Monday, December 31, 2007

To Recognize the Loss

In 1992, I spent the summer in Pakistan. We landed in Karachi to a whole new aroma and individual security inspections in private booths in the airport, to squat toilets, to spices in burlap bags in the open markets. Our first night's meal in Lahore won me the chicken neck and watering eyes. They made it mild, they said, but our mouths all burned with the discovery of true curry.

All that summer we girls wore shalwars and covered our heads in public. We learned to count and to say useless things in Urdu that made the children laugh. We ate lemon cakes from the old man who carried them down the mountain in his tin trunk, chose live chickens that were summarily beheaded and stripped of their feathers just steps away, learned to eat around the water buffalo bones that were never taken out in stews. We gave good business to the shops in town, becoming more savvy with each purchase, and growing to accept that some things wouldn't change upon request. (Every pair of shalwar pants I had made by the tailor were big enough for at least three of me.) We washed our hair in water cold enough to give us headaches. We put on puppet shows for the children who would gather around the mountain to stare at our pale faces. We learned the ways and the customs of the people, honored them as well as we could, and were generously rewarded with the trust of our neighbors. It was a heartbreakingly beautiful summer. I cried when it was time to pack up and fly away. There's a soft spot in my heart for Pakistan.

And so when I heard of Benazir Bhutto's death, it hit me in the heart as much as it did in the head. I won't pretend to completely understand the politics of Pakistan, but I do know that Benazir Bhutto was a woman who lived to serve her people. She had great hope for Pakistan and a willing heart to make her country a better home for everyone. She loved her home, and she loved her people, and the loss of her is a grave one, not just for political reasons, but because she was an amazing person.

The world is poorer without her in it.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I'm Famous on These Here Internets

Or, at least, my burn is. Remember how that one time I burned myself with scalding liquid first thing in the morning and then took pictures of the it? Somehow one particular photo of my burned leg ended up as the number three image for "scalding water burn" on Google. I feel both thrilled and honored. Coincidentally, I am wearing the same jeans today that I was wearing that fateful morning.

Suddenly I feel like having a cup of tea.

You know, to celebrate.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Who Picked This Cat, Anyway?

lucy snowe + the ibook = true love forever

comfy, luce?

Because she's kind of awesome.

(Even though she did delete a few of my bookmarks trying to snuggle up to the keyboard.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Could We Be Any More Boring?

I like to think the answer is no. That way there's nowhere to go but up.

Our Christmas was...Christmas-y. We hung out with family. We made some food. We ate some food. We collapsed on the sofa in a heap once it was all over, our house a disaster. I made a half-hearted effort at cleaning up some of yesterday's messes, but that didn't really work out. I'm still hoping magical Christmas fairies will show up and put everything back to rights, but I have a feeling that what will actually happen is that the chocolate pan will soak for three days until we're back from the wedding we're attending in Wichita and that Sunday will find me cleaning. Oh, boy. Can't wait.

Thanks to both of us having to work all day, we mostly avoided the day after Christmas shopping rush. I made a brief trip to Target this evening after everyone else had already picked over the holiday clearance offerings, and although I kept repeating "I'm only here for conditioner and cough drops" to myself, I still found my way to the clearance section. I scored a couple of holiday plates and a glass featuring penguins at bargain basement prices, but the most exciting purchase was actually full price. Lucy Snowe's new scratching equipment included certified organic catnip, so after I got home we got to watch the cats all get good and high, play like maniacs, and crash on the couch in a stupor. I expect the munchies to hit pretty soon, but I'm not going to wait up for that part of the festivities. I'll just fill the bowls and leave 'em to it.

Good night, all. Belated holiday wishes and all that. I hope your Christmas was merry and bright.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

With Thanks to the Weather

It's turning out to be a really excellent day. I might not be singing the same tune once I have to back down my driveway to go get Jarod at work, but for now it's just right. (Let's just pause for one moment here and recognize that if the car will have to be backed down the driveway, it means that I actually got it pulled UP the driveway earlier today, even though it was slippery. I'll give you a moment to reflect... ... ... ... ...Amen.) At noon I noticed that the roads were already slippery in some patches, so I decided not to trouble myself heading out to the family dinner this evening. Not that I wouldn't love to see everyone, but this added an element of peace to my day that it just wasn't heading for otherwise. I did my errands straightaway, making a last moment veer into the Goodwill parking lot to round everything out, and was rewarded by scoring two wooden chairs for just $9.98. We can now have five people at our table if we want, a little cozy, but all sitting in chairs that do not roll, swivel, or belong at a desk. Brilliant!

I've been needing a non-rushed, uninterrupted day at home. Every day it seems there has been something to throw off my equilibrium--a change of schedule, a change of plans, a spouse too tired to go to the gym. But today I have the luxury of planning out the day as I see fit. And if I see fit to require myself to finish folding the laundry before I shower, then so be it. If I decide to take photos of Lucy Snowe because kittens don't last, then I will do it. If I want to post those photos knowing that even those of you who think I'm a crazy cat lady will not be able to resist the cuteness, then I will. And I am. Here:

bowling pin

BOWLING PIN!

with one ear on the listen

Lucy Snowe says, "Don't be a hater! Crazy cat ladies RULE!"

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

phae would like her dignity back, please

eponine is a patient soul

she was okay with just the collar

the hat did not make a positive impression

i make a fabulous reindeer

There may or may not be one additional reindeer costume photo, and I may or may not have been recently advised that "if it ends up on the internet" then there will be "serious consequences." I cannot say. Mum's the word and whatnot, if you take my meaning.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

EXTREME!

One of my favorite small pleasures is using a new toothbrush for the first time. My teeth feel so much cleaner afterwards. My gums sigh from the vigorous massage. If I had a new toothbrush every day, I would have no reason to complain about anything except for my own wastefulness. As it is, I get a new brush when the old one is worn down to a nub. I can't justify to my conscience the purchase of a new toothbrush when the old one still scrubs the plaque away just fine, at least sort of. (When it moves from "sort of" to "not so much," then it is time for a new brush.)

This time when I bought my new toothbrush, I also picked up new toothpaste. I was very nearly out, and was secretly hoping that I'd be out at the very moment that I unwrapped my new toothbrush, but it hasn't worked out that way. Every morning and evening, by pressing firmly from the bottom of the tube upwards, I can still get a respectable amount out for brushing. This troubles me for two reasons, the first being that I don't think my new toothpaste will seem as thrilling on a fraying brush, and second because I am actually quite anxious to try the new paste. Er, gel. Whatever. They seem to have ceased carrying my old favorite, Colgate Cinna Mint, at most local retailers, so I chose a new cinnamon toothpaste, this time Crest Whitening with Scope EXTREME. After seeing the word EXTREME printed on the package, I searched high and low for an alternate, but it was either EXTREME or mint, and I just don't go in for mint in my toothpaste these days. So EXTREME it was, and honestly I'm looking forward to trying it because I want to find out if it's going to make my teeth hop right out of my mouth to go surfing off the Great Barrier Reef or if they'll choose to drop out of a helicopter into the Himalayas so they can snowboard off some really sick peaks. I hope they take some photos or, in the case of the Himalayas being their choice, strap video cameras to the top of their little tooth helmets.

...

In Lucy Snowe news (as if you didn't see that coming from a mile away), she is fascinated by the computer. She loves the cursor and anything with sliders (Photoshop is a dream come true), but she can't figure out why there's nothing behind the screen. She'll see something on the front, then lean around the back to look for it and get a look on her face like, "Wait. What?" This is beyond amusing. I keep trying to find things on YouTube that will interest her so she will do it again.

It's a good thing I've got a husband already, because I think my new obsession with Lucy Snowe might push me right over the edge into spinster cat lady territory.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

All I'll Ever Talk About Forever, So Get Used To It

I'm sure you all guessed that it wouldn't be long before I gave Lucy Snowe her very own photo set on flickr. Well, here you go.

I'd forgotten how fun it is to have a kitten in the house. Lucy plays hard and then sleeps so soundly I can pick up one of her paws and let it drop limply without her ever knowing (an impossibility with my older cats). She comes sliding across the hardwoods when she is called, eager to see who? Who? WHO WANTS LUCY SNOWE??? And do you have cheese? She likes the Whisker Smackers the other cats turn down, jam straight off my toast, and flossing her teeth with the Christmas tree. She has discovered the big kitties' food and digs right in, then heads to her bowl for round two. She takes all the toys she fancies and puts them in the bathroom for later use. She falls off of things and leaps right back up, sometimes falling down again. She wraps herself around my ankle in the morning and won't let go until I pick her up.

In other words, she's pretty much adorable.

lucy snowe is spying on you

Lucy Snowe wishes you a happy holiday season. Also, please may she lick your jam?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

It is with Deepest Pride and Greatest Pleasure

that we present to you Miss Lucy Snowe.

miss lucy snowe

Please join us in welcoming her by offering a hearty MEOW! (or, in the case of Lucy Snowe's French friends: MIAO!) in the comments.

Also please thank Jarod for not killing me for bringing home one more cat.

PS--The first person to identify the origin of Lucy Snowe's name will win a prize.

Friday, December 14, 2007

If There's No Purchase Necessary, How Come the Survey Invitations Are Only Offered On Receipts?

I just filled out an online Starbucks survey in an attempt to win $1000 (which followed filling out a survey to win a $5000 Target gift card--I am DOWN with the surveys tonight) (because someone's gotta win, and it may as well be me), and one of the questions asked me to evaluate the statement "My experience was uplifting." Uplifting. Seriously. What? I enjoyed my beverage, but...uplifting? Are you kidding me, Starbucks? I really hope you're kidding because I laughed at you, and if you weren't kidding, that would make me the playground bully.

...

Part of the reason that I need to win the $1000 is that I went to the eye doctor today (Diagnosis: BLINDER THAN BEFORE) and not only parted with a bit more of our money than I anticipated (the allure of the OptiScan as an alternative to dilation was just too much, TOO MUCH I SAY), but also found out that, because I am so nearsighted I moved into the negative nine range, that glasses which do not resemble Coke bottles would cost a katrillion dollars.

Hear this now, kids, straight from the mouth of my optometrist: reading really can make you more nearsighted. Of course it started with a predisposition towards nearsightedness, but he confirmed that my fifth grade teacher was partly right when she, noticing that I got so lost in books that I rarely looked up, admonished that I would ruin my eyesight. "You should look up," she'd say, "or you'll only be able to see up close." Well, Mrs. Handley, you got me there. I can't find my glasses without having other corrective lenses attached to my eyeballs, but I can see every speck of dirt all the way to the bottom of your pores if I'm standing lensless four inches from your face. I suppose this would come in handy were I an aesthetician, but currently doesn't do much unless you count causing me to be overly self-critical when I look at my own skin.

Still, I don't regret reading all those books. Even if I will have to sell a kidney to properly correct my vision.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

NNNNhhhhNNNNhhhh

Has anyone else ever noticed how mind-numbing Hobby Lobby can be? It could just be me, my poor brain reacting to all that stimuli by just shutting down. The worst part is that, despite being packed stem to stern with variety craft materials, it's all still pretty much cheap crap. I couldn't find a decent piece of white felt to save my life. But still, I pressed on.

And then I took a nap when I got home.

The end.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This Time It's Not the Kids' School That's the Problem; It's the Stinkin' Weather

But I was one step ahead! Take that, weather!

Yesterday when I checked the forecast and predicted that the kids' school would be closed, I sent a preemptive email to their mom, asking if they could come to my house for the day instead of me coming there. This is preferable for many reasons, not the least of which is that I have stuff that I want to do here. There's also that whole thing where I have a small hill suitable for sledding in my backyard, which I can supervise from inside the house. You know, where it's warm and dry and (best of all) quiet. In addition, there aren't a gazillion other kids knocking into each other out there, trying to win the race to the emergency room. Mary Liz may be eating dirty snow, but it could be way worse.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Worthy of Your Time and Attention

And then, of course, your action. Take it a bit at a time if you need to--it's long. It's important, though to make it all the way through to the end. It's an article from last year, but in my opinion it's a classic.

What Should a Billionaire Give - and What Should You?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

I'm Just Evening Up the Row

Just now I had to brush my teeth so that I wouldn't pull the brownie pan out of the fridge and sit here with it on my lap. The current batch of refined sugar free brownies is a little minty, and I simply can't help myself. I say it's all in the name of research and development that I keep making more and more brownies, but I think we all know the truth. And the truth is that after the holiday season I'll go, "I really don't understand why my pants no longer fit. After all, I haven't been able to have my usual holiday sugar-laced confections." And the entire internet will go, "Yeah, we know why. Starts with a B and ends with a ROWNIES."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sometimes I Just Can't Resist

And now that may come back to bite me in the rear. Or bite my cat in the rear.

This evening while we were eating dinner, Eponine came up and sat primly by the table. I'm pretty much a sucker for her silent meow and wide-eyed stare, so I offered her a bit of the game hen we were having. She gobbled it right up, so I kept giving her more. When it's regular chicken, she'll often eat a bit and leave the rest, so I was pretty thrilled that she kept gobbling up what I gave her. "I wonder what she'd do with the whole wing?" I asked Jarod.

"Don't waste it!" he replied. Which, seriously, is it wasting to offer something tasty to someone who looks like this?

curled up cozy

Admit it; you'd take one look at that cat and be sucker enough to give her the whole bird.

But I didn't give her the whole bird! Or even the whole wing! I simply gave her the tip of the wing. I expected her to approach it as she does most other food, a little cautiously. I set it on the floor. She looked at it. She sniffed it. She licked it. She lifted her head back up to look at me with those wide eyes again, as if expecting something. I leaned down to direct her back to the wing, but it was nowhere to be found. Quick as a wink, she'd swallowed it whole.

I am now imagining driving to Mission MedVet in the middle of the night because I gave my cat a perforated digestive system part (choose one: esophagus, stomach, intestine, etc.).

Jarod is laughing at me, and envisioning me cleaning up lots of cat vomit.

As for Eponine, she is sniffing my fingers, looking at me expectantly. She doesn't care about swallowing bones whole; she just wants MORE.

Nomenclature

This evening I took Mary Liz with me to Whole Foods, where she was more than happy to stick her fingers in all the bulk goods help me get some things I needed from the bulk aisle, including grain-sweetened chocolate peanuts. She didn't know exactly what they were, but she does love sweets, and she had that much figured out. She was dying to try some, but instead of asking me what they were or bothering to remember what they were after I'd told her, she just kept asking, "Do I get to try those things that look like poop?"

GAH.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Have You Ever Noticed...

...that people who do not have their own blogs (or do not link to them) often make the rudest comments? I'm all, DUDE, GET YOUR OWN BLOG, YOU OBVIOUSLY SUFFER FOR THE LACK OF ONE. Or cause other people suffering. Or both.

I don't generally make comments on blogs of note, but I've been doing so lately for some inexplicable reason (also known as not feeling like scrubbing my skillet clean or scraping my paint and plaster covered wallpaper off the walls), and today a comment of mine was attacked by a fellow commenter. So then, of course, because I can't just let these things go, I had to go back and write an essay to a guy who doesn't even have his own blog in order that I might clear things up. Because obviously someone who attacks others and points out how they are wrong will see the light of reason if I just write enough words.

I think my comment was longer than the actual blog post, which is exactly why I should just go back to my usual way of never commenting on anything ever.

Geez.

This Should Be My Cue to Get Off the Couch and Get Some Work Done

When my husband and I got married, he already owned a house, and what with the housing market being soft and the fact that it was a better choice in our financial situation to refinance instead of selling, I moved in. It's a really cute house, and with some attention it could be really fantastic. I like the layout and hardwoods. Now that I've gotten it pretty much organized and am getting to work on some of the annoying projects (stripping painted and plastered over wallpaper off the master bedroom walls, anyone?), I'm really seeing its potential. It's a good little house, a great place to start. But it's not a house I ever would have chosen to buy, and for one simple reason, which is that the neighborhood is a little farther out than I would prefer. I was spoiled before, living just north of the Plaza for cheap, and I have trouble getting over that. I like being able to walk where I want to go, and honestly the only thing I can walk to here that is of value to me is the Goodwill store, where, frankly, I usually drive because I have crap from the house in my car that I want them to have. I miss being in the kind of neighborhood where I could walk to get coffee or window shop or sit in the bookstore and read. In fact, I miss it a lot.

Which is to say that now that I have on my Getting Things Done Uniform (also known as a tank top and pajama pants), perhaps instead of searching the internet for greener pastures, I should actually get things done so that when the housing market recovers a bit, we will be ready.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cristal Taste, Hamm's Budget

Today when I walked into TJ Maxx, I immediately zeroed in on a buttery yellow handbag with red accents. It was behind a few other bags, but I spotted it with ease. It was the best thing on the rack, easily. I leaned forward to see the tag, and at first glance it appeared to read $29.99. SCORE! While I shouldn't be spending $29.99 on something completely unnecessary, this was a really nice handbag. I leaned closer, and realized my mistake. The tag didn't read $29.99. It read $229.99.

I shouldn't be shocked, really. I've been able to hone in on the most expensive item in any given store for years now. Still, at TJ Maxx? Come on, now, TJ, first you allow my credit card information to be stolen (oh, yes, I was one of those unfortunate customers), and now you're selling things that are well beyond my budget? Please. You're TJ Maxx, you're supposed to be cheap. You have clearly forgotten your place in the retail food chain.

...

I'm certain you must have noticed by now that something is up around here, what with the posting every single day instead of only when the mood strikes. I've sneakily been participating in NaBloPoMo. I originally intended to put up a badge and make an announcement, but then I decided to just forget about all that and participate without making it obvious. As if posting every day this month weren't obvious in and of itself, but still. Today marks the last day of November, so with this post it's all over. It's been fun; thanks for being along for the ride.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hit Repeat



Bunny rabbits + A good song = Excellent chance of ending up on "Repeat One"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

32

birthday self-portrait with lamp and kitty cat

In low light, the crow's feet are barely noticeable. This is probably because I use eye cream (and serum) (and gel) religiously.

...

As birthdays go, this was a pretty good one. Earlier today I made brownies (round two of research and development for refined sugar free brownies, which proved to be gloriously successful) for a potluck we attended tonight. Jack and Mary Liz were here while I was making the frosting, and after it was all done, Mary Liz reminded me that I promised her last time she was over that she could help wash dishes the next time I did them. I called Jarod in to do the drying so that Mary Liz would have someone to hand them off to, and pretty soon he had put Jack to work ferrying dry food processor parts over to the table, and it was all done in no time. When people asked me tonight if I'd done anything special for my birthday, or if I was planning to celebrate in a special way, I told them that I had three whole people helping me do dishes this afternoon, and that was celebration enough for me. In fact, I'm kind of hoping I can convince people that it's my birthday every day; it sure was a lot easier and more enjoyable than tackling dish duty all by myself. So, uh, tomorrow's my birthday again. Who likes to dry?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's a Good Thing We've Been Going to the Gym Faithfully

Because I did my first round of agave sweetened brownies yesterday (with chocolate! cream! cheese! frosting!), and while they're not exactly perfect yet, they are good enough to eat for breakfast. I had to stop myself after three and send the rest of them to work with Jarod. And let's not talk about how many I ate yesterday while they were still warm.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Well, See, The Thing Is That

I mean...

Because...

See I did all the wedding thank yous by myself and I thought a bonus was in order...

And it's just that...

Well, I was in Target anyway...

And I needed tights...

And just a few aisles over...

They peeked out at me!

I COULDN'T HELP IT!

i have a problem

They also have tails! See:

they have tails!

Let the record show that I did not also purchase the dress with the bunnies on it or the shirt with the bunnies on it or the thermal pants with the bunnies on them, which I think we can all see would be ideal for winter layering. I do still possess a modicum of self-control, you know.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I've Been Feeling a Little Judgmental

There are some blogs I've been reading for quite some time that do not usually contain photos. I've stumbled upon photos of some of the authors lately, and admit I've been quite surprised at times. In my mind, all the bloggers I enjoy who do not have photos posted look like the people I hang out with. Youngish. A little hip. Might use a PC but really would prefer a Mac if they're not already using one. And then when it turns out that they look remarkably different than I had pictured them in my mind, I have trouble wanting to read what they wrote anymore. It's sort of like having a fantastic book made into a movie, but the actors that are chosen are nothing like what I've imagined them to be, and from there on out I have trouble deciding which representation to choose--the one I've been imagining all along or the one I see in front of my face. Often I prefer the Mary's Mind Version. It seems quite all right to say this in terms of movies, but I think when it concerns real people, it comes off as a little judgmental, as if I'm saying that because they don't look how I want them to look, they are not worth my time. But it's more about not being able to reconcile the photographic representation with the voice of their blog. Sometimes the photo just doesn't seem to fit.

...

I've been meaning for some time to put together a little basic nutrition blog entry, but I seem to get distracted with other things. I'm trying to find the right words to put together to explain things simply but effectively, to encourage without judging. I am really passionate about feeding kids properly in particular, but to infer that someone's parenting practices could be improved in any way, I've found, is treading on thin ice, especially since I've no children of my own just yet. Which leads me to a pet peeve of mine, which is when people assure me that when they're my own kids, I will suddenly succumb to every parenting faux pas I swore I'd never make, particularly in reference to nutrition and television, that I'll revert back to drive thrus and partially hydrogenated crap because they're MINE and they're PRESHUS and how can I deny them THE GLORY OF THE MCDONALD'S FRENCH FRY or at least a few high-fructose-corn-syrup-laced tubes of yogurt and twelve episodes of SpongeBob? It's a lot like telling an Apple employee that one day he'll go off and buy his kid a PC featuring Windows Vista. I happen to have an Apple employee right here, and he just looked at me like I was nuts when I asked him if that would ever be a possibility.

I think it might be different if I were just casually watching others' children, if I'd never gone beyond just getting them where they need to go and making sure they're dressed for the weather. I think about much more than that. I consider their futures. I put in serious time researching developmental issues. My goal has always been to do for the kids I work with what I would do if they were mine. I want the best for them and their futures. I doubt that will change when I'm the parent as opposed to the nanny.

...

Circling the wagons back to nutrition, if you'd like a good place to start, Nutrition Detectives is fantastic. I saw a short piece on this some time ago, and I am a huge fan of this program. You can implement it yourself, regardless if you are planning on using it with children or if you're an adult who just wants more information for yourself. If you have been eating the Standard American Diet (SAD! Don't be SAD!) and have no idea what is what or where to start, this is a great tool. Also, this way it's doctors telling you what's good for you, not some ridiculous nanny who doesn't have the proper letters behind her name.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

This Is My 700th Post

And I'm going to waste it by being brief. I am sitting at my dining room table, pretending to listen paying close attention to Aunt Marge's stories about the past and present. Some of the stories are charming, but some are repeats, and others are all about medical conditions. Would you like to come over for tea? Aunt Marge would like to speak with you.

...

This morning while cooking the chili I'm bringing to tonight's family dinner, I put on a DVD for Aunt Marge and an iPod for me. Refreshing.

...

Just now I spaced out through most of an explanation of mimeographs. I tuned back in just in time to lean forward a bit and nod. I'm terrible. I'm going to pay attention for real now. And then I'm going to go run errands. By myself, thank heavens.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Liveblogging from The MAX

Does this prove my love for the bus or what? Here I am, bouncing along, fumbling with Jarod's iPhone keyboard. I hate to say it, but maybe I'm just more of a Blackberry kind of girl.

Yesterday we kidnapped Aunt Marge, who is in her eighties, from the family dinner, and we're holding her hostage until tomorrow evening. And by "kidnapped" I mean "relieved my parents of the burden." Aunt Marge is a very nice lady, but with the waxing of age has come the waning of social graces. She seems to no longer remember that one should not make comments at full volume at the movies or that it is a good idea to pack a pair of underwear for each day she'll be staying away from home, plus an extra. I'm sure you can imagine my bemusement at her request to borrow a pair of mine, as the only pair she'd brought had met with an early morning accident. I shook my head, chose the granniest pair I could find, and attempted to convince her that, no, really, it's not a loan type of situation. It's more like, um, a gift.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, Perhaps You Would Like to Help Us With Our Little Project?

Today, thanks to the generosity of our families, we were able to participate in this offer. While it's cool to give one AND get one, (I mean, they are really cool and all) the truth is that we have enough computers around here. Our plan is to take the one we get on a little KC Metro (and beyond) tour, allowing people to see it and touch it and become more familiar with and passionate about this project. I'll be letting you know when we get it, and I'll also be calling and emailing a lot of you about meeting with small groups to get the word out. If you'd like to see it yourself, or have a group that you think might be interested in knowing more about the project, please send me an e-mail (marymuses at gmail dot com) so we can set something up.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Drunken Hookup Barbie Needs Your Help



Before you forget, go on over and sign the petition. The projected delivery date is November 27, so get your name on it as soon as you can.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Found Amongst My Husband's Things

When my husband placed my wedding ring on my finger, he also pledged to share his earthly possessions with me.

my husband used to be RAD

Please try your best not to be jealous of my good fortune.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Because I'm Sitting in the Lap of Luxury Already, Thanks

For some years now I've been amending my Christmas list to include not just good things, but the best things possible. Like a goat. Or an alpaca. Or hope. In years past, I wanted these things in place of some of the things on my list, but the For Mary list was still quite healthy. This year, though, I'd like the For Mary list to be positively anemic. I'd like nothing to be on it. This year, and in years to come, I want to pass on the splendor of Christmas. I have so much already. Sure, there are things we could use for the house. Yes, there are pretty little things that would delight me to own. But I can afford to get those things for myself, and I have gotten those things for myself. I look around me and I see that I have everything I need and so very much of what I want. It is enough. It is too much, really. To get more things for myself brings such fleeting pleasure; to have things given to those who truly need them in place of what might have been given to me, which I do not need, would give me long-lasting satisfaction.

How appropriate, then, that this year my church is participating in The Advent Conspiracy. Whether you are a person of faith or not, perhaps you'd like to participate as well. I don't think you have to be celebrating the birth of Jesus in order to change the focus of your Christmas giving this year. We are so blessed and lucky. We have so much. Wouldn't it be good to share?

I think so.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another One Joins the Club

the birthday girl and her cake

Yesterday, Julianna kissed her twenties good-bye. We helped her celebrate by going roller skating and having a party in Jill's parents' basement. I tried to send everyone into a sugar coma with the cake, but I think we were all well on our way thanks to the exertion of skating and the subsequent enjoyment of a whole lot of Mediterranean food and pomegranate margaritas. We were going to bask in the glow of the strobe light that Jill picked up and do some dancing, but we were all too tired.

Wow. We're old.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Knee Socks or No Knee Socks, That is the Question

The answer, naturally, is KNEE SOCKS, DUH! Who roller skates without knee socks? Not me. And that is what we're doing tonight. I have yet to check to see if Jarod has knee socks, but I'll get right on that.

Also, who roller skates without being well-rested? I've got to get a quick nap in before we head out for the evening.

There will be photos of our wicked good time, so don't worry about missing anything.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

'Tis the Season

For birthdays and babies and more birthdays and babies and then perhaps Christmas or something. My social calendar is getting ALL booked up. I'd better schedule in some naps before it's too late.

...

All day long I've been thinking it's Friday. Even on the Plaza it seemed like a Friday night, with all the spots I usually park in to pick up Jarod full and people running around all dressed up like they were going out to something fancy. Thursday is the new Friday, I suppose.

...

Tomorrow I'm baking two cakes, but I cannot lick the batter bowls thanks to my very-sensitive-to-sugar skin. Now isn't that a tragedy?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Now with More Sin-Free Second Graders

Yesterday in the car we were having our standard Nobody's Perfect So Don't Worry That You Just Got In Big Trouble talk. Jack was the one who had just been in trouble, so he felt it was an excellent time to point out that, while no one in the car at that very moment was perfect, he soon would be. Because tonight he went to Reconciliation. Which, I gather, is the same as First Confession (should I be capitalizing that? I feel like I should, in order to be more holy), but with an updated name. He assured me that not only would his sins all be wiped away, but that he wouldn't sin anymore, so he'd be just like Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Apparently this opportunity was available to everyone in his class, so watch out, Kansas City, there's a pack of sinless second graders headed your way.

...

The only way I'm headed right now is toward the gym. Late night workouts are my specialty, and they're about to become Jarod's as well. Isn't he lucky?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How's Your Fear of the Underdog?

Because I'm concerned that you have none, and you will not survive. And then who will read my blog? Nobody, that's who.

I'm blaming Alice for the fact that I suddenly feel compelled to have that song on repeat the majority of the time that I am awake. Certainly my repeat habits are not Alice's fault, but she is the one who drew my attention to the song by posting the video on her blog. So that I will not be the only weirdo doing her entire StairMaster workout to one single Spoon hit, I am posting it as well. Just try to listen to anything else now. I dare you.



I double Underdog dare you, actually.

...

I have a confession I feel I must make, though it may cause me great pain and loss. Last Saturday Whole Foods was out of my normal bread selection, Basic Whole Wheat, so I wandered over to the bakery to take a gander at what I might get as an alternative. Their seeded whole wheat was on sale, so I bought it. And I proceeded to fall in love after the first slice of toast. I became so enamored of this bread that while at Rachel's Sunday night, I refused offer of food, thinking that I would pick Jarod up shortly from his work meeting, and I could go home to my bread, my beautiful, lovely bread! However, Jarod's meeting ran longer than usual, and I was forced to pursue other means of sustenance in the form of a multi-grain bagel from Barnes and Noble, which was tasty and economical (just $1.38 with cream cheese), but still not what I had longed for. I looked forward with watering mouth to the next morning's toast. This bread is the bread of my dreams! And so here comes the confession. Because of this deep love of my bread, I have not offered any to my husband. I have, in fact, packed other things in his lunch in order that he might not find out how good this bread is. I'm considering hiding it after posting this so that he will not consume any. I already have enough trouble keeping Annie's Cheddar Bunnies in steady supply. Is it wrong to keep this one thing I love so dearly to myself? I like to think the answer is no.

...

I always have the best blogging thoughts while on the StairMaster. Unfortunately, they all seem to fade away on the drive home. So this? Well, this is all you get, I'm afraid.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Should Have Brought My Grain-Sweetened Chocolate Peanuts

Today we celebrated November birthdays with my family. There are three of us Novemberites: my nephew, my sister-in-law, and me. After the meal we opened presents and then lit candles on the dinosaur cake my nephew had requested. It looked really good, but sugar free me didn't have any. While everyone else was having cake and ice cream, I just...sat there. Later I dug a Larabar out of my purse and had that. It just wasn't the same.

Sometimes I really miss cake.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I'm Just Sitting Here With My Cat

I was lying to myself just now about how I would totally get up and get something accomplished if Phae weren't purring and holding me down, but the truth is that I kind of just want to sit here for a bit. There is plenty to do, but my plan for today is to do whatever I feel like doing in terms of chores, though I will probably scrub my skillet even if I don't feel like it. It's been in the sink for days, since that day I was catching up on things and discovered that it needed a long soak. It did need a long soak, I wasn't wrong about that, but maybe not quite as long a soak as it's becoming, long enough for the water to slowly evaporate out of the sink.

One reason I feel justified in just sitting here for now and then just doing whatever chores I feel like doing later is that I put in a pretty long day yesterday. 7:50am to 11:45pm is nothing to sneeze at in my book, so I feel entitled to a day of whateverness. Besides, I already managed to buy three birthday gifts, my Moleskine pocket planner/notebook for 2008, and groceries today. What else do I need to do?

...

One thing I definitely do not feel like doing is laundry. One of the two florescent tubes in our laundry room light fixture is going out, so now the room is dim. The tube which is biting the dust flickers weakly, adding to the spooky effect. And do you remember how I foolishly paid attention to The Breed while on the StairMaster last week? I'm not going in there alone.

What will make the list (most likely) is putting together our new basement shelf (hooray for storage!) and hanging up all the clean clothes I've piled on the ironing board this week. I'll also most likely do some internet research on making homemade ketchup without sugar. I'm seriously considering carrying my own little condiment caddy when I go out. It will include a handy little bottle of agave for sweetening coffee and my homemade ketchup, once I make it, that is. I'm a food snob, I guess. I just can't overlook the fact that Heinz makes their ketchup with high fructose corn syrup.

...

Lots of people have expressed that they could not go without sugar, and I want to tell you that I'm right there with you. If my face didn't do what it does when I eat sugar, I wouldn't be able to resist either. However, I've seen it all too clearly. It took one single bite of a Halloween treat to inflame and irritate my skin. One. Single. Bite. You'd be regaling the deliciousness of grain-sweetened chocolate peanuts and carrying agave nectar in your handbag if you were me; just trust me on this one.

...

A woman who I was chatting with in the handbag section at TJMaxx today asked me, gently, if it would be all right if she asked what happened to my skin. I just told her that it was acne, and she apologized for asking. I said it was all right; she was so gentle and sweet that it wasn't offensive. And it's obvious that something is there; it's not as if it's something that can be covered up or bandaged, like many afflictions. It's right there. I was far more offended when a friend who hadn't seen me in awhile dramatically asked, "MARY, what HAPPENED??" as if I'd been disfigured in an accident or something. I was confused at first, not really knowing what she was talking about. Because, I don't know, people just don't make a big deal out of it. I had to ask her if she meant my skin, and she said yes, and then she said something like, "Well, you're still beautiful to us," which came off as if I had just revealed that other people didn't find me beautiful because of it, and I just...I don't know. I was offended. I am a delicate little flower with sensitive little feelings, apparently. Or maybe it's that I don't consider my acne to be something that robs me of my beauty. Sure, I feel it is a little gross to look at, but I don't feel like it makes me ugly or that other people look at me and think I'm ugly. That's ridiculous. In fact, I find it kind of charming the way children approach it. They ask what it is, and why I have it; they're very direct, but they have no preconceived notions about what it is and how I feel about it, or how others should feel about it, for that matter. Jack and Mary Liz call it my "red dots," which I find to be not only acceptable, but a little fantastic. I'm still who I am, just with polka dots. It kind of makes me more exciting, don't you think?

...

It appears the cat has exited the premises, so I suppose I should get up, too. Happy Saturday, everybody. Enjoy your polka dots if you've got 'em.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Brevity is Today's Special

This has been the longest day ever, and to further complicate things, I am forced to blog via Jarod's iPhone. I suck at typing on the iPhone. If I suddenly go all arbitrary capitalization and creative spelling on you, I hope you'll understand.

I also hope you'll understand that this is all I have for you today, just a confession about my continued incompatibility with technology and good wishes for an excellent weekend.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Today is Catch Up Day

Or ketchup day, if you're all caught up on your catching up.

Today I am catching up on laundry, dishes, cleaning the stovetop, editing honeymoon photos for your viewing pleasure (only 400 more to sort through! I'm really making progress here!), writing thank you cards for gifts I received at my bridal showers in August (Miss Manners probably hates me, and everyone else thinks I'm ungrateful), and listening to albums I downloaded on iTunes but never listened to.

What are you catching up (or putting ketchup) on today?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Everything Tastes Better If You Add Turkey Bacon

I haven't tried it in chocolate chip cookies yet, though. That one is still up in the air.

My days seem to be disjointed. To and fro and to and fro and nothing new under the sun and all that. We run errands, I go to work, the kids' school continues to torture me by having the kids not only have days off, but get out early. I keep forgetting things because there's no constant routine. Workouts are relegated to the late night hours. I wish I had a StairMaster in the house. The 4600 CL, specifically, and nothing else will do. This is why I must go to the gym; they have two of them there, and most of the time lately one of them is free for me to use. I have had to use an elliptical trainer twice, and I simply can't abide that nonsense. Or the nonsense of TNT on Saturday afternoons. I watched a movie called The Breed, which is like The Birds but with dogs and Michelle Rodriguez, last Saturday while attempting to have an excellent StairMaster session, and while the StairMaster session was a good workout, now I can't get the idea of feral dogs attacking me in the basement out of my mind, which is especially inconvenient when I have to do laundry.

Time to pack it up and head somewhere else. Consider my blogging duty done, and my run-on sentence award won (again).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Two Things I Realized Just Today That I Love

1. canister vacuums
2. grain-sweetened chocolate covered peanuts

In other news, but sort of related, at least to #1, I really wish that I didn't have to go to work in a few minutes. My job is great, but I'm really on a roll with the cleaning. It would be nice to be able to just keep going until I've exhausted my motivation. Oh, well, not today.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Earning My Keep

A couple of days ago I borrowed a vacuum from Rachel, with the thought that it would motivate me to get more things put away faster. I was partly right; it's helped. But clearing things out and organizing them properly still takes longer than I'd prefer, so I have yet to vacuum. Today I tackled the office, otherwise known as Land of a Kajillion Boxes of Crap, and I'm proud to announce that I'm very nearly done. In fact, if I hadn't created a whole other box of things to file by going through the existing boxes, I would be done. The filing, though, will have to wait for another day.

And so will the dishes.

...

One big challenge of my current schedule, which varies quite a lot, depending on both my work hours and Jarod's since we A) share a car, and B) like to hang out together when we're both not working, is that I haven't come up with a consistent workout schedule. Luckily, my skin hates sugar, so the Hershey's Kiss binges will no longer be a factor to add to the spotty workouts which together could equal a need for bigger trousers. See how nicely that works out? Thanks, acne!

...

Would you like to buy a television?

No, really. I'm dead serious. Like a heart attack serious. It's a Sony Wega flat screen HD television, 34", I believe. We're open to offers and we'll throw in the stand it's on, too, which is from IKEA. I just want it out of my living room. Please, give us some money and take it away.

...

I bet we'd also throw in the DVD player, but I'll have to double check about that one.

...

It's my favorite season now. The only complaint I have about autumn is that it never lasts nearly long enough.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I'm Drinking a Big Glass of Water RIGHT NOW

Hi. Let's talk about acne. Or at least how to get rid of it. Because I think I have finally found the way! The way for me, that is. I think the most frustrating thing about my recent breakout is that there are a lot of products and methods out there, and there's a different method that works for each person. What I've concluded is that what causes one person's acne is not exactly the same as what causes another person's acne, so treatment, therefore, is a little different for each person. For example, I found a ton of information indicating that dairy can contribute to acne, but noticed no difference in my breakouts whether I was eating a lot of dairy or not. In fact, I find that a big bowl of yogurt with agave and cinnamon was often followed by my skin actually calming down, so clearly dairy was not the culprit in my case. However, it seems refined sugar was. Is. Unfortunately. It makes sense, really. This article does an excellent job of explaining how the body responds to sugar, not only causing inflammation, but also robbing it of stored nutrients. It's not some big, strange leap.

So on Monday I stopped eating refined sugar. Today I can see a noticeable difference in my skin. It is steadily clearing.

This is not to say that I don't use other methods in addition as a means of helping things along. I'm drinking lots of water, getting plenty of rest (another thing that I noticed is that after a good night's sleep, my skin is better), taking 500mg of vitamin C with breakfast and dinner to boost my immune system, and using topical treatments as well. Twice daily I wash my face with Origins Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Face Cleanser, do a ten minute hydrogen peroxide compress (just hydrogen peroxide on a washcloth, pressed firmly against my acnified areas), and apply Cellfood Oxygen Gel (thin layer in the morning, thick layer before bed). If I have an early morning, I'll do a quick wash and then just dab the hydrogen peroxide on my face quickly, followed by the Cellfood, and do the longer cleaning later. I'll also do a quick wash like that if I've been out and feel particularly grimy. In addition, I use Origins Out of Trouble Mask every four days to exfoliate. When I was first in Origins, I purchased a whole system, so I also have thePlantidote Mega-Mushroom Face Lotion, which I use if there are some scaly areas (which, ew, I know).

A lot of the products I use are fairly expensive, but I'm a desperate woman, so I'll pony up the dollars. I won't always have to use as much of each product as I use now. As things calm down, I anticipate using the mask just once weekly, not having so many scaly areas to moisturize, and being able to apply a thin layer of the Cellfood both morning and evening, instead of really having to glop it on at night.

As far as sugar consumption goes, that will be an ongoing experiment. Different people have different thresholds for foods that cause adverse reactions, and I'll have to find mine. Most likely I'll be able to return to eating desserts every now and again, but in the meantime I'll be working on incorporating agave into my favorite recipes so that I can eat sweet things without worrying about angering my skin.

One thing I haven't mentioned is that I do have a preference for going all natural for my skin care. I didn't want to mess with antibiotics, and I've had enough of products that are heavy with chemicals and multiple parabens. I want something that will work for the long haul, without having to use prescription products. I don't want to be tied to a life of applying harsh products (*ahem*Proactiv*ahem*) that still leave me with some blemishes but also cause my skin to flake off because it is so dry.

If I were to give advice to others trying to clear their breakouts, I would recommend starting with a gentle cleanser, drinking lots of water, and eating as healthily as possible to help your body heal. And be patient. Try the free samples (I found Cellfood Oxygen Gel by wandering through Whole Foods and slathering things on my face to see if they helped). Eliminate what needs to be eliminated and keep what you can. Do your research. It will get better. My acne was severe enough that it was constantly inflamed and the zits would (ew, be prepared for ew) pop themselves. And now? Not so much. It's getting better. Much, much better.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Watership Down Dramatization Soon to Come

I've found more than one warren of dust bunnies in the house today, the most notable collection retrieved via toothpick from the bathroom fan that I can't seem to figure out how to get off the ceiling. There are no visible screws, and I've pulled gently, but am afraid if I pull too hard that I'll break the thing entirely. Which wouldn't be the worst idea ever, as that fan doesn't do much, but I'd rather first find out if a good cleaning will help at all or if I'll have to take the second step of shopping for a new one.

I sometimes feel compelled to apologize in advance to all guests we might ever entertain at our home, to say a big I'M SO SORRY OUR BATHROOM IS COMPLETELY CRAPTASTIC. The whole thing needs to be taken to the dump. Except the sink. The sink may stay. Future guests, please to enjoy washing your hands, and sorry about the rest of your lavatory experiences here at Chez Mary et Jarod.

...

There's a reason the acronym for the Standard American Diet is SAD. Have you looked at your labels lately? And noticed how they are lying to you in the Nutrition Facts box? It may say "Trans Fats 0g," but if you read the ingredients, you'll find that those pesky partially hydrogenated oils are still in there. They've just manipulated the serving size so that there isn't quite a whole gram in a single serving. Put the box back on the shelf, the bag back in the freezer case, the bottle back on the shelf. I've got a ton to say about nutrition, but let this be your introduction. If it says "partially hydrogenated" or "high fructose corn syrup," it's not something you should be putting in your mouth. I feel similarly about artificial sweeteners, so put down that Diet Coke, too.

...

I just found a recipe for making chocolates using agave nectar. As I'm a big fan of agave and also possess a great many chocolate molds, this is fantastic news indeed.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Oh, Naptime, How I Miss You

These past two days Jack and Mary Liz have been out of school due to parent/teacher conferences, and the day before that they were off at noon. Next Friday they'll be out all day as well due to the annual school fundraiser. And due to the fact that I think the school secretly wants to do me in. Come on, school, give a sister a break here. Don't you understand that the children don't nap anymore? And that I do? Faithfully? And also that I've given up caffeine and sugar? I just can't win.

...

This evening we are taking the nineteen-year-old niece of a good friend down to the Crossroads District for First Friday. I told my friend to warn her that we are nerds, not cool people, and that she should be prepared to be embarrassed to be in our presence. She's a little too hip for us; I hope she survives.

...

On a related note (related because I used the word embarrassed in the last little blip and because it's nerdy), does anyone else feel that the word embarrass should have just one R in the middle instead of two? I have always felt it should be spelled that way. Who's with me?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Thanks, Acne!

This morning I put on a pair of freshly laundered jeans which contain stretch. For those of you who are not acquainted with The Way Of The Stretch-Containing Jean, I think I can sum up by simply saying Day 1 = fits like a glove, Day 2 = sags as if I have no butt. So I was quite amused this morning, just half an hour after putting them on, to discover that they were already sagging low enough to drag at my heels. In fact, not only did it already appear that I was buttless, but I could also pull the jeans down without undoing any buttons or zippers. Being the lazy daring sort, I left 'em on and headed to work. Without wearing a belt, because, again, lazy daring!

There is only one possible explanation for my jeans suddenly being a bit big, and that is that I no longer have the luxury of eating what I tend to eat all the livelong day, which is sugar-laden crap, most recently the Hershey's Kiss. (I say "the Hershey's Kiss" as if I'd eat just one at a time, as if I haven't been leaving little pyramid-like piles of wrappers in various locations around the house.) But The Acne has driven me to extreme measures, and has responded well to those extreme measures, even in just four days, so I'm sticking with it. If doing without refined sugar is what it takes, I'll do it.

And I'll go buy a dang belt already, too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I'm Pretty Much Useless Now

A couple of weeks ago, thinking I'd be doing myself a favor, I sent decaf beans through the grocery grinder instead of my usual Caffeine Fest 2007 Blend. What I enjoy about coffee is the flavor and the heat, so I figured it was just as well that I took down the stimulant use a notch. The next day, I blithely scooped my new blend into my french press, thinking nothing of it, except perhaps to congratulate myself for being the picture of responsible citizenship. I proceeded to gulp it down and get on with my day. And so I did the same the next day and the day after that, until one day I realized that, hey, wait, I'm really not getting much done. Where once I was full of vim and vigor, ready to attack the next organizational chore, I found I was, well, lazy. I shuffled through the house at snail's pace. But still, I kept to my caffeine-less ways. Surely I will get used to this, I thought.

Hrm.

Ha.

Shuffle. Shuffle. Shuffle.

So a few days ago, spurred on by a great deal of internet research (an excellent activity for those who might otherwise simply shuffle around their homes) and wise counsel regarding relief from my acne, I decided to return to my blood-sugar regulating ways, which is to say that I decided to give up refined sugars and flours for every day of the week but one. I've now made it two starvation-filled days (I don't know if you remember the whining of last go-round's first three days, but this is much the same), free from caffeine and sugar. And good grief am I ever tired. This, in a nutshell, is my excuse for being lax at posting.

Well, that and I've been busy at Free Rice. My vocab level currently sits at a fairly impressive level for a coffee and sugar free existence. I wonder what would happen if I were to put a proper hazelnut iced mocha in my hot little hands?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What the People Want

Put on your cat sweatshirts, kids, and get cozy. Here you go:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

You Don't Really Want to Hear About It

I haven't really felt inclined to post lately because everything that's been happening has been the same old stuff, stuff I'm sure you don't really care about. Except that, according to my handy dandy map, people keep visiting, so I thought, "Hey, maybe they do want to hear about it!" That or you're back hoping for the video of my cat watching the video of my other cat, and if that's the case, well God bless you for being as ridiculous as I am. I'll get that video right to you as soon as my husband gets it off the video camera and up onto YouTube. You are at his mercy. Also, your cat sweatshirt is in the mail. Merry Christmas!

(Reasons why I cannot get it off the video camera and put it on YouTube myself include: being entirely too busy petting my cat and also not exactly knowing where that particular cable is, and not really wanting to figure it out either. I already had to redownload my printer drivers after Jarod fixed something on my computer, and please, people, that was taxing enough.)

Things that have been happening around here include organizing our crap, unpacking more boxes, adding turkey bacon to a great many dinners, and wishing the boxes would unpack themselves so that the car would fit in the garage again without me having to do any heavy lifting. Oh, and also I've been treating my acne (yes, still, I KNOW) and staring at my cats. Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Especially the part about the acne, yes?

Right now I'm guessing you wish you were me. It's okay; you're not alone.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Win-Win!

Hungry people get food, and you get a better vocabulary.

What are you waiting for? GO NOW!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Truth is That I'm Just Very Boring

I could have posted many times over the past however-long-it's-been, but...I was busy. I should probably use a question mark with that. I was busy? Because honestly? What I've been doing at my computer, other than looking for cheap Avenue Q tickets and trying to find a miracle cure for stubborn cystic acne, is trolling the furniture section of Craigslist, laughing out loud at what people are trying to charge for their (sometimes very) used goods. I mean, $400 for your circa 1986 sofa and loveseat? What, do you think Isaac Mizrahi is shopping on Kansas City's Craigslist? (If you don't get what I mean about Isaac and 1986, please see Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and Exhibit C, or just head to his section of your local Target and feel all those glorious shoulder pads for yourself.)

But as much fun as that is, I did promise to prove just why we win at having the cutest cats. Please to enjoy Eponine chasing her tail.



The best part is at the end, when she lays down and gives us the owl ears, like, "What? I make my own fun, humans."

Up next: Phae watches the video of Eponine chasing her tail. The excitement around here just never ends.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

We Totally Win at Recycling

If you saw the pile of recyclable items on our curb tonight, you'd be in awe. Or, if you were getting ready to move, you'd be elated, as this is the BOX JACKPOT of ALL TIME. Come on over if you need to box anything up. We've got boxes for all your boxing needs.

...

I probably should have saved a few of the larger boxes, come to think of it, as Jack and Mary Liz have decided that our craptastic, unmowed back yard is a paradise, perfect for secret hideouts and yard to yard communication with neighborhood canines. They've moved the two plastic chairs that were sitting randomly near the house up into what they call The Secret Clubhouse, which is not really a secret so much as it is the space beneath a couple of redbud trees that are in dire need of a little pruning. It has been suggested that we need both a fort of some sort and also a tire swing in order to make it decent, but last I checked both kids seemed to be well-occupied with just those two plastic chairs and a bunch of sticks. I'm taking the lazy way out on this one and conveniently forgetting all about these requests.

...

Know what we also win at? Having the cutest cats ever. I have video to prove it, people. Expect it sometime very soon.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Clearly I Wasn't Cut Out for Do-It-Yourself Projects

This evening I attempted to put together one of those cheapy Target thirty dollar bookshelves, and I must say that I didn't do too badly so long as you don't count the part where I put a peg where it wasn't supposed to go and had to have Jarod get it out for me. Or also maybe the part where I didn't actually finish putting it together. I can't help that though; my toast was ready, and I think we all know that one cannot in good conscience eat cold toast. That would just be wrong.

I'm still doing my best to get our house together. A lot of people have inquired as to whether all my boxes are unpacked and I want to ask them if they're smoking crack, and, if so, if I might have some, as I've heard it helps things move along a little faster. The problem is not in unpacking my boxes so much as it is in clearing out everything that doesn't need to stay in this house and finding good spots for everything else. It would also help if we had some bookshelves for the many boxes of books, but some lazyass keeps procrastinating putting the bookshelves together in favor of activities such as eating toast while it's still hot. It will take awhile. By "awhile" I mean probably six months. I have to organize. I have to paint. I must decorate.

Plus, there is the matter of the job I have which pays real money. In order to get paid that money, I have to show up to do the job. Which I am very happy to do, by the way. I'm back with these beauties sixteen hours a week, and it's smooth as silk, such a relief after the long hours and extraordinary challenges of my job in Connecticut. I couldn't be more thrilled.

Well, unless someone came over and finished putting together all my bookshelves.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Random Notes

Dear Boden,

Please stop being absolutely everything I ever desired in a clothing vendor. You know I can't afford you. It would be much appreciated if you would cease and desist with the perfection already. It's that or have more sales and deeper discounts. Please choose, and please lean towards the second option.

Love,
Mary

...

Dear Time,

What happened? Where did you go? I had three hours to get things done, and now it's down to two. Take it easy, all right? Slow down. I can't keep up with you anymore.

Sincerely,
Mary

...

Dear Target,

I need red stickers on the following, and I'm talking 75% off red stickers, not that measly 30% off: sheets, lamps (only ones that go with my decor, please), non-plastic storage items, bookshelves, cat food.

With gratitude for your cooperation,
Mary

Monday, October 01, 2007

These New Jokes Will Never Get Old

Joke the First

I get a kick out of calling Jarod my cats' new dad. As in, "Eponine, aren't you so glad I found you such a good daddy?" or "I need to go switch out the laundry; how about you sit with your dad for a minute?" I know for a fact that this joke will not age (even like fine wine) because I have been using a similar joke about them being grand-kitties for years now, and still I never tire of sending my mom cards signed by the cats or asking her why she didn't get Phae a Christmas present.

Joke the Second

Not far from us there is a martial arts studio which often has a large sign out front advertising the availability of kung fu weapons. When we are driving by, I like to mention that we need to stop in on the way home, or to ask Jarod if he brought the list of weapons he needs, or to complain, if they are closed when we are passing, that I never remember to stop there when they're open, and here I am needing some nunchucks and having to do without.

Either I am terribly clever or undeniably lame.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's Not Like You Think

Until I get the footage I desire, I will be keeping a video camera in my bed. Don't start jumping to conclusions, oh you whose minds so easily slide into the gutter. It's to get a video of my cat snoring. Or dreaming, which is even better because it involves sound and movement. So you can, um, be looking forward to that. And in the meantime, you can go stock up on some kitty cat sweatshirts.

For me.

For Christmas.

I am so going to be one of those old ladies.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Jarod's former roommate not only didn't pay his rent for July, which is the last month he was to occupy his room here, but also left his stuff through the entire month of August. We badgered him into sending a donation service to pick up his furniture, and the rest we bagged ourselves and dropped off at Goodwill, an entire Honda Civic back seat and trunk full. We've been assured that he will pay the rent for July eventually, and while I understand that things come up and sometimes it's difficult to make all your payments on time, I find I'm still a little bit pissed about the whole deal, especially the part where we kept calling and texting to ask him what was going on and got no response. I see much more of this in our future if we ever hope to see the July rent. So I've been putting his mail, which has not been forwarded yet, in a small box on top of the enclosed cat litter pan. I also plan to use the George Foreman grill he left behind with wild abandon.

Revenge is sweet, especially when it yields some very tasty chicken.

...

This morning I spent upwards of two hours opening and sorting mail, and I've still got a small stack left. You may think this is quite impossible, or wonder what sort of multi-level marketing schemes we've signed on for in order to receive that much mail, but it's not what it seems. This is mail that has been accumulating since January. Yes, I said January, and yes, it is September. You are not confused about the passage of time.

...

I am slowly digging us out of disorganization, but it is taking longer than I'd like. I may need a lot more cupcakes in order to get through. Also possibly another Ron Sexsmith album. I'll let you know.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Sound of the Washer Finishing Its Cycle Will Be My Cue to Finish This Post

If you were to ask me what I've eaten today, I would say, "Hershey's Kisses!" If you were to ask if that was all? Seriously? Just Hershey's Kisses? I would say, "Yep." And if you'd been reading this blog for very long at all, you'd know that I am telling the truth, and you would not question me further, except to question my sanity.

Hi! We're back! And my house! Is a disaster!

Also my cat's eye is seeping liquid, probably because she likes to chase the broom when I sweep. So in between attacking the laundry, putting (or throwing) crap away, I'm trying to sneak up on her and wipe her eye off. Neither one of us is enjoying it.

I'm going to have two jobs this fall, and one of them is housewife. Because the house needs it. I've been tempted to take before and after shots, but I'm afraid that if I actually capture an image of the chaos, I might sink into a deep depression and not emerge until spring.

I might not emerge until spring anyhow, but that's because I'll be too busy organizing. I'll keep you posted on my progress, and maybe I'll take some after shots once we're all settled. Don't hold your breath on that one, though, because I fear you'll be holding it a long time, and might suffer ill effects. In the meantime, if you'd like to look at photos of something else, I've got a small honeymoon set going over at flickr. I've got tons more to process and upload, so check back from time to time for much, much more.

Oh, look, there's the laundry.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

There is Nothing New to Report

We are still on our honeymoon. We are still in Nice. We are still sitting in the same square every evening, using the same WiFi connection. We are boring. And it's good.

There are a lot of places one can get to from Nice, and in Nice there are numerous things to see and do and explore and experience. Yet we have done very few things outside of Nice other than a brief afternoon trip to Antibes and a truncated trip to Monaco (we made it only to Cap d'Ail), and in Nice itself we've been to a few museums, but have rejected just as many as we've seen. We have spent the mornings with our eyes shut and heads firmly planted on our pillows, rarely seeing beyond what is visible from our rooftop balcony until past one in the afternoon. We spend our days wandering Nice, mostly Old Town, where we are staying. We have tried quite a few different patisseries but have otherwise been regulars for our other needs and wants. The crepes at Fenocchio have yet to disappoint, so I see no reason to try them elsewhere. The beach at the east end of the Promenade seems less crowded, so we spread our discount leopard beach towels (we forgot to bring ours from home) there. Old Town is familiar, so we feel no need to venture far from there.

For us this has been perfect. While I'm certain that some might see it as a waste of our ten days to be so close to so many things yet fail to see them, in my mind it has been to our benefit to just take it easy. There aren't a lot of times in life when we are free to just relax, to have no agenda and no need to rush. To have this time in a place that is so beautiful, and to use that time to make it a place of familiarity and ease, has been ideal.

Tomorrow will be our last full day here. Our flight takes us away in the morning hours of Thursday.

We'll miss it for sure.

it was all yellow

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Are Honeymoons are Supposed to be Exciting?

Every couple has things they are good at doing together. We are no different. So far we have discovered two things we're very good at doing. The first is sleeping twelve hours straight every night (we're practically experts at this, and please don't be jealous, as I'm quite certain you can aspire to greatness like ours someday) and the second is...well...this:

fountain + wifi + me = ultimate dorknicity

i hog the ibook, so jarod must use his iphone

Here we are in beautiful Nice, France, surfing the internet.

Mary & Jarod: Raising the Dork Bar, One WiFi Connection at a Time

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Antibes: The Florida of France

Yesterday we took the train west to visit Musee Picasso in Antibes. The only interest I had in Antibes was to visit the museum, so it was quite a disappointment when we arrived to find that it was closed for renovation until next summer. We decided to explore a bit and make the best of it anyhow, even though I was possibly pouting a bit at the thought of all those Picassos being unavailable to me. As we walked around, I couldn't help but feel that I'd been there before, or at least been somewhere like it. Which is odd, really, since on the Riviera I've never wandered west of Nice. And then it hit me: This was the French version of Cocoa Beach, Florida. The tourist trap shops, the non-descript buildings, the well-manicured lawns, the nearby water...the senior citizens. We had found the Riviera hotspot for the retired. And also those who would like to buy a yacht in a well-appointed showroom.

...

It seems we've become regulars already in a few choice spots, including, but not limited to:
1. Fenocchio Maitre Glacier (I prefer the chocolat banane crepe.)
2. Spar (all manner of cheap delicious things, including sparkling limonade and fair trade chocolate)
3. Kebab Izmir (where I am still trying to figure out how to order the fries with the kebab, not in the kebab)
4. The square where we can get WiFi. We'll sit at a table if there's one available, but leaning against the fountain is just fine, too.

...

Things we have seen other people doing, in which we have not participated:
1. Parasailing
2. Renting Sea Doos to tool around the coastal waters
3. Sunbathing topless
4. Boarding yachts
5. Riding motorcycles while wearing stylish pumps

I guess we're kind of boring.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Should You Feel Pangs of Jealousy, I'd Like to Assure You That Your Response is Appropriate

Every day the temperature tops out at seventy-seven degrees fahrenheit. The sun is always shining. I eat fresh pastries every morning for breakfast, and the name of at least one of them contains the word "chocolat." Is this heaven?

hanging out

it's getting to be supper time

nice from above

I think maybe it is.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bonjour from the Riviera!

Oh, um, hi. Where was I? Am I? What?

Turns out weddings pretty much consume your existence if you're decorating the reception venue yourself and also preparing the food yourself (with help--LOTS of help--of course). The whole thing feels like a very long race, probably not unlike the Badwater Ultramarathon, which begins in Death Valley and ends halfway up Mount Whitney. I've never tried that one, of course, but considering that planning and executing a wedding was way harder than running Pikes Peak, I think Badwater is definitely the best illustration of the kind of energy it takes. But in the end, it's all worth it. At Badwater, if you finish in time you get a belt buckle. In wedding planning (if it's your own wedding, that is), in the end you get to be married.

we're pretty much rock stars

Oh, and also, if you're us, you get to be in France pretty shortly thereafter. And that's pretty awesome, too.

Photos and more to come, of course, once I get my face out of this giant vat of gelato.

(One more photo for the road. You're welcome.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

And Eighty-Two Years Later, I'm Still Sitting Here

I dropped by The House (I've taken to calling it The House until I Officially Move In after I am Officially Wed) to drop off some wedding things and possibly put things in the two organizer baskets I bought for the bathroom closet, and decided that while I am here I could just, you know, real quick like, check my email and maybe peek at our registries (which I hear you're not supposed to peek at until after the wedding, but I have never been one to ignore opportunities to ruin the surprise), and pretty soon it turned into reading every website I ever read even occasionally, and now suddenly I am considering doing some online window shopping for apartments in France. Perhaps this is just what happens when I get distracted from my endless to-do list. Or perhaps it's what happens when I've had nothing more than coffee, granola, and a piece of chocolate loaf to eat all day. Come to think of it, I am feeling a little faint. Maybe I should sit here a bit longer and recover.

...

In an homage to my childhood love of the Smurfs, I went for the blue polish today at my pedicure. I had this great plan to take a photo and, now that my very own computer is finally up and running, actually post the photo to flickr or something and let you all take a peek at the kind of color only a twelve-year-old girl could truly love. However, today's pedicure was not only lacking in leg/foot massage finesse, but also in polishing skill. Dude had no idea what he was doing (yes, he, I got a man pedicurist), and all the ladies were sitting around watching Vietnamese soap operas. At one point during what was supposedly the massage portion of the pedicure, I looked over to see the youngest of the trio of soap fans tearing up a bit. What really annoyed me, though, was that it seemed that none of them had any interest in interacting with their customers. While the ladies at my Connecticut nail salon were not chatters, they always greeted me warmly and smiled at me when I looked up from my magazine. This place was not about to be wasting their time with idle chatter, or with a brief neck massage while my poorly-applied polish began to dry. I don't miss much about Connecticut, but I do miss Star Nails. And as far as I'm concerned, Nail Place at Ward Parkway Mall (I didn't pay attention to the name, honestly) can suck it. I won't be going back.

Oh, and PS, also they razored off some of my callouses, which is not a good idea, but I am too much of a wimp in those sorts of situations to tell them to STOPPIT NOW. So. Two thumbs down, please do not be going there and keeping their sorry excuses for pedicurists rolling in cash.

...

Things for the wedding seem to be coming along fairly well. In the middle of the night, when I can't sleep because I can feel my list staring at me from inside my backpack, I sing a different tune, but for now I feel like it's going to be all right, that I can get everything done without collapsing in a heap. Of course, maybe that's the coffee and chocolate cake talking. If that's the case, I suppose the only thing to do is to have iced mochas and chocolate cake every day. It will save my sanity, I am certain.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We Should Have Gone to Vegas

That or Niagara Falls.

Weddings are HARRRRRRD. Just when you think you have all your ducks in a row, they start swimming in circles and plunging beneath the surface, possibly meeting their doom in the murky waters below. About that time, you begin to realize that, hey, these aren't really ducks. They're cats. And not the weird kind that like to swim and have been known to rescue humans, either.

I mistakenly thought that since I pretty much know what I want and started my planning before we were even engaged that things would fall into place and go pretty easily, but I am here tonight to tell you, that, oh, internet, I was wrong. Because to be right there would have to be no one on this earth except me and people who exist to do my bidding and agree wholeheartedly with everything I decide, and it seems that this is not the case. I mean, there are a lot of people doing my bidding, but...well. It also turns out that there are a lot of people with opinions and, oh, I don't know, lives of their own or something, who are not carrying on their existence for the sole purpose of making our wedding go off without a hitch. I KNOW. INJUSTICE! And to top it off, my skin hates me. It hates me in a deep, cystic acne, inflammatory way, which is exactly what I need two and and a half weeks before my wedding, don't you think?

On the upside, though, (the really huge! fantastic! amazing! upside!) I am home. I spent a few days here in Kansas City hanging with Jarod (as well as Jack and Mary Liz, serendipitously enough) before heading out to Colorado with my mom, where not only did I get to hang out in cooler weather, I also got to witness someone getting stitches in the Pikes Peak Marathon finish line tent. It pays to volunteer right next to the medical services area, especially when it's a fairly puke free race. (I did see one guy, the third place finisher, doubling over, and in an impressive display of speed and grace, a med volunteer managed to place a garbage bag beneath him in time to catch the offending substance.) I felt a little strange not seeing the summit this year, and also a little jealous when I saw the way cool jackets the finishers got, but ultimately I had to admit that there was just no way I could have done it. I wouldn't have trained properly, and then it would have been me on one of those cots in the med area, hooked up to an IV, waiting for an ambulance to take me away.

And now it's all wedding all the time. There will be a few Starbucks-soaked mornings, for sure, but for the most part I'll be working hard to get all those cats out of the pond and herded into kitty cat-shaped kitty tents, where they will be nice and cozy. I'll also be working hard not to be a total bridezilla, as there are so many people helping out and I would be the rudest person on the planet not to acknowledge and appreciate their contributions. To that end I am offering special Gold Star Awards to those persons who have gone above and beyond. The first two Mary muses Wedding Extravaganza Gold Star Award winners are the following fabulous people:

1. My fiance, who patiently puts up with a lot of crap and still wants to marry me anyway. He has listened to every little fear and nagging worry (not to mention plently of ridiculous complaints), has driven me all over the place so I can get what I need, and he didn't even bat an eyelash when he heard to total price of the skincare system I purchased today. (I personally had heart palpitations when the total was announced, but he was cool as a cucumber.) He's a good man, that's for sure.

2. My friend Nicole, who totally saved us from a cakeless wedding. Nicole is invaluable to me as a friend, and really deserves a big gold star every day of the week, but for this she deserves an extra super huge one. I am in awe of her quick thinking and resourcefulness, and I am indebted to her listening ear and encouraging spirit.

Congratulations, lucky winners. Now tally ho or sally forth or something. We've got a wedding to put on.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

In Honor of This Momentous Occasion, I Have Had My Toenails Painted a Godawful Shade of Orange

It's also sparkly. What am I? Seven?

My last day of work was yesterday, but I stayed an extra day here in Connecticut because Al has insisted since way back in the wintertime that I come to the county swim meet to watch him swim. So I stayed, and I went, and I watched. And it was good. He worked hard all season to improve his swimming in every way possible, and it paid off with firsts in all his events (butterfly, backstroke, freestyle). I'm really proud of him, not for winning, really, but for the effort and focus it took him to get that good. I am terribly glad I stayed the extra day here to watch him, even though it does mean I don't get to fly Midwest this time. (No fresh baked cookies! No roomy leather seats! AND I have a layover! I KNOW! SACRIFICE!)

But I suppose it doesn't matter what airline I fly. I am getting to go home. After all these months, I am landing in Kansas City not just to turn around and leave again in a few days, but to stay for a good long time. And that? Feels wonderful.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I Feel Sad Every Time It Crosses My Mind, Which is Often

This past Friday my dear friend Sheldon, who many of you know either personally or through attending the New Earth Coffeehouse way back when, fell twenty-five feet while painting his house. He has fractured his T5 vertebrae, his clavicle, and four ribs. He is lucky to be alive and without injury to his head. However, the doctor has told Sheldon that he will be in pain due to this injury for the rest of his life. Those of you who know Sheldon may know that he has suffered from another back condition for quite some time and has dealt with a great deal of chronic pain already; I'm sure that you can imagine that it would be disheartening to hear that, after years of already dealing with great physical pain, you'll be facing even more. Please join me in praying for him and for his family at this difficult time. In addition, if you are interested in offering some financial support at a time when it will obviously be impossible for Sheldon to work, please email me at marymuses at gmail dot com. Sheldon is one of the kindest and most patient people I know, and it is my wish to support him and his family, who I love very much, in any way possible at this time.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Brought to You by Captain Obvious

Al: Do you know where Reggie's underwater cave is?

Al's friend: No.

Al: It's underwater.

Ba-dum-CHING

...

For those of you keeping track at home (like my brother), my page count now exceeds 2600. However, to be fair and honest, I must disclose that it's not anything weighty (unless we're counting actual weight) such as theology or philosophy. I may be winning the page count race, but my brother wins the cerebral reading award by a long shot. I was just catching up with Harry Potter. I dropped off after reading the fourth book, simply because that's the last one that Jack and Mary Liz owned that I could borrow from their shelves. So five, six, and seven still needed my attention, and, being near at hand, they got it. I'm all caught up now, right down to the very last page of the series.

...

And then there was one. Week, that is. Of work! Before I go home! Often when I am driving hither and yon on some work related errand, I get to thinking about how I won't be driving those same roads multiple times a day anymore, and it seems odd. A good kind of odd, but odd nevertheless. This has been my life for the past fourteen months, driving a minivan, living in a room above the garage, taking a train into the city...and now I'm moving on. That's a good thing.

...

Speaking of taking a train into the city, this weekend will mark my last New York City excursion, at least of the sort where I leave my home base in Connecticut and take a train in every weekend. I know I've said it many times, but I will miss that very much. But the tradeoff of being home, of having a more relaxed life, of hanging out every day with the man I love--well I'm definitely getting the sweetest part of the deal there, no question. So tomorrow I'll visit some of my favorite spots, and I'll pick up a few last minute gifts and souvenirs, and I'll most likely console myself with a chocolate mousse cup on the way back to Connecticut.

...

One more week. Oh, dear, that makes me incredibly happy.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

LIfe for the Sort of Computerless

I had a glimmer of hope last weekend, ordering up a new hard drive, thinking that the kids' dad could install it for me and BAM! I would not longer be computerless. But it seems I am in possession of the Computer of a Million Tiny Screws, and he just didn't feel comfortable removing all those screws and then having to get them back in the right spots. Which means that I will not have a computer of my own again until I return to Kansas City August 12th. I am currently borrowing Frank's from time to time, but my use is fairly limited.

On the bright side, I'm getting a ton of non-blog type reading done. The cable in my room is also out (still), so that leaves even more time; this week alone I've read upwards of a thousand pages even though I'm still as busy as ever.

One good thing which has come of my computerlessness is that I stumbled across something on Frank's computer that might not have been discovered otherwise, and as shocking as it was to find it, I'm glad I did. I have much more to say on that subject, but I'd prefer to do it in a more thoughtful manner, so I will leave you wondering until I have the space to say what I want to say about it with tact and more grace than I can muster at the moment.

Except for the lack of technology, life goes on as usual. I am busy, I am tired, I want desperately to get much more sleep.

Goodnight, all.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Entirely Filched from an E-Mail to Shiz, Who Asked If I'd Gone to the City Today

I went to the city. I ate a blueberry doughnut. I got blueberry lemonade, and dribbled a little down my shirt by tilting the cup too much, but I could totally cover it up by carrying my camera. But THEN my mom called and in my effort to answer the phone, I dribbled more down my shirt, which, combined with what I'd already gotten on there, was a lot. As in, splotches covered the entire front of the shirt. The WHITE shirt.

So I bought a Tide pen. Which totally worked! Score!

And then I went to Coney Island and did not go on any rides, even though the Wonder Wheel looked super tempting. But who goes to Coney Island and rides things alone? Pathetic people, that's who. The rest of us loners just drink lemonade that is so sweet that our teeth will probably all fall out tomorrow. And then we ride the subway back into Manhattan and have to run to catch the train home.

Also, we don't have time to stop for dinner and are pretty glad we put in those three packs of gum to keep our mouths busy for the hour it takes to get back to Connecticut.

Gum: It's What's For Dinner

Well, and an iceberg lettuce salad I dug up in the fridge. And maybe also chocolate chips directly from the bag.

Tomorrow is Monday. Only three Mondays left. Hooray!