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.