Thursday, March 30, 2006

Driving to Austin, or 1000 Miles with a Four Year-Old

I meant to get an early start Tuesday morning (I hear chuckling)—to the point that at one time I thought we might leave at 6:00 am (I hear outright guffaws). Dave helped with the major loading Monday night, but it still took me a lot more time than I would have liked to figure out how to pack the van for a retail show again (got to get the tent in) after almost a year's hiatus. We got on the road by 1:30 pm. The late start negated the possibility of dinner with friends in Dallas, but there is always another meal--in this case breakfast Wednesday.

When we did finally get moving we did so in technological style: Dave bought us a Garmin Street Pilot gps, I brought my iPod with the cable that plays it through the fm radio and your car speakers, and Jessie had her portable dvd player. We are fortunate that the car has two cigarette lighter power adapter outlets and I was also able to get an adapter that transforms one power adapter outlet to three and another adapter that allows regular electrical devices to plug-in through it. I could navigate, listen to music and charge my cell phone while Jessie watched movies in the back. Sweet.

There are no rest stops between Atlanta and Birmingham on I-20W. Just be prepared.

After driving awhile Jessie's natural curiosity asserted itself and she asked me where my osstrills are. What? You know, your osstrills--like an elephant has at the end of his trunk. Oh. I showed her. I don't even want to know what the sequitur for that one was.

A little while later after I finished talking to my friend Mike in Dallas about eating together Jessie asked me if my friend Mike was brown or white. I said white and she asked who my friends are who are brown. I named some names for her and she replied sagely that "Cross men are bad." When quizzed about what/who cross men are she replied "Men who wear crosses around their necks... and dress all in white." Oookay. Then she said, "There was a man in the fellowship hall (in the church where her pre-school is located) who said that everybody should get to go where they want, even little kids. They killed him. He was brown. He is in heaven now. Where is heaven?" The lessons the teachers did for Martin Luther King Day must have been really intense as she is still processing them.

Down the road a ways we had to stop for gas. Side note: Cars would be great things if there was a way that they could run with no need to stop for fuel. The whole need for gas thing is going to make it really difficult to flee to Montana if there is a national catastrophe and I feel the need to flee it. The gas station I picked took marketing a bit far and after I paid (at the pump, of course) the pump started talking to me about all the cool things I could buy inside the store. It was creepy. My first thought was that they didn't really sell anything inside the store, they just lured you in and rendered you for parts. I got back in the car and closed my door until the gas was finished pumping so I wouldn't have to hear the creepy talking pump.

We finally stopped for the night after leaving Shreveport and crossing into Texas. It was 11:00 pm and we were about an hour shy of Dallas (making it easy to get there for breakfast with Mike the next morning before doing a gallery delivery). Hotels off the interstate are always a crap shoot. No, that's wrong. They are always either way over priced or crappy. There is no variability. Tuesday night's room (ostensibly at a Hampton Inn) smelled of cat urine, had cigarette burns on the 1970's synthetic fuzz fiber blanket, and was stingy on towels and water pressure. But we slept well, and by accident at 6:30 am when I had to get J up, dressed and brush her hair, I found the Wiggles on the Disney Channel which kept her docilely mesmerized through the getting ready process. That was a relief.

You know you're in Texas when: The Tanger Outlets billboard advertises the Bible Outlet Store. The Dallas police also have their own billboard: Join the Dallas Police Force, 4 yrs active military service OR 45 hours of college. Huh? Either we want people who have had the ability to think for themselves drummed right out of them OR we want people who have been trained to think for themselves...

And then we got to Austin. Lovely, warm Austin (brutally hot comes a bit later in the year). I am very happy to have a couple of days of downtime/recharge time with friends here. And shopping. And a pedicure. Whoo hoo.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Blogging (Again)

I sip a Dr. Brown's root beer, munch on a handful of cheddar cheese goldfish, wait for my chicken and herb dumpling Progesso soup to heat in the microwave, and ponder the impact of blogging and Google on life. In the past two days I have received unexpected communication from famous and infamous people because of what I put on Glass Incarnate. I write a couple of names out there on one of the pages in the billions and billions of stars in the anonymous ether(net), and lo and behold, the owners of the names know! (Do you think if I write 'Mel Gibson' he will know? Not that it matters. He has gone downhill since Lethal Weapon when he sauntered to the fridge in his altogethers.)

(Side Note: I was in graduate school at the University of Chicago when that movie came out on vhs--there was no stinkin' dvd then--and Karen Deaton and I were watching it as we prepared mounds of little Greek appetizers for the annual linguistic society conference. When the Mel-to-the-fridge scene came on we scrambled for the remote and made him walk up and back and up and back and up and back. Mel does his own buttwork you know. He doesn't use a stunt butt.)

Back to Important Things. I work alone. I do not commute or go to an office of any kind. The only times I make it out of the house/studio are to take Jessie to school in the morning, to drop off work at a gallery (once a month or so) and to drop pieces off at Dixie Glass Hoppers to be drilled (again about once a month). So while other people interact around the 21st century water cooler, my sole window to other people and the world until Dave gets home is the internet.

Before blogging, I obsessively read news and human interest stories on (Another side note: if there is something weird that happens in the country, e.g., a story with the headline "Girl Found Running Naked in the Street: Victim of a Failed Exorcism"-- the location will be Atlanta or France. Really.) I cheered when the whale was safely carried out of the Thames and cried when it died anyway. I think one of Dave's biggest concerns on arriving home everyday was what I had read during the day which would affect my mood (and thus our evening).

Women of previous times (and still now I suppose) in similar situations to mine (often they were called housewives, now they are family managers or some such) watched tv. In both the and soap opera (pardon me, 'daytime drama') scenarios the relationship is one-sided--everything flows in one direction with complete disregard for and disinterest in the participants on one side by the other (I am sure the whale-rescuers never even had a hint of my existence).

I also IM, but that activity is more analogous to talking on the phone (see women of previous times above). When I was a teenager and there was one phone in the house (same style as at left) I would lay in the hallway outside my bedroom door, which was as far as the cord would reach, and talk for hours to my best friend or the boyfriend du jour. Now I hate to talk on the phone. When the phone rings I regard it as an interruption, a nuisance and I usually can't wait to get off it. My mother might disagree with this as I still call her every couple of days. I have set her up with IM but it's not much use as she still has a dial-up modem and so is not often on-line. And we email, but there are times (many of them) that I just want to talk to my Mom. Dave and I do not talk well on the phone together.

I like IM'ing because it is the perfect multi-tasking communication medium: I can IM as many people at a time as I could wish and I rarely type the wrong thing on the wrong screen. And I can type something or someone can type something to me, an if the recipient doesn't type back right away, it's ok. The phone does not work like that, you have to keep the conversation flowing.

But, really, IM'ing is still just an alternative form of an existing communication technology. Blogging is a whole 'nother animal of a different color. When I blog I do so with the knowledge/hope/expectation that someone else will read what I wrote. When it is someone I know--my husband, family, old friends, etc.--the experience exists within the parameters that I expect from communication. But when someone else comes in and reads and comments, the standard dynamic no longer works. Then the experience becomes more like talking at a party, having a random stranger overhear you and chime into the conversation. I like it when that happens.

I have not been blogging for that long. But I have already made cyber-connections that have become as real to me as the friend and acquaintanceships I maintain in the real world. Yeah I know, this from a woman who got all excited about the kidnapped penguin in Britain and followed the story for days (do you know the parents just had another chick?). I read their blogs (the cyber-connections, not the penguins), they read mine. I comment on theirs, they comment on mine. We interact in this dystemporal way, and as time passes, I begin to count them as friends. I value their feedback and opinions, and I look forward to sharing with them.

Where am I going with this? I have no clue. I can see the edges of a Bigger Idea, but I haven't fleshed it out yet. I feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle: There have been other cyber activities which encourage the forging of relationships and/or exchanging of ideas which essentially passed me by--e.g., chat rooms, online dating, online gaming, sim worlds, and most discussion groups. I occasionally post on, but I do not read the posts daily or even monthly. I usually only go there when I need to find or share technical information because otherwise it is too much and too big. It would take all my time to keep up with what everyone was writing and it would be, well, boring. Unlike blogging (which I am defining for my purposes as the activity of writing, reading and posting comments on blogs) which can be as intimate or as social as the blogger wishes, as big or as small.

So I dwindle the post to its end and I mull over my thoughts. I have no conclusions other than blogging is a cyber activity that is different than other cyber activities and interesting to me. It is a new form of communication rather than an updated version of an old form. You are never too old to learn how, and it is never too late to start. Now I just need to get my Mom to post her comments on the blog entries on the blog itself rather than sending them to me in email...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I am a Sheep

Thank you Bridget and Bill for the quiz.

Which country should you REALLY be living in?


G'day Mate! You're a yokker. A true Aussie. You love the beach and barbies, as well as sport and sex. Life couldn't get any simpler, and thats the way it should be. C'mon Aussie, C'mon!

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

I Win! I am the Biggest Geek!

Sadly I get to be the biggest geek not through any efforts of my own, but because Mr. Bruce Sterling posted on Glass Incarnate today. Some people have cherished Kleenex which wiped the sweat from Mick Jagger's... at a Rolling Stones concert. Me, I may never let anyone else post a comment on that blog ever again.

I wrote Dave about it and his response was, "Um, you do know that people aren’t always who they seem on this Internet-thingy..." He's so cute. Doesn't he know I Have the Tools? I looked up the information on the visitor who posted that comment and got the domain name, referring page, location (including latitude and longitude), OS, Javascript version, monitor resolution, color depth, length of visit, page views, browser version, and out click. I am pretty sure it was he.

Brenda "Geek Groupie" Griffith

I Recycled

Well, I did it. It was hard--not finding the place, or getting them to take everything, or even loading the minivan up. No, what was hard was letting go. I just got back form the electronics recyclers: I filled the back of the minivan with old cables, modems, routers, vcr, computers, phones, computer batteries--all the detritus of the Diamond Age. They took everything. And I had several less-than-brief pangs on the way home. Recycling is all well and good, but reusing is better. I should have sorted everything, neatly wrapped it all up and put it on eBay free but for shipping. The linksys routers still work (except for the wireless part), the cables are a real treasure trove...

If I were a better person I would have done this. It is all well and good to talk the environmental talk, but one needs to walk the walk too. Yes, we donate to the Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife and the National Resource Defense Council. I compost everything in the yard. We recycle (against Dave's better judgement). Dave takes the train to work. And I still feel like I come up way short. I don't walk or bike anywhere, I drive. I don't compost house scraps. And I don't find good homes for things I no longer use. I do, however, self-flagellate really, really well. Yesterday, the first day of spring and the vernal equinox was also International Earth Day. My Earth Day resolution for 2006 is to make more of an effort to repurpose and reuse and to rely less on recycling.

Happy Earth Day everyone.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Scorpion King Crab

Last night in a fit of good parenting, J and I watched the Scorpion King over macaroni and cheese accompanied by a Super Tuscan 2001 (well, for me--she had milk). We did this in the living room. Then after dinner and a movie we went upstairs and watched the better part of the Return of the Mummy in bed. It is now 10:17 am. We slept until 9:30 and then watched the rest of the Return of the Mummy. I love Sundays!

Right about now Dave should be on a plane winging his way home to us. Before he gets here, J and I are going to try to tackle the closet in the cat's bathroom... When we moved here this was a walk-in closet which was designated to hold everything not immediately useful but impossible to get rid of: all of the old electronic equipment, cables, modems, flotsam and jetsam, 8 mm projector... you know. We finally took the plunge and decided to get rid of it all (well, all except the 8 mm projector) and use the space for an emergency supplies closet: water, lanterns, bandages, candles, analgesics--everything we might need in case of a hurricane or bird flu. (Put your head between your knees and kiss your... no, wait--wrong attitude).

It was my task to clean out the closet and Dave's task to gather the supplies. The result, as you might guess, is that everything that was neatly stored in the closet is now half in the closet and half in the cat's bath and completely messed up. And all the emergency supplies are in boxes and bags in the dining room. Things have been like this since last fall and The Time Has Come to Do Something About It! J and I thought it would be a nice surprise for Dave today. We'll see how far we can get (i.e., how ruthless I can be: "But wait! I might someday need that Mac SCUSI cable from 1990! No, two coaxial cables is NOT enough! I am not sure what it is, but if I throw it out I might find out that it was important and THEN where will I be?").

Wish us luck...

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Drive with Jessie

After I picked Jessie up from school yesterday we went to the grocery store. They must feed the kids lots and lots of sugar for their afternoon snack as, boy was she wired! As we were driving (keep in mind this is only a few blocks) she saw a young woman with a dog. This sparked two threads. The first was on having a dog:

J: Mommy, can we have three dogs?
Me: No honey, Daddy doesn't want three dogs.
J: Can we have two dogs?
Me: We have two dogs.
J: No, two little dogs.
Me: no, honey.
J: Please can I have a little dog? I promise I'll take care of it? Please, please, please?

Isn't four too young for this kind of concerted begging? I thought I had until at least, uh, seven for this to kick in.

And then we got into 'how old is old?'.

Me: Is 20 old?
J: No.
Me: 40?
J: No.
Me: 60?
J: 58 is old.
Me: Is 60 old?
J: No, yes, no.
Me: What is old?
J: 70?
Me: Is 70 old?
J: Daffodils are old.
Me: Really?
J: Yes.

Where do you go from a wind shear like that?


J: Mommy, who's this? "I want me gold!"
Me: A pirate?
J: No.
Me: (remembering it was St. Patrick's day) A leprechaun?
J: No, (carefully enunciated for my benefit) a leper-corn.

And as we pulled into the grocery store parking lot (referencing the two pecans she picked up on the playground at school and brought into the car--yes we are in Georgia, they grow here and are *everywhere*) :

J: Did you take care of my coconuts?
Me: You mean your pecans?
J: All the things I have at school are 'coupons' that I found.


And finally, getting ready to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer the movie:

J: I love Buffy. She kills all the vampires.
I warn: This is a different Buffy. (She has seen the entire series more than once but this is the first time for the movie.)
J: Is she going to save the day?

Yup. Plot synopsis in a nutshell. The most disturbing part of watching the movie with her was her fascination with cheerleading--the uniforms and the pom-poms. I will have to be vigilant. A good nerd friend (really, really, really nerd--but not at all dork) from high school's daughter (yes, I am that old) became a cheerleader. I can still remember his "Where did I go wrong?"

Friday, March 17, 2006

I am a Badger

Got this (as I get so many good things!) from Bridget's blog. She is a horse, a noble (herd) animal. Me, like 24% of the people who took the test, am the badger:

The badger is... common. I guess most of us are grumpy but have hearts of gold. The other animals I could have been are the horse, bear, wolf, puma, otter and crow. I would like to have been an otter and see myself as more of a crow. Dave (not that he will ever take the quiz) is definitely a wolf. And Bridget--herd animal joke aside--really is the horse (you have to see the qualities to understand).

Music, Parenthood, and Death

Yesterday was a day of ups and downs. Dave is in Austin for the SXSW Music Festival. While he is gone I get a taste of single parenthood. Wow. Honestly some of it is easier and some of it is tougher. Yesterday morning on the way to school (after a terrific meltdown about panties, pants, socks and shoes... whatever), a squirrel ran across the road in front of us. Here is the ensuing conversation:

Jessie: "Did we hit it?"
Me: "No, we missed him."
Jessie: "It's a girl."
Me: "I didn't see that close." (Thinking of something I was not going to say to my four year-old)
She didn't miss a beat: "I did, but I didn't see her eyelashes."

That's how you tell the boy squirrels from the girl squirrels doncha know.

The rest of the day was normal... until I went to get her from school at 6:00 and found that the minivan had been egged. After we got home from school I checked Dave's car on the street and it had been hit twice too. What the hell. The only neighbors I have ticked off are the ones with the dogs and I haven't done anything to them recently. This morning I checked with a neighbor down the street (her name is Java, she was on her way back from Jupiter Coffee... some low-lying fruit are just too good to pass up) and though she hadn't been hit she saw lots of eggshells on the street. So I felt less violated.

Why are many acts of random scattered violence easier to accept and feel like less of a violation than a single one is/does? Because we are, in fact cattle, and it's nice to be in the herd? Well, if I have to be in the herd I will picture myself as a gazelle. I could go down the whole path of being from Montana where Men are Men, Women are Scarce and Sheep are Nervous again but... oh wait, I just did. Anyway, that's a flock, not a herd.

Dave being gone always makes me think of all kinds of weird things. This morning's topic (unsurprisingly) was what I would do if Something Bad Happened To Dave. Skip past all the suicidal depression part because that Would Not Be An Option because of the Sprout. Dating for about 15 years does not feel like an option either, but that is a separate and much less important topic. No, today I obsessed about where I would live and VERY surprisingly I thought that I would not move. Even though we have only lived here for three years, we have very good (old and new) friends and a good support system. I would both have to and be able to get a real job again. Jessie has friends and we could put our lives back together more easily here than we could elsewhere (e.g., in Montana by my parents, in Chicago by Dave's and old friends, in Austin by old friends, or somewhere new with no one). How odd. Here I am thinking I am struggling daily to leave here, and when I really focus on it, it doesn't seem like such a desirable idea.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Politically Incorrect

Ok, I probably should not be posting all of this. But it is my life and my rant and the chips are just going to have to fall as they may.

At the end of last year Jessie came home from school with head lice. Eeuw. But we dealt with it. As some of you know, she is 4-1/2 and has never had her hair cut. I have not had my hair cut since she was born and it is between my waist and my butt. She passed them to me. Eeeuw. We dealt. I nitpicked until my fingers bled. Literally. But we got over it. It took through January, but we (Though my head is itching again just thinking about it.)

I just came from the school and, oh joy, now they have pinworms going around! What the hell is it with the south?!? When it was announced that there were pinworms in one of the classes many parents piped up with really grotendous stories of how their parents had to deal with them... I never had lice, I never had pinworms, I never had cooties of *any* kind! Is it because I grew up in Montana and life there is just too harsh to pass around all this s*it?

Now I have the joy of looking at my child's butt in the middle of the night with a flashlight... and that is just the beginning. I am opening a bottle of lovely California red right now and drowning my sorrows in AJB Super Tuscan 2002 and 'The Princess Bride' on dvd (J's pick for a treat as D is out of town and she misses her Daddy) .

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Show and Tell

This week at Jessie's preschool they are doing a unit on pets and this morning the ferrets got to take to the road to meet all the kids. I am proud to report that both Saltimbocca (on the left) and Splinter (on the right) were perfect gentlemen. They let themselves be squeezed by Jessie and petted by all classmates with perfect aplomb. I have to say, if it weren't for the smell, ferrets would be the most perfect of pets--to the extent that there would be no reason to have anything else.

We are on #4 and #5 (the first three having died of old age in the past couple of years) and none of them have been biters... well, except for Squirm who was fond of ankles and would take a nice nip out of one given the opportunity. Smudge was the first ferret and he was a sable, as is Splinter. Then came Sisyphus who was a black-eyed white. Then Squrim the silver mitt joined us. Saltimbocca was a free-to-a-good-home adult ferret at the pet store. He is a silver and has been a wonderful companion to Splinter since the demise of the other three.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

We are Homeowners and it is Spring

I have become my grandfather. Most women become their mothers. Not me. I skipped a generation and gender-switched. Before water conservation and pressure washers I remember Grampa washing down his driveway and the sidewalks. Every bit of dirt and leaf had to go. Nothing could be left but the glistening, pristine pavement. It is a mesmerizing task, hours can pass without notice. The leaf blower and the pressure washer are the modern equivalents of the hose on the driveway for me.

Yesterday we spent 4-5 hours working on the yard and between the leaf blower and the pressure washer I let my obsessive compulsive control freaky nature have full rein. There is a big water oak in the yard next to ours and we have really lazy squirrels so there were acorns two inches deep everywhere. I blew them all away, or at least into a pile with all the leaves which my spouse loaded up in about 15 wheelbarrow loads and carted into the back corner of the back garden. I am thinking compost if we ever get any green material. I even took all the old mulch off the beds with the leaf blower and Dave valiantly braved Home Depot on a spring Sunday for cow poop and new cypress mulch. Sadly we were too tired to put it out so it sits in bags by the beds awaiting another spurt of homeownerliness. I bet the grass dies under the bags before we open them and liberate their contents.

It was warm enough yesterday that we had our first grill-and-eat-out-on-the-deck dinner with friends. In preparation (and so as not to shame the new grill) I pressure-washed the deck and all the patio furniture, and cleaned and filled the fountain. I could pressure-wash literally all day taking dirt, grime, mildew and paint right off the deck.

Dinner was bison rib eyes, andouille and apple sausages, hamburgers, corn on the cob and salad. It was accompanied by some of the wine we brought back from California as well as the excellent bottles our friend Keith brought (always brings). We would still like him if he didn't bring good wine to dinner, but as it is we LOVE him.

Even with nine fat candles in the middle of the table it was still too dark to see our food. Add a new project to the homeowner list: Lighting for the deck. Fortunately Christmas lights work well for this. Unfortunately it is the wrong season to buy them and the summer version--Christmas lights marketed as patio lights--costs 2-3 times as much.

Today I am stiff and sore and feeling VERY old and out of shape. Dave is in slightly better shape and clearly perkier about life as just before bed last night he said, "Just sixteen more weekends with a half day of yard work each and we'll be done!" I am ready to move into an industrial loft with no yard...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

So Why was "Control Freak" in Four Post Titles?

I realized after I got my four long posts out that I never got around to laying out the link between being stressed and being a control freak. So here it is: The more stressed I get, the more I feel the need to control my life and environment. Of course I am stressed to begin with because they are so out of control, but even if they weren't, I would see them that way.

Dave would never admit it, but I think he is a bit like this too. Right now he is behind me in the kitchen reorganizing all the cabinets. When I finish this we are going to clean off the front porch, the back deck, and the parking pad. We are going to mow the back lawn, rake the front lawn and contemplate the weeds (I don't think we will actually get around ot doing anything about them today). We might even go to Home Depot and buy some plants to put in the pots on the front porch. Yesterday he tried to do grill maintenance and was unable to get parts it was so old. It was also so rusted in parts from being stranded in the southern humidity that he finally gave up and, just in time for the 70 degree evenings, we bought a new grill.

Thanks to Ren and Jodi I did the word cloud thing. I had to take out all the blogthis and blog and blogger references, but otherwise it is pretty good. I was surprised "Jessie" did not show up and glad "pond" did.

Watched the Battlestar Gallactica season finale last night. What was THAT all about? In the process of making sure I had an actor's name right while posting a comment on Jodi's blog I stumbled upon this little gem: Cruise with Richard Hatch of Battlestar Gallactica! How weird would that be? We met him at DragonCon a couple of years ago and talked to him for quite awhile (it was before the new Battlestar was out). He was nice and it was interesting... but for a short conversation. For a whole cruise? And what about for him. How weird to be cooped up on a ship with a bunch of fans like that. My skin is jumping just thinking about it. I guess I like my privacy too much.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

From Control Freak to Car Theft, pt. 4

And now the end of Tuesday, a truly surreal day. Dave and I are snuggling in for the night under the down comforter and squabbling about down theft. (Yes, even in Georgia we sleep under a down comforter. What can I say? Blood thins when you live in the south.) It is not true, whatever you may have heard, that I steal all the down. The comforter migrates in its cover on its own to my side of the bed. So I asked Dave where he got the little clips for our previous comforter that go in the inside corners of the comforter cover to hold the comforter in place. Following is the actual conversation (which was probably funnier at the time than it will be now, but I compelled to chronicle):

D: "Linens and Things. I think Linens and Things doesn't exist yet."
B: "You mean anymore. It doesn't exist anymore."
D: "No, I think that is a perfectly acceptable use of the word 'yet'."
B: "No, 'doesn't yet exist' is correct, 'doesn't exist yet' means something else."
D: "That's it! Give me linguistic grief! Give me linguistic grief from behind!
Harder! faster! More pedantic!"

I squeezed his butt and told him I would give him linguistic grief... And then the censors arrived, the rating changed, and the rest of the exchange was covered with little black rectangles and blurred.

From Control Freak to Car Theft, pt. 3

I need to make this quick as there is glass to do (and bills to pay *sigh*), but I cannot leave it any longer. So the car theft portion of the week. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that we have new neighbors. They are very nice and went through absolute hell with the developer who rehabbed the house and sold it to them. Had it been me, there would have been much blood and probably death and dismemberment involved: I am from Montana, we know how to hide the bodies.

So things are winding down over there and Tuesday was the developer's workers' last day on the project. There were three contractor guys there with two pick-ups between them. The owner and his brother-in-law were also there and the owner has a pick-up. The tree trimmer showed up in his (you guessed it) pick-up with his crew of another three people in there massive truck pulling a chipper/shredder. So there are four pick-ups and a massive truck parked in front of the house and in the driveway. And there are nine men coming and going from the front yard to the back and in and out of the house. In the middle of all of this, someone allegedly walked down the street (4:30 in the afternoon), saw the keys were in the big white pick-up in front of the house, hopped in and drove off with it without anyone seeing a thing!

Then it took the police a half an hour to get there as they were busy with a two-alarm fire a couple of blocks away. The almost-owner of the truck, one of the three contractors, a young guy in his twenties, lost all his tools (some of which had been his grandfather's) including his compressor. The truck, it turns out, belongs to the developer who was in the process of selling it to the contractor.

The new neighbors are now completely freaked out having not lived in the city before and thinking they have moved to a hotbed of crime. I have my own theory as to what happened to the truck, and let's just say I don't think it was a random or even necessarily a true theft. My husband says I am too cynical.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Little Side Note in the Day

I was just getting my Mom's Mother's Day gift on (yes, it seems like I am ahead on this one, but she off to Australia and New Zealand soon and I needed to make sure she had it for the trip) and saw these.

Given my location, the title of this blog,and my love for all things chocolate, I just had to put in a plug for them (though I wouldn't actually *eat* them).

Sugar-free chocolate dipped pork rinds... yumm.

From Control Freak to Car Theft, pt. 2

So following my own thread (see From Control Freak to Car Theft, pt. 1), I am stressed about the state of the yard. We missed doing the last grass mowing of the year last fall. We never raked any leaves. I haven't weeded since God left Poughkeepsie. The yard looks a bit disheveled. I posted gleefully some time ago that I didn't need to clean up the dog poop in the backyard because it rained so much that it all melted into the ground. Well that is not *quite* the case. I may have ignored the backyard for the past several months, but the dogs have not. However the accumulation of leaves and long-leaf pine needles made the other accumulation difficult to see. It was a quandry and I was in it.

So back to what couldn't you do with an hour a day. I always seem to find this hour sometime between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm and the actual length of the hour is somewhat fluid as my husband will attest. He will also never admit it, but I think he is more than a bit concerned as to what he finds me doing with this hour every day when he gets home from work. This post splashes out in stark relief the need for that concern (I even scared myself).

We have new neighbors. The house on one side of us finally sold after three years of sporadic rehab and theft (up to and including the car theft alluded to in the last post and detailed later). The new owners made up for the previous owner's neglect with a vengeance. They put in new sod and *sanded the cracks*. They rake and powerwash and mulch and tidy every day. I look out over my domain and am ashamed. The shame rose to such an extent the other night that I got out two long extension cords and the leaf blower and right at dusk, the magic hour, I started to blow the leaves and pine needles off the back patio and lawn. And then came the amazing discovery: The leaf blower also works to blow poop. I kid you not.

When Dave got home I was chuckling maniacally and blasting poop and leaves across the grass into the bamboo. I was only sorry I couldn't get enough lift on either of them to send them sailing over our fence into the yard of the neighbor on the other side with the constantly barking dogs. By full dark the lawn and dry stream bed were free of leaves, pine needles and poop. Now I just need to get all the weeds out...

From Control Freak to Car Theft, pt. 1

I won't actually end with car theft--that will go somewhere in the middle. Nope, I am going to save linguistic grief and butt fondling for last. And though I initially meant to put everything in one post, the dogs have filled their own so they get to go first.

I am stressed. I have said it before, I am saying it now, and I will say it again ad nauseum. Stress is usually caused by an internal perception of being behind on one or many things. The current list includes (in no particular order):

1) All the winter and now all the spring yard work

2) Garage organization (made possible by the building of a shed which hasn't even been commissioned yet...)

3) Creation of an emergency supplies closet (which requires dispersal of all the computer and other electronic paraphernalia currently living in the closet designated as the emergency supplies closet, after which all the emergency supplies Dave bought a few months ago can be moved from their place on the dining room floor)

4) My current work load in the glass studio... see Glass Incarnate for more on that

5) Financial concerns (there is absolutely no need for this one, but that doesn't stop me from anxting about it).

6) My performace as a mother (I don't spend enough time with my child, I don't bathe her and cut her toenails and fingernails enough... you see where I am going with this)

7) The state of the dogs (they haven't been brushed or groomed since September)

Ok, my neuroses are out there. The first one I attacked was the dogs--not literally. I called our vet to get an appointment with the groomer. They don't have a groomer right now.

Side note: why can't personal grooming providers in Decatur for people and pets keep staff?!? Both salons I have gone to here do not seem to be able to keep a manicurist on staff so I have not been able to have a pedicure here in three years, and now the dogs can't get their nails clipped either!

So I called PetSmart. I was honest. I asked if they had ever groomed deerhounds before. The chipper young lady on the phone said no, but they welcome all kinds of dogs. I said they are gi-normous. I said they haven't been brushed since September. I said they have heavy undercoats. She said bring them in at 5:00 and they would be done by 9:00, they needed 3-4 hours. I said OK!

And I fought my way through rush-hour traffic with two squirming, squiggling dogs in the back of the minivan and got there at 5:00. We were turned away. There was nothing they could do for them, they were in too bad shape.

Another side note: I was so distraught and disgruntled that I went home and left my purse on the counter. I discovered the loss the next day and gave the manager an earful when I went back and picked it up about both the unseemly lack of ambition on the part of their groomers and on the dearth of initiative in the managerial staff for not calling me to let me know they had my purse in their safe. He apologized profusely and I left without having to tell him that we would never patronize them again.

When I got home from PetSmart with the somewhat subdued (see next side note) deerhounds I was determined to brush them out so I could take them somewhere and have them bathed. Pheeuuww! I remembered Bridget's post from awhile ago where she said something to the effect of, what couldn't you do with an hour a day, and I resolved to start spending an hour a day on the things causing me stress--starting with brushing out the dogs. An hour and a half got me 2/3 of the way through Jester and left enough dog hair on the deck to either knit another dog or line every bird nest in Dekalb county.

Final side note: PetSmart may SAY they welcome well behaved dogs in their store, but they lie. If they did, they would not wax their floors to such a high sheen that people in rubber-soled shoes have a problem slipping on them. Poor Jester never had a chance. He does not even like to walk on our hardwood floors and when he got into PetSmart and Seraph galloped towards the groomer pulling us both along with her... Do you have a mental image? Have you seen Bambi? Remember the winter scene where he and Thumper slide across the pond? Right before telling me they could not groom my dogs the staff had to find a big rubber matt to put down for Jester to use to stand up on. He could not get any purchase on the floor.)

Seraph got an hour the next night which got me half way through here--she is more tender and I have to go slower so even though she is smaller, she takes more time. Smaller is also relative as she is still 33" tall at the shoulder and weighs 93 pounds.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Me and George (and I don't mean Bush!)

Last night (early this morning) I dreamed that I was with a big group of ordinary people in California and we were told we were chosen to be in the next George Clooney movie. And they came to me and said I had to lose some weight. Can you tell I watched the Oscars last night? We watched at a friend's house and he has a wide screen tv. The signal he received for the Oscars was in 4:3 ratio (regular tv) so he used an alternate mode (I like to call it stretch mode) to widen the picture and fill the screen. The result was that the women onscreen looked *normal*. Well, Nicole Kidman was still a bit thin, but I cannot imagine what it would have been like to see the whole thing in normal width...

It's another bad day in the south for me. The week in California just whetted my appetite for the west--not that I want to live in California either. There are too many people in the LA metro area--and the houses are way to expensive. Better suited to me would be the coastal area between LA and San Francisco, but they are too technophobic there: Our cell phones did not work most of the time, finding free wireless hotspots was rare, and when there was one little rain storm and it knocked out the electricity in San Simeon for several hours. Fun was had by candlelight, but still...

Friday, March 03, 2006

Get Ready for the Oscars

This is my favorite group party of the year. Other people like Mardi Gras or Halloween. Me, I want the Oscars. And for the first time I have not seen *any* of the movies. I have read the short story that was the basis for Brokeback Mountain, and as a third generation Montanan on one side, I can tell you the story was all around pretty accurate.

And on the subject of that movie, I was looking at Bridget's blog this morning and what did I find but this little gem. Make sure your sound is on, ignore the narrator, watch all the way through. Makes me homesick in a big way. Okay, okay. Big talk about the Oscars driving this post, but let's be honest, it was the hunks on ice. Better than the Olympics any day.

PS--For anyone wanting to see more of the blond hunk on ice, he is the featured makeover on Queer Eye tonight at 5:00 Eastern on Bravo...