Tuesday, December 26, 2006

'Twas the Day After Christmas

'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house
The papers were strewn like nests for a mouse.
The stockings were tossed in a pile by the chair,
Clear evidence that St. Nick had been there.

The child was nestled in front of t.v.
With visions of Miyazaki on it to see.
With Dave at his office, I was at my desk
Having just settled down to a bookkeeping mess.

When what to my wandering mind did occur
But an idea so brilliant I had to concur.
Away to the bookcase which holds dvds
I pulled all the "tapes" out, some new space to see.

The dust in the holes of the now empty space
Encouraged me on, I proceeded apace.
A box on the floor was now home for them all,
I cleaned up the shelves and was having a ball!

With nary a glance I sealed up the box,
But then had to pause to consider the loss.
Good movies were there and it wasn't their fault
That VHS in our house had come to a halt.

"Now let's not be hasty", I said to myself.
What we need might just be a post-Christmas elf.
More rapid than eagles my fingers they flew,
I bought Amazon dvds, both the old and the new.

As good intentions before procrastination fly,
My bookkeeping tasks had all been let lie.
Blogger and eBay, Bidslammer and IM,
They got more than their share of my attention.

And the afternoon waned, me always online.
The Disney and Bond were the hardest to find.
$22 for "Lion King 2",
And Bond in boxed sets--I must try something new.

He lights up the screen, whether Sean, Roger or Tim,
And I simply must have my collection of him.
To eBay I travel, my desire fulfilled.
With bidslammer I tried for a "View to a Kill".

His manner austere, his chin with a cleft,
With weapons or women he's always so deft.
But let's not forget Jessie's Disney array,
I must find Toy Story by the end of the day.

The spouse, in the meantime was on his way home,
His only desire a bath and a tome.
The day had been arduous, with bugs most obscure,
And a relaxing evening was all he'd endure,

He opened the door, to the dogs gave a whistle,
Hugged his daughter then headed upstairs like a missile.
"How's your day?", he inquired and I had to blush,
My plans for the day had all turned to mush.

He said nothing more but went off to his bath,
And left me with my schedule, doing the math.
Maybe tomorrow I'll get some work done.
I'll focus on business and not on having fun.

He smiled as he went and I felt even worse,
How much time had I spent writing up all this verse?
Tomorrow, I vowed, I will work like a dog,
I'll reconcile and I'll clean and I'll not even blog!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Peace on Earth

Christmas is a time I remind myself to love and honor... well, at least try to like and appreciate... or at least not to disdain all mankind. It has been tougher than usual this season. Last night I participated in a screaming match with another woman driver whom I honked (gently) for not going on a green arrow and then honked continuously when she continued to sit deliberately through the rest of the green arrow. I stopped honking for the red light that followed, but when she still didn't go on the following green, I laid on the horn all the way through it. I was just getting ready to pull around her (I had been previously blocked) and she moved--around the corner to the red light we both had to sit through on the other side of the right turn we were making because she had intentionally sat through TWO greens to piss me off. I rolled down my window to yell at her as she stormed out of her car and up to my open window, finger waggling in my face. It was an ugly, ugly moment. We were both lucky the other one didn't have a gun. And she was lucky the deerhounds aren't aggressive as opening the back door of the van and letting them treat her like a Scottish red deer was (momentarily) tempting. Had her male companion in the passenger seat joined the fray I probably would have invoked the dogs (Baxter may be small, but he's fierce).

All those people who think the world would be a more peaceful place if run by women should have been there to re-evaluate their assumptions. I don't know what brought her to that moment. She had obviously been trying to eat and drive (hence the sandwich in the hand that was not shaking a finger in my face) and had missed seeing the light change. My first honk was just enough to put her over the edge. I had a car full of dogs (returning from the groomer) and had had enough of rude drivers in rush hour and she was my last straw. I try not to drive during the rush because there are just enough drivers who are either rude, self-centered ba... boogers or completely oblivious morons to make it a miserable experience for anyone trying to get from place A to place B quickly, competently, and POLITELY.

So back to Christmas. In the calmer light of day I wish I knew who she was so I could apologize to her for calling her a stupid bi... cow. Today I resolve to be kinder to everyone, not just to those whom I think deserve it. And it will be an easier resolution to keep as I am not going to drive anywhere! May your days be merry and bright, and may all the people in front of you go on green lights.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Omniscience of Santa

J: Momma, can we write a letter to Santa?
B: Sure, honey.
J: But since Santa can hear everything, we don't need to call him or write him. We just talk and he'll hear us. So we don't have to write a letter.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Five Year-Olds and MRI's

We've clearly all been watching too much House:

J: My leg hurts.
D: Guess we're going to have to amputate!
J: What's amputate?
B: Cut it off.
J: No, just do a MRI.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Diving... I Live!

So the story of the diving... Dave and I went diving Monday afternoon for the first time in a year. Last year we got one dive (a shore dive with the same dive operation) in during our vacation before Hurricane Wilma sauntered by and ruined the weather (and diving) for everyone. This year we had high hopes for a lot of good diving, but that was before I got sick. Monday was the big day.

First dive, the divemaster said before we got off the boat "Don't go below 130 feet, don't stay down more than an hour, and keep at least five minutes on your time to decompression." I guess he figured that since we all had dive computers (provided as part of our dive) we couldn't kill ourselves. The dive was billed as a cave dive, but what it really was was a dive through a series of twisty coral overhangs and swim throughs. If I wanted to do agility, I would become an Australian Shepard and develop a taste for kibble. We emerged from the tunnels (those of us who did them--Dave was not one, he swam above) and soon after had to turn around as one of the divers was at the halfway point for air. The diver was Dave and the divemaster made me ascend with him after only 20 minutes of diving as we were "buddies". I thought we were all a group of divers and I was surprised to be forced out of the water with 1200 psi of air out of 3000 left in my tank. I understood the necessity of just swimming around the anchor point and not heading off, but I saw no need to get out of the water completely with two divemasters in the water with us.

The story only got worse as the next dive I couldn't get below six feet. I was too congested and my right ear wouldn't pop (the Sudafed I took before diving had worn off). So Dave buddied up with the divemaster and he got a good long dive in (as did the other 13 divers) while I tanned grumpily on the boat.

I know they say you have to get right back on the horse, but I was depth-shy. Tuesday we talked about shore diving but I weenied out. I wanted to give my cold and my ear one more day. We were scheduled for another boat dive Wednesday, but I still didn't think I was well enough and canceled Tuesday afternoon. I tried to cancel the boat dive we had scheduled for this morning, but I called too late and they had already sent the van into town for the night to pick us up in the morning. So I was guilted into trying a dive.

I barely slept at all last night. Nyquil doesn't have a decongestant so I took Dayquil instead. My heart raced from 2 am till 4 am and I had nightmares about the dive. Note to self: no Dayquil at night. We finally got up at 6 (Dave wasn't sleeping too well either) and I was still severely congested. I was resigned to dying on the dive, or at least blowing an eardrum. Not being able to regulate the pressure by popping your ears can keep you from diving. But what about inability to regulate pressure when you are already down and need to come up? We learned about it in diver certification. It's not pretty.

So we get on the boat and out to the first dive site. I suit up and get in first. I get down to 15 feet fine and have hope. I hang out there and wait for everyone else to get in the water and we head down towards 100 feet. However the ear balked and could not be coaxed any lower than 70 feet so there I stayed. The rest of the group was spread out below me, but I had the last laugh: the deeper you go, the more air you use. So by staying at 70 feet I was bothte first one in the water and the last one out. I actually ran out of time before I ran out of air and got in an hour dive.

The second dive was shallower and at first I couldn't get past six feet down before the ear pain was unbearable. I ended up going back to the surface to get out, but the boat captain convinced me to try one more time and that time I made it down! And I got another 60 minute dive in. Too bad there wasn't much to see. But I made it up and out alive, and that's what counts. Tomorrow: Captain Marvin and Stingray City!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Live from Treasure Island!

We are on Grand Cayman having our first and only family vacation of 2006. We in this case is made up of Me, Dave, Jessie, my mother and father newly back from Ecuadora dn the Galapagos Islands. Dave is rather newly back from the bachelor party madness in Las Vegas, and he arived home sick as a dog. At the end of a three-day incubation period I, too, had succumbed. Jessie is in school so she will just go from cold to flu to sniffles and back until she hits puberty and I can't tell if she actually has this cold/flu or not.

The flights passed for me in a Dayquil and codeine haze and we spent the first two days here sleeping, relaxing, and lazing with a good dose of napping thrown in. Yesterday the "vacation" began with a visit to the turtle farm followed by a trip to Hell. The stores at Hell were all closed (it was Sunday) so we took a few touristy pictures, admired the two roosters and the lone hen who ran over to greet us (looking for food?), and then mosied back to our condo. Our accommodations are a three-bedroom beachfront condo (third floor). Last year we were on the first floor as hurricane Wilma passed by on her way to Mexico and the waves came up into our room. We are trying to avoid a repeat--it gets dark with plywood over all the patio doors.

Yesterday afternoon we tried a bit of snorkeling but there is some freakish, fine, sea moss in the ater right now that obscured all visibility and covered every inch of our bodies as we emerged from the water. After much swearing and hosing down we managed to remove the moss from our private areas and our suits. Blech. Diving. Today (and every day till next Friday) is slated for diving. Friday we are snorkeling as a family--it will be J's first ocean snorkel trip--and feeding the rays at stingray city. More pics from the trip can be found on Flickr. Tomorrow: the saga of the diving!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Life, Actually

The day before yesterday it was 74 degrees and sunny. Yesterday it was grey, blustery rain. Today it is sunny but cold. Fall sides gently into the beginnings of winter. There was just enough wind today to strip many of the leaves off our maple in the front yard. It was one of the last trees to turn and has only been a glorious red, apricot, gold for the past week. The dogwoods and crepe myrtles have long since assumed the stark elegance of grey, winter branchings. Their neighbors, the somber pecans and water oaks, slowly, silently rain leaves.

Today I cleaned a little, read a lot, rested, relaxed and cuddled with my daughter. We had a sleepover last night and today was a day to laze. Right now she is snoring gently in my bed and has been for almost two hours. I am letting her sleep as long as she wants as we are going to pick Dave up at the airport at midnight when he returns from the bachelor party debauchery in Las Vegas.

J had a sleepover last night for her birthday party. The invitees were her best friend Grace, Grace's Mom (and my friend) Stacy and Grace's baby sister Alice. The Moms drank champagne and talked till midnight, and the girls played and then drowsed around us. It has been a birthday of long duration for the J. Pretty cool. She received well wishes and many cool gifts from friends around the country. There were Barbies and boots, books and bangles. But two gifts really stuck out for me: the bag J is holding in the photo at right (described at left) and four music cd's created especially for her by our friends "Aunt" Vanessa and "Uncle" Bryon It was Bryon's bachelor party in Vegas for Dave for the past five days. You might think five days is pretty long for a bachelor party but Dave is the Best Man and had loads of responsibilities (and vodka tonics).

I used to love to make special gifts for people myself but time and tide have reduced me to Amazon.com. Thoughtful gifts, but never touched by my own hands. When J opened the present from Bryon and Vanessa and there were the hand-knit bag with the personally made tag and cd's with personal labels and specially created music lists, I got choked up by the care and attention that had gone into the gifts. I had thrown money at the birthday and fulfilled my gift obligations with Barbies and a Barbie carriage, a dvd and a couple of books. I was amazed and humbled at the effort that good friends with equally busy lives had gone to to give Jessie something special to mark turning five.

I am looking forward to a slower pace next year. Gardening, time with my family, meditation, yoga, long walks with the dogs. I have been very successful professionally this year. I could follow that success up by pushing my limits and working harder. But to what end? Where do I wish to go professionally? I need to ponder that question as this year comes to a close. I do know that I don't want a big business with employees and seven day-a-week obligations. Much of this year passed in an exhausted blur from which I am just now waking. Life is too short.

I close this post with the playlists from J's new cd's. Music to shape a young mind.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bring Yourself To Work Day

I loved this. This whole article is just hysterical. And I did enough writing of my own today that I can just relax and pass on someone else's work.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

As If I Had the Time

For anyone contemplating using Cheap Tickets.com... BEWARE (I jsut sent this to them, and now I send it to the world):

Dear Cheap Tickets Customer Service,

I have had the worst customer service experience in my life this afternoon with cheap tickets.com. At this point not only would I NOT recommend cheap tickets-regular or gold--to anyone, but I would go out of my way to steer people away from you.

In brief, I tried to change an existing reservation online and got the message it couldn't be changed online. So I called the customer service number. It took forever to get through the automated prompt system as the speech recognition program did not understand me. Finally I got to Mike Young who told me I couldn't change my cheap tickets reservation without upgrading to gold membership because cheap tickets was no longer changing reservations over the phone. The call was recorded so you can check the veracity of my statements. So I asked could I change an existing cheap tickets reservation through the gold service reservations if I upgraded and he said YES.

So I bought a membership--which I am canceling right now and burning in effigy. I then called the reservation number (800-211-4771) he gave me and went through another phone tree to an agent who asked for my (temporary) membership number and my record locator number. When she looked at the record locator she said, "Oh that looks like a cheap tickets reservation, you'll have to speak to a cheap tickets agent" and she transferred me to Tiffany.

I found out later that Tiffany was in Technical Support, not reservations or customer service, but she was nonetheless as helpful as she could be. She tried to transfer me to cheap tickets customer service and I asked her to stay with me as I had already been transferred, I was told, to cheap tickets. She stayed on hold with me FOR OVER 30 MINUTES. We never got through. She tried a couple of different numbers and people and finally got someone in cheap tickets gold reservations who said Mike Young had lied and there was NO ONE in the gold service who could help me. So not only did I waste time I do not have signing up for a service I do not need, but I NEVER WAS ABLE TO DO WHAT I NEED TO DO WHICH IS CHANGE THE RETURN ON TICKET XXXXXXXXXXXXXX*. Tiffany suggested I write you, and maybe call back to try to change the ticket tomorrow. In the meantime I have spent over AN HOUR and accomplished nothing.

Brenda Griffith

*Removed for privacy reasons

Friday, October 27, 2006

Yes Sir That's My Honda

Yesterday I had to drive up to ULine to get packing supplies for my glass studio. Before I left I blithely ordered 40 cu ft of Styrofoam peanuts (2 bags), 2 rolls of bubble wrap, about 40 cardboard boxes the smallest size being 20 X 20 X 12 assembled, and 40 frosted plastic shopping bags for the One of a Kind Show in December (my big pieces are too big for their complimentary bags).

I took the middle seats out of the car and folded the magic seat in the back into the floor before I left home to pick up my order. I sang in the car all the way to ULine (except when I was cursing moronic drivers doing 50 in the leftmost lane).

I got to ULine, I saw my order, and I thought "Wow, those rolls of bubble wrap are HUGE." I don't know what the guy who brought everything out to the van thought because he didn't say. But his eyes said I was an idiot for thinking I could get all that in a mini-van and he was resigned to having to cart half of it back into the warehouse. Hah. More fool he. I am a Master at getting everything to fit.

These pictures chronicle the unloading of the car when I got home, the putting back in of the seats, and the final transporting of the dogs and the child which was my day yesterday.

Honda should put me in an ad. Or the J and the deerhounds--they are more photogenic.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Almost Halloween!

Time to get thinking about carving that jack 'o lantern! If we had more time on our hands than we knew what to do with, we might try this radio-controlled robotic dalek (Dr. Who fans unite!). Or for the anglophobe or serious Battlestar Galactica fan, we could do the cylon jack 'o lantern. That one actually looks easy enough to do... (Dave just read that sentence and said "It looks easy enough except that you have to "bread board up" led's"... Was that even English? Do I tie them to a bread board? I didn't ask--he might have answered.)

I looked at the instructions for the dalek and said to Dave that it doesn't seem like it would last long enough to make it worth all the effort. His response? "It's gonna last forever, it's on the web!" I think he misses the point...

Now back to work, enough early morning fun!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Castrating and Branding

I have a little program that I use to track who reads my blog (generically--I am not big brother, I just know roughly where they are by IP address) and if some other page referred them to my site. Today I saw that I had a visitor from Switzerland who came and read my post on Der Struwwelpeter. This is only moderately interesting--there are many reasons someone from a German speaking country would come to my post with a German title. But, Gentle Reader, the actuality was much weirder.

Ren posted awhile ago about web searches that lead to blogs, and this person from Switzerland got to my blog by doing a search on "Castrating + Branding". I ran the same search, and, oh my. Let's just say it's not all about cattle. There is some strange folk out there.

Saturday Morning in the Life

A quick post and then down to the studio. The post is mostly an excuse to post this pic of Dave and the J looking at Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure on Dave's MacBook. Dave wanted to find a quote to play for me as I just finally got through the Van Halen version of "You Really Got Me" on Hard in the Guitar Hero II demo disk Dave brought home last week.

We had Keith over last night and he immediately played all the songs on expert. We all commiserated with him: When it comes out next month, Keith will not get his money's worth because he will go straight to expert, skipping easy, medium, and hard modes. While I was uploading the pics I found this one of Mike, J and Keith from an evening earlier this month when we had M & K over for dinner. I think it was Thai take-out that night too (the same as last night).

Now Dave and J are off to the farmer's market to buy a couple of pumpkins and I am going to get dressed and head to the studio. It's already been a long morning. Baxter had to go out at 3:30 am. It took me till 5:00 to get back to sleep. Then J came in at 6:00 and Jester had to go out. Dave let him (and Baxter) out (again). J went back to her room and came back at 7:30. Then she let Jester and Baxter back in at 8:00 and found the mess in the livingroom. I got up and cleaned up the mess and have been up ever since. Jester won't leave the carpet except to out the door so there was a big mess (big dog = big mess) on the Persian. Why he couldn't have asked to go out BEFORE making the mess I will never know.

And now, off to work. Miles to go before I sleep. (Of course the dogs are having no problem sleeping...)

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Frustration. I had two paragraphs written, and firefox "unexpectedly quit". So I start again...

Yesterday morning I got up at 3:50 am and was on the road to Asheville North Carolina by 4:30. It was the first roadtrip in the new car. A couple of months ago, after I hit a road alligator (the peeled off retread from a semi) on the way to Philadelphia, we traded in our grey Honda Odyssey minivan for a new midnight blue one. I didn't write about it because, well, it's a minivan. How excited can you get? I see now I was wrong and it is time to wax rhapsodic.

4:30 in the morning is a dark time. BB (Before Book), I never got up that early unless I had to catch a plane and I HATED it when I did. Now I get up regularly and willingly at O'Dark Thirty, and I find I have an affinity for the early quiet and lack of light. When I set out yesterday there was a half moon in a clear bright sky. The moon kept me company on my drive through the (applicably named) moonroof on the minivan. Now when we got it I snorted loudly when informed it had a moonroof. Yeah, I had a moonroof in my Accord LXi many moons (hah! such a punster) ago, but in a minivan?!? C'mon! I am here to tell you that it is a cool feature no matter what kind of vehicle you have. Listening to "Gimme Shelter" and rolling through the dark, southern woods with the moon high above you is, dude, sweet!

Oh yes, and I was listening to "Gimme Shelter" directly through the Honda's sound system from the iPod connected to Honda's built-in Pod Music Link adapter. Not being a read-the-manual kind of gal, I just plugged it in and went yesterday morning and figured it out on the way. First big downside: you can't use the iPod wheel and button controls when it is plugged into the Music Link--you have to interact with it through the stereo controls (no wheel, no info on-screen, no way to do anything but go forward, go back and shuffle). This is a pain. I ended up just putting on a playlist on random shuffle before starting the car.

Today I actually read the manual, installed the software and sat in the car for an hour trying it out. It's not the suckiest interface I have ever seen (and heard--the car speaks the names of the artists, albums, playlists, etc.), but it's close. And I couldn't get it to list my audiobooks at all. It looks like to switch between books and music I will need to pull over, unplug the iPod (it takes two hands), put on what I want and plug it back in... like I said, not the suckiest interface BUT...

As I look back through what I have written it doesn't look very rhapsodic. Looks more... whiny. So let's get over the whole iPod-controlling tech not so hot and jump right into the SOUND. I have been listening to my iPod through the FM radio with one of those adapters that snarfs an unused station. Quality is, well, not. Directly linked to the magnificent Honda sound system... it swells, it soars, it loops and dips. Between the well-insulated interior of the car (absence of road noise) and the quality of the sound system I was even able to listen to classical music--historically impossible in the car. It's also nice to be able to move forward and backward in the song list by pushing a button on the steering wheel.

Other things about the car... We did not get the surfboard or snowboard accessories (shown above), but we did spring for the built-in DVD player in the back. It came with two pairs of cordless headphones and a cordless remote. Of course I couldn't use it yesterday, but it will make the upcoming trip to Chicago in December with J a joy instead of an are-we-there-yet ordeal.

So the drive up was very enjoyable: No traffic, moonlit road through the woods, great tuneage, and the realization that tomorrow (today, now) is our 11th anniversary... whoopsie daisies! We had already decided to postpone it to November 28, but it was very disconcerting that I completely forgot the day until the day before it.

At the end of the drive was Asheville, which itself was... not what I expected. I had heard of this incredible artists' town, beautiful, quaint, chic. What it actually is is Aurora Illinois, maybe a little bit bigger. This is not a bad thing--I like Aurora, but it's about expectation. The buildings are a hodgepodge of 19th century brick, 1920's/30's deco chic, and 1960's/70's industrial grey low-rise. It felt like 30% of them were vacant and vandalized in the way of many city downtown areas post-advent of the suburban malls. Yes, there are many art galleries--you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting one. And there are restaurants, and independent bookstores and toystores. And it is hilly. Where Aurora has a river for central interest, Asheville is hilly. And I could see where the fiercely loyal residents would think it special. But (finally the 'but') it's not all THAT cool. Like I said, Aurora, or maybe a slightly more rehabbed St. Louis.

I did have the best Mexican-Caribbean meal I have EVER had at Salsa (called by one reviewer his "favorite fusion burrito joint"), and a world-class custard French pastry at Old Europe. All three restaurant/cafe/bakery places I stopped in were highly touted to be "organic", which was cool, but seemed a bit disproportionate in number.

The drive back was, well, hell. I'm from Montana. We get on the freeway and drive across the state rarely seeing another car. We like it that way. I left Asheville at 1:30 pm and was stuck in heavy, moronic traffic all the way to Atlanta. Yeah, there were a lot of cars on the road, but the real problem was the basic selfish stupidity of the drivers as evidenced by the view when I topped a hill and looked down at the ribbon of highway stretching in front of me with ALL THE CARS BUT THREE IN THE LEFT LANE. No wonder it was slow. There were many times we were all going UNDER the speed limit in the left lane because some old geezer parked his big old Buick there and refused to move to the right for anything. Doesn't anybody read the "Slower Traffic Keep Right" signs but me?

But the real highlight of the drive back came when I looked at the gas gauge 30 miles out of Atlanta and the needle on the gas gauge was completely under the orange line next to the E. I drove slowly and rehearsed what I was going to say to Dave when I called him to tell him I needed him to take the train home, get his car, get gas, and drive through rush hour traffic on I-85 on Friday night BOTH WAYS because I ran out of gas. Oh lucky me born under a blessed star, I made it to a gas station without incident. I was even home in time to give J a kiss and a hug before D took her to the Y for Fun Friday. When he got back we had pizza and champagne and watched three Firefly episodes before he went out again to bring the J home.

And now it is Saturday afternoon at 3:00 pm. I am still in my jammies, I haven't worked at all, and I'm contemplating a nap. How bad would it be to just take an actual day? Can I *really* not afford it? Or will it make me more efficient tomorrow and next week if I just... rest... today.

I think I'll sip a little more chai and think about it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


No time to post, but HAD to. Got a couple of pairs of sale capris from Ralph Lauren Polo in the mail today. End of the season so they are $19.99. There should have been three pairs in the box. Instead there were two pairs... and a scrumptious heathery navy blue cashmere cable-knit shawl-wrap sweater. Just like this one only, well, heathery navy color. Oh yes, and it was a size SMALL. Even I weren't honest enough to send it back, there is no way it would ever fit no matter how much I dieted. I haven't been a size SMALL since 7th grade. Maybe not even then. Of course Christmas is coming up, I must know SOMEONE who is that tiny. Or I could sell it on eBay! It is ON SALE for $600! But no, I called RLP and made some customer service rep's day. He was still laughing when we hung up. (I made sure he knew how SOFT it is, and that it would make a great... PILLOWCASE). And it's in a box ready to go back tomorrow. *sigh*

Monday, October 09, 2006

For Ren

A Storm Is Coming (from Lord of the Rings) Howard Shore
Africa Toto
After All (Love Theme from Chances Are, with Peter Cetera) Cher
Ain't No Mountain High Enough, Diana Ross & The Supremes
Angel of the Morning Newton, Juice
anna begins counting crows
Because The Night Smith, Patty
Broken Moon Lowen & Navarro
california dreamin' mamas and the papas
Can't Help Falling In Love presley, Elvis
Cathedral Crosby, Stills & Nash
Cloudy This Morning Winston, George
Constant As The Night Lowen & Navarro
Corpus Christi Carol Jeff Buckley
Desperados Under The Eaves Zevon, Warren
everything in its own time (li indigo girls
Far Far Away From My Heart (Live) The BoDeans
Father Figure Michael, George
Gimme Shelter The Rolling Stones
Going Home (Live) The BoDeans
Gwenlaise Cossu, Scott with Eugene Friesen
Hallelujah Jeff Buckley
Hallelujah Rufus Wainwright
harmony john, elton
I Will Wait for You from the Umbrellas of Cherbourg Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
In Without Knocking Mission Mountain Wood Band
Kathy's Song Simon & Garfunkel
Kentucky Rain presley, Elvis
Kiss from a Rose Seal
levon john, elton
Longing/Love Winston, George
Main Themes from Jurassic Park Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
Mandolin Rain Hornsby, Bruce
May It Be and Themesfrom the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
missing everything but the girl
Mutineer Zevon, Warren
nightswimming r.e.m.
Nobody Knows Me Lovett, Lyle
Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels) Croce, Jim
Other Streets And Other Towns Carpenter, Mary Chapin
Play It All Night Long Zevon, Warren
Reflection Winston, George
Right Now Van Halen
Since You've Asked Dan Fogelberg & Tim Weisberg
so far away king, carole
Someone To Lay Down Beside Me Bonoff, Karla
songbird fleetwood mac
Stones In The Road Carpenter, Mary Chapin
sweet jane velvet underground
Sweet Surrender McLachlan, Sarah
sweetness follows r.e.m.
the one i love r.e.m.
The Steward of Gondor Howard Shore & Billy Boyd
The Sweetest Thing (I've Ever Known) Newton, Juice
The Valley Road Hornsby, Bruce
Theme from a Summer Place Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
Thunder Road Springsteen, Bruce
tiny dancer john, elton
True Companion Cohn, Marc
Unchained Melody presley, Elvis
Unchained Melody Righteous Brothers
Unchained Melody from Ghost Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
Vincent McLean, Don
Walking In Memphis Cohn, Marc
Walking In The Air Winston, George
Walking on a Wire Lowen & Navarro
Watermark Garfunkel, Art
We Are The People Mellencamp, John
We May Never Pass This Way (Again) Seals & Crofts
Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. Simon & Garfunkel
We're Losing Him from Somewhere In Time Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
Will You Love Me Tomorrow Shirelles
Year of the Cat Stewart, Al

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Dave's Birthday

I am spoiled. I do not cook on a daily basis. In fact in the past few years, my cooking has dwindled to almost nothing. But tradition in our house is that the birthday person gets to pick the birthday dinner and when Dave picked dinner at home, it didn't seem right to make him prepare it. So this morning I girded my loins and headed out to the shops. J and I grocery and party shopped from noon through mid-afternoon. When I got home, it was time to start the potatoes for twice-baked potatoes. After a brief stint in the studio (everyday is a work day from now till Nov. 1), the rest of the day was spent on final present wrapping, making the birthday ikebana, and cooking. Okay, so Dave even helped with the potatoes and he made the salad. And I had him cook the steak--it was a very thick bone-in Angus rib-eye and I didn't want to risk spoiling it. Besides, aren't men supposed to do all the grilling?

In my morning outing I picked up a really nice bottle of champagne (Hiedsiek Monopole) to start dinner and we had the last bottle we brought back from the Turley vineyard in California to accompany the steak. Over dinner we watched the season premier of Dr. Who! The new doctor has charisma, but I still miss C. Eggleston. I do, however, like the casting choices of men with creepy villains in their past to play the doctor. This one was Barty Crouch in one of the Harry Potters.

Dessert was a selection of cakes from Southern Sweets with star candles and sparklers on them. Our common Publix grocery store had both sparklers and champagne poppers in the birthday section. Dave didn't read the instructions on the champagne popper before pulling the string and exploding it into his hand. Oops. More gunpowder in those than I remember (and would have thought legal in our highly regulated society). J insisted we all wear party hats and use the rotating green plastic cake plate that lights up and sings happy birthday in a sweet voice with an oriental accent.

Presents were the box, three new Cook's Illustrated cookbooks, a Nixie tube clock (geek, geek, geek), Waterworks (a game from his parents that got him all nostalgic and excited--we're going to play today), a rubber duck, a subscription to Make magazine, the King of Marvin Gardens on dvd, and Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture Volume 1 (geek, geek, geek, geek, GEEK!).

After presents and cake we finished watching Dr. Who and all went to bed late. A good time was had by all. Dave thanks everyone who sent birthday wishes through Glass Incarnate.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

This is Not Me...

I say again: This is not me. This is--at best--an amalgam of me and Dave, but there are definitely things on the list that we drop. And yet, I *know* women like this. Yeah, maybe they only have two kids instead of three, but otherwise this is life right down to the toenails. And I found it hysterically funny. One of the things making the email rounds recently that actually had me laughing out loud for so many reasons (some of even them self-directed).

"Six married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks.

Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes

There is no fast food.

Each man must take care of his 3 kids; keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of "pretend" bills with not enough money.

In addition, each man will have to budget in money for groceries each week.

Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives, and send cards out on time.

Each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment. He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care (weekend, evening, on a holiday or right when they're about to leave for vacation). He must also make cookies or cupcakes for a social function.

Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house, planting flowers
outside and keeping it presentable at all times.

The men will only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.

There is only one TV between them, and a remote with dead batteries.

Each father will be required to know all of the words to every stupid song that comes on TV and the name of each and every character on cartoons.

The men must shave their legs, wear makeup daily, which they will apply to themselves either while driving or making three lunches.

Each man will have to make an Indian hut model with six toothpicks, a tortilla and one marker; and get a 4 year old to eat a serving of peas.

Each man must adorn himself with jewelry, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep their nails polished and eyebrows groomed. The men must try to get through each day without snot, spit-up or barf on their clothing.

During one of the six weeks, the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood swings but never once complain or slow down from other duties. They must try to explain what a tampon is for when the 6-yr old boy finds it in the purse.

They must attend weekly school meetings, church, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar setting.

He will need to read a book and then pray with the children each night without falling asleep, and then feed them, dress them, brush their teeth and comb their hair each morning by 7:00. They must leave the home with no food on their face or clothes.

A test will be given at the end of the six weeks, and each father will be required to know all of the following information: each child's birthday, height, weight, shoe size, clothes size and doctor's name. Also the child's weight at birth, length, time of birth, and length of labor, each child's favorite color, middle name, favorite snack, favorite song, favorite drink, favorite toy, biggest fear and what they want to be when they grow up

They must clean up after their sick children at 2:00 a.m. and then spend the remainder of the day tending to that child and waiting on them hand and foot until they are better.

They must have a loving, age appropriate reply to, "You're not the boss of me."

The kids vote them off the island based on performance.
The last man wins only if...he still has enough energy to be intimate with his spouse at a moment's notice.

If the last man does win, he can play the game over and over and over again
for the next 18-25 years..."


Sunday, September 24, 2006

It's the weekend, I should post here. The problem is, I have been so busy with working in the glass studio and meeting my ever-mounting commitments that I haven't had much time for life outside of work. If I were still single and childless, there would be no need for this blog at all. I would literally eat, sleep, and work. But I am married and I do have a child and for the child, at least, just because Mommy is busy doesn't mean the pace of her life slows down.

Jessie is in Pre-K now. Her birthday is after September 1 so she did not get to move on with her original classmates, she was held back in the 3 year-old class. Now she is in the first official year of school here in Georgia--the year before kindergarten. She must be in class by 8:30 or she is tardy and Dave has to sign in for her at the office. If she is late more than once a week she can be asked to leave the program. If she misses school more than two days in a row she can be asked to leave the program. Do I really care if she is in the "program"? No. The only reason she is is that the pre-school she has been in for the past two years does the official Georgia thing at four instead of continuing private school.

Besides the... rigorous... approach to tardiness and attendance, there are other new rules to follow which relly have me questioning how much my life needs to be regulated by my government. Lunches, for example, are strictly controlled. We are required to bring a box lunch every other week for field trips. There may be no cookies, animal crackers or "treats" of any kind. No grapes unless they are cut, no sliced carrots. Juice must be 100% juice. You cannot water it down to cut the amount of sugar they get. There are more rules than this but all I have been able to get is a garbled list from her teachers (nothing written) and stories from other parents of inappropriate foods being taken away.

I did try to make logical sense of the rules. If they are not concerned about sugar in the juice, I asked, why can't they have sweet treats? The answer is two-part: they ARE concerened about the amount of sugar, and other kids might who don't have sweet treats would, I don't know, feel bad or something because they don't have a cookie. I replied, isn't that the way it is in life? Everyone is different and everyone has something different. Why would we try to project anything else? What really frosts me on this is that we don't do the cookies and cakes thing, I just want to be able to give her teddy grams for a dessert treat. DENIED.

Shoes are also an issue. They have always had this no-open-toed-shoes rule because they might get wood chips in their shoes on the playground. This year that was extended to no Crocs. Why? Because they slip off and provide no support and, well, because it says so in the handbook! No, it does not, I looked. But does that matter? No! Denied!

So that gets me through this year's petty little issues. Jessie is *four years old* and the school system is already a pain. Next year we have to pick a kindergarten. Easiest choice? The public school one block from our house (right around the corner). Never mind that she would be the only white child in the class. We moved to this neighborhood for diversity. I did NOT want her going to the all-white Laura Bush Elementary in Austin either. There we planned to send her to the Lycee Francais d'Austin and have her bilingually educated in French and English there. The closest thing to that here, The Atlanta International School, is neither geographically proximate nor financially realistic ($14K per year for ELEMENTARY school? I don't THINK so!).

We could petition to send her to the Decatur school system, and that would get her through third grade. Then they don't accept "tuition" students. We already pay Dekalb County AND city of Atlanta taxes To send her to Decatur we would have to petition AND pay almost as much as we would for a private school. So what to do?


A month passes...


I think we have found a solution! The Waldorf

Sunday, September 17, 2006


I am not going to take you there! And you know what I mean if you got here from a link in another post...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Day Off!

I took today off, at least as completely as I have taken any day off in the past couple of months. I did put the lid for the box into the second kiln, but that hardly counts. I am completely obsessed with the fused boxes, but that is a post for Glass Incarnate (and not today).

We slept in until 8:08 this morning when Jessie stealthily came in and said "Hi!" loudly in Dave's face. I managed to overcome the shock and doze on till 8:30, but Dave was doomed and couldn't get back to sleep so he got up. When I finally stumbled down, I did my 15 minutes in the studio and was free for the day.

We all piled into the convertible, put the top down and cruised through the fine fall morning to the Radial Cafe for an al fresco breakfast. I wanted the special--French toast made from challah stuffed with cream cheese and fresh Bartlett pears smothered in maple syrup--but I just can't eat a big sweet for breakfast. So I had a bagel with lox, cream cheese and capers, J had chocolate chip pancakes, and D had the blueberry and walnut wholewheat pancakes. We shared a bowl of cheese and sausage grits--this is the south, after all. Our server had 15 earrings down his right ear, about 7 down his left, one in his nose and one in his lip. Jessie was completely fascinated and the time spent waiting for our food passed in checking out the piercings of the other patrons and servers in the restaurant. There were a lot to check out.

After breakfast it was back into the convertible and off to the Botanical Gardens for a stroll. We explored the woods thoroughly for the first time and enjoyed the bullfrogs, fish, tadpoles, butterflies, chipmunks and lizards in the children's garden. Jessie, who will not actually eat any vegetables, was very interested in the eggplant, gourds, tomatoes and peppers we passed along our route.

One corner of the children's garden has a little stone grotto with a stream and several little garden gnomes in it. In the back of the grotto is a little door. I am a bad parent. When J asked if the statues were real gnomes I said no, they were statues of the gnomes and the gnomes lived behind the door. Then we had to wait for several minutes while she called to them and tried fruitlessly to get them to come out.

J fell asleep in the car on the way home but woke a few minutes after I carried her up and put her to bed. Drat. Fortunately, she was still low-energy enough that we are all hanging peacefully on the sky chairs on the front porch. Tonight, chicken on the grill, rice and green beans, and the Legend of Zorro on NetFlix. What could be better?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Racing to the Red Light

Driving home last evening from getting pizza with Dave and J in Dave's car, I was in the mood for the Indigo Girls and put on "All That We Let In", a gentle poignant song from their last album. Halfway through J pipes up from her carseat in the back, "Daddy, put on Racing to the Red Light". It has replaced the Black Eyed Peas "Let's It Started" as her favorite song. So after "All That We Let In" finished, Dave put on James McMurtry's "Racing to the Red Light". Let me tell you, it is very disconcerting to hear your four almost five year-old singing along to this song (and she knows most of the lyrics):

Racing to the Red Light
by James McMurtry

I'll quit my job
and leave this place
Got a guitar in a machine gun case
I'll make no judgment,
I'll let it all pass
Looking at the world through bullet-proof glass
The access road backed-up to the ramp
They won't let you in and they don't give a damn

Racing to the red light
Momma says to get your face to the fire
Put the guitar down, put the clothes in the dryer
Put the guitar down, quit making it ring
A little bit of hope is a dangerous thing
A dangerous thing, well I shoulda known
Gotta quit doing it soon as I'm grown
Gotta get my hands back down in the dirt
If you liked what you're doing, it wouldn't be work
If you liked what you're doing, it wouldn't be good
Nobody else in the neighborhood's got that kinda money,
That kinda pride, and we're all pretty well satisfied

Racing to the red light
Racing to the red light

Two fifty worth of gas on pump number five
A lottery ticket and a Colt 45
Scratch it right off, cash it back in
Just give me five more somebody gotta win
Somebody gotta win, it happens all the time
Ending up spending your every last dime

Racing to the red light

I'll quit my job and leave this place
Gotta guitar in a machine gun case
If I play it just right I can live like a king
A little bit of hope is a dangerous thing
A little bit of hope, a dangerous mind
Cut your throat for your space in line

Racing to the red light


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Very Dark Post

I awoke this morning from dreams that my four year-old daughter had been kidnapped and abused--it goes without saying, but I will write it anyway: this was the worst nightmare I have ever had. The worst part of the dream was the aftermath. She was found after four months or so of being held. I was so happy and so relieved to get her back, but then I saw how much she had changed because of what had been done to her and how it would stay with her and taint the rest of her life, maybe ruin it. That knowledge crushed me.

I know that the dream was probably triggered by the recent reporting on JonBenet Ramsey and Natascha Kampusch, but it started me thinking about survivors of violence. How do you, how can you put your life back together after any kind of long-term systematic abuse? What do you become if you survive? Everyone deserves the opportunity to grow up and live without fear, without violence, and without pain. But how many people in the world actually live that reality? Spin a globe, put your finger down at random and see what you see. And that's only talking about physical threat. What about growing up in an environment of petty rules and restrictions with no freedom or potential. Do you stop dreaming after awhile? How long? How many places in the world is that situation the norm? Spin the globe again.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Der Struwwelpeter

When I was about 12 we helped some friends with spring round-up on their ranch. It was a really big ranch in the Big Hole Valley in Montana. I was over the moon because it meant I got to ride a horse all day and there was nothing I would rather do at that age. Round-up consisted of bringing all the cows and their young calves down to the ranch yard and checking over the calves, branding and vaccinating all of them, de-horning some or all (I don't remember which) and castrating most. My memory is vague on the details. I remember chutes and the throw-down of calves, but mostly what I remember is how very quick, methodical and efficient it was back on this ranch where all cattle were free-range (was there any other kind?).

That's mostly what I remember until lunch anyway. We were in the ranch house and I found a copy of a very old children's book. I don't know if it was a modern re-print or an original edition from the 19th century--either would have been reasonable in the setting. I don't recall all the stories--even shock-headed or slovenly Peter, the one the book was named for--and I couldn't say whether it was in the original German or if it was the English translation by Mark Twain. What was etched permanently and vividly in one little corner of my brain, however, was the picture of the little boy getting his thumbs cut of by the scissor-man because he sucked them. I hadn't even been a thumb-sucker and I was traumatized.

On and off over the years I have thought of this story, and though I don't know what made me think of it this time (yesterday), I obsessed on it enough that I went to the Internet. In my search I found the complete text and pictures, several printed versions of the complete stories from early 20th century editions to current paperbacks (I purchased one with the original German version and the English translation and the original illustrations). I also found biographies of the author, essays on the cultural context of the writing of the stories, comparisons to other children's literature of the time, and lists of other works supposedly influenced by these stories including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Edward Scissorhands.

The unfolding of these events brings home to me again how much life has changed because of the Internet. Sure, we say everything is now at our fingertips, but how much are we able to step out of our daily context with that knowledge and really see the impact that that access has on what we do (how quickly we do it) and how we think? I remember again the old set of Encyclopedia Britannica we had in the basement when I was growing up and how its contents defined my immediate access to knowledge. Less immediate but more complete was the library.

The library was a relatively complete but very slow gateway to learning. First you would go to the card catalog and search on subjects. For items that looked promising, you would write down all of the necessary information on a small slip of paper with the stubby pencil provided. Then you would go to the stacks or to the librarian and gather together all the books and periodicals which contained the references to the subject you were researching and you would go through those books and periodicals to find the references. Sometimes those materials would reference other works that might be interesting and you would have to go back to the card catalog or the librarian to see if the library had those works. If it did not and you wanted them badly enough, you might be able to request an interlibrary loan and wait a few days or weeks to get them.

Gathering information and learning used to require patience and a lot of effort. Now the amount that I can find to cram into my brain and cycle through it is limitless and immediate. And I don't even scratch the surface of what is available on the Internet. I don't think even Bruce Sterling gets more than a micron deep into the surface of what is available and he is a far more sophisticated surfer than I am. Next time one of the networks decides to do another reality show they should make one called Lost in (cyber)Space. That would be a far more interesting reality than Survivor or the Apprentice.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Quote of the Day... part deux

Me: I'm gong to Chicago in early December
J: I want to go with you. But I hope I don't get any boo boos while I am there.
Me: Why not?
J: Because Gramma Mary K pulls them off.
Me: Pulls off the boo boos?
J: Yep. Uh no, pulls off the bandaids (severe ripping motion) and I cried and cried, and I had to scream!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Quote of the Day

Me to J: What are you doing?
J: I am making a paper gun.
Me: Why are you making a paper gun?
J: I like guns. I like to shoot people so they can play zombies with me like Shaun of the Dead.

A King-Sized Bed

I had every intention of writing this when I got up this morning full of love, well-being and exhaustion, but the day got away from me and I was almost completely derailed by someone swiping my coffee and the purple stapler we were getting for Jessie at Target after breakfast (they were in the cart and someone took off with the cart. How rude!). If it had not been for a lovely laid-back lunch at Osteria and the prospect of more lazing and a nap this afternoon, I might have lost all inspiration.

The entire family went to their respective beds early last night, and I slept hard until sometime after 2:00 am when I was woken by the rattle of the Tums bottle in the bathroom. I turned and found J cuddled up on my right side. When she came into our bed was a complete mystery as we had both slept through it--maybe she had too. Upon coming back into the bedroom Dave asked if he should spatula her back into her bed. I said no, she was fine for awhile.

So he climbed back into bed on the other side, and soon I drowsed to a symphony of soft rustlings and snorings. The rest of the night I didn't sleep well, but I slept happily. I had my own bout of heartburn necessitating a trip to the Tums bottle, and I finally did break down and ask Dave to spatula J about 4:30. It didn't take though--she was back in with us within the half hour and this time I just let her stay.

Sleeping sandwiched between two very warm bodies is not conducive to restful sleep in the hot summer. Nor are the occasional blows to eyes and nose from outflung little hands and elbows. But though the sleep was not restful, it was peaceful. About 3:30 I started to have an anxiety attack about one thing or another and I just clamped firmly down on it and said not here, not now. I will think about that issue in the morning, and if I feel it is a problem, I will deal with it then. And that was that.

The peacefulness came from the decision that I didn't Have to get to sleep as the morning would bring Sunday and I could sleep in if I were so inclined--or I could even nap in the afternoon. I could just enjoy being close to my family. So I reveled in the cuddling from the left alternating with the cuddling from the right. Only once did I end up squished with a big arm around my waist and a little arm around my neck at the same time. It was so good to get such a long reminder of the really important things in life. Some people may say TGIF, but not me. I am all about TGIS.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

There is a good reason why there are songs about Chicago. The weather may suck dead slugs through a straw, but it is an incredibly vibrant and beautiful city the first of June. I was up for a show at the Prairie Arts Festival over Memorial Day and instead of driving right home, I stayed for a little vacation.

Dave flew up a couple of days after the show (Jessie drove up with me) and we stayed with his parents in Montgomery. A couple of days we lounged and relaxed (reconfiguring a home network and networking computers counts as that for me) but two other days we played tourist. The first day Dave and I took the train in, had lunch at Frontera Grill and then met up with the rest of the family at the Shedd Aquarium to see the Lizards. (Lizards ate my spouse!).

After seeing the dolphins, lizards, sea otters, beluga whales and (nesting/courting) penguins we took the free trolley to the Art Institute (didn't go in this time) and then headed for Millenium Park just north of Grant Park and the AI to see the art and gardens.

I will say one thing for Mayor Daley 2, the city is really coming alive under his tenure. The following pictures are of the sculpture affectionately called "The Bean" by the locals (it's really the Kapoor sculpture), Crown fountain and Lurie garden. It is impossible to capture the size and feeling of the Pritzker Pavillion so I am just linking to the official site for it. The official Millenium Park site is also worth a look.. We finished the day with dinner in Greek town at the Greek Isles before driving home with the parents.

The next day we again took the train in, but this time we went early in the morning and checked into the Westin hotel on Dearborn just north of the river. For Chicagophiles this used to be the Nikko Hotel... very nice. It was till pretty nice, and purchased on priceline.com, could not be beat. After getting settled we took a taxi to Watertower place on north Michigan Ave. and shopped our way back to the hotel. After a quick lunch we cabbed it to the Field Museum for our reserved tickets to the new King Tut exhibit. Very disappointing. If you were alive, sentient and saw it in '77, don't bother. If you weren't, get a good book.

After a nap, dinner was back at Frontera with Stuart & Andrea. We ate continentally (dinner after 9:00) and tumbled into bed like a pile of kittens (for the prurient, just Dave and I) to sleep until riding to catch the train back to the parents.

Sunday morning we packed up and headed for Nashville. Monday morning at 7:30 in Nashville we picked up the Odyssey and its shiny new transmission and coasted on home