Friday, December 18, 2009

The girl is just amazing...

J is finishing up a poetry unit at school and her poem was so awesome (not that I'm biased) that her teacher (a) told me in advance that I would be surprised/wowed by it and (b) chose it as the opening poem in their class poetry book. Without further ado:

Her

by J

Her smile, so
beautiful
Blond, golden hair,
her light baby
blue eyes
Four years old
Too young
She left me.
I wasn't even born yet!





And yea, I teared up again just re-typing it.

For the new out there, my oldest daughter, S, died in a backyard pool drowning while I was pregnant with J. We've made an effort to make sure J knows about her sister and that we love them both, and well, obviously she's been paying attention.

And probably needs therapy, based on the above, but I'm hiding my head in the sand on that one for as long as I can...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

na-NO-wrimo


I just pulled my NaNo buttons out of the side bar. I am at peace with my decision to abandon my 2009 NaNoWriMo project. That does not, however, mean I want the tally of my failure to finish to stare me in the face every time I see my blog--no matter how rare, based on my recent posting history, that may be.

Around November 18th I got few days behind, something I know from past experience is easily fixable. This year I let it be the final nudge over the edge on a decision I'd been contemplating for a week. Abandoning my tale.

This year's book sucked. The idea was weak, at best, and not one I was remotely passionate about. Some people say it's better to NaNo something you aren't passionate about so you won't worry about the quality. Me? I need to be invested in it, at least a bit, or it will never go anywhere.

I didn't have anything I wanted to say this year. I seem to have an odd-years NaNo curse. I win in years ending in an even number. I abandon the project as dreck in odd-numbered years. Kind of teh suck, but, on the bright side, it means I'll make it next year. Write?!?!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stolen from Lisa

I'm home sick with day 5 of a headache and can't sleep anymore right now and don't trust myself to edit myself, let alone someone else's stuff, right now, so you get a shamelessly stolen blog post, courtesy of Lisa at Put It On the List - who stole it from someone else. Doncha love the interwebs?

Below is my vacation map. I've visited all of the places below and stayed long enough to do something memorable. If all I did was drive through on the way to somewhere else, or change planes, I skipped that state, otherwise I'd have to add New York, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Colorado :-)


visited 16 states (32%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

Looks to me like I need to get out more :-)

I'd like to visit:

  • Florida -- I want to take the girl to Disney before she's too old to enjoy it.
  • Minnesota -- I did a series of articles a last year on Minneapolis and it looks like an interesting place to visit.
  • Indiana -- Friends across the street moved up there a few years ago and it'd be great to go visit them. We were there as surrogate family when their oldest girl was born (4mos younger than J) and the girls haven't seen each other since they were babies.
  • Alaska -- Friends and family tell me I ~must~ be part polar bear I like it so cold. Be nice to see for myself. And I wanna see whales that are NOT in a ginormous tank at Sea World.
  • Hawaii -- I'd have to be insane not to want to go to our own US tropical paradise, right?
  • New York -- Hokey, I know, but I'd like to see the Statue of Liberty. And a Broadway show that is actually ON Broadway at the time. I lurve musicals.
  • Colorado -- My mom lived here for a while and, well, it just looks purty in the pictures.
  • Maine -- Just cuz.
  • Oregon -- Why? Cuz it's there. You hear about the attractions of California and Washington and Oregon seems to be the unloved middle child. I'm all about making a state feel loved. (did I mention I'm in a lot of pain and can't see straight and I reserve the right for this to make no sense whatsoever? I did? Oh good.)
  • Illinois -- See notes above re: Minnesota. I did a similar series on Chicago and want to see the Adler, the Field, etc.
  • Michigan -- I wanna see Mackinac Island. Read about it, have family that's been there (the hubs has family in Michigan so we might even HAVE family there, lol), and it sounds like a nifty spot to visit.
  • Oklahoma -- Being a good lil Texan I have spent most of my life disparaging the state immediately to our North (and based on my one hotel stay there it was NOT without cause!), but the pictures and stories of the Pioneer Woman and Shannon from Rocks in My Dryer have just about convinced me that I may have been a little too hasty in my judgment.
That's all I can think of right now. Must be time to go back to bed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday Tirade: The Answer to All Of Your Questions is NO

I moderate a small local moms' group. I joined a few years ago and kind of fell into moderating.

Lately, though, it's been a bit of a chore. Why? The economy, of course.

People are tightening their belts. They're getting more creative with their marketing, and trying to do more while spending less. Social media, whether its the evil FB, I really hate that site, almost as much as I despise MySpace, Twitter, online groups, whatever, is mostly about investing your time and your personality.

So let me be straight up: MY MAMAS ARE NOT A CAPTIVE AUDIENCE FOR YOUR CRAP.

We are a small group, under 40 members. Biggest we've ever been was around 90 and that was primarily due to a lazy (guilty as charged!) moderator.

We're small so that people feel safe and comfortable talking about their families, their kids, their nursing problems, sex after babies, whatever the topic du jour is. People who stick around like our rigorous moderation.

When a woman joins -- Yes, it is a MOMS-only group -- we send her a note asking her to tell us more about herself and her family and how she heard about our little group before her membership is approved.

Don't answer the survey, don't get to join.

When she joins she's moderated for a while, either until she:
  1. Unsubs after deciding we are not what she was looking for. This sometimes happens immediately, sometimes not til inflammatory topics (the mingling of religion and public education is good for weeding out the wimps) come round.
  2. Posts enough that we feel comfortable letting her post without a babysitter.
  3. Posts so damn much (that is ok) that it floods my inbox with crap to approve and I unmoderate her just to make it STOP.
We are serious about making our little group a place where moms feel safe and secure. We state upfront that if you are here to market your crap you are not welcome. Not if that's the ONLY reason. We have a lot of WAHM members and they talk about work, but, like everyone else with something to sell (garage sales, craigslist items, etc), are only allowed to actively market their biz one day a week. If you only post to market yourself, we will eventually kick you because that's not why the rest of us are there.

I say all this because the last week or so has seen a rash of service-oriented spam join requests. People with brilliant things to say for themselves (in the initial Yahoo groups form---I'm pretty sure they all gave up hope when they got the follow-up member survey) like:
  1. I teach your children music. -- Really? No name? No indication of gender or whether or not you have a family or are just a perve who wants to eyeball our kids in the group photo albums? REJECTED
  2. home work -- Are you offering to do it for my kids? Are you a maid service? A tutor? A work-from-home scammer? REJECTED
  3. A dental hygienist for a local pediatric dentistry practice. -- This one was nice, but still a solicitation and therefore unwelcome. I'm still debating forwarding her spam to the practice to find out if they stand behind it or she was trying to drum up biz on her own...
That's a week's worth. I don't have time for it, we don't want it, and I guarantee you we will never let you in. We had a member in the past who harvested group emails for her home cosmetics sales gig---she posted normally, too, but we had to electronically smack her around and tell her not to do it again.

Maybe it's time to re-write our splash page? I haven't looked at it in years, but if it will make the spam stop...

Photo:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Numero Uno

Candy tagged me with a meme! The challenge - answers must be kept to ONE WORD.

  1. Where is your cell phone? right
  2. Your hair? thick
  3. Your mother? awesome
  4. Your father? sad
  5. Your favorite food? chocolate
  6. Your dream last night? eh?
  7. Your favorite drink? coffee
  8. Your dream/goal? peace
  9. What room are you in? office
  10. Your hobby? books
  11. Your fear? heights
  12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? housewife
  13. Where were you last night? Lisa's
  14. Something that you aren’t? gourmet
  15. Muffins? no
  16. Wish list item? lawnboy
  17. Where did you grow up? Texas
  18. Last thing you did? phone
  19. What are you wearing? glasses
  20. Your TV? wii
  21. Your pets? dog
  22. Friends? thankfully!
  23. Your life? complicated
  24. Your mood? contemplative
  25. Missing someone? S
  26. Vehicle? BugTruck
  27. Something you’re not wearing? socks
  28. Your favorite store? Internet
  29. Your favorite color? Red
  30. When was the last time you laughed? yesterday
  31. Last time you cried? stress
  32. Your best friend? A-Moms
  33. One place that I go to over and over? basement
  34. One person who emails me regularly? xanga
  35. Favorite place to eat? Baris

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's official.

As of a couple of hours ago, I am a nonsmoker. I have been a not-a-nonsmoker exactly half my life, with breaks for bearing, birthing, and nursing my girls.

I've known I ~needed~ to quit since the day I started. I just never really wanted to.

Well, I did, but I didn't. I wanted to quit for my health and to live long enough to be a burden to J and inhale less money, especially in recent years, but, well... The fact is I ~liked~ it.

I liked that it forced me to take a few minutes for myself.

I liked that, especially in these smoker-unfriendly days, it gave me an instant bond when I was in a group of strangers (at work, at conferences, etc) because we already had something in common, and as a collective group were persecuted for it.

I liked that it gave me an outlet for stress. Does a cigarette reduce stress levels? No, if anything it probably makes it worse, elevating the blood pressure and decreasing the amount of oxygen in the blood. But it gave me a minute to take time out and (not) breathe and relax and think and just, well, time.

Time I would otherwise not take for myself. The flipside of that, since I have gone to ridiculous lengths to ensure J did not know her mama sucked cancer sticks, is that I also used to make time to smoke. I didn't smoke anywhere near my house for a long time. Instead I would loop the neighborhood a few times on the way home from the grocery store til I'd finished. Or drive to a store twice as far away so I'd have time to smoke.

No more.

Did I quit for my health? Sure.

Did I quit to save money? Sure.

But mostly I quit because I had to.

See, I was a particular smoker. With the exception of the occasional deviation in emergencies when I couldn't find what I wanted, I smoked cloves exclusively, and a particular variety at that. --->

And I am old and set in my ways and I know what I want/like. And if I can't have what I like, I just won't do it.

And Uncle Sam says I can't have what I like. Someone decided that cloves were too much like the flavored cigs that Camel tried to make a few years ago (read that as Gateway Cigarettes-like other 'gateway' drugs) and they were no longer available for sale as of 9/22/09. I found out about the impending doom upcoming legal change on 9/13 and on the 14th went and bought as many as I could find within reason (7 packs). And smoked the last 4 cigarettes of the last pack today.

I am ~glad~ for the ban for the simple reason that it is forcing me to do something I've known I needed to do, but didn't want bad enough to do for myself.

That said... I'm still fomenting my rant about this because it's a stupid logic. If I start following this path I'll rant early and I want to save it for Tuesday, it's been too long.

Net result: Government being stoopid=good for Dy's lungs. Umm... yay?

(this post is both informational and a warning. In case I get all classic quit-smoking-nic-fit-bitchy, well, this is your warning and probably the only one you're going to get.)

PS - Anyone wanna give me odds on how long it takes RaidMan to notice I've quit? lol...

More Yarn Crazy plus NaNo Crazy Commences (sorta)

Because it's not like NaNo is coming up and I'll already be crazy... I've decided to do this. It looked like fun & will give me a chance to play with some yarns I wouldn't normally buy.

Now if I could just decide if I ~like~ my NaNo idea or not. I'm a bit tepid about it, and afraid that doesn't bode well. The Austin ML is putting together some plotting and planning events in October. I may go to one of those and see if it helps this plan gel or if I need to scrap it and start again. I have 31 days to come up with a plot after all...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sometimes Someone Else Says It Better

My mood today:




Don't ask me why, the day started out nicely, but sometimes this is just how it is.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Can't Rant

I was gonna rant but... (a) I want to do a little research on my topic and (b) I have a shiny new blog background and am finding it hard to be properly rant-ish.

Have no fear though, I am naturally inclined to snark and ranting, so I'm sure there will be some soon!

PS - I also took part in my first "Teaser Tuesday" over on my book blog, if you wanna check it out.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Neverending Calendar Review Post

Google Calendar

I heart you, G-cal, I really do, but, like my first high school boyfriend, you just can't give me what I need. I am, however, happy to report that at least you do not cry every time I try to break up with you like the afore-mentioned boyfriend. While it took me over 18 months (and the threat of a restraining order) to get rid of him, your sync uninstalled in mere moments!

See below, under Thunderbird + Lightning, for all the gory details.


Lotus Notes

I've used this at a couple of workplaces and it's OK. The mail features are decent, but the calendar kind of blows. Even if you decide you really really really like it, it's pretty much impossible to get a copy for home use.

Home users are NOT IBM/Lotus' target market. I know, I looked. It was a brief but torrid affair, and there was really only one reason for it.

Flexibility in changing repeating events. I like being able to change a repeating event (like, oh, "Mom: Work --am to --pm" that comes up M-F) without having to create a new event.

Case in point: In April of this year my hours were cut. This meant I got to leave work 30min earlier every day. In Outlook, in order to accurately reflect my old schedule in past events (because I'm nitpicky about things like that) AND show my new one, I had to create an end date for the old series and create a new series to reflect my new schedule.

In Notes I could make the changes starting with the effective date and tell it to adjust "This and all future occurrences." One step. I know, I know, it's stupid, but I am that lazy particular.

Okay, so this is really the only thing I like about Notes Calendar.

There's no good way to color code; you can only do it by event TYPE i.e. Reminders/Meetings/Appointments. For people not interconnected to a bunch of other people also using Notes those last two are the same thing.

It takes for-ever to load. Like longer than Outlook. Yea, really, THAT long.



Thunderbird with Lightning Add-On

(I wrote this one WHILE I was experimenting over the past days, so the tone & frustration levels are all over the map.)


I admit it. I haven't used Thunderbird since my Outlook Switch to make my phone work in May 08. I, dedicated blogger that I am, downloaded it and attached my gmail (the email I am least attached to, lol) and the Lightning plugin since Sunbird has apparently, largely, gone the way of the dodo from what I read on the Mozilla Messaging press release from last year.

Looks alright so far. I exported all my Gcals. I haven't deleted them yet...Now that I'm looking at TBird w/ Lightning I want to play with it a little before I go all Outlook. Import was easy, even let me import a calendar shared with me by someone else with no problems.


I'm off to explore the syncing options and will have to re-write when I'm done playing with it. I'd hoped to get this up in a day or two after the other calendar post, but now that I'm actually doing the research... Yea.

I hope you appreciate this Justin & Crystal. You two open source junkies are the main reason I decided to give TBird another try--so no one would accuse me of not looking at the OS option ;-) The things I do for my friends!

Well shit. Apparently Sunbird is still kicking cuz Google supports some kind of sync to it that used a lot of jargon I'm too tired to track to explain it (dunno when I'll post this, but it's 11pm on a Thursday night when I'm writing it, lol).

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Okay, so if I'm reading this right--understand I applaud open source, I don't actually comprehend it a lot of the time (despite working with it daily, lol)--I can subscribe to my multiple Google calendars using Thunderbird/Lightning and they will sync up on their own. This solves half my problem. That is, the whole local computer calendar not syncing to ALL Gcals (one for me, one for my freelance stuff, one for the kid, one for the hubs, one to keep track of bdays & anniversaries, etc) since Google's sync protocol for Outlook only supports syncing the main calendar.

Now... Google also only syncs the main calendar to my phone, as I recall. So how can I get the Gcals (all of them!) on my phone and in my local Tbird?

More mozilla forums in my future. Yay fun. Not.

Now up to 3 add ons & another util:
  • Lightning add on
  • Provider for Google Calendar
  • Google Contact Sync
  • and Nueva Sync to get it all on my phone
~~~~~~~~~~~

Many more wasted hours later...

Thunderbird won't DL the main calendar properly & every time it does it doubles up entries in Google. Half my cals won't sync w/ Tbird, the other half create duplicate events, and none of it was easy. I can't speak to how the air-sync works because, well, I've kept my phone out of this so far & it is fine---I want it to stay that way.


Google --- let people color code & build a sync for TBird that carries the color-coding over & you'll have me. Til then, it's back to the ole Outlook.

Sunbird

Looked at the page and decided to skip since it is basically a bigger standalone version of the Lightning add-on I already grabbed. And I do want my cal and email in one place. I'm a picky bitch like that.

Having said that, apparently Google does have a special process to sync with Sunbird, but I'm too annoyed with the whole damn thing to care at this point.


Microsoft Outlook

It's possible I keep coming back to this because it was my first mail client, and you know how they say you never forget your first...

More importantly, this works with my phone. Knowing what I know now I'm not sure I would by a Windows Mobile Smartphone again, but it's what I've got and it's paid for... Live 'n learn, ya know.

After all my adventures in Google and open source the last couple of days, I realized the only thing I like with Google that I can't get with Outlook is over-the-air synchronization. I'd love to ditch the cable, and am working on a tentative (and blessedly simple!) solution for that. Sure, Outlook is a monster processor hog, but it's a hog that does the job I need done and, after the initial set up and expense, which I already went through a year+ ago, it's pretty idiot proof. The last few days have left me feeling like an idiot, so idiot-proof is looking pretty darn good.


PS - While dissing the calendar, Google, I totally wrote this post over the course of 4 days and 3 computers, courtesy of the awesomeness that is Google docs :-D Thanks!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Calendar Redux

Well, it's been a week since I wiped out all my calendars, my life... Or so I thought.

Turns out that the old computer DID still have something to offer---my calendar through February of this year. It also had preprog'd recurring events, like birthdays and anniversaries, that shortened by re-entry curve a bit.

Then the funniest thing happened. Scrolling through my Outlook calendar on the new computer, forlornly looking at the empty spaces, I saw... STUFF. I searched (well, okay, I'm lazy, I let Windows search) all over that hard drive, the secondary partition, AND the external drive and couldn't find any of those damned *.pst files. But somehow (black magic?) there were still events on my calendar.

I manually entered a few of them into the great Google and started recreating my schedule, the girl's schedule (far more crowded than mine, lol) and the litany of important days to remember.

Then I synced to my phone--woo hoo! I knew where I was again.

I just didn't know where anyone else was.

This sent me scrambling back to web to look up the sync deets again. Re-reading the info, I came close to tears. The only way to color code (currently, though based on my peek at the forum people have been begging big G to add this feature for a looong time) G-cal events is to put them on separate calendars.

Google only knows how to sync ONE calendar though, a girl's main events calendar. Read that as my schedule, since, as we all know (& contrary to what my daughter thinks), it really is all about me. Not so awesome. AND this rule applies to syncing with Outlook, too.

That tore it. I HAD to move back.

I need all my stuff to show up in one place, with one sync event, and color-coded on my monitor for ease of scheduling, period.

After a week of painstakingly entering events in six different Google calendars I exported them all back to Outlook and will be spending my free time for the rest of the week fixing the color-coding. Yay.

Coming Tomorrow: Calendar Comparisons featuring Outlook, Google Calendar, Sunbird/Thunderbird, and Lotus Notes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday Tirade: Lower Price is Not Necessarily a Good Thing

This has been bugging me for a while, and I was thinking I need to post more often...

For a number of health reasons I've been trying to incorporate more natural and high fiber products/complex carbs into my family's diet.

After trying about a jillion (or so it felt) different kinds of bread---and being shocked at the tiny amount of fiber in most whole wheat breads---I found one at HEB my family liked and that I, the occasional and totally random nutrition Nazi, approved. HEB's Glycemic Health bread--a healthy wheat bread with a whopping 2.5g of fiber PER SLICE.

It even, unlike many of the more expensive wheat breads, came in a sandwich-style option. You know, the really square bread with the thinner crusts. Since the girl has taken to pulling the crusts off her sandwiches and throwing them away, thin crust means more of her lunch makes its way into her face.

Lately I haven't been able to find my bread at all. I was upset, and finally decided a couple weeks I was going to stop by the store when I had a few minutes and ask the manager about it. Just to make sure I didn't look like an idiot, I went to check the bread aisle first. And found what I was looking for... sort of:



It had the same name, but a few key differences. It was, indeed, cheaper than the $2.38 I was paying before my bread went away for a revamp. It was also roughly 2/3 the size. The OLD sandwich loaf was 24oz and more slices since it was thinner cut. This little gem is 16oz and has fewer slices because it is no longer a sandwich-style loaf. It's also got the thick crust my kid won't touch with a ten-foot cafeteria spork.

A little math reveals that:

A) It is now more expensive per ounce, the package just has fewer ounces:
$1.59 / 16oz = 9.94 cents per ounce
$2.38 / 24oz= 9.92 cents per ounce

B) The idiot person who created their new shelf tags either lied on purpose or was dyslexic*, because there is no way that I can find that makes a 16oz loaf of bread that costs $1.59 work out to 6.63 cents per ounce. This math does work IF you keep the price and base it off the older, 24oz loaf size.

*I can totally say this --- my baby bro, the AwesomePenguin, is dyslexic, so I am not just making crap up here. It COULD happen.

I know, I know, it's just bread.

And I've watched in horror as coffee sellers have done the same thing for years now.

A coffee can from 1970 is the same size as the one I can buy today---but mine will have 3-5 fewer ounces in it than the one from when I was a kid.

This does not mean it is right. It also means I have to buy TWO loaves of bread for the week.

$3.18 vs $2.38

Somebody at HEB wanna step up and tell me just how that works out to a new lower price?

Yea, I didn't think so.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Someone Lost Her "Life" Last Night

Wednesday I got the genius idea to sync my Google calendar, which I haven't really used since I went back to Outlook in May of 08 (because my stoopid smartphone wouldn't sync to my puter without it at the time), with said Outlook so I could keep track of everything. I synced my phone, first, as a test. Worked like a charm, woot!

Got home and, because the phone experiment went so well, synced it in a 2-way sync with my Outlook. Fine, sorta... Except for the bajillion duplicate listings on the Google cal that were defaulting to my old primary calendar on Google---which was used for business deadlines and color-coded accordingly.

I started sorting them today and got impatient with how long it was taking. I thought hey, Google has it all. I'll 1-way sync to the puter then clear out Google so I can change my primary calendar, then 1-way sync it back from puter to big G. A sound plan, right?

Yea, I've blocked out the deets, but basically I managed to wipe both calendars.

But I hadn't synced my phone since yesterday, so I still had a lot of stuff there, at least since May 08. I'd just sync the phone BACK to Google to restore it and give up on the Outlook calendar since it's too hard to share... Yea, not so much.

The sync wiped my phone calendar, too.

Now I have no past for, oh, the last five years or so of my life...

No big, theoretically... Have to reprogram birthdays and J's funky school schedule, a PITA but not the end of the world, right?

Not for me. I measure time by events rather than the calendar itself. Without a record of those events I lose time. Essentially I lose memories. Pre-electronic calendars I kept paper datebooks, and I have these in the house going back to high school. (Should I mention my 20th reunion is coming up soon?)

I flip through those things and remember little precious moments I would otherwise forget:
  • The first time we left J's older sister with a sitter.
  • The day of J's first day of Kinder.
  • The anniversary of joining my mom's group--where I've made the best, and first, real friends of my adult life...
It could get to be a ridiculously long list if I let it. All gone.

The only reason I haven't torn out my (rapidly greying) hair yet is that I am slow to move forward. Meaning that I haven't gotten around to wiping the hard disk of the old laptop I replaced in February of this year. Meaning that the Outlook on that one still has most of the last five years of personal & professional milestones.

Google is wiped clean, and since I took tomorrow off I can spend the day syncing Google to the old laptop and fill in the blanks from there.

And Outlook's calendar function can friggin' bite me.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Know It's Free, but...

Today's rant topic was up in the air til I got a paperback swap request that inspired me.

Here's the deal: Paperback Swap let's you list your unwanted books. If someone wants it, you mail it to them, paying the postage yourself, and you get a credit to use to order a book you may want from someone else. So, for the cost of postage at (usually) media mail rates--guaranteed to be cheaper than all but the most baseline clearance books at Half Price--you get a book you want to read without paying $5.99+ for it. Pretty sweet, right?

Not sweet enough for some people. I am, frankly, thoroughly tired of people who want me to send them something for free but have a laundry list of conditions the item must meet. Things I've seen people bring up in PB Swap conditions include:

  • "I don't accept hardback books without dustjackets." Really? That's too bad---you are very unlikely to ever get to read a book you want from my collection. Dust jackets annoy the crap out of me and 9 out of 10 of them that enter this house on a book I own get recycled. I'm interested in that's between the covers, not what's decorating them.
  • I am not willing to accept books that have been withdrawen from libraries" Pet peeve #1 - Do Not Look a Free Book in the Dustjacket and spit on it! #2 - everyone you request a book from will receive a copy of your conditions---take the time to spell your ridiculous demands properly people! #3 - If it's good enough for the library, why isn't it good enough for you? I ~never~ order anything from paperback swap with the thought of adding it to my permanent collection in mind. Why not? Because I never know what I'm gonna get. If I get something I want to add and it happens to be in good shape, yay me! If it's not, I'll read it and pass it on and pay for a permanent collection copy.
  • "Books with a strong moldy smell." Yea, cuz I post those a lot. If you have legitimate allergen issues (I always warn people who mention allergy issues that I have had cats near my books in case it is a problem) that's one thing, but statements like the above are just being b1tchy. Even more so since all of these gems came from a SINGLE person.
And I'm sure it will not come as a surprise to anyone that I rarely mail books to people like this. I've learned the hard way that demanding types like the one described above are almost never happy with what they receive (again, for FREE) and I've had one go so far as to deny credit for the book received.

Play nice with the rest of us, people, or take your unwanted books and go somewhere else! I'm sick of you, you paperback primadonnas!

Yes, I am probably overreacting, but I'm crabby and this person's poorly spelled laundry list of book issues just lit my fuse.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Drama o' the Week

Is it just me or is it starting to feel like a serial radio drama (boy am I showing my age or What?!) around here...

"Tune in for this week's Drama with Dynila!"

My week started out quietly enough. Monday was ~so~ exciting I went home at lunch to do some laundry. Yea, well...

I left my cell in the car to charge while I was living the high life with laundry soap. As I was pulling out of the neighborhood my phone rang---apparently it had been ringing for most of the 30-40 minutes I was in the house.

I use my cell for the freelance biz so I don't flip out when I see an unfamiliar number. It was Raidman's boss. *ooh boy*

Calling to tell me he was at ER with my husband. By the time I got to the hospital--fortunately only about 12 minutes from my house, traffic willing--I'd emailed my office mate, called my bosses, my backup at work, a friend to pick up J from school, the school to let them know who would be picking her up and the daycare to tell them not to expect her. It was a busy twelve minutes!

3 hours later... All the tests look good (he was there for chest pain... I'm pretty sure when the last of the dark dye from July is gone I'm gonna be white-haired due to stress!) but they want to keep him overnight and poke and prod him some more. Poor Raidman--I think there was even a treadmill involved...

Leave the hospital @ 6pm, run home to pack him an overnight bag, out to pick up the kid and dinner for the hubs and I, and BACK to the hospital for dinner, homework, and a family game of Yatzee (yes, we are THAT cool!) Then home to get the girl showered and in bed. Call the hospital to check on the man, then, finally, asleep around 130am cuz I was still coming off the adrenaline high of, "I brought him to the hospital because he was having chest pains...." and the follow-up call from the nurse while I was retrieving the girl, "Is this the wife of xxxx?"

Hint to hospital nurses: If you HAVE to ask someone that, the next words out of your mouth ~really~ need to be, "He's fine." then you can ask your stupid medication questions!

Moving on...

More tests, more blood taken, more tests, and lots of waiting in-between, and: He's fine. Heart looks great, heart function is rocking it. Apparently the chest wall muscle is inflamed, which caused (and is still causing, truthfully) the pain.

Net result: Take 2 super-powered prescription anti-inflammatory pills a day and show up for your regular physical in 3 weeks.

W H E W !

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Progress and the Lack Thereof

First, to get it out of the way...

YARN STUFF:

The shopping bag is an awful, hideous, unmitigated disaster.

I'm still debating (a) whether or not to take pictures before I make it disappear, and (b) if it will simply 'disappear' or if I'm going to take the time to unravel it and retrieve my 5-6 balls of $2/ball cotton yarn.

I have, until this point, worked pretty much with solid cloth projects like scarves and blankets with the occasional open piece, but the open work was always very structured. The open work of the bag is...less structured. Too much so for me, as it turns out. My 15in bag is almost as tall as my 8yo. Yea, it's that bad.

I also frogged the Circulos this week. It was starting to show signs of the same affliction as the bag and well, that's expensive yarn. I decided to save it before I got so far that I couldn't undo it. That yarn just fuzzy enough to make pulling it apart a biotch and I ended up losing about 2 rows at the end due to tangles.

The net result of all this undoing?

A - Going back to what I do best & making a scarf for a pal who lives in a state where such things are necessities (*waves at Lanel*)

B - The last two weeks of wasted effort have really brought home to me the importance of something I've been avoiding dealing with: G a u g e.

It's time for me to make some dang gauge swatches. And do some research on maintaining an even tension. I can eyeball about half of my pieces and spot at least one place where I stopped work and came back later.

How? The tension obviously changed and the stitches are a slightly different size/shape.

Oh, and I picked up some yarn for a specific holiday project and a new crochet mag while at the hobby store with the girl :-)

WRITING

Started my writing group on the 15th. The first session was a bit rough and we cut it short but did get some writing done so it was not a total loss.

This week (the 22nd) was much better! We wrote a lot, got a lot done and, even more importantly from my perspective, I got a couple of short pieces (fiction even!) that I want to revisit and expand. One for sure, maybe two.

We are looking at moving to Wednesday nights so that we can add a couple more people (who can't do Saturday mornings) to the insanity. It will give us a nice mix, too. A children's writer, me--mostly a copywriter and a bit o' fiction, a humor and business writer maybe even a spiritual writer/blogger if I can talk her into it.

OTHER STUFF

Heh. The life and times of Dynila are a bit more than the usual level of insanity just now (which explains the awesomely optimistic last two posts...lol). I'm taking it a easy right now, sticking to the house for the most part, and trying to find some sanctuary and peace of mind. So if I come across as a bit antisocial right now, well, I am :-)

More later, mmmkay?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Day So Far

Today's theme song is Meatloaf's "Life is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back."

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Circulos in Apricot

Yarn-haters, save your time and skip this one--it's all about my nummy new project.

Since I finished the wavelength I decided to reload the handy project jar with another (hopefully, as I just realized I am using the wrong yarn) one-skein wonder port-a-project.

Kim Guzman's Circulos Scarf.



Mine is working up in Jagger Spun's Zephyr Merino-Silk blend in Apricot. I was super excited when I bought the pattern last year because I ~thought~ I had the perfect yarn. Yes, I already had the yarn. It was a love-the-feel-love-the-color-gotta-have-it impulse buy from my fave LYS.


I'm pretty excited about this project. It's an intermediate project and this is the third time I've started it. I'm 8 rows in so far (of an estimated 50-58) and this is the first time it has looked mostly like the picture. I think my stitches are still too loose, but I'm calling it my interpretation of the pattern and letting it ride.

I am proud of myself that I can do something, so far, that I was thoroughly unable to do a year ago. It's also something I taught myself to do, out of sheer determination (and frustration at not being to make more advanced projects because my technique was ALL wrong!)

Taking up crochet again (I learned in 7th grade home ec... how old does that make me?!) has taught me patience. It has taught me to forgive myself. It's taught me to laugh at my mistakes.

Since I write and edit and type all day, it also lets me explore my color sense in a physical way. I never realized how satisfying hand-crafting could be---even if it means I will eventually die with the world's largest collection of home-made scarves!

As a nice side benefit, hands full of hooks and yarn cannot be filled with snacks and munchies while watching tv. This has yet to have a visible effect on my waistline, but hope springs eternal!

PS - Lanel: What colors, how long/wide do you like, and are you allergic to any artificial or natural fibers I need to know about?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Volare, Vino, Finito!

DISCLAIMER: Justin, honey, we stomped grapes. There is a possibility I might not have cropped the feet out of all the pictures. You've been warned--scroll at your own risk!

Brenham, Texas is not exactly a resort town. It is purty, and it is home to the original Blue Bell creamery, which, by the way, is not open on weekends in the high ice cream season of Summer, but not exactly what most people would call a destination.

However, if you like flowers, in particular antique roses, native plants, or hardy specimens that can handle the Texas heat, you can swing 15 miles north of Brenham to the Antique Rose Emporium nursery in Independence, Texas.

On our way back to town, after sweating like draft horses (like this fake one overlooking town) at the nursery we got a tad lost. This turned out to be a very good thing since we found (a) antique alley a couple blocks off main, but did not have the time or the heat tolerance to explore it and (b) Volare Italian Restaurant.

Click the link and look at their menu kids!

OMG the food was soooo good! The artichoke & shrimp fondue was to kill for, rich, creamy, and they did NOT skimp on the shrimp. My entree was super nummy (even cold out of the hotel room fridge the next morning it was delish!) though Ma seemed less impressed with her veal piccata.

The sauces were amazing and it was pretty obvious from the taste that they make their own in-house. Theirs was probably the best marinara I've ever had; light, tomato-y, and fragrant with basil and thyme, but not overpowered by it and not at all heavy or pasty.

The deserts... Oh! Ma had tiramisu that was so gorgeous I was almost tempted to steal a bite. And I can't stand tiramisu! I had the creme brulee. This was a first for me and it was yummy! The sugar shell was a beautiful tawny golden brown and crunched just the way (I'm told) it's supposed to. The pudding or creme or whatever it's called (not a food blogger, remember!) was a little soft for me, and a bit bland on it's own, like thickened cream pudding. Add a little of the sugar shell, though, and it was magically transformed. I'm pretty sure the sugar was infused with a lemon somehow--it gave the sweet cream pudding a light, airy citrus flavor--not strong or tangy, just wonderful!

Can you tell that I like to eat? lol..

The rest of the day, both before and after dinner was spent lounging by/in the pool with margaritas masquerading as Sonic slushies ;-) I worked on my scarf a bit while Ma and I played this, then got a solid 8hrs of sleep---something that hasn't happened in weeks. Go me!

Vino...

Yesterday we dawdled at the hotel reading and doing our nails, til it was time to check out of the hotel & head to the winery.

We got there a little early and decided to do our tour and tasting first, then stomp some fruit of the vine. The tour was a little disappointing--they winery got a HUGE (14 bins) for them load of wine grapes from an area grower the day before and we were unable to go into the cellar due to a fume issue---they aired out and later tours got to peek in, I think.

On the plus side, I did get to learn the difference between a vineyard and a winery. Being a vino noob, the fact that there was a difference was news to me!

We tasted 4 wines and paid a little extra to satisfy my curiousity and taste a couple of ports. I confirmed my dislike for strong reds, particularly oak barrel reds. I tried a red/white blend that was aged in stainless and found it to be much smoother. I think I just don't like that tannin tang. The portsn were alright with the delish local artisan chocolates they served them with, but not really to my taste. The flavor was super stout, and definitely for small sips only. On the plus side, the port samples were larger than the wine tastings and, at 19.4% alcohol w/ no breakfast, pretty damn good by the time we got to the bottom of our glasses.

(Brought home two bottles of the Blanc DuBois, too--by far my fave from the tasting, though the Collina Rossa was pleasant, too.)

Buzzing a tad, we headed out to get grapey.

This is where we found out we had to PICK the grapes before we could stomp them.


The hike down the hill in the humidity (it rained in Brenham this weekend!) the fighting off wasps, bees, and fire ants, and trek back up said hill pretty much took care of the slight tasting buzz. Oh well. Now comes the fun part.



Finito!

Found myself with a lot of time on my hands again today and I... finshed the wavelength scarf! Go me! It's done, the ends are woven in, and it now just needs washing and blocking. It was a perfect one-skein project--love that there were only TWO ends to weave in! I ended up with a whopping 3 yards of lace merino left that will probably go into the scraft box for the kiddo.

Below, my unblocked masterpiece:


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Over & Out

My mom hit one of those round number birthdays this week. To celebrate we are off to a small Texas vineyard that puts their unusable season end grapes to profitable use by letting people pay to come stand in buckets and stomp them ala Lucy's Italian Movie. I hear the town where the vineyard is has some sorta firefighter celebration this weekend (eye candy!) so this should be fun.

Which means I will be away for a bit--the hotel has wi-fi and I could take my computer, but I'd rather hang out with my mom--sorry blogiverse.

J had friends over last night -- wanted to give their mom a little relief after a rough day plus she has my kid like ~all the freaking time~. I had big plans to work on a book I need to lay out (yes, I'm still freelancing in fits & starts) while the kids were holed up in J's room doing mysterious small person things (please not another ceiling fan swing!)

*sigh* What actually happened is that we took the kids to dinner, came home and they holed up in her room as planned. Then I sat on the couch and watched Raidman play Rock Band 2 til about 1230am and watched some "Castle" on the dvr til almost 3.

Crocheting all the while! I finished the first large panel of my shopping bag. It went from 13 rows to complete at 42 rows. I even got 4 rows done on the 2nd large side before calling it a night.

Also got a full row & change completed on the wavelength scarf yesterday (kind of a slow afternoon at the day job). It is in its jar in the trunk of the Bug to take to the hotel and work on tonight--the shopping bag requires too much in the way of extra supplies (more yarn, stitch markers, etc) and the scarf is all neatly packaged.

I lurve my project jar!
(sorry for the crummy phone pic)

Book club tomorrow night so I don't see myself back at a computer til Monday sometime, but I'm fairly certain you will all survive without me. Somehow.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Progress!

(non-yarn content, too, this post -- scroll for it baby!)

Pics later, I promise, gotta get 'em off my phone!

I had to choose between yarn & blogging yesterday since my regular afternoon/evening routine was interrupted by doctor's appointments and grandparents in town.

The yarn won. I got another 8 rows on the new shopping bag's 1st panel.


Not much, I know, but learning a new stitch pattern on a project like this is always slow going. I have no idea how long I crocheted yesterday, but it was long enough to watch 2 more episodes of "Heroes" on the DVR with the commercials skipped (sorry NBC!)

Today I finally got to work on my scarf again! I haven't touched it in months, so that was nice. It's a very small yarn/hook though, and a very long scarf, so got a few inches done in the 15min I had on break at work, but that's all.

Also managed to get another 3 rows on the shopping bag ("Burn Notice" on the DVR, lol) tonight, so pretty sure I made my 20min for the day. Woohoo!

AND NOW FOR MY NON-YARNALICIOUS NATTERING:

I was part of a small writing group a few years ago that met at a restaurant in Hyde Park that was so danged crunchy I couldn't even get coffee there (FAIL!).

I quit going for a while due to family stuff (it was 2hrs on a Saturday morning) and when I went back about 4months later, they were GONE. A little digging on the Writer's League of Texas website tells me the group apparently called themselves, "15 minutes of fame" and had a Yahoo! Group and other stuff I had no clue about. They moved to BookPeople (i.e. even ~further~ into Austin!) and now appear to be defunct.

What I liked about this group was the format. I don't currently have any writing goals other than to do MORE of it. I have no target market, nothing I want critiqued, etc. The group was very freeform, loosely based on Natalie Goldberg's, "Writing Down the Bones". Met for 2 hours, socialized a little, then did 10-15min sprints based on prompts suggested at random by everyone, then read aloud.

You ~could~ bring a WIP and read from it, instead, if you wanted an opinion, but writing was supposed to be done with the prompts each time. It was a refresher, a mind and word expander for 2 hours a week. I wrote a lot of dreck. I got stumped and wrote nonsense sometimes, but by golly I WROTE.

I also wrote the only piece of fiction I've ever sold at one of these Saturday morning sections. It was flash fiction and sold to a now-defunct webzine, but, by george, someone paid me ($10--woohoo!) for my fiction.

I'm trying to start something similar with Jenn.

Something closer to home, so my precious escape-from-the-house time isn't mostly spent driving downtown. Something with no heavy expectations of me, particularly since I am living in the land of the dayjob these days.

Jenn wants something with a structured (at least a little) critique format so she can work on stuff to submit to publishers.

We're working now to establish a happy medium, most likely still based on "Writing Down the Bones" (gawd I love that book!). Will let you know when we figure it all out and will put out a call for other interested writers once we have something firmed up.

In other news: I'm going to be a grape stomper!

I'm taking my mom to a small vineyard this weekend for her birthday so we can channel some Lucy & Ethel and gets our feet purple. There will be photographic evidence of this expedition (it's included in the package) but there are no guarantees I'll share the pics.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Project!

In an effort to actually MAKE my goal of coming into hands-on contact with my yarn every day this month (ha!) I took my scarf project in it's little canister up to work today to work on in my off moments. Then ended up running to the grocery store for the fam over lunch and not having any free moments.

I got home and stared at my afghan. I'm using a way oversized hook for the yarn, so it's pretty airy, but still heavier than I want on my lap when it's our 45th day this year of 100+ degree temps.

With this in mind, I decided to start something new. Really new. Up til now everything I've done has been pretty simple--scarves and super simple afghans. This is pretty darn simple, too, but still a new thing for me.

I'm making a shopping bag to keep in the car--I seem to always forget to have a bag on me when I go to the library and always manage to leave with more books than I stopped to drop off. I'm working on this absolutely adorable bag from CrochetKitten.com, the Shopaholics Shopper.

I went with Lily's Sugar 'n Cream because (again!) I got a bunch on clearance this Spring when Hobby Lobby reset their yarn aisle. My main color is sage green with the citrus fruits ombre for the trim (& possibly the bottom since I have 4 balls of the green and 2 1/2 of the ombre).

I DID start this tonight while watching old Heroes on the DVR (5 more eps & I'll be caught up!) and got four rows in. Then had to frog the last two because I realized at the end of row 4 that I'd frelled the beginning of row 3 and it was just ~wrong~.

But I touched yarn! I even managed to start making something with it! Woohoo!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bought Me Book

Well, it's 1043pm and, once again, I have yet to lay hands on yarn today.

I found myself having to choose after work between going to the grocery store or going to the book store. The book store won and let me tell you, I heard about the lack of milk in house when I got home. The things I do for this blog!

I brought home a copy of Easy Beaded Crochet. I saw it Saturday when I was shopping for small people birthday gifts (for the uber fun pool party Saturday night) and books for my reluctant reader and talked myself out of buying a book for me. All the purty lampwork beads yesterday made me rethink that decision. So at least I got a fiberrific book.

There's a scarf in there, supposedly 20's inspired, that I want to try. The yarn in the book is green, but I have something of a similar weight/feel in a sweet pale mulberry color that I got for an even sweeter price at the discount shop last year. I just need to check my arts and crafts stash for some beads.

I'm a little concerned that the beads will misshape the scarf, and the directions in the book even indicate that this is a strong possibility. That's the clearest part of the directions, sadly. The directions in this book are extraordinarily brief. I'm almost sure I can figure it out, but the sparseness is a but intimidating.

I still have an hour (yes, Candy, I spent 20min on a blog post, what can I say, I'm slow and friggin' verbose) so Imma go grab some yarn... :-)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Salado Art Fair Round-Up

I went with my mom and aunt to the 43rd Annual Salado Art Fair this afternoon after helping a friend do a little moving (okay, a LOT of moving, but I was only able to help with a little due to prior plans above).

Sweat ungodly amounts in the nicely overcast, cooler-but-so-humid-it-didn't-matter Texas sunshine. Quick rundown because I'm exhausted, STILL need a shower, and it's already after midnight and I gotta be at work @ 8:30am.

Artists:

These ladies had original oils on display that TOTALLY would have come home with me, if I had several thousand dollars of disposable income. My faves are not in the galleries on either of their websites, but I'll be watching them and looking for prints down the line. The websites, sadly, do NOT do justice to their paintings:

Jeanie Yu Wyatt and Natasha Mylius

Yummies:

Lorena Martinez's Austin Gourmet Foods : Taste-tested her spinach, garlic, and herb fettucine and it was to-kill-for yummy. Plus whole-grain organic, so not too shabby. I know my kids (that is, Raidman and the girlchild) wouldn't touch the stuff, though, so I brought home a couple smaller packages of her zucchini pasta (sadly discontinued as an unpopular flavor) just for me! All Mine! Muahahaha!

Anyway.

There were a lot of glass artists who work with dichroic and lampwork beads at the show, but my fave by far, was this lady. Her website is sparse, but she does shows most weeks here in town so I can go look over her stuff whenever I want. :)

Speaking of sparse websites, I wonder if AGF would be willing to trade web copy for organic pasta... Hmmm...

Saved my favorite for last: The Literati Bookmark. I could go on and on about how much I love this thing (not to mention how many I bought!) but I did that earlier today on my book blog, here.

I was really disappointed that there were no fiber artists (yarn geeks to you unbelievers) at the show. :-(

I did get some wicked pretty pics of the trees in Salado creek when the three of us waded into it to cool off--apparently a traditional part of attending this event for my mom and aunt. Will try to post later this week.

Managed to blow my 31-days of fiber already. Today was yarnless, but lots of art!

Partial credit, maybe?

I did get a few inspirational ideas. All that gorgeous lampwork has motivated me to head back over to Half Price books and pick up the beginner's crochet-with-beads book I saw there yesterday--will try to do that over lunch tomorrow.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Fiber is Fun!

Okay, if you are one of my many non-fiber/yarn obsessed friends, feel free to go away. For, like, a month. I've decided to take part in Fiber 'Tudes Daily Dose of Fiber 31-Day Challenge.


Why?

I've been neglecting my yarn lately. I've added to my stash, a bit fanatically, but not only am I not doing anything with it, I recently (last weekend, while cleaning my lair office) frogged* a bunch of WIPs that I decided were not what I wanted them to be. So I have all this yarn, all these patterns, and I'm not doing anything with them.

*FTR, I'm a crocheter, not a knitter, but we don't have a special word for this in crochet so I borrowed the knitting term. The Fiber 'Tudes gals are knitters, but I hope they won't mind me hooking along this month.

Oh, and the holidays are coming and I'm feeling the need to inflict homemade gifts on everyone I love again, haven't done it in a year or so.

Current WIPs (that were not taken apart for their yarn) are an afghan for my aunt, and a fancy scarf for me.

The afghan is a super simple ripple variant mostly Simply Soft with a little fancy stuff I got on clearance thrown in every 5 rows or so.

The Wavelength scarf, well, if I ever manage to finish it and get it blocked (I ~need~ to stop stalling and get some foam mats for blocking projects) it will be fantabulous. The pattern is here and the yarn I chose, inspired by the pattern's name, is Ella Rae's lace merino in color 106 (the teals).

Pics of WIPs later, gotta get the girl ready for a late afternoon swim party :-S

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Girl (Detective) Has Gotta Go!

I am a book fiend! There are books all over our house and if you ever look at the sidebar you'll see I'm usually barreling through 3 or 4 at any given time. My girl, on the other hand, is a reluctant reader. Not the classic definition of such though--when pressed she reads a full grade-level plus ahead of where she is in school. It's the pressing part that's the problem.

She'll occasionally pick up a book and read for pleasure, but the times are few and far between. When she does it's usually something digestible in short bites (kid's magazines), something way below her reading level (Dr. Seuss), or something that is all pictures with bite-size chunks of text (graphic novels or the Dorling-Kindersley nonfiction books).

These are all good, legitimate choices that have their time and place. That place, unfortunately, is not homework reading. She's in a charter school and last year in 2nd grade most of their assigned reading was done in class. She still had to read 20min a day at home--which she fought us hard on. Since the checklist from the teacher only had signature boxes for Mon-Fri she refused to read most weekends. Homework reading, though needs to be up to her level, i.e. chapter books; books that put the pictures in her head, not on the page.

She started school this past week and the homework battle began in earnest on Wednesday night. She CAN read longer works, she just doesn't want to put forth the effort and has yet to meet a skill-appropriate book that made her WANT to read. In desperation I spent my lunch hour yesterday consulting the children's librarian at my favorite library branch. I grabbed some of ~everything~ she suggested I try and several things she didn't and carted them home.

One of the suggestions was, unsurprisingly, graphic novels, which I enjoy, her dad loves, and I've reluctantly given her in an effort to get her to read ~something~. I grabbed this one:


because, like many of us, I grew up with the spunky girl detective--funny how the idea of a female character named "George" is no longer the oddity it was when I was young... Gawd I'm easily distracted.

As much as I love the original Nancy Drew, the books are a bit dated these days, even by my standards. Jay wouldn't even understand what a lot of the things ~are~ because the references are so out of date. This seemed like a good way to introduce her to a favorite character from my childhood.

While she was showing off the bounty of books I brought her to her dad, I started flipping through the above to see how badly the girl detective was mutilated. It was a bit vapid and shallow (sadly, this is somewhat expected in books aimed at girls these days) but basically harmless. I was going to put it back in her stack when I saw this:


Oh hell no. I showed it to Raidman and even he was annoyed by it, "you are father, eh?"

I tossed that sucker back in my bag and took it out to the car to return to the library posthaste. As much time and effort as I know goes into lettering and inking graphic novels this is, to me, an unforgivable oversight.

That and my girl has trouble with apostrophes. For the last six months she's been creating plurals by adding " 's " to nouns. I think I've finally broken her of the habit, but it's taken months and this sort of thing will not help.

The girl detective had to go.

In case you're curious, she did pick a book and read it (mostly) willingly last night and tonight. Sadly, it was this.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Whee!

J has a friend over, a little girl who spent the night last night.

I confess, this is one of my favorite of her friends.She has just as strong a personality as my girl and won't let J run everything. Also, she's more rambunctious than most of J's friends, and, frankly, I think my girl needs rambunctious 'cause heaven knows her Dad and I are anything but.

These two girls in combination create more mischief in 24-hours than my house sees all week most of the time, and I wouldn't have it any other way (so stop wigging Crystal! It's fine, really, I even like it!).

While walking by J's room earlier I decided to open the door and assess the damage to improve the upstairs air flow.

Imagine THIS:


Only where it has chains and chairs, there were scarves (shut UP Candy!). Where it has people there were small stuffed animals tied into the scarves. Where this has a big pillar and lots of mechanical stuff I don't understand in the slightest, the girls had the ceiling fan. Thankfully on LOW, but still.

I just stood there with my mouth hanging open for a couple minutes---then yelled the girl's whole name and instructions to come upstairs, "RIGHT NOW".

I ~wish~ I'd taken a picture before I lost my temper and made the girl take everything apart.

"But mom... it wasn't ~my~ idea..."

Yea? So what? If you take part in, or do nothing to stop, something that you KNOW will get you in trouble, it's your fault. Teaching the kiddo that she is responsible for making sure her friends know our house rules is proving to be one of the hardest lessons to teach her and I can't seem to figure out why. I didn't yell at J's friend. By the time it was cleaned up I was giggling about it (and part of me was wondering why *I* never thought to try that!) and running out to the den to tell her dad all the details.

Oh, and I confiscated all items used to create this in-room carnival ride, except the fan, for a week.

PS --- For those of you who asked regarding this tweet from Thursday night:


Ignore the date, I always forget to reset the camera clock when I put in new batteries...

Yes, I really did paint the mirror in the girl's bathroom blue. I told her if she tries to tamper with it it will be repainted an opaque black. And if that doesn't work I'll just take it down.

I am really, really tired of how much time she wastes staring at herself and posing in the mirror. If it was a new thing it'd be different, but she's been like this since she was 4.

On the plus side, she was dressed amazingly fast & had time to eat breakfast at the table on Friday morning.


Swing Ride image courtesy of Stock Exchange.

Friday, July 10, 2009

In Living Color aka why you should just pay the colorist and not pretend you can do it yourself at home

Let me start by saying that I strongly suspected this was a bad idea when I started, and I did it anyway.

I have very, very dark brown hair. It is not black, but it is not any of those fun colors like golden or auburn. It's just brown. Really, really brown.
my natural color
In high school I wanted to be a redhead and took to coloring it myself. I even went so far as to upgrade to semi-pro products--Hello Sally Beauty Supply!--to get the lightening I wanted before covering it with red dye. This (bad!) habit carried on into my 20s. Which means when I met Raidman, I looked like this:

Yes, that's my other half, the cute one grinning on my shoulder. This picture* just doesn't do the color justice. I looked like a 20yo female version of Carrot Top with straight hair. And yet, he married me in spite of my insane (and badly dyed) hair color. That's L O V E people.

*There's one of those goofy Internet stories about how I acquired this picture, but I'll save it for another time.

I've been playing with funky hair colorants for a year or so now (blue, red, magenta, etc). All temporary because I'm a chicken. And disappointing. My hair is so dark most of them don't show up, or they're visible, but only to me because I'm looking for them.

About the only thing that does show up is the temporary hair makeup (think neon-colored mascara and you've got it about right).

Monday I hit on the ~brilliant~ notion (can you taste the sarcasm here?) to use a highlighting kit to lighten the hair I wanted to make funky colored. That way the color would show up. In my defense, this part of the plan was sound.

The part about me applying lovely streaky highlights that I could then Punky Color in a rainbow of shades as the mood hit me? Less sound. My recipe for disaster involved incredibly thick hair, an utter lack of hand-eye coordination, and the mistaken belief that anything that promised to lighten my hair could also be "demi/semi-permanent."

This is me fresh from washing the product out of my hair. I went to cry at Raidman about the result. He came after me while I was blowdrying it with the camera or you would NOT have this shot.

Actually, looking at it again, I think it looked better wet. Like all hair, it lightened as it dried. :-( Ligtened MORE I should say.

So my head looked like I'd spilled bleach on it. Crunchy looking orangey-yellow all over the place. Since I couldn't really afford to call in sick over a (granted, Extremely) bad hair day, I tried to fix it in the most non-damaging, non-permanent a way I could think of. Bring on the red mascara!

Yea, I tried to down the screaming yellow (think yellow lines on the highway here) with a red mascara wand. It kind of worked. I still looked like a bleach accident, but I looked like one with multi-tonal color. Enough to make it look like I mighta done this to myself on purpose.

Trust me, in Austin, that's all it takes. Living here, even the librarians didn't look at me funny when I was at the library Wednesday afternoon looking like this:

In my defense, this picture is a quite a bit warmer than the actual result. One of the things I lost in my computer switch in February was my photo-editing software, so you get what you get and you don't throw a fit. And no, I had NO idea how spotted that mirror was--the lighting is not all that good in there. For those of you who worry about such things, the mirror is now clean :-)

The moral of this story?

That $6.99 highlighting kit is probably going to cost you a LOT more than that. My stylist, Jennifer, will be telling me just how much more tomorrow afternoon at 1pm. New pics after, I promise.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'd love to, but...

I've been reading Jaden's Steamy Kitchen blog intermittently since my Stumble button sent me to THIS recipe a couple years ago. I still haven't tried it, but I made the peppercorn salt and Jaden was nice enough to respond to my comments (as a first time commenter on her blog) when I was trying to figure out if I'd bought the right ingredient at the Asian market.

Fast forward to last month when I finally figure out how a feed reader (Google reader) works and subscribe to the jillion blogs I've had bookmarked forever and never make time to check. I rediscovered Steamy Kitchen, along with Ree's Pioneer Woman site, Housewife Barbie (though Merritt's renamed this again since my last bookmark) and others. Heck, I even found some of them on Twitter (I am sucha twitter junkie!)

Then along comes THIS.

Jaden at Steamy Kitchen is a food blogger, yes, but she's also an all around food pro, with a food column in the Tampa paper, a cookbook author, and does cooking and food guest spots on TV. Sony contacted her about some special food blogger oriented pre-release events they are doing in LA for Julie & Julia this week and wanted to bring her out there to cover it. Jaden can't go, but is picking a guest blogger to do it for her and report back.

Gawd, I'd like to do this. Except I'm not really qualified.
  • I've only read Julie/Julia once or twice.
  • I've never read Julia Child
  • Heck, I don't even ~like~ Julia Child. The few times I saw her on TV when I was a kid she struck me as (a) nigh onto impossible to understand what she was saying and (b) incredibly snobbish.
  • Ummm... I can't cook and therefore wouldn't know how to ask an intelligent question on the subject at hand.
So I did what all underqualified and envious kids do---I forwarded the link to my mom. Who does know Julia (though she's not a huge fan, either, I don't think) and cooks. Well and often. Like I drive an hour each way JUST for the food at my mom's Christmas Party (I used to skip it til I tasted the leftovers one year--haven't missed one since!)

Good Luck Ma!

Friday, July 3, 2009

My Kid Rocks!



Made a new CD for J this week, at her request. She picked all the music that went on it herself. Check out the playlist. My kid is just plain COOL. Though this will probably mean more therapy when she's older...



Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Whoop it up!

I got to spend a whole day home alone with my girlchild on Monday. Just the two of us.

I swear I did my best to make up for the past 10 months of not being home to give her hugs in the afternoon, etc. We spent most of the day cuddling and doing craft projects--I started a new afghan for my aunt, she made a stepping stone to honor a family cat we had wander off and not come back in 2005. It was lovely.

I have my friend E and her totally cute kids to thank for this day of maternal contentment. Why?

Well, because her kids--unintentionally, and I know she feels bad about this--came to a huge group playdate with a cold that turned out to actually be pertussis (whooping cough). Woulda been awesome for the kids that DID pick it up if the pedi's office had called a little earlier in the day, but oh well.

Bright and squirrely Monday morning (at an hour when I'm not usually dressed!) I was bleary-eyed in my office (@ Mega Corporate America) emailing everyone that I would be out for the day. Take a lesson kids: These are the draconian measures you are forced to if you forget to put your boss' phone number in your cell!

9:20am - Well, 9:08 to be honest. I know it's hard to believe, but I/we were ~early~ for the doc appointment to explain the exposure situation and determine if they wanted to do a culture, etc.
They did not, since it turns out if she doesn't have any active symptoms (J did not) then they can't culture it anyway.

The girl is on UBER antibiotics for a week and the doc told me to take her home, wrote me a note for my boss, and promised if I took her to daycare on Tuesday I would ~not~ be irresponsibly passing on a contagious disease in a location that provides infant care.

Since I never came into contact with E's kids I got the all clear (woot! No Zithromax for me--have you SEEN the size of those pills?). My bud Candy didn't get as lucky -- her dh picked it up as did her niece who is visiting. Basically their whole house is quarantined and taking antibiotics for a week!

I started to go off on a tangent about vaccinations and whatnot, but I gotta go shower and go to work, so this is it for now. Probably a good thing. I'm the grandchild of a doctor, I like vaccs and don't really feel like having the anti-vaccination posse come try to change my mind.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ka-runchy Mama

Jenny Gniadecki, who I had the privilege of meeting at a VA industry conference a few years ago, recently asked, "How are you a crunchy mama?"

I started typing the reply below in her comment box, then realized I needed to just blog it.

Why?
(a) it was getting ridiculously long for a comment
(b) I need all the blog fodder I can find

I am a little crunchy, but not much.

--I've started seeking out hormone-free milk and eggs. I don't like the word games food labels play "No Artificial Hormones" means they can still add all the darn extra natural hormones they want to the food. So I'm going hormone-free on the two products most likely to have hormones added that we consume most heavily, particularly the girlchild.

--I recycle. A lot. Glass, plastic, paper, aluminum... I keep a bin on each floor, one in my office and one in the kitchen so no one has to walk too far to recycle stuff (probably since I know some members of our household will NOT walk far to recycle, lol).

I love this picture! It's somewhere in Europe and there are bins for (L-R)
Paper, Plastic, Glass, Metal, Organic Matter, and Batteries.
The ugly grey one on the end is for cigarette butts.


--I buy green dish soap for the dishwasher. Yes, not using the dishwasher would be greener, but that is just not going to happen. So I buy the soaps that promise a smaller impact when they wash down my drain.

--I buy many of our clothes at thrift and consignment stores. Well, Me & J's clothes anyway. Hers because I can't bring myself to spend $20 on a shirt she'll outgrow in 4 months and mine because I still have delusions of losing weight and it's okay to buy more fat clothes if they aren't new fat clothes. That and fat clothes are ridiculously more expensive for what amounts, often times, to less than a 1/2 yard of fabric more--totally unfair!

--I buy brown (unbleached) coffee filters. I know, it's a stretch, but I'm trying.

--I used cloth diapers with my kids. Not exclusively, cuz I couldn't handle carrying the leftovers around in public and hoping the ziploc didn't leak, but I did use 'em. The baby in the fam is 8 now, so this no longer applies.

In many ways I am ~less~ crunchy than I was when I was younger.

Sometimes this makes me sad, sometimes it makes me feel practical; depends on which side of the coin is up after the flip.

- I used to cut my hair and the kiddo's until the entire family begged me to stop. I'm being literal here--Raidman begged and my other relatives, in desperation, got me a decrepit 70's book called, "The Guide to Home Haircutting." If you're interested I have it on my paperback swap page, lol.

- I used to compost, then the rats moved in. I'm in the burbs near a cow pasture and it's an open compost pile cuz no one told me that open compost here is different than at my old house in the city proper where all we had was squirrels.

Weird, right? I'd have expected rats in town but it's been the other way round. Still have the pile, but won't go near it cuz of the rodents. This one, incidentally, still fills me with guilt. Composting is so simple anyone can do it, and I FAILED. And I hate throwing away food trash.

I was a bad composter, though, possibly the origin of my rat trouble. I figured compost was supposed to be an artificial duplicate of the rich loam and rot from a forest floor, right? Which will occasionally include dead animals, right? I was not too particular about making sure protein scraps/fats didn't go in the compost--baked potato skins with butter & sour cream debris? Sure! Why not!

THe ginormous colony of rodents that moved in under the shed immediately adjacent to the compost bin (another egregious error I realize in hindsight) is the visual aid answer to the, "Why not?" above.

- I use a pest control company. But, I use their organic product/service plan. Do I get, like, half credit?

-I use a clothes dryer. I have hung 3 different clotheslines in our backyard in the nine years we've lived in this house and every one has been a disappointment. The retractable one didn't, the plain one lost tension all the time, etc. Hanging large items like comforters over the open railing on the 2nd floor is more practical than any of the clothes lines I've tried. Sad really, I miss the smell of clothes dried outside.