Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life

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Elf Yourself!

I just can't seem to help myself...

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

One Last Movie For the Day...

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Snowball Fight With Friends

Thanks to Keith and Stacy for joining us for our elf snowball fight!

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Merry Christmas Dad!

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Merry Christmas Everyone!

Something's coming next to this spot...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Was a Fool

I should remember that true beauty has nothing to do with looks, and yet I am ashamed to admit that I underestimated because of a not perfect appearance. I was a fool.

Last Wednesday I baked Christmas cookies with Becky H. It was a very enjoyable day, but it was a considerable effort for both of us, and I frankly didn't think the end results would be worth it (we are not, after all, professional bakers). When all was done, out of the oven and divvied up into big ziploc bags, I basked in the glow of a nice day with a good friend, and figured that the people we gifted them to would appreciate them for our effort rather than for any intrinsic goodness. As has been noted, I was a fool.

Oh the recipients appreciate them alright, but not because of obligated regard for effort. They, and I, appreciate them because they are damn tasty! Store-bought cookies always lure me with their prettiness, but their taste never lives up to my expectations. The cookies we made--while a little more brown than we would have liked (the oven needs to be recalibrated and Dave has volunteered to step up to that plate)--burst with swirls of delicately complex flavor varying from a perfectly balanced key lime to a genuinely spicy gingerbread. The spritz butter cookies are awash with almond-infused butter. The peanut butter Hershey Kiss thumbprints have an underlying richness that the pretty store-bought peanut butter cookies never even approach. The Mexican wedding cakes are so chock-full of ground up pecans that their rich nut oil raises these little powdered sugar bombs from a dry, dusty cookie into the realm of the sublime. Even the anise crisps (I say "even" because I am not typically a friend of the anise), with their subtle aroma and bite provide a perfect finish as they round out the flavors of all the other cookies. Before really experiencing them I thought to myself that I should just have bought a bunch of Pepperidge Farm cookies, it would have been cheaper. Yes they would have been cheaper, but oh so not better. I was a fool.

Yesterday while I dressed the loom Dave finished the last batch I had not had time to make--Dave's Dreambars. The recipe is from a Christmas cookie book and really called "Dave's Dreambars". Maybe only someone name Dave could make them. My Dave's comment on them was that it was if space aliens had come down and put a monolith next to my grandmother's dreambars and they had evolved into a higher state of being. I think he means that they are damn tasty.

So, Becky, want to bake again next year?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Just Freaky...

Okay, the weather is just plain freaky. I have been moaning and whining about how cold it's been here. Every day when I check the temps it's colder here than it is in Chicago, Missoula, Kalispell and Polson (the last three are in Montana for the northwest-challenged). I just looked at the weather, and it's 68 degrees here at 8:00 pm! That's the same temp it is in Los Angeles and a degree warmer than Phoenix--and it's three hours later at night here! I, of course, spent the day in two sweaters and a knitted scarf and wondered why I was sweating...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving, No Longer Thankful

Ahh, it's been a weekend--and not the kind of wonderful, off-to-get-a-Christmas-tree, deck the halls kind of weekend I had hoped for either. It started off well enough with a lovely, relaxed, cooking-light Thanksgiving day (we had dinner at the house of some friends) and rapidly went downhill from there...

Thanksgiving night J took a fall at our friends' house and it looked like she might have sprained or broken her little toe. Nothing to do about it but wait for it to get better. Friday morning she woke with a cold and a fever, and between the foot and the cold, she stayed in bed or on the couch for the day. Saturday morning I woke to the remembrance that strep throat has been romping through J's class. When she still had a fever and a bad sore throat and couldn't put any weight on her foot, we decided to take her for medical help. At 11:10 am I called her doctor's office to see if their service had a clinic recommendation and was surprised to get not only a warm body on the line but also the news that if we could be at the office by 11:30 they would see us there as they're open till 12:00 on Saturday. We dressed, we raced, we made it. Then we waited. And waited.

We finally saw a nurse practitioner who confirmed that J did have strep throat and who further said that she might have a fracture in the growth plate in her foot so we had to go in for x-rays. Off we went to Eggleston to wait some more. At 3:00 we got the welcome news that J did not have a broken foot (so no cast and no crutches). As we happily headed down the hall of the hospital--visions of Christmas-tree-shopping dancing in my head--J gave me one frantic look and threw up all over her father (who was carrying her). Oh boy. Got home and found out that a stomach bug had ravaged the house of the friends we had had Thanksgiving dinner with, and Mom and both kids were throwing up all Friday.

J showing us the contents of her stomach lasted through late evening, by which time I was starting to feel queasy too. Today J and I are both laid low, though we have so far mostly managed to keep down what has gone down. I now drag myself back to bed--after a little chicken noodle soup provided by the very patient and nurturing (and still healthy) spouse. Happy Holidays everyone!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What Is Your Name Fairy?

I think seven is the perfect age. Of course I thought four was the perfect age too, but I was wrong. It's seven. The blossoming reasoning power combined with the perpetual wonder and belief in magic of the seven year-old make all the tired, wretched, frustrating trivialities of the adult day melt away.

Last night, just out of the shower after a long two hours at her school's holiday artist market, Jessie asked if she could please, please do something before bed. When I asked what, she solemnly told me that Ethan had told her that if you write "What is your name, fairy?" on a piece of paper and put it out in your yard with some crumbled bread, a fairy will come in the night and write her name and leave you a crystal. She added that you could do this the first time any night, but on subsequent times you had to do it on the night of the full moon...

I believe the fairy did write her name, but the rain washed it away. J will have to try again on December 12. Her father and I will have to stock up on crystals.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

262 Days... And Counting

Got the invitation for my 30th year high school reunion this morning, RSVP'd, and am heading for the treadmill. Guess there's no longer any doubt that I am an average American woman over the age of 40.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dinner on Sunday...

I just couldn't break my streak today. Time for dinner and I decided to go for the easy out of the ballpark hit of fish sticks, tater tots, french fries and canned spinach. My mother-in-law called as I was preparing my culinary masterpiece and she joked (having read my blog today) that she had better let me get off the phone so I didn't burn the dinner. Mwah hah hah hah. How could I burn fish sticks?!? I used a guaranteed accurate timer, and turned it off the second it went off. I also turned off the oven. And then I went on with microwaving spinach, directing the J to set the table, and various other things... and I forgot to take the dinner out of the oven for several more crispy minutes.

The highlight of dinner came when J picked up her first fish stick, turned it over, looked at the black part and said "This looks like asphalt." She was quick to add that she was sure it didn't taste like asphalt, but she later asked if she had to eat the black part because she didn't like it...

All I can say is I am saved again by the white wine. Dave, come home to me! How many hours left till CNN lets him go? 63?

My Favorite Day

It's my favorite day of the year, the day when I get an extra hour of sleep on a Sunday morning. Sadly my spouse had to head off to work (only two more days till the election!) so I was snuggling in alone. It's a good day for someone else too--Happy Birthday Stacy! (see you for champagne on Tuesday :-).

My mother is still visiting so Dave bought a tube of orange rolls for us to have fresh hot pastry for breakfast this weekend. Yes, I realize there are some reading this post who do not consider pastry from a tube to be either pastry or fresh even when hot, but it is a delicacy in our household and a special treat. Today I saddled up and moseyed to the kitchen with the J (who always helps her father make the weekend morning orange rolls when we have them) to bake a batch.

As I preheated the oven, got out the baking stone and started to peel open the tube J looked at me dubiously and asked if I was sure I knew how to make them... What does it say about one's perceived cooking abilities when one's child questions one's qualifications to bake tubed pastry?!?

I burned them. They were practically inedible (for the purists in the audience they were more inedible than usual). *Sigh* I can't wait till Dave is back home and reigning in the kitchen. Mom and I had Halloween candy and sauvignon blanc for dinner last night, J had peanut butter and jelly--she had chicken (fingers and fries) for lunch so she had at least one good meal in the day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Howling... Squared

As I was catching up on the happenings in my world this morning, emergency vehicles went by on the busy street around the corner from our house. Emergency vehicles screaming by, sirens blaring, is not an uncommon happening at our house. Neither is the response of the dogs. Sadly, I was only able to catch Seraph on film this morning during the second round of sirens--Baxter was very vocal for the first round, but he sat out on the second. There is a reason deerhounds are classifieds in same family as blood hounds and other hunting hounds...


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As is the case with most if not all video filmed, editing was needed. As I sat editing, Seraph decided to accompany. Notice in the last couple notes of accompaniment how much she resembles Chewbacca in sound and face. Think George Lucas had a deerhound?



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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And I Am a...

Your true political self:
You are a

Social Liberal
(76% permissive)

and an...

Economic Moderate
(41% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Democrat


You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness.

Explanation Of Results

"We wanted to get beyond the two catch-alls of American politics, the Democratic and Republican parties, and see where people actually stand. Parties can bring together people with marginally differing values and make collective action easier. But party platforms can misrepresent their constituents, and blind loyalty to a party can convince individuals to harbor inconsistent views.


The goal of this test was to exactly classify your personal politics, without the traditional labels. We avoided the edgy party issues and focused on fundamental values. Your score is a measure of what you believe in, economically and socially.


Higher permissiveness, on either axis, indicates a "live and let live" philosophy. Of course, we're almost conditioned in America, "Land of the Free", to think positively of such a philosophy. But practically speaking, permissiviness (or its opposite, regulation) can create any number of outcomes:

For example, on the economic axis, a highly permissive system, like the American system of the early 1900s, might mean things like low taxes and increased scientific innovation. It might also result, as it did back then, in unrestricted child labor and millions of poor people with black lung.

At the other end of the economic spectrum, a highly regulated system might conserve the environment, establish national health care, and eliminate poverty. But as we've learned from the Soviet system, extreme regulation can also lead to stagnation, sameness, and unhappiness.

If you liked the test, forward it. Thanks for participating."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jott Sweeps the Household

J: How do you get to that Jott thing? (peering intently at Dave's Blackberry and clicking away at it)
D: I don't know sweetie. (liar)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Genius of Genius!

I upgraded my iTunes this morning to 8.0 to check out the new "Genius" feature that creates playlists from your library based on one song. All I can say is wow, wow, wow. It's a grey, mopey day here in Atlanta and I had a yen to hear "Ada" by the National. Out of curiosity I asked Genius what would go well with it and this is what I got:


I have long been looking for a way to create playlists for working out based on beats per minute or something other than manually searching my library. Got to go see what I'll get from "Venus" covered by Bananarama...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Peaches and Death

"It smells like rotten peaches and death, sweetie." Dave referring to my peach scnapps on the rocks.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Stinkweed By Any Other Name

My grandmother taught me to rise above, to turn the other cheek, to always be a lady. A lady is courteous, never petty or small-minded. I love my grandmother and revere her teachings. But today I was surprised into a full-belly appreciative laugh when my spouse shared with me the nickname She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-In-This-House has acquired on certain corners of the net (witnessed by me at Iowahawk's blog): "Caribou Barbie". It resonates on soooo many levels!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Thank You Emily's List!

Thank you to Emily's List for the image at left.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

She Who Shall Not Be Named In This House

My spouse and friends were stunned last week when McCain announced his choice of running mate and I immediately began to froth at the mouth. I am not known as a particularly political animal, and there are very few politicians who can set me off. But of those who can, She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-In-This-House is right up there at the top of the list with former secretary of the interior James Watt.

Though in the weeks preceding the announcement of her selection as VP her staffers assiduously rewrote her wikipedia entry giving her a pre-election shiny new face, she is still the wolf-killing, snowmobile-riding, oil-mad, anti-environmentalist that I have come to know and despise.

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And for those who need issues about people not animals and wilderness to guide them, there's this lovely piece by Hilary Rosen (shown at right).

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Bunny Gets It

Though not exactly an important moment in our lives, the filming of The Great Bunny Caper was entertaining... and it shows off Dave's new Do quite nicely!

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First Day of School

I've been slow on posting words, pics and vid of the important events happening in our lives right now. So before any more time passes, I am going to get the First Day of School up. Surprisingly, I did not cry during the Rose ceremony--as I did last year even though I didn't have a child participating in it. I guess I was too busy passing the tissue box and taking pictures. For the friends and family who weren't able to be there for the assembly, here was the beginning of J's first day of first grade.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

It Was a Weekend!

Change just keeps on rolling through the Griffith household. On Saturday we traded in the Seebring convertible for a Mini Cooper convertible. Mini Coopers are astonishingly popular right now because of gas prices. The saleswoman at the dealership was very apologetic that they didn't have any available and because of the year end, we would have to wait until December to even order one. I had looked at their inventory online before we went there and asked her what about the used black one. It was so new that she didn't know about it and it hadn't even been detailed yet. We put dibs on it right quick--and it was a good thing as someone else tried to buy it while we were filling out the paperwork.

It is a wonderful little car--peppy, responsive, and surprisingly roomy inside. It is a perfect tooling around town car for Dave (who put a total of 20,000 miles on the Seebring in the five and a half years since we moved here). J isn't wild about it--which is too bad as we have already told her that it'll probably be her first car. But since her problems have to do with how much (little) she can see from the backseat and the diminished leg room, I think she'll be just fine with driving it. (Not that I'm looking that far ahead or anything).

Heck, I'm tempted to drive to the train station and swap the Honda for it so I can drive it to ikebana and the Container Store today. The only thing stopping me is that the shelf I have to return to the Container Store won't fit in it! Of course Dave may have been having so much fun with it that he drove to work instead of taking the train today...

Sunday was another milestone day as we put together the shelving from Ikea and the closet and art desk from the Container Store in the former studio. Today the loom, the hope chest full of yarn and the armoire full of yarn will get moved down--as will the treadmill. Dan and Dick will get the doors back on the closets and all the doorknobs on, and Dick will tile the floor of the little landing at the bottom of the stairs.

Now over to Glass Incarnate to begin on the week!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Is It Jeff Bridges? John Malkovich? Ben Kingsley?

No! It's Dave Griffith!

I just shaved my spouse's head. Jeff Bridges in Iron Man has got nothing on Dave. Of course I videoed the whole thing. Hope I can find time to edit and post it tomorrow.

Note: Dave has not had his hair even *cut* since before we met (over 13 years ago). A trim every few years, sure--but no length off.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

My Lucky Necklace

For the past eight years I have worn a silver yucca blossom pendant that Dave bought for me at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar in Austin. Besides my wedding ring, it's the only piece of jewelry I consistently wear, and I have become superstitious about it (if I don't wear it something bad will happen). A week and half ago on Saturday, Jessie was twisting the chain and it broke. I didn't have a replacement chain so I stopped wearing the pendant...

On Monday, I overdrew the checking account.

On Tuesday the cat died. Tuesday night lightning struck the studio and took out the new fax/copier/scanner, and the alarm panel.

Wednesday I discovered the fried alarm panel was blocking the phone lines and I had to spend over two solid hours on the phone with the alarm company and ended up manually rewiring the entire panel for our house AND recabling the DSL connections after that.

Thursday Dave called to tell me the dryer was broken (not heating). I was in Philly.

Friday I overdrew the checking account AGAIN (this time--like last month--by depositing a check from a business account book that I had canceled after the burglary. Where do these books keep coming from?!?).

Saturday Jessie took a really bad fall on her scooter and wouldn't let Dave touch it to clean it. She called me and asked me to drive home *right now* to be with her. I had to explain that I flew to Philly and wouldn't be able to be home till Tuesday. Three days to a six year-old might as well be eternity. Then she asked if I would get her some small crutches. It was an ugly couple of days.

Sunday I figured out what was going on and started wearing a red enamel-coated steel peace sign pendant made by Jeff Manpearl of Ferroglyphs as a stand-in for the lucky necklace until I can get a new chain. Things have held steady since.

The moral of the story? Don't ignore your inner superstitious peasant.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good-bye Loiosh

Loiosh, our 17 and a half year-old Norwegian Forest Cat, died peacefully at home this morning after good-bye pets and loves.

She was diagnosed with diabetes last week, but her condition did not improve with the administration of insulin. She stopped eating--not even succumbing to the temptations of succulent tuna and kitten food--and drinking, and we let her go on her own terms.

She was the oldest member of our pet family--she was with Dave for four years before we married. She went from a quiet, peaceful life to Dave to the chaos of me, a dog, two screaming birds, five ferrets, two more dogs, a child, and another dog, and she did it with calmness and serenity. She was loved, and she is missed.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Full Life

The weekend has been too busy to post--out of town guests, sick cat, friends for dinner (not literally!), and full days in the studio to boot. I really will put up the movies from Montana, just not today. Really, really.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In Love

It is getting harder and harder to pretend that these movies have anything to do with Glass Incarnate so I'm going to start posting them here. And next week--when we are actually staying in the cabin at the lake and not staying at my parents' house (who have DSL)--I won't be able to post at all (much less post movies).

So today was another perfect day in paradise (well, except for all the six year-old and 80 year-old whining). It was quite windy both at my parents' and at the lake, and J got cold so we came home at 5:00 instead of 7:00 (the sun goes down about 10:00 here in the summer).

Thank you again to George Winston--whose music has always inspired me and made me think of Montana--for the soundtrack song, "Cradle" from Forest.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Montana!

Today I am no longer Stranded in the South, far from Montana and a Missoula state of mind (though I am wrapping my mind more and more around a Georgia state of mind--at least for the gardening and friends...). We landed in Missoula just before noon, and now we are up in Polson looking out over Flathead Lake. Jessie is settling right in and tormenting my parents' dog Jig. Of course Jig--the same age as Jessie in dog years--can hold his own. He is the talkingest dog I have ever seen. I only captured a snippet, but he is not at all shy about sharing a piece of his mind with you.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

July 5th--Montana Tomorrow!

In honor of the Saturday after the 4th of July--a very family-oriented time for me--I am posting two videos of the J. One was taken yesterday at a 4th of July picnic at friends' house and you can tell who's in the video mostly by the cheering in the background. The little itty bitty speck in the back of the yard is J riding a 2-wheeled bike unassisted for the first time. It was a great (distant, brief) moment. The second video is past of the show she did a week or so ago that I hadn't put up yet. Our child is a a monkey.

video video

Look forward to lots of videos from Montana over the next couple of weeks. (Really.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Jessie and the Missing Teeth

It's Saturday and the posts are flowing. This Flip Video camera is an amazing thing. Here 's the latest from Jessie:

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These are mostly for the grandparents, but this one is pretty funny.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Life Options

My first job in high school was working in a laundromat next to the school a few afternoons and evenings a week. After that I started a career in the food service industry that lasted till I graduated from college. I even took a few years off after my first year of college and waitressed, cocktail waitressed and bartended full time. My last job waitressing ended in 1987 when I headed off to graduate school. But in later years when money got tight, and my financial situation would look precarious, I always knew that I had the safety net of being able to get a job waiting tables and I could support myself. Last night I got to test the strength of that net and the result was nothing short of exhilarating.

Last night, after a mediocre, unfulfilling day in the studio for me (I didn't get done what I planned/needed to get done, it was hot, I was tired and crabby), a frustrating, tedious day at work for my spouse, and an unsatisfying day at Circus Camp for the J, the family decided to head off to our favorite little local restaurant for a comfort dinner and a bottle of wine for Dave and me. We got there just before 7:00 and there was a table of 16 partying women on the patio, a couple of tables with two people each on the deck, and another couple at a table inside. We sat down and within ten minutes there were three more tables of two, three or four people who had arrived.

The owner and one waitress were the only front room staff on as they have been really slow for the summer and weren't expecting anything different last night. They were already getting a bit frazzled with no hostess or bartender as back-up when the waitress had an emergency and had to leave at 7:30. By then there were nine tables--one the increasingly raucous large group of women. It was a beautiful, cool night and the thirsty and hungry neighbors were coming out in droves. When the waitress brought us our dinner and said she had to go, I asked the owner if there was anything I could do to help. At first she demurred, but when pressed, she said I could take out an order for three to the deck when it came up.

I took that order out, seated and set up more tables, got water, took drink orders, opened wine, and got drinks, took orders and served food. I was just going to help for a little while, but they were really slammed. Dave took Jessie home when they were done eating and got her to bed, and I stayed on. When things finally settled down and I took stock, it was 11:00! By the end I had learned the entire computer system and entered orders, processed credit cards, and closed out tables. It truly was exhilarating. I really, really enjoyed myself. I had a great time talking to people, bringing them good food and drink so they could have a good evening and a good dining experience in a great atmosphere.

Sure, it was a little chaotic and maybe a bit less smooth for them than it would have been with a professional waitress. But I know the menu, I am familiar with a lot of the wine on the list, and I could confidently recommend items. And the memory for orders and the ability to carry lots of plates and glasses came right back. It was far easier to slip back into waitressing after a 20-year hiatus than it would be to downhill ski again (same approximate hiatus). I reveled in the economy of movement necessary to do it well (combine as many things as you can into every trip from the kitchen/bar to the floor in both directions, and never have empty hands).

At the end of it all I hope that my friend and her restaurant benefited from my help, and that the customers who were there had a positive dining experience, because I sure had a wonderful time. It was *just* what I needed to perk me out of the doldrums, and I wouldn't mind helping out again. Last night I worked for a bottle of wine, maybe next time I'll work for tips!

(Photos courtesy of Dave and his Blackberry)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

First Feature Film: Circus Camp!

At the end of a week at Circus Camp, the little campers put on a show. This week's theme was Alice in Wonderland (the kids with the pink balloons on their heads are the white rabbits, the big blue hoop is the rabbit hole to Wonderland). After the little Alices go through the hoop to Wonderland, the story devolves. This movie is MUCH better in a bigger format--320X420 (standard web size) makes all the little people look even more itty bitty. But if you have a spare 11 minutes, enjoy!

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Copperhead Snakes

An average of seventy people a day have been visiting Stranded in the South for the past few weeks. I finally figured out why. Apparently lots of people are searching Google for information on copperhead snakes. For quite awhile, on the Google results page the rightmost photo of the three photos at the top was from my post Bamboo, Five Toads and a Snake. I expect traffic to die down now that the same search (appropriately) goes to the Copperhead Snake site (from whence I got the original photo and neglected to credit it--sorry Copperhead Snake people). I expect traffic will go back to the normal crawl now.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Circus Camp...

Bill asked what Circus Camp is on Glass Incarnate earlier today. Well, this is what Jessie learned today in the magic lessons at circus camp...

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Happy Birthday to Me

I love our cake plate...

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This video thing is kind of like a train wreck. I really want to stop myself and look away (as I'm sure you do too), but it's just too horrific.

This Could Get Tiresome...

Tried out the camera and the pool (we have joined the Redneck Revolution) some more today. This post (and the videos) are aimed straight at the grandparents--and they may be too Leave It To Beaver even for them...


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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Technology At The Speed of Light

Not too long ago this morning I finished the post about my birthday celebration at the aquarium (see below). Since then I opened my presents, and put together and used the one from my spouse--a piece of technology, of course. But it's not just any piece of technology. It's the blogger's wet dream, a Flip Video--a video camera that looks like your first Barbie camera (mine's pink, like the one in the picture) and is about as easy to use. You put in the AA batteries, you turn it on, you point, you shoot, you flip open the USB adapter, plug the camera ino the computer, and, Voila!

I kid you not, the instructions are about two lines long, and it just... works. Hardware manufacturers who incorporate a software interface have been promising plug and play ease of use for years, but very (VERY) few of them deliver. My first technological oh-my-god-I-can't-believe-how-great-this-is in many years came from the iPhone (Dave's birthday present to me last year) and then I got another big zing from the Amazon Kindle. Now my first foray into the new generation of video technology has raised the bar on what I can do both on Glass Incarnate (video walk-arounds in the studio and at shows, tutorials) and on Stranded in the South (the Jessie video opportunities alone boggle my mind and are going to thrill the grandparents).

So without further ado, here's my first effort:

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Happy Birthday... To Me!

Today I reached the celebratory milestone of 47. I don't know why I'm so excited about 47, but I truly am. Is it because I have accepted gravity? (They're going to point south no matter how much I will it otherwise). Is it because my number one goal this year--for the first time in my life--is not to lose weight? (It's to achieve a life/work balance). I don't know why, I just know I'm pretty up with 47.

And the birthday year started off well. In spite of the Phillies 4-2 win over the Braves on Friday night with a crushing final out at home plate, we had a great time at the ballpark--the fireworks were fantastic. It was hot as all get out, and it rained, but getting there, parking, getting out were all surprisingly easy--easy enough that I would like to go to more games and I normally would do anything to avoid the crush of that much humanity.

We continued the party last night at the Georgia Aquarium where we spent the night sleeping with the fishes. I didn't have my laptop or I would probably have blogged the night. As it was, Dave had his Blackberry and updated Facebook with enviable frequency (as seen at left).

The night at the aquarium begins at 3:00 pm with dinner at the Aquarium Cafe--you arrive and eat dinner on your own with vouchers they provide. At 5:15 everyone spending the night (there were 230 of us last night with about 200 between the ages of 6 and 11) gathers and breaks into groups for fun (and educational) presentations, experiments and behind the scenes tours. I was most excited to see the education area of the museum--not something ordinary visitors get to see--it's for school groups--and the top of the Ocean Voyager area (the 6.3 million gallon aquarium exhibit--shown at right).

At 10:00 pm we found out where we were going to sleep, and our group of 24 people (all families) lucked out and was assigned the tunnel under the Ocean Voyager (all of us settling on our mats shown at left). It has a 6.25 inch thick acrylic dome above so you can lay and watch the fish--including the four whale sharks (one of which is shown below)--swim over you all night.

For any of you who have visited the aquarium here the tunnel is the long area with the moving walkway and one of my two favorite spots at the aquarium (the other being in the Ocean Voyager room in front of the ginormous 2 foot thick acrylic window/wall). The tunnel--except for being a main corridor with emergency lighting on all night--is probably the best place to sleep as there isn't a bad mat--everyone gets a perfect window view.

Our sleeping companions were Fred, the potato grouper (shown at right), a hammerhead and several other sharks, fish uncounted, and schools of rays (shown to the best of my limited photographing ability below). I was hoping there was a cool name for a group of rays like rhinoceros get to congregate in a stubbornness and ravens get together in an unkindness, but apparently rays just school like most of the other fish. Dave thinks they should be called a beam of rays, I think he might be on to something. Herring get to be an army, and barracuda get to be a battery. Poor rays.

The best part of the sleepover for me though was the Starbucks coffee and big dispenser of half 'n' half they had waiting for us this morning at 6:00 when they rousted us from our mats. Oy. I didn't expect to spend the 47th anniversary of my birth sleeping on a floor with 23 other people, but I wouldn't have exchanged it with anything. A couple of hours of sleep when we got home at 7:00, and I am right as rain!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

More Neighborhood Joy

Noon yesterday at our neighborhood grocery store (where we do all our shopping...):

FBI Press Release
Atlanta Field Office
Gregory Jones, Special Agent in Charge

2635 Century Parkway Suite 400
Contact: SA Stephen Emmett
Atlanta, GA 30345 Desk: (404) 679-6451
(404) 679-9000 Cell: (404) 392-2506

For Immediate Release
May 21, 2008

Atlanta - Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Gregory Jones, FBI Atlanta, requests the assistance of the public with regard to today's armed bank robbery which occurred at the Suntrust bank, located inside of a Publix grocery store, at 2235 Glenwood Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia.

At approximately 11:50 a.m. today, 05/21/08, a lone black male entered the above bank and, after approaching the teller counter, brandished a black revolver type handgun, and then presented the teller with a note demanding money. He departed the bank without further incident, having obtained an undisclosed amount of money. He was observed departing the area on a red bicycle.

The robber is described as being a black male, 28-35 years of age, 5'9'-6'0" in height, 175-180 lbs ., wearing a tan or beige wave cap/"do rag" on his head, a beige or tan long sleeve jacket, and had a white/tan towel around his neck.

Anyone with information regarding the above robbery should contact the Atlanta office FBI at tel. (404) 679-9000.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I Want Another Child

Me: I want to get a two-year old.
Dave: You can rent one.
Me: No, I want my own.
Dave: They smell and they yell. The whole newly unfolding consciousness thing... I'm all about sense of wonder, but they smell and they yell... a lot.
Me: I have to go post now.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Brenda, Dave and Jessie Avoid Guantanamo Bay

At last the promised post. We are home, vacation is over. Where were we? We were on the Liberty of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship cruising to Puerto Rico, St Maarten and Labadee Haiti--not that we cared about the itinerary. All we wanted was seven days lost on a ship without a care, concern or responsibility--and cruising is great for that. Our room steward Wayne made up the beds every morning and turned them down every night--leaving chocolates and towel animals in his wake much to J's delight.

We had planned not to get off the ship at all, but they moved the Adventure Ocean camp (5-7 year-olds) to Labadee Haiti for the day we were moored there. J would have driven us stark, staring mad with nothing to do all day (all the rest of the kids having gone ashore) so we went to Haiti to the beach. Royal Caribbean International told us we went to an island off the coast of Haiti, but from the map it's apparent it was a peninsula, not an island. However the closest Haitians come to it is working in the straw market there. The view from our cabin, with a stretch, was towards Guantanamo, Cuba--hence the post title. The photo at right is J coming down the water slide on the beach in Haiti--she's the little tiny speck at the top. Wheeee!

While the goal of the vacation for Dave and me was downtime, J is not so down with the downtime. So I picked a ship that was a bit bigger and had a bit more to offer in the amenities department than the one we took last year. In all, I am not sure it was a good choice, but it may just be that we missed Bill, Bridget and Tom--our companions from last year. 'More amenities' did not translate into 'did more' for me. True, there was ice-skating in the rink on deck three--we didn't participate but we did catch the Russian skaters in their ice show spectacular. And there was surfing on deck eleven on the Flowrider--none of us did that either as J is so light she would have been swept right off the back and Dave and I just weren't exhibitionistic (or coordinated) enough.

We did meet nice people at our dinner table the third night into the cruise. The first night we stayed in our room exhausted after the three-hour grueling check-in on top of four hours of travel and the second night we were the only three people seated at a table for eight--we moved for the third and subsequent nights. The man in the photo at left is Dick, one of our tres cool dinner companions in his suit and shades on one of the formal nights.

The H2O Zone water area on the ship was a good place to frolic and cool off on the hot days (thanks to Avinash Kaushik who took the same cruise last year for the photo). The sculpture in the water park bears a striking resemblance to the work of Niki de Saint Phalle that we saw in the Atlanta Botanical Gardens a couple of years ago.

One of the highlights of the trip for the J was climbing the rock wall to ring the bell. Her face painted as a tiger from the morning at the Adventure Ocean camp, she geared up and attacked the wall. Her fierce determination got her about halfway up before the step spacings were just too great to go on by herself. Luckily her spotter gave her a little pull and got her up to a level where she could continue on and with a mighty reach she grabbed the bell cord and rang it for all she was worth. There were also a few rounds of father-daughter mini golf in the late afternoons while I snoozed. Bliss.

I read between six and eight books, and I didn't work at all for the entire week--I barely checked email twice (though Stacy will say I worried inordinately as I called home twice to check on the studio and the house after our break-in the week before the trip). Worst part of the week was the sunburn I got on the first day out that kept me out of the sun for the rest of the cruise--I peel in a constant little blizzard of flakes even as I write. I slept, read, cuddled with my family, slept, read, and cuddled for a whole week. What's not to like about that vacation?