyone is healthy, we're employed, and we have a place to live. So what do I have to be worried about?

I hate when I can't pin feelings down because it usually means there is a reason but I've just pushed it off and forgotten about it. (Repression: the other white meat) Now it's probably been kicking around all night, generating metaphor-rich, anxiety-producing dream sequences.

Oh well, la la la, out of sight out of mind! Everything's rosy.

I'm heading to the craft store at lunch to pick up some beads for a sweater. I'll probably stop and pick up dog food.

And speaking of the dog… there's a strange power play going on between the dog and the three-year-old. For example, I'll walk into the living room and find one of Finnegan's squeaky toys perched high up on the back of the couch, with Gert sitting innocently beneath it. Then I'll find a rawhide bone under Gert's bed. And his tennis ball in the basket of her bike, deliberately out of the dog's reach.

"Gert…?" I said, holding the rawhide I'd just retrieved from her room. "How did Finnegan's bone get under your bed?"

Gertrude has this sinister, gleeful smile that comes out spontaneously when she knows she's being evil. "I took it, and I put it there," she sang, sporting the widest evil grin I've ever seen.

"Honey, you can't take Finn's toys away. He's not allowed to take your toys."

Then the grin burst into an evil laugh. "Heh! Heh! I know!"

Oh, brother. So I went through the house and gathered up all the dog's toys and returned them to his toy basket. Finnegan watched me with a look that spoke of long-suffering persecution and injustice.

Perhaps it's not time to introduce a younger sibling quite yet. Gert's tormenting time is booked solid.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

It's remarkably beautiful outside today. The fact that I have to be inside is just wrong. All this time I've been holding my breath and waiting for a break in the miserable cold, and this morning I stepped outside and it was warm. The air smells fresh and clean. It's so blissful it defies explanation. But don't mind me, I'm just sitting over here in my office missing it all.

I hope it's still nice at lunch, because I'll take my chicken-salad-on-whole-wheat-pita outside and pretend it's not going to rain and get cold again later.

It charts on today's list of Things I Currently Like, presented here in no particular order:

  • Asymmetrical ponchos
  • The Gilmore Girls "soundtrack" constructed for me by my husband, following his successful "soundtrack" to ABC's Lost.
  • Unseasonably warm weather
  • Silver jewelry
  • Children who wake up in a decent mood
  • Knitting tonight
  • Possibly going out to dinner tomorrow for a belated Valentine's Day event
  • Neil Young
  • Billie Joe Armstrong, all of a sudden. I don't know why. Maybe it's the dark circles.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Plenty of strange things can happen when you're making pizza dough in the morning. For example, you might find yourself loudly singing "Peeeeee-izza crust.... Soooooo-uperstar...." to the tune of Jesus Christ Superstar. Your youngest daughter might come screaming out of her room in a panic claiming that there are strange bugs under her bed. The dog might suddenly develop a taste for raw flour and begin systematically licking the kitchen floor searching for another hit.

I'm not really surprised. I know that later this morning I'm going to find myself in a gradeschool Plinko booth handing out plastic rings and whistles. Nothing qualifies as weird anymore.

The best part about working the Plinko booth is I know I'm already guaranteed to embarrass Matilda. She knows I'm going to do something wildly inappropriate or parentlike, such as call out from across a crowded gymnasium, "HEY MATILDA, COME HERE! THAT BOY YOU LIKE IS NEXT IN LINE FOR PLINKO!"

Incidentally, here's the recipe we've been using as a pizza crust base lately. I like it because it's so elegant in its simplicity. You can tweak it mercilessly and it doesn't show bruises, which is handy because you don't want to lose custody of your lunch.

Squeaky Pizza

2-1/4 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water
2 cups flour (approx.)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Activate yeast in water and sugar (i.e., mix the first 3 ingredients together and let it sit until the yeast starts popping into little bursts of froth - my favorite part!). Mix in olive oil and salt. Add flour gradually until it feels like you could start kneading it. I'm about as exact with flour measurements as I am with following knitting patterns. Not very. Anyway, knead the dough until it's nice and smooth, then cover and let it rise until double. Punch it down (like I said, it resists bruising), and shape it into crust on a cookie sheet. Spread it really thin because it'll thicken up when you bake it. Add toppings, bake at 400 degrees until edges are brown and your toppings are done.

For the record, I like pizza much better than Plinko. And I probably always will.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Do I want chocolate so badly right now I'd consider stealing from Tsunami victims?

No. Well… kind of.

You see, this morning I brought in a big jar of change to donate to the Change for Change drive. The company offered to match donations, so we all decided to pool our spare change into something substantial.

So all of my change is sitting in the Change for Change jar. There is absolutely no change at all in my wallet. Or at the bottom of my purse. Or in my desk drawer. Or wedged into the seat cushion of my chair (I've checked).

There's apparently nothing like being utterly changeless to make you desperate for vending machine food.

But I'm not so evil and heartless that I'd go retrieve three quarters from the poor families who lost everything. Really. Besides, everyone would see me do it.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I'm not saying I didn't have a wardrobe meltdown in my closet at 12:06 a.m…

I won't say I didn't contemplate running to a department store at the asscrack of dawn to find something new and cute to wear to a pitch meeting today…

I also won't confirm or deny a brief flirtation with Harajuku street style or even EGL

Anyway, this afternoon, I sat in a room of women wearing varying combinations of black, black, and black. They were all full of corporate sass. I was not in black; in fact, my wardrobe highlight was a completely unexpected scarf knotted around my neck featuring a color palate that has not been attempted since 1972.

Losers. Don't they read K.1? Color is the new black.

I am Creative Services. My image is supposed to be, by definition, creative, edgy, whimsical, and nonconformist. If I were my client, I wouldn't trust a creative in a black suit.

The best part was the message Gary left me on my voicemail this morning: Your presentation will be fine. You look amazing. He is the greatest.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Take a look to the left and you'll notice I've cleaned up the links. No more broken or inactive blogs over there! Nothing but good, solid blogginess. In fact, I highly recommend you take a moment right now to go discover someone new. It's like making a new friend!

Just when you think your neighborhood is settled and you have a good sense of who is cheating on their spouses with whom, someone has to go and put their house up for sale.

The house across the street from us seems to have sprouted a "for sale" sign overnight. I swear it wasn't there yesterday. They must have snuck out under the cover of darkness and planted it so no one could get an early jump on the gossip.

This is really only interesting because it's one of the Swingers' houses. This particular couple and the couple next door to them always seemed to have an unnaturally neighborly relationship. In a subdivision where people raked leaves side by side without more than a cordial nod in each others' direction, where a friendly wave satisfied the month's requirement for casually exchanged greetings... (let's just say we're not the lean-over-the-fence-and-chat sort of neighborhood)... these neighbors raked each others' lawns, strung Christmas lights on each others' houses, distributed Halloween candy from the same bowl, pulled each others' kids in wagons, etc., etc., etc. It was sickening bordering on incestuous.

But they seemed to be happy in a way that we envied. The husbands would stand outside drinking beer together while their comparably aged children played and their wives smiled and talked on the porch swing. I'll admit it. We wanted what they had. We wanted a couple next door who liked the same music we liked and who didn't give a crap about what teams were playing in the next televised sporting event.

So how best to cope with our jealousy? We decided they not only traded meatloaf recipes and babysitting, but sexual favors and spouses. Because that shit is funny.

Then we imagined that things went sour between them. Maybe one of the wives was a tiny bit hotter in the sack, and the other one wanted to call off the extracurriculars. The tension! The fury! The inevitable discomfort of living in such close proximity to temptation and sin!

And now one of the houses is suddenly up for sale. Interesting...

Monday, February 07, 2005

Hi, I have your sunglasses. Those prescription sunglasses you thought you lost last summer? They're in my desk drawer.

I found them in the parking lot and thought, "Boy, I'd sure hate to lose something as expensive as those." So I picked them up and brought them inside with the intention of dropping them off at HR.

Then somehow a week or so went by with the sunglasses sitting in my desk. After a week, I felt like it would have been embarrassing to admit to having had them for a week. The person who lost them would wonder why I hadn't turned them in immediately. So I started putting it off, and they stayed in my desk, and I looked at them every day with twinges of guilt and self-recrimination.

Now it has been more than six months and I'm beyond embarrassed to have these sunglasses in my possession. I wholeheartedly regret the act of consideration that prompted me to pick them up in the first place. But what should I do with them? I have a feeling they'll stat in my desk drawer until the day I die. Maybe I'll ask to be buried with them to avoid the uncomfortable questions.

On a related note, last night I took a trip with Poppymom to a small town where we spent some time driving around and scoping out the school districts. (This made a lot more sense to me when I woke up and realized it was a dream.) As we were driving, I told her all about PTSD, exposure therapy, regression, and hypnosis. "Are you insane? Shut up," I said, accidentally out loud. Robin thought I was talking to her, which was awkward. Then I awkwardly tried to change the subject by pointing out a couple of cute, small-town boys riding their bikes up a hill toward a huge refinery of some sort.

Conclusion: My subconscious is a ditz. I've decided to name it Bambi so when it flips out and acts all flighty I can say, "Shut it, Bambi."

Of course, I'm apparently the one hoarding other people's sunglasses. That's got to be a criterion of something in the DSM-IV-TR…

Friday, February 04, 2005

On health, hygiene, and other frightful topics… The link Anon posted below bears reposting: Think twice before reusing that plastic water bottle!

By all accounts, I should be dead.

Maybe my New Year's Resolution to Eat More Fruit is keeping the bacteria at bay. For now.

Regardless, I've added plastic water bottle reuse to this list:

The Great-Big List of Things
Squeaky Weasel Has Been Propagandized Out of Ever Doing, Volume I
(A Random Sampling)

28. Eating beef
2. Prolonged tampon use
14. Donating to the March of Dimes
12. Wearing copper jewelry
189. Wiping counters with sponges
47. Leaving contacts in overnight
88. Taking aspirin on an empty stomach
299. Receiving a foot massage during the later stages of pregnancy
60. Clashing patterns
8. Cleaning the bathroom with the door closed
365. Giving honey to babies and young children
44. Touching public toilets
217. Eating more than one type of starchy food in the same meal
153. Wearing underpants made of synthetic fibers
71. Looking directly at a running microwave oven

Lest you get the wrong idea about me (if the incessant list-making on this site hasn't already done that), let me assure you that I do abide by the 3-second rule for certain foods, and my cat has occasionally licked her own girl parts while sitting on my lap.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Yesterday I discovered a small, white surveillance device in my office. It was either that or a grain of rice stuck to the wall, and which do you think is more likely? That's what I'm saying.

Who are they and what do they want? Is it a group of grandmas seeking insight into my mad lunchtime knitting skills?

Is it the Dasani® purified water loss-prevention group seeking evidence that I've been refilling the same bottle of water from the drinking fountain for over three weeks now, at a minimum of three refills per work day? (That's about $45 so far I've yanked from the mouths of their hungry families.)

I'm thinking about this too much.

Maybe I'm overreacting, but just in case it's not a grain of rice stuck to the wall here's some useful information on how to avoid Jose Feliciano, diablo de la federaciĆ³n de la lucha del mundo.

Be careful out there.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

'Tis Groundhog Day!

Shall we all collectively take this opportunity to retreat from any fears or personal shortcomings we are unwilling to address head-on?

Here, I'll lay a few of mine out there for you.
  • I find it very difficult to make and maintain friendships. The truth is, I wear myself out trying to do it right, build up lots of unrealistic expectations, and then blame other people for my own problems with intimacy. I don't see myself addressing that one any time soon.

  • I avoid confrontations. To the point that I allow tiny little annoyances to build up and become huge, looming issues. I've tried, tried, tried not to be this way, but it seems to be a personality defect or something. Perhaps ignoring it will fix it!

  • You've noticed the lack of photos on this site? It's because I'm lazy. I'm not too lazy to take a picture, but I'm too lazy to figure out how to get it on my website, or to get it printed. Or if I happen to have prints, I'm too lazy to put them into albums. Consequently, I have tons of photos that no one can ever look at. It's on the giant mental list of Things I Should Do. I hate that list.

Ah, groundhogs… They're kind of weird looking but we love them anyhow.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Last night I dreamed I met a psychic at the airport. He reportedly had a 100% accuracy rate in his predictions, but with a twist. He gave predictions by making three statements. Two of those statements were always false, and one would always be true. You just had to guess which was the true statement.

Gary left to get a pretzel, and I found myself chatting one-on-one with the psychic.

"The plane you're about to board will crash," he said to me. "You'll be chosen for a key role in an upcoming off-Broadway play. And you're never going to fit into those cute brown pants you bought even though they were unrealistically tiny."

"Hold on a second," I said. "You're 100% positive only one of those is true?"

He shrugged and cracked open a can of Diet Dr. Pepper (more product placement, no doubt). "You might get into them, but they'll never really look that good because you're not eighteen." Then the asshole made a very unflattering motion with his hands. "You know…bulges."

In a huff, I left him sitting in his hard, plastic airport seat and went to find my husband. I told Gary the three predictions. He looked concerned. "We should take a different flight!" he said.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence," I said. "But he's right. Those pants are a lost cause."

So we took the flight. Cut to a very tense moment of Gary and me clinging to our armrests as the plane takes a sudden dive.

Gary muttered a few expletives and something about having told me we should have taken a different flight.

"Don't you realize what this means?" I cried gleefully.

Just then, a lady from the next row leaned over to me. "Excuse me," she said. "I'm sorry to bother you, but I was just wondering. Have you ever done any stage acting?"