Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Why So Creepy?

I have a long, not-so-glorious history of run-ins with creepy people. They always find me in the most innocent of places. Which, frankly, makes them even more creepy.

Shudder.

Shudder.

Shudder.

Creepy people, be gone.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Totally

I was recently informed that I use the word totally a lot. But that's totally not true. I only use it when it is totally necessary. And to imply that it totally rubs off on others when I use it often? Is also totally wrong. I am totally careful about my word use. Like Gwyneth Paltrow, I am totally into being totally well-spoken. It's totally important, which is why I am totally going to watch it and go back and totally edit whenever I've used that word too totally much.

Thanks, I mean, totally, for your total support.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Enough With The Spinning

I go to a west coast swing dance class on Tuesday nights. It's usually really great. Each week I feel more and more comfortable being the worst dancer in the class, and I don't at all regret my decision to come in that first night instead of just driving away, as was my impulse.

So last night we were learning this new move, which isn't called anything, I don't think, but I call it Lots And Lots Of Spinning By The Lady Only. The men? Just walk back and forth and maybe turn a tiny bit. Never more than 90 degrees at a time. The lady, however, is spinning the entire time. It is, at first, confusing, and then it is fun, and then, after nearly an hour of practicing all that spinning, it is a little nauseating. As in, sit-down-and-take-deep-breaths nauseating.

Today at Target I'll be investing in some Dramamine.

To use during my dance class.

Does this mean I'm getting old?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Upheaval

I'm not doing so well today and I thought I knew why but really it's a bunch of different whys, some of which I hadn't considered yet, the biggest one (of the unconsidered whys, that is) being that I am trying yet again to cram more stuff into the small space I call my home. The makeshift office itself, which is half of what I liked to call the dining room, but was more of an extension to the kitchen, is coming along quite nicely, everything organized and stacked and software installed and all. The rest of the place, however, is in a sorry state, and there's not much to be done about it until I get some more time and a little bit of shelving. There are photos all over the living room and small kitchen appliances littering the floor in the half of the dining room/kitchen extension which has not been turned into an office. Packing material from the new equipment is everywhere it will fit until I'm brave enough to take it to the scary basement. There are probably a few pairs of shoes hiding underneath all that mess, but I'm not trying to figure out which ones and where. The opossum from the basement may have moved upstairs with me and I wouldn't even know. Kind of sad, really, but I guess he'll get along all right eating the crumbs that are hiding under there with him, since I certainly haven't had time to sweep anything.

The saving grace right now is that tomorrow after I drop my young charges off at school, I'll have a whole day to begin to unearth my apartment. And I suppose I can make it until then.


Friday, September 17, 2004

Logic According to Jack

We had a little bit of a rough morning this morning. It's partly my fault. I knew that both children had come down with a case of what we call The Naughties this morning, but I still thought it would be okay to run a couple of errands before our surprise destination. The rules for making it to the surprise destination were: Be good or else we won't go. Being good involves staying with your nanny in Target, being kind to your sibling, touching only that which belongs to you unless you have asked and consent has been given, and not being wild where there are breakables. By 10:15am both children had run away to hide in the middle of clothes racks, hit/pinched/kicked each other, taken items off racks without a thought towards asking, and knocked a computer monitor off the Radio Shack counter by ramming into a shelf (this task accomplished by teamwork and the element of surprise). By the time the monitor was handily rescued by Dave, now also known as Very Understanding and Merciful Radio Shack Guy, the goose was cooked. There would be no surprise.

Unfortunately, we still had one more errand to run. To make it through, the kids would need some sort of incentive. So I offered this carrot: If the naughty monsters could turn into nice children for just twenty minutes, there would be a small reward: chocolate milk at Starbucks. The same rules applied as before, and if there was a problem, no beverages for the naughty ones.

I was good as usual. The other two? Couldn't manage to be good for two minutes straight. There was pinching, there was name-calling, there was fake crying. The decree was: You will come in with me, and you can play with a straw and sit at a table, but you will have no beverage. Much wailing ensued. We entered Starbucks and each little monster chose his or her own table. Each obtained a straw. I ordered an iced grande hazelnut percent no whip mocha (high maintenance, yes, I know) and volleyed back and forth between tables, giving each monster equal time. And then I (how dare I!) got up to leave.

Without getting anything for the naughty monsters.

They looked at me in confusion, clutching their straws in their sweaty palms. "But we have straws," Jack whined, "and that means we get drinks."

Um, sure. Right.

Thank goodness it's Friday.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Fabulous Advice!

You people have been so helpful! I took all your comments into consideration, mixed it up with my own research, and already made some purchases. I went out yesterday planning to just buy the computer, printer, and scanner, but ended up getting the camera as well. I realized after holding both cameras that I didn't have to do any more research to know which one I wanted. So here it is, the what and why:

The Mac: I purchased the eMac G4. In the end, it came down to cost. I love the look of the new iMac G5, and the Powerbook would certainly be handy, but for now I can do what I need to do with the totally unsexy, so-heavy-I-should've-called-someone-to-help-me-get-it-upstairs, complete-with-a-rebate G4. Eventually I would like to get a Powerbook that I could, as Tim suggested, take on shoots in order to show customers larger images right away, but for now I think my future clients can live with having the shots e-mailed to them by the end of the day.

The Camera: I went with the Canon Digital Rebel. I just felt more comfortable with it. The lens quality is not as good as the D70, but the difference is not something that will affect the kind of photos I will take. Also, I read a lot of reviews about both and the complaints about the Canon (cheaper lens, more plasticky body, fewer custom features) were things I could live with, whereas the complaints about the D70 (moire, focus issues) were things I didn't really want to have to deal with fixing. In time I will upgrade to a better lens, but that will happen, as the Powerbook purchase will happen, when the business is actually making money.

The Extras: In addition, I also purchased the Canon i9900 printer and the Epson Perfection 2480 scanner, both of which make me nearly as excited as the Mac and camera have. Scan and print! Scan and print! Fun times at my house for sure.

Thank you all so much for all your advice. Come over and play anytime.

(And did I mention that I can watch DVDs now? I can watch DVDs now. Come on over, especially if you're bringing a DVD and maybe, say, a pizza. I'll make the cookies. Good times.)

Monday, September 13, 2004

Skills

I believe that everyone has something (or somethings) that they do really well that is not normally recognized as a skill, but really is extraordinary. Some people are really great at doing things like cleaning mirrors with absolutely no streaks the very first time they wipe it off. Some people can name a song, artist, and album by hearing the beginning three notes of a song. I can't do either of those things. But I can load the dishwasher.

I know that a lot of people load dishwashers every day. Many of you do it quite neatly and some of you do it messily, but it gets the job done. Some of you can't do it to save your own lives. Such is the case where I work. I come in some mornings to find dishes stacked on top of each other in the dishwasher. It's been run, but the top of the stack is just as dirty as when it was when it was loaded, except now the crap has been dried on. Other mornings I open it up to find that they have somehow managed to fill the entire dishwasher with just five dishes. That's a talent for sure, but I'm not sure I'd call it a skill.

So it falls to me to rectify these situations, and I've become quite proficient. If the dishwasher has not been run, I often rearrange for optimal cleanliness and loading capacity. It makes me happy to look in the dishwasher, see it packed full, and know that every single dish will come out sparkling clean. There are methods I use, tricks of my trade, and they work every time. Today I took the load from a strainer, four plates, some glasses and one tupperware container to eight plates, a platter, that same strainer, the tupperware, the present glasses plus six more, four mugs, three pots, a steamer, two sippy cup lids, a couple of ramekins, and more utensils than you'd know what to do with. It just finished running, and everything is, as expected, sparkling clean.

And that makes me happy.

What special skill makes you happy?

An Announcement and a Request

For as long as I have been a nanny, I have been photographing the children I take care of. In recent years I've also been photographing their friends and families. Many of the photos have turned out well. There has been some enlarging and framing. I've never charged more than developing costs and whatever small tip they may want to give. I love to do it and I love knowing that I can produce the kinds of results that people want to display. Recently it has occured to me that I could actually charge real money for my services and perhaps procure clients whose children are not in my care. And so, the announcement: I 'm officially for hire. I will be doing on-location photography whoever likes what I do well enough to hire me. The concept is simple: That people photograph best in environments in which they are comfortable. Don't come to me; I'll come to you.

Now the request: I need some advice. I am shopping for both a digital SLR and a computer. The digital SLRs that I'm considering are the Canon Digital Rebel and the Nikon D70. I'm leaning towards the Canon at this point because I prefer the image quality and the price. I know there are a some features on the Nikon that the Canon does not have, such as custom settings, but I primarily shoot in manual mode with my current (non-digital) SLR,so I don't think I really need them. However, if you have compelling reaons that I should buy the Nikon as opposed to the Canon, please do tell me.

As for the computer, of course I am getting a Mac. My question is: What are the benefits of the iMac G5 as compared to the eMac G4? I will be using it for all my business records as well as for photo processing. Is it worth the extra cost to go with the G5, or will I do just as well with a G4?

Tell me what you know.

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Last Unicorn


a favorite
Originally uploaded by marymuses.
Or rather, the last Thursday Mary Liz and I had "just us girls" time. Actually, it was "just us girls and why don't we borrow a baby while we're at it" time, but it was still the last one. This week Mary Liz began her regular school schedule of full days Tuesdays and Thursdays, which means that our sweet Thursday storytime routine is discontinued. This photo is of Mary Liz using her music selection skills in the basement of Barnes and Noble on that last Thursday. Watching her develop her taste in music has been one of my favorite things about being her nanny. I just love the sight of her in those big headphones, her hair all mussed up in the back, using the touchscreen and scanning bar codes off the backs of CDs like a pro. I will miss these moments.

If you can guess what this is...


old and rusty
Originally uploaded by marymuses.
...or what it's part of, I will give you a prize. A yummy one. Hint: It's at my parents' farm, which is also known as Where Old Farm Equipment Goes to Die. If you'd like to see more of my photo extravaganza from the farm, send me an e-mail and I'll send you a link to the album.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Flattery

Last week as I was loading some things into my station wagon, Mary Liz, who was playing in the gravel behind me, and apparently studying me from behind, said, "Mary, you have a small butt."

All I could think to say was, "Thank you."

Friday, September 03, 2004

Pikes Peak is Big

Most of you already knew that. I certainly knew that, but I decided to run up and down it anyway. Maybe I did it because of its bigness. I do love a challenge, you know. Okay, sometimes I love a challenge. Certain challenges, let's say. Oh, forget it, I was just nuts to sign up for the thing. It still seems a little surreal to me that I did it. I look at the photos, particularly the one of the starting line with Pikes Peak looming in the background--way in the background--and it's hard to believe that I took it on one morning in August.

From Highway 24 you can see Pikes Peak from miles away. At times it looks as if you might run into it if you keep driving. The truth is you'll run into it if you try to, but not by driving down Highway 24. Pikes Peak is surrounded by mountain towns, with the main trailhead beginning in the lovely little berg of Manitou Springs, which is where the Ascent and Marathon start each year. Last year I ran the Ascent and, promptly forgetting my thoughts from the end of that race("This is the hardest physical thing I have ever done in my entire life."), I registered for the Marathon this time around. And so my summer was spent fitting in my training, worrying over details, developing plantar fascitis, and ultimately feeling, "Yes, I can do this race."

I was right. I could do it. But it was harder than I thought it would be. The ascent portion was easier than it had been last year, so from the beginning I was duped into thinking the rest would be smooth like silk. Thanks to an extra year of training, I was simply a stronger and smarter runner. The ascent felt good. I was delusional about the descent. I'd had several seasoned Pikes Peak Marathoners tell me that turning around at the top felt like leaving behind an extra fifty pounds and being completely free; they weren't lying. They just forgot about the rest of the descent. They never mentioned the part in the middle of the trail when everyone has spread out and you feel alone and tired and did I mention alone? On a normal day, this would have seemed peaceful and relaxing. After the push towards the top and running pell-mell down the first third, it felt like a letdown. And did I mention feeling alone? I felt alone. I very nearly cried. I told myself some jokes. I replayed my favorite moments of the race so far: that moment--ohmygoodness that moment--I stepped above the timberline and the whole world fell away in a hush, and I felt like I had never seen anything more breathtaking; the runners passing on the descent, telling our line of marathoning lemmings that the top was near; the volunteers at the top touching the top of my head saying, "You've been timed," and the sweet relief of knowing that meant I could turn around and go down and breathe easily again; the beginning of the descent, running pell-mell above the timberline, feeling like a kid again, slipping and sliding down rocks, but catching myself (miracle!) before I actually fell. There were a lot of good moments. I ate an energy gel and I didn't cry. Soon I saw a familiar runner, one who had been carrying a stuffed cloth bunny the whole way, and we fell into conversation. He could have passed me, I know it for sure, but he ran just behind me the whole way down, asking me questions about my life and telling me about his daughter, the bunny's owner, who will run Pikes Peak when she's old enough. As we neared the finish line, I thanked him; without him I may have finished, but I wouldn't have finished so well.

The final push of the race left me light-headed. There were people cheering my name all the way down Ruxton, and I was a bit befuddled, thinking, "I don't know any of these people. Are they cheering for me?" They were. My brother had told them all my name. And then there it was, the finish line, in sight. The announcer was calling my name and number and where I was from. I felt like bursting into tears.

And then I finished.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Every Day I:

*use the Crest Whitestrips that Jill gave me (thanks, Jill!) in the evening.

*forget to use those same Crest Whitestrips in the morning. This will be the longest tooth-whitening process ever.

*eat chocolate in some form. Usually it's in more than one form; yesterday I managed four: brownies, chocolate chips, chocolate frosting, chocolate teddy grahams.

*drink green tea. Antioxidants, hooray!

*trip over something. Cracks in the sidewalk, industrial floor mats, small pieces of string. Is it anything less than a miracle that I did not end up a bloody mess at the bottom of Pikes Peak?

*sing something to myself without realizing I'm singing out loud, just like that kid in About A Boy.

*let my mind wander when I should be paying attention.

*give someone a compliment. Usually it's Jack or Mary Liz and it's something like, "Very nice use of your fork."

*have trouble getting out of bed in the morning.

*have trouble getting to bed on time at night.

*become disgruntled about something trivial.

*thank God that I have the life I do. It's a good one, even if I forget that sometimes.

*have a crush on several celebrities.

*feel ridiculous.

*feel loved.

What do you do every day?