Thursday, December 31, 2009

What ho, 2010?

What should I do differently in 2010? I don't make formal New Year's resolutions, but a swirl of thoughts keep poking at me the last few days.

Digression: I am finding it incredibly difficult to get this post written. I put it off too late today and now the house is full of people TALKING. I just put on my headphones and fired up iTunes and am hoping a little John Cougar music will wipe out the background noise to the point where I can think to type.

Explanatory Digression: My 47 year old ears can't understand one word in five that John Cougar sings unless I crank it really loud...effectively making his music into white noise when played at a lower volume.

In 2010 I want to:

1. Once and for all solve the Killer Dishes issue. I'm tired of worrying about whether there is lead in the old transferware dinnerware we eat off of (and microwave in) daily. Either Tom is going to come up with a test that will reassure us both, or we are going to replace them with something we know is safe.

2. Understand what holiness is. I know it is being like Christ, but I want to really know what that means. Not what people mean when they say "holy" and hold up their list of rules that I have failed to adhere to . Not what the hymn Take Time To Be Holy seems to mean...although the author lists some things that might be components of holiness. The idea of "taking time to be holy" scritches at my nerves like the spray-painted graffiti that says "Try Jesus". Yeah, try Jesus...if that doesn't work, maybe some Lipitor? Take time to be holy, and then take some time to exercise.

3. Knit a pair of socks. Tom gave me teeny double-pointed needles for Christmas. I intend to buy some sock yarn, perhaps even tomorrow, and make some socks. Perhaps very bad socks. Perhaps the last socks I ever make. But I will try it and accomplish it, even if very badly.

4. Settle for myself the whole issue of being busy. This may be related to holiness because I find myself feeling guilty for not being busy enough. Or not being as busy as some people I know. I need to come to find out for myself whether I am right or if I am shirking my duty.

5. Read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I know I read this back in high school, and I know the basic plot. I realized not very long ago that I think of this book as "Dickens Light" or "American Dickens"...the one story of his everyone knows. It's part of our culture, Scrooge McDuck and all that. In the last few years I've come to appreciate all the Dickens novels I've read. I need to read A Christmas Carol and experience it through the lens of that appreciation.

After I publish this post I will, no doubt, think of several more things I could add to this list. But this will have to do for now. The garage door just opened. (Hitting "play" button on iTunes) Colin and Tom are back from fetching Chinese food for our festive New Year's Eve dinner. Tonight we will eat yummy food, work on a puzzle, watch a silly movie, play some games, and who knows what all else.

I'm looking forward to 2010...Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Baby, if you've ever wondered...

...wondered whatever became of me...

So, anyway, we went to Cincinnati for Thanksgiving this year. I think I could write several posts about our trip, but I'm going to try to fit it into one by dividing my thoughts into categories.

Family: We spent our Thanksgiving holiday with my brother Jim, his wife Julia, and three of my...there needs to be a generic term that covers both nieces and nephews. And, after a little Googling, it turns out there IS such a word: nibling. Which sort of sounds as though Rebecca, Andrea, and John are hors d'oeuvres. (Thank you, Merriam-Webster online dictionary.) Oh, and my parents traveled up there, also, mustn't forget them.

Food: What didn't we eat? Julia and the girls (Jim helped, too) kept us fed all weekend long with wonderful, yummy food. Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and ham and spinach casserole and sweet potato casserole and potatoes and gravy and real homemade crescent rolls and pumpkin pie (secret creamy recipe!) and pecan pie and caramel apple pie and whipped cream and other things too, but I can't remember everything. Stir fry that tasted like it was from a great Asian restaurant, shrimp Creole, pea soup, chocolate cake, chai tea, coffee...and all of it was totally delicious. It felt really odd to not be cooking on Thanksgiving, but it was also really fun to eat Thanksgiving dinner and actually feel hungry for it...having not been looking at it and smelling it and fussing with it all day.

Field Trips: (Uh oh...just realized I've got all "F" headers so far and at some point I will have to break the pattern.) Friday we went to the Cincinnati Art Museum and saw maybe a little over half of the exhibits. I would have to go through there with the map in hand and mark off each room as I went through it to be able to feel I'd seen it all. Colin was thrilled with the museum; it was his first time in an art museum and serendipitously it turned out to be just the right timing for him to visit. He loved almost every kind of art work we looked at, although furniture didn't enthrall him like the Egyptian carvings. When he draws pictures he always represents people as cats, a bus driver or pilot or any other character in the drawing will always have cat ears and whiskers. The Egyptian exhibit included several little statues of cat warriors/rulers/deities; he liked seeing that the Egyptians had a "cat theme" to their artwork also.

Saturday we went to the Cincinnati Zoo. Tom and I took Colin, Rebecca, and Natalie with us on this trip while Andrea and John went with my parents to the Creation Museum. Colin was less thrilled with the zoo than he was with the art museum which surprised me. After some discussion it turned out he was expecting the animals to be displayed closer together, not all spread out over a large area with lots of paths to walk on in between. This was our last day in Cincinnati and he had been getting less sleep than usual every night and trying to keep up with the adults and the big kids, so his enthusiasm was starting to fade. He did end up having a good time at the zoo, he just wanted to have that good time without the walking. (I agreed with him on that one!)

Cincinnati: I was a lot more impressed with Cincinnati than I thought I would be. I was there once before, 30+ years ago, but I remember very little about the city from that trip. In my mind I pictured it being a cross between Springfield, IL and Pittsburgh. (No offense intended to my former hometown or to P-burgh. Springfield is Springfield, and Pittsburgh might be perfectly lovely if you see parts of it other than the ones we managed to find on the trip we took there.) Instead Cincinnati reminded me much more of St. art museum in the middle of a park in the middle of an historic neighborhood, lots of neat little gentrified old neighborhoods, lots of confusing highways all twisted together by a river... I'm sure there are seedier parts we didn't see while we were there. In fact, Jim kept saying as he gave us directions to different places "Yes, you could go all the way down Street X or Y Avenue, but not at night." But I liked the parts we saw and almost everywhere we went it seemed pretty straightforward to navigate...unlike say, Greensboro.

Other fun: We spent a lot of time sitting around and talking, of course. The kids went on numerous hikes around the neighborhood and to the handy nearby Starbucks. I'm sure Natalie will blog with pictures of some of their wild and crazy games. I'm not really sure what they were up to a lot of the time. We picked the busiest travel days of the year for our trip, so we fought traffic quite a bit both coming and going. Having three drivers makes a trip so much easier now, though. On the way home I was very sore and stiff from our expeditions to the museum and zoo so Natalie and Tom decided they would do all the driving and let me rest. It turned out Natalie ended up doing 2/3 of the driving, so Tom got more rest than he expected, too.

It seems like there was a whole lot more I was going to say, but this post is already very long. We had a wonderful time, we liked Cincinnati, we liked being with our family, our trip went smoothly. Thank you to Jim and Julia and the niblings for their hospitality!!

Now, I'll just be putting down some masking tape on the floor around my desk here...

Monday, October 26, 2009


Let's do a meme this fine Monday morning afternoon while I try to wake up. We've been staying up late to watch the Yankees vs. the Angels in the ALCS. I was rooting for the Yankees for the sake of my father and a handful of my friends; Tom rooted for the Angels out of sympathy for the underdogs and sheer stubbornness. Now he will most likely root for the Phillies, but he will use the excuse that he always roots for the National League if the Cardinals are not playing. Unless the NL team playing is the Braves, of course.

Here's how this particular meme works: Do a Google search on your first name preceded by the word "unfortunately". See what sort of results you get, and share the interesting ones. Here are a few of the better ones that came up for me.

• Unfortunately, Beth is married...but that won't discourage Kevin...

Unfortunately, Beth had really just won a stay of execution.

Unfortunately, Beth kept her clothes on.

Unfortunately, Beth realizes she never appreciated her family enough after they are all killed in a car crash on their way to a Fourth of July picnic.

• Unfortunately, Beth still has the fever.

• Unfortunately, Beth maybe hearing from some ill-advised supporters looking to cash in on a election process.

• Unfortunately, Beth no longer wants Sarah to know that she is Bill.

• Unfortunately, Beth doesn't quite get the revenge she wants by the end of the book – though not for a lack of trying.

• Unfortunately, Beth had locked the door to our room and taken the key with her into the female shower cubicles.

• Unfortunately, Beth was a born klutz.

• Unfortunately, Beth has seen them, and she seems to be awakening.

• Unfortunately, Beth assumed my identity and went on my dream date instead.

I live quite the interesting little life, do I not?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Being Offensive Without Offending?

This summer I was cranky a lot. Many things were making me grouchy. All this was, no doubt, exacerbated by my lack of sleep and high pain levels.

Whenever I'd think about blogging this summer the only topics that came to mind were rants...rants with the potential of offending people. Lots of people out there, in real life and on the Internet, were doing things to make me mad. (Did you know that? Or did I manage to fake you out?)

One day inspiration struck. I would blog all my rants and give full voice to all the things bugging me...but I would "bleep" out all the identifying details. I would say things like "People who BLEEP in line at the BLEEP should be BLEEPED and BLEEPED."

This revolutionary idea (hey, I was sleepless, it was revolutionary) made me so happy. A huge burden was lifted from my blogging shoulders. Finally my blog would find its true niche. (You know, like "they" all say a blogger should find..."they" being the ones who've decided their blog's true niche is telling other people how to blog.)

I went to bed that night and rehearsed my next blog post in my mind as I tried to fall asleep. I ranted and raved in my head, and mentally backspaced and inserted a BLEEP as needed. I had enough material in mind for, oh, maybe six or seven posts at least! And what were the odds that people would STOP ticking me off and deprive me of material??

The next morning, after getting a little bit of sleep, I got up and thought about blogging. But, strangely, all the desire to rant was gone. Dang! How cliched can you get?! Did I just do the blogging equivalent of the old "write the letter, tell him everything he did to hurt you, and then throw it away without mailing it" shtick? My blog fodder, my Preciiooouusssss....I wants it...

Isn't this all too Aesop? Too sticky? Too Disney happy endings and we'll just live in the sea and I'll grow gills so we can be together?? Too Celine Dion ballad-y??

Coming up next time: Beautiful butterflies, soft kittens, rolypoly puppies, and sugar cookies.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Return of the Random

Just putting my hand in the blender again...

• It's customary in the Blogosphere to explain where you've been after you've taken a break. Take a breath and fasten your seat belts and we'll make this quick and painless: school/church/work/summer/reverse SAD/pain/insomnia/Daylight Saving Time/boredom/business/slow broadband/dropped connections/children/parents/legalism/socialism/patriotism/tea parties/iced tea/ennui/hyperactivity/malaise/swine flu/mass hysteria/mad hedgehogs.

• Today is the day we would normally be submitting our entries to the Dixie Classic Fair. This year Natalie and I decided to sit out the fair for a number of reasons...mostly related to lack of time to create our usual pile of entries.

• I've started planning out what to enter in the fair next year and I'm excited about trying out some new things. This year I'd like to crochet a shawl or scarf in laceweight yarn, knit something in the round (mittens? hat?), and cross-stitch a pillow.

• In the cooking categories I'd like to master a truly good pound cake. I still wouldn't stand a chance of winning yet, but I want to be ready as the older ladies retire from competition.

• My blog needs updating. I'm thinking about changing the background color and adding some headers to the side columns. I'll need to get my tech support/artist to help me with the headers because I want something to coordinate with the main title header.

• You may have noticed most of the blog links have gone away. I started to revise them and then realized my reading habits have changed to the point where a lot of them were no longer relevant. I'm thinking about doing a "blog of the week" link or something along those lines instead.

• Tom got a digital camera for his birthday, and I intend to learn how to use it and also learn how to upload and manipulate photos. IF this works out, expect to see more pictures around here.

• This was the year for technological birthday gifts. Tom gave me an iPod Touch for my birthday, and I'm having a blast learning how to utilize it best. I'm becoming obsessed with podcasts. I like having something interesting to listen to in the evening while I'm crafting.

• Do any of my readers (do I HAVE any readers left?) know where one can download books to listen to on an iPod? Our library has downloads, but they aren't in an mp3 format.

That's all I've got today. This is like going back to the gym after not working out for several months. If I write too much today all my writing muscles will be screaming tomorrow and I'll be tempted to quit. See y'all soon, I hope.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day Memories, I Think...

A few months ago Natalie and I were listening to the RhettandLinKast and the theme was "Anchor Phrases". Anchor phrases, according to R&L, are phrases people throw into their speech out of habit...perhaps to keep their flow of speech moving along, or to retain possession of the conversation, or just to have something to say instead of "um". They gave some examples...a dentist who says "per se" all the time, for instance. Feel free to watch the episode for more examples which, of course, will be much more funny from them than from me.

Anyway, (watch and see if you can spot the Cat's anchor phrases!) I started thinking about anchor phrases I've used and anchor phrases I've heard others use, and this meandering thought process took me back to an Independence Day in my childhood. The thing is, there are several parts of this day that I'm sure I am remembering fundamentally correctly. But there is one feature of the day, a highlight for me, that may or may not have really happened.

I was somewhere between the ages of 8 and 12, we were living in either Springfield or Berlin, Illinois, and on this particular 4th of July we celebrated by going to a cookout at the home of some people I didn't know very well. They were friends of friends, or maybe friends of relatives, at any rate we had friends in common and were therefore invited to the festivities. They lived either on or near a farm in the country somewhere around Springfield. The family consisted of a mom and dad and three children; there were two boys who were quite a bit older than me (possibly college age) and one girl close to my age.

I don't remember a whole lot about the evening. I assume that we ate hamburgers and hot dogs and didn't eat Aunt Delores' three bean salad. I assume we played with the other children there, although I really don't remember there being a lot of children around. The following are the two really clear memories I have.

The host asked one of the men to pray before the meal. I don't know if we had met this man before, but I think he was part of the crowd of miscellaneous friends who hung around with my aunt and uncle. Usually when you're a kid and you're being forced to hold still long enough for someone to pray before you get to go pounce on the food, you don't pay much attention to the prayer. But this man's prayer became burned in my memory because of his extreme overuse of an anchor phrase. His anchor phrase was "dear heavenly father", a phrase one would normally expect to hear only at the beginning of the prayer. This man was not content to leave it at that, and this is how I remember him praying, This, by the way, is an abbreviated version. I believe he went on at greater length and prayed for the missionaries in foreign lands and everyone he knew who was sick or suffering some way.

"Dear heavenly father, we thank you, dear heavenly father, for these friends, dear heavenly father, who have come together, dear heavenly father, to celebrate the founding of our country, dear heavenly father. We thank you, dear heavenly father, for the freedom to worship you, dear heavenly father, and the blessings you give us in this country, dear heavenly father. We ask you, dear heavenly father, to bless those who don't have our freedoms, dear heavenly father, and those in foreign lands, dear heavenly father. We thank you, dear heavenly father, for the food, dear heavenly father, that we are about to eat, dear heavenly father, and we ask, dear heavenly father, that you would bless the hands that prepared it, dear heavenly father. Thank you, dear heavenly father, for the fellowship, dear heavenly father, we are enjoying tonight, dear heavenly father, and thank you for the X family, dear heavenly father, and their hospitality, dear heavenly father, to us, dear heavenly father. Please bless us, dear heavenly father, and be with us, dear heavenly father, as we enjoy this time, dear heavenly father, together. Amen."

The second memory is the one I am not sure about, and I'm hoping one of my brothers can either verify that this actually happened or tell me I was hallucinating. After we ate dinner we ran around and played some more, and then after night fell our host and some of the other men put on a fireworks show. That part I am 99% sure of. In that time and that place, an amateur fireworks display would have been fairly common. However, I remember those fireworks as being super impressive, and I wonder now if that would have been possible.

Perhaps these were the first fireworks I had ever seen and I remember them as being bigger and better than they actually were? In particular, I remember fireworks that formed shapes as they exploded, and most particularly a huge finale that featured an American flag. It wasn't just a few rings of red, white, and blue exploding simultaneously. It wasn't a shower of red, white, and blue fountain fireworks. As I remember it, it went up and lit up as a perfect US flag formation.

To my adult mind, that does not seem possible, and I've never seen it since. It seems quite unlikely that, if such a thing is/were possible, it would have been possible for a handful of amateurs in a field in central Illinois. So I'm wondering if it was really a mixture of red, white, and blue rings and someone said "Oh look, it's like the American flag!" and my mind created this image that is more real in my memory than what actually happened. So, what say you, Jim and David? Do either of you remember this? Anyone else out there with knowledge of the history of fireworks who would know if this would have been possible in the 1970s?

Anyway, since this post began with Rhett and Link, and since we believe in supporting local, organic, and sustainable comedy, it only seems fitting to end by featuring the Fireworks Song video. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Kitchen Progress Update

I wish there was something more interesting I could post about, but this is our life right now. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you know what happens when I promise better posts to I'm not going to do that.

At some point last weekend I thought we were so far ahead of our schedule that we'd be done by tomorrow. Ha ha! Well, we are not behind at this point, so good for us, I guess. Most of the lower cabinets are now in place. Tom and Colin are assembling the uppers today, so that they can install them tomorrow when Natalie's at home to help.

There have been amazingly few problems thus far. I attribute this mainly to Tom. He thought and planned and researched this all out ahead of time, and has been anticipating almost every tricky situation we've run into. I wouldn't recommend taking on a project like this unless you either are, or are married to, someone like him...perfectionistic, stubborn, persistent, and extremely patient.

Some pictures of where we've been and what's happened so far, although these don't accurately reflect the current status. Natalie took more pics last night, but they are still on the camera.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kitchen Remodeling Plans

My family members have finally goaded me into writing another post. At least, I'm assuming that the "James" commenting on the previous post is a family member. We have a plethora of Jameses, Jims, and Jimmys in this family, which is why (if this is the one I think it is) I humbly suggested to his parents that they call him James rather than nicknaming him Jimmy or Jim. But I suppose it's hard to think of a little baby as "James". Natalie did suggest that perhaps it was her grandfather commenting, but that would indicate levels of Internet savviness that are just too improbable to be believed.

So, we have a kitchen project starting at our house soon. Way back in March I posted about our evil icemaker and its cabinet-ruining leakiness. Tom and I don't make decisions very quickly, and I can't think of a way to state that so that it isn't a vast understatement. We ponder, we research, we plan, we argue, we, I'm the only one fretting. At any rate, after much of this messing about, we made some decisions, placed some orders, and things will be getting underway here soon. Here's how the plans stand as of now:

June 20-21 Priming and Painting faux trim effect near ceiling in the kitchen half of the room.

June 22-26 Packing up everything from cabinets into boxes, arranging temporary "cooking" and eating area in living room. Shopping at Costco for massive quantities of frozen food and disposable tableware.

June 27th Removing current kitchen, and selling old cabinets, counters, and sink via Craigslist

June 29th Wall prep: sanding, spackling, more sanding. Assembling cabinets.

June 30th Priming walls and painting first coat of paint. Assembling cabinets.

July 1st Second coat of paint. Assembling cabinets.

July 2nd Installing lower cabinets, reconnecting plumbing for sink and icemaker.

July 3rd Installing upper cabinets.

July 4th Installing countertops, sink, and appliances.

July 6-7 Do whatever else I've forgotten! Tom has these days as work days on the plan, so I must be remembering the timing wrong on one of the steps. Or else he's allowing extra for problems, which would be a good idea.

We are not knocking down any walls, expanding the size of the room, replacing flooring, or putting in new appliances. We did the floors a couple of years ago, the appliances were all replaced 4-5 years ago, and the ceiling fan and light fixture were replaced just a month ago. We will have a new paint color, but only the pickiest connoisseurs of beige will be able to tell the difference from what's up there now.

The cabinets are from this place; we are using the Randolph Oak style. The countertop is Wilsonart's High Definition laminate in the "Bella Venito" colorway. (Colorway? Isn't that pretentious and special...) The sink is a nifty new single-bowl stainless job that we got for a very nice bargain price on Ebay; we're switching from a double-bowl to free up more counter space and to have room for washing big baking pans and such.

That sink change is really the scariest part of the whole project for me; I think I will adapt well to a single-bowl sink...but there are others who use this kitchen who like to accumulate whacking great piles of dirty dishes in the sink while they cook. This is frustrating with a double-bowl sink, but might be downright intolerable with only one bowl. I cannot fill a water glass or rinse a piece of fruit, just two examples, over a pile of filthy dishes. There has to be a zone of cleanliness or something vital will split apart in my psyche and Bad Things will happen.

I'm hoping that we'll be able to get some decent pictures of this whole mess while it's taking place. I may be able to post some updates as we go along. My job is mostly to keep Tom fed and figure out how to wash dishes in the bathtub, so maybe I will be able to post. Most likely you will see tragic Tweets over there to the right on the Twitterfeed. Should be loads of fun!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Final Prediction: Who Will Win American Idol Season 8

Hey, it's only an hour till the show comes on...which means it's only 2 hours and 59 minutes until we find out who won this year. So I still have time to make my final prediction. We've come so far in the season that my scientific predicting methods allow me an even greater degree of precision and accuracy than I have heretofore achieved.

(BTW, this post is brought to you by Sudafed and Tylenol, who are working together like troopers to keep my head somewhat clear of a massive cold/virus/cow flu that is going around amongst our family and friends. Don't expect my usual brilliance, in other words, just drugged brilliance. Which might be better than the usual.)

This is one of those seasons of American Idol where I really don't care a whole lot who wins. Early on I thought it would be nice if one of the girls won...someone like Megan Corkrey or Jesse Langseth. I like both of their voices and their styles were different from the usual American Idol Shrieking Diva female style. Which is, of course, why neither of them made it very far at all. Well, that and Megan seemed to go a little loopy and took up acting like a bird.

I also thought maybe diversity was the goal this year, maybe a Latino or Asian or Indian boy or girl would win. I favored both Jorge Nunez and Anoop Desai on the basis of their personalities, although I really didn't like their preferred style of music. Then I thought maybe Alison Iraheta would win as our diverse candidate. I found her likeable and thought her voice was interesting, while at the same time I thought her parents should be smacked upside their heads for letting her sing slutty songs and wear some of the clothes she wore.

But I guess the producers at American Idol had a different idea about diversity this year. Maybe they thought this was the year for diversity in sexual orientation? And since the show is on Fox, you know they went about it in their usual Fox manner. They report, we know the drill. They obviously wanted us to be sure we knew what we were choosing, too. "If we're going to have a gay contestant we need to have one who really acts gay! Not one of these fellows who could just be a nerdy Baptist mama's boy from the South." So we got Adam...and his shrieks and screams...and his wardrobe...and his makeup...and his lighting...etc, etc...

Some bloggers are saying that Idol set up the finale to be "God vs. Gay" because both Danny Gokey (the chosen runner up?) and Kris Allen (the actual runner up...oops) are worship team musicians. Well, there again, that sounds like something Fox might just be capable of. Do people really vote for an American Idol based on things like this? Maybe they do. A lot of people were voting for Danny based on something...and I know I have bad hearing, but could he really have sounded that good to someone who could hear him better? Hmmph...

But, somehow Danny is gone! The annointed final match-up did not work out. Now we have Adam vs. Kris. Two guys who neither one could sing that awful song Kara wrote for them. (That does raise the question of who exactly she planned to have sing it.)

Okay, I've strung this out long enough with a bunch of babbling about something I really don't care much about. Last year I cared. David Cook is a musician and a talented singer and David Archuleta is a cute little boy with a decent-ish voice. There was an obvious difference in talent and the right person ended up winning.

This year, I think Adam and Kris are pretty much evenly matched. Adam has drama, style, personality, and vocal range. Kris has musicianship, musical understanding, a decent voice, and a more current style of singing. Either one will have a venue for music somewhere. If Adam wins it will cost 19 Entertainment a boatload more in props, wardrobe, backup singers, and makeup artists. If they make that investment and do it up right they could bring back "arena rock" and expose that genre to a new generation.

If Kris wins, 19 Entertainment will get an artist who can arrange songs (probably even the drecky ones they have written for him) and make an album that sounds current and contemporary and will be very popular with the young ladies.

Either way, 19E wins, and either way I don't really care. So, here's my prediction. If I get this posted in time you might even have time to get a call in to your bookie. The winner tonight will be:

Scroll down.

A white guy.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"I updated it multiple times...a year."

Almost one whole month without a blog post! Yikes! Where has the time gone? Well, quick run-down on what I've been up to coming right up...with an up-front warning that none of it is terribly interesting.

•Perfecting (ha!) the art of expressing myself in 140 characters or less. Yes, I've been Twittering and you can see the impressive results over in the sidebar. I think it has been good for me to have to condense my communications to the smaller format. But it has also gotten the writing urge out of my system in little bits and pieces so that I don't feel the need to blog.

•Blithering around about kitchen repair and replacement. I think we have a plan, but I'm not sure when the plan will be implemented. We've had several plans that have had to be scratched for various reasons. We ordered a wood sample from a place that sells the exact size and style cabinet we need, and found out that the color was way off and would look icky. We bought two cabinets from Lowes that matched in color but not style and were a size compromise(15" plus 18" to fill the space left by the missing 33" cabinet) and when Tom unpacked them one had fallen apart from the unwrapping process. End of plan two, and back to Lowes with the flimsy cabinets. Plan three is the scary BIG project and I'm afraid to talk about it yet.

•Helping my parents with some banking issues. Fortunately I love my parents and I love financial finagling. I don't easily get frustrated and aggravated with financial just go ahead and fill in the second half of that sentence yourself. Thank you. :)

•Changing the way I deal with pain. For those who might not know, you can take your pick as to what's wrong with me. I either have fibromyalgia, I may just be fat and lazy and out of shape, or I may be physically manifesting pain as a response to something in my life I can't cope with. The second one is true, the first one is my official diagnosis and some of the doctors obviously used it as a polite euphemism for the second option. The third option is something I've been reading about in a book called Worried Sick, by Nortin Hadler. The only problem is that dear Dr. Hadler doesn't have much in the way of solutions for dealing with this non-issue. I'm guessing he would tell a patient with my symptoms to seek some type of counseling.

•Meanwhile. (Do you ever get the feeling that bullet points are not really meant for the type of posts I write? I do so hate it when I have to split a subject into two bullet points because I need a new paragraph.) Meanwhile, I've stopped taking the prescription pain medicine I was taking because the more I read about it, the more convinced I was that the potential side-effects for long-term use weren't something I wanted to mess with. Hence the proliferation of Tweets about burning pain and interrupted sleep. But most everybody I know who's around my age has some sort of pain issue, so I've decided this is just normal and I'm going to have to learn to deal.

•Swine Flu. Isn't it time-consuming to have plagues and famine and financial collapse going on all around? At this point it sounds like the swine flu (I've learned to say that with a North Carolina pronunciation...just a hair more stress on the first word and always with a "the" in front of it. Like shopping at the Goodwill.) is not going to be A Big Deal. But Tom's employers are stressing workplace and employee preparedness so we've done a little more than our usual stocking up of supplies. We already had a recession/depression/we're all going to die stash of extra food staples so we really only needed to add some medical supplies. If you're a thief in need of rice, beans, Tylenol, and cough syrup we are the folks to burgle...bring it on.

•Wrapping up first grade with Colin and getting our options figured out for second grade work. I'm having a strong sense of deja-blog here...did I say I was doing this two months ago? We do school throughout the summer, so we're not planning to have a great chunk of time off. This means I don't have a great chunk of planning time, either, but since I tend to obsess and over-think things that really turns out to be better. Colin reads whacking great tomes now, so I can cut him loose with all kinds of interesting topics. He takes after me in his way of understanding (or not) math, so that's a challenge we need to deal with more thoroughly in the upcoming year. But I don't panic about school nearly so much as I did when Natalie was young. He will learn everything he needs to know eventually if we continue to work diligently at it.

Well, I should be making yogurt. Wait, I was making yogurt during my last post, too. I've been making yogurt a lot lately. Yogurt with frozen berries has become my warm weather default breakfast, so we're going through the quarts of yogurt fairly quickly. I like to make my own because it's cheaper, I can make it with whole milk (more filling when that's my whole breakfast), I can make it with milk that has Vitamin D added (I run low), and I can make it nice and thick so it's spoonable.

And if that isn't a way to wrap up a blog post, I don't know what is. That's one heck of a sentence, too, I might add.

Oh yeah, for the pair of people who don't know the source of my blog title, watch this video. Oh, and for my Cincinnati kin...R&L are doing a live show in your neck of the woods tonight. You should check it out.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Various Thoughts and An Experiment

First of all, the experiment: I am blogging whilst listening to music. Really radical, eh? I'm building myself a new Pandora radio station because the only one I've taken the time to build so far was titled "Oh Holy Night" which might give you some idea of how long it's been since I messed with it. :)

There's one problem I'm noticing already...I seeded my radio DNA with Coldplay to begin with, because I like several of their songs. The little wizard that picks songs has given me something from U2 and then from Snow Patrol, and I like the sound of both. But they have lyrics, and I'm trying to listen to what they're saying and type at the same time. Next time maybe I'll try instrumental. On to other thoughts...okay, wait, I have to go pause this music. So much for the experiment; I guess I don't have the spare RAM I used to have as a teenager.

Homeschooling: Lately I've been feeling convicted about my level of enthusiasm for teaching Colin. He benefits in some ways by being the second child and born to an older mother. I'm calmer, I'm more focused on the important things and less worried about peripherals. But I'm also less energetic and less patient. Calmer, but less patient...yes, that's possible. Somedays I feel very enthused and motivated, and some days I find it very difficult to deal with one more day of school. I know I can't face any of these days in my own power; thank God I don't have to.

Eschatological Panic: Something that's bugging me lately is the attitude I'm reading and hearing from some Christians. They see the financial crisis, the sweeping bailouts and takeovers of companies by the US government, our president's policies, etc. and they start doing eschatological math in their heads. Financial collapse + "socialism" + godless government + America = End Times. Christians are supposed to not feel at home in the world, we know we are truly citizens of another world, and we should be looking forward to Christ's return. But take the last addend out of that equation and realize that this same combination of bad stuff (and much worse) has happened to Christians in many other countries over the centuries. Why is it suddenly the End Times because spoiled American Christians have to "suffer" a little bit? And I put "suffer" in quotes because, on the whole, we are not suffering by any stretch of the imagination. Isn't it just a bit rude to our brothers and sisters in Christ in other times and places to have such an insular attitude?

American Idol: Segue time!! Anoop dodged another bullet this week, but will he really win? I'm not sure that I want him to. He has an enjoyable personality, and he's a cute kid, and he sings fairly well, and he's from North Carolina, so in theory he should be my favorite. But I don't like the style of music he favors and he's not doing anything spectacular with it. Then again, maybe this will be one of those years on Idol where someone Just Average wins (Jordan, Taylor, Ruben...oh wait, maybe that's most of the years.) Adam seems to be the judges' favorite, and I have to admit if I had to attend a concert by any of this year's singers, I would probably pick Adam. I wouldn't take any impressionable children to it, and I'm sure there would be parts that would make me gag. But at least I wouldn't fall asleep and fall to my death from the stands.

American Idol, paragraph dos: See, I thought I was going to limit each thought to one paragraph. Oops. Danny is annoying and smug and sings every song the same way. Lil can't pick songs and can't sing the ones she picks and can't pick clothes that fit her properly. Matt is boring and sings another kind of music I don't like. Allison is loud in voice, clothing, and hair. I'm forgetting somebody, probably a couple of somebodies. Um...Kris. Kris is okay, he's kind of like Jason from last year except he remembers his words. I think he might be able to sneak through and win the whole thing if he works at it a little bit. Unfortunately Adam is cornering the market on Memorable Performances this year...but he could Constantine out at some point.

Kitchen: I think we're redoing the kitchen sometime this summer. I'm trying to find the right balance in how I talk about this. I was contented with the kitchen the way it was before the cabinet got ruined; I wasn't asking to have anything replaced or changed. We had talked in the past about replacing the countertop because it's worn down and dinged up, but it still works and I probably notice the problems more than anyone else would. point is, I have been and still am content with my kitchen. If something happened and we were unable to spend anything at all on fixing this cabinet problem, I could figure out how to use things around the house creatively and feel at peace about it being the way it is.

On the other hand, (oh drat, another second paragraph) I sure will enjoy having some things changed in the kitchen! I don't want to sound like some paragon of wifely submission who is really wiser than her husband: "I didn't feel we should spend the money in these perilous times, but Tom wants to redo the kitchen and it wouldn't be right for me to oppose him!" Bwahahaha... that would be a lie, wouldn't it? Of course I'm feeling a bit gloom-and-doomy about the economy, it's in my genetic makeup to be that way. (Barring my dad, I'm probably the most optimistic person in my family...or as the rest of them would say, Dad and I are unrealistic and loony.) But I can kick the gloom genes to the curb and be thankful for new stuff. It's just stuff, it doesn't really matter in the end, but if we can afford it and if we do it sensibly...well, I'll enjoy it.

Now I need to get back to making yogurt. Oh, I didn't mention that part of the Experiment, did I? Attempting to make yogurt whilst listening to music and blogging. As the kids say...Epic Fail. But maybe I can scale back my expectations and try making yogurt whilst listening to music. Let's find out.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kitchen Fun

A while back, maybe last week? No, it was earlier than that, probably the week before. Anyway, a while back Tom noticed that something was leaking in our kitchen. There was stuff between the stove and the cabinet to its left. He was sure Natalie or I had spilled something while cooking, but we both swore we hadn't.

(It was quite a lot of stuff, whatever it was, it would be hard to spill that much and not remember it.)

Well, after some investigating, he figured out that the stuff was Stuff. Bad Stuff. Water and wet dust bunnies...and also mold. Further investigation revealed that the water was coming from somewhere near the wall and that it had apparently been coming out for quite a little while. It turns out the water line to the ice maker had a small leak. The sides of the cabinet are particle board and absorbent and yellow and porous are they. Et voila...moldy ruined cabinet.

Tom removed the cabinet, replaced the water line, and dried up the wall and floor. He also built a frame of two-by-fours to attach the countertop to, and placed a small table under it to hold the most crucially needed things from the cabinet. The kitchen is once again functional, although a bit odd-looking. We need to do something about the latter.

Option 1: Replace just the cabinet. There is a building salvage store in our town that sells a similar, but not identical, cabinet in the correct size. It might be close enough in appearance to get by. There are also online cabinet companies we could order a similar cabinet from.

Option 2: Replace the cabinet with something unusual and frugal and funky. My mother is the primary champion for this approach. She's thinking in terms of open shelves covered with cute gingham curtains.

Option 3: Replace a bunch of cabinets. The online cabinet companies sell much better cabinets than we have now, for quite reasonable prices. (The prices are good because you have to put them together and install them; this is well within Tom's ability.) We could change a few details of the layout, add a few inches of counter space and increase the utility of the kitchen. We could do all the bottom cabinets at once and do the uppers later (the designs are close enough or different enough, depending on which style we choose, that it would work), or we could plunge in and do the whole shebang at one time. This option also involves replacing the 12-year-old countertop which was cheap and flimsy in its prime and could stand to be replaced.

Obviously Option 3 gives us the most overall excitement and change in our kitchen. It's also the most time-consuming, life-disrupting, and expensive. That last there is what keeps bugging me. We can afford to do this, we would be improving the overall value of the kitchen, and we would not be going into debt or spending money that is allotted for anything else.

BUT...we would be Spending Money. On something other than big whacking bags of Survival Rice and cases of Cans O. Beans. Spending Money during the Financial Crisis...Spending Money during what might be TEOTWAWKI!! Peak Oil! Goats! Chickens!! Victory Gardens!! Cabinets??? Formica???

Astute readers will grasp the turmoil this has produced in my mind. Do we spend money on Frivolity and Cabinets? Or do we hide it under the mattress...oh wait, it won't be worth anything. Do we exchange it for gold...oh wait, it wouldn't get us much. Do we buy goats? (And EAT them???)

And that doesn't even begin to address all the other dilemmas ripe for the picking...oak vs. white vs. maple? Dark countertop vs. light? Formica vs. Corian vs. Silestone? Green vs. tan vs. cream wall paint?

Moral of this rant: Beware of icemakers. They will steal your contentment.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

American Idol Prediction Update

Well, I blew it with my first prediction, didn't I? Kai Kalama didn't even make it to the Final 13, let alone win the whole thing.

But we still have Anoop Desai and Jorge Nunez, both of whom fit my criteria for Statistically Likely To Win Based On Suspect Or Non-Existent Statistics. Unfortunately, both of them did a pretty bad job with Michael Jackson's songs last night. Although, for me, that's a point in their favor, it might not go over so well with those who actually decide about these things.

Speaking of which, Simon and Ryan gave us a teaser last night about a Big Change coming to the judging process. Oooohh....what can it be? Will they be adding yet another judge? Will one of the judges be leaving? Will they be allowing only one vote per phone line?

My theory: they are going to start doing the Sudden Death Singoff routine that they used in Hollywood. The two contestants with the lowest number of votes will each have to sing for the judges on results nights and then the judges will pick which one goes home.

Some more predictions from me...might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb, eh?

•Going home tonight: Allison Iraheta and Kris Allen. Simon was right, Kris lost the little girl votes by mentioning his wife so much. His wife didn't help matters by glaring at Simon instead of looking sweetly and romantically at Kris. Allison's voice is better than some (Megan Joy!) but she doesn't fit into a good voter-friendly niche. She's the screaming rocker, but she's not old enough to have a cool car or bike. There's no tattood husband in the audience, no cute baby at home with Abuelita, she doesn't play an instrument, she doesn't smart off to Simon, there's no hook there.

•Bombing spectacularly on Country Week: Anoop Desai, Matt Giraud, Jorge Nunez, Jasmine Murray, and Lil Rounds

•Final Four: Lil Rounds, Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey, Anoop Desai

•Final Two: Danny Gokey, Anoop Desai

•Winner: Anoop Desai

Luckily for me these are "predictions" and not "prophecies" and I'm not an Old Testament prophet facing the threat of stoning if my prophecy fails to come true! If Anoop gets the boot tonight, I can write another post explaining why (the Bobby Jindal factor??) and adjusting my predictions. Eventually I'll get to the point where I have a 50% chance of being right!

Oh, one final note: These are predictions based on who I think Everybody Else wants to win. I don't know yet who I want to win, and I did not participate in the voting last night. I do know that I don't want ANY of them to sing any more Michael Jackson songs...bleccchhhhh....

Friday, March 6, 2009

Reasons I Can't Blog Right Now

1. Three day migraine headache with aftershocks.

2. Reading glasses that bug me.

3. Nice big screen on my fast new iMac that necessitates wearing the reading glasses that bug me.

4. Trying to wrap my head around the reason that bigger screen = smaller type.

5. People talking to me. All. The. Time.

6. Cell phone spam.

7. The stock market and the economy in general.

8. Mortgage loan application process.

9. Cat who has to go OUT and come back IN. All. The. Time.

10. Aging parents trying to live in the Internet Age.

11. American Idol stealing my evenings with weird people singing badly.

12. People who need food to eat and clean clothes to wear.

13. Books that call me to read them and then don't hold my attention enough to keep me from noticing that nothing in the living room is arranged on neat right angles.

14. Wasting all my good material on Twitter.

15. Someone who calls to ask me to send him the Costco list that I sent already via email because he forgot to print it out.

16. Trying to text with 46 year old fingers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Freudian Typo?

So, just now on the local Fox affiliate they ran a story about President Obama's plan to get the banks under control.

The large intro headline and the tagline that ran under the story as it played both said "Obama plans to reign in banks".

Which is pretty much what some people expected, innit?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Among The Things I Have Forgotten

In my former life...back in the day...before kids...almost 20 years ago, to be exact...I worked as a mortgage loan processor for a savings and loan association. Do S&L's even exist anymore? I don't think there are any around these parts, at any rate. Maybe they all vanished in the great Crisis. I know the one I worked for got bought up by another S&L, which was bought up by a bank, and who knows what it is now. Wait...this is all starting to sound familiar.

Anyway, way back then, we refinanced a lot of mortgages when the rates were plummeting during the heyday of the Reagan Revolution. When a customer wanted to refinance we tried to help them figure out which combination of rates and points saved them the most interest over the period of time they were likely to own the house. There was a calculation we used to figure a break-even point where it made more sense to go with a higher rate versus paying more points.

As I recall, the way it worked was like this: Customer needs to refi $200K loan. Interest rate X will yield a monthly payment of $1,000 and customer will pay 1 point. Interest rate Y will yield a payment of $1,100 and Customer will pay no points. Since one point would be $2,000 and the difference between the payments is $100/month, the break even point is 20 months. So, if Customer plans to keep the house for longer than 20 months he will save money by going for the lower rate.

So, this makes perfect sense to me if Customer is paying that point in cash at closing. (Although maybe we should take the equation further and estimate how much interest he's losing by not investing the money instead. But we'll assume he banks at Wachovia and gets .05% on his savings account, so it's sort of a non-issue.)

What I can't remember is this: Does this break-even calculation work if Customer is financing the points into the refinanced loan? The points are, in effect, getting spread out over the life of the loan and thereby making the payment higher. But the lower interest rate is also making the payment lower...and that's where my brain got all creaky and started yelling at kids to get off its lawn.

Anybody got an answer for me on this? Any wild guesses? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller??

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

American Idol Season 8 Winner Prediction

Season 8 of American Idol has now begun, and I decided to make some predictions about the outcome. Surely I've been watching long enough to know how this show works, right? Okay...predictions, but first some presuppositions:

• Someone, maybe it's the viewers...maybe it's the producers who are occasionally led by what the viewers want...will pick a winner and that winner will be presented to the public at the end of the show. The winner will be the contestant who is most likely to make money for the show, its producers, its associated companies, and its advertisers.

• Someone, perhaps the viewers or perhaps the producers, prefers that there be a balanced variation of gender and ethnicity and musical style in the winners from year to year.

Based on the above presuppositions we can look at the past winners and the current crop of contestants and predict a winner, or at least a category of likely winners, for this season. First of all, the gender/ethnicity/style categories for the past 7 seasons:

Season 1 winner: Kelly Clarkson is a white female whose singing style is, according to Wikipedia, Pop Rock. (I'm going to rely on Wikipedia for the style information so as to avoid referring to most of the female singers as "shrieking divas".)

Season 2 winner: Ruben Studdard is a black male whose singing style is Pop, R&B, and Gospel.

Season 3 winner: Fantasia I'm Too Sexy For My Last Name is a black female whose singing style is R&B.

Season 4 winner: Carrie Underwood is a white female whose singing style is Country Pop.

Season 5 winner: Taylor Hicks is a soulful white male whose singing style is Classic Rock, Blues, and R&B.

Season 6 winner: Jordan Sparks is a black female whose singing style is Pop/R&B.

Season 7 winner: David Cook is a white male whose singing style is Rock.

Okay, what do we need for balance this year? There have been 4 white winners and 3 black winners thus far, so maybe we need an ethnicity balancer. So far, none of the winners have been Latino or Asian; if we need balance we are past due for a winner in one of those ethnic categories.

There have been 4 winners who are at least partially identified with R&B, so we can have another year off from that...and there was very great rejoicing. There have been 2 winners identified with Rock music, and one of those was last year's winner, so it's highly unlikely that a rocker will win this season. Only two winners are in the Pop category (which seems odd...isn't this show all about the Pop?) so that's a ripe possibility. Carrie Underwood is the only Country singer who has managed to win thus far, and since it's been several years since her win it might be Country's turn again.

In terms of gender balance there have been 4 female winners and 3 male winners. Obviously the men need to win this year, right?

So, what do we need for our ideal winner? A male Latino Country singer! Uh oh. As far as I can tell there is no one in the Top 36 who fits that description. We need Gabe Garcia...the runner up from last year's Nashville Star. Unfortunately we ain't got him, so where do we go from here?

A male Latino Pop singer? A male Asian Pop singer? Hey, lookie there at the selection the producers thoughtfully provided for us in this year's Top 36. We have Anoop Desai, Jorge Nunez, and Kai Kalama!

I'm going to throw in another variable just for this particular year of American Idol...the Obama Factor. The USA's historic election of Barack Obama is recent enough that Americans are still in "Obama Mode" in their decision-making. I'm predicting this will affect the AI results. President Obama was born in Hawaii, although he is not of Hawaiin ethnicity, he is of mixed ethnic heritage, and he has an unusual name with a melodic flow of vowels and consonants.

Based on all of the above criteria, my prediction for winner of American Idol Season 8 is: Kai Kalama!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Ch" Is Also the Beginning Sound Of...

CHat...which we had today with the CHeerful and CHarming Esbee of Life in Forsyth when we came upon her shopping for school snacks at Costco.

After church this morning we first stopped at Lowes to look at ceiling fans and debate which metal finish would best coordinate with the various metals in the kitchen. Then we headed to Costco to pick up a few things we were running out of.

I saw someone who looked familiar as I was distractedly wandering near the Health and Beauty department, looking for Natalie who had quickly located the soap she was sent to find and had moved on to the Dairy aisle to wait for us.

After we finally caught up with Natalie, and proved once again that all three of us adults really DO need these cell phones, I caught my breath and grabbed Natalie's arm.

Me: Did you see Esbee? I think it was Esbee, in the pink top, did you see her?

Natalie: (after trotting around corner and back) Yes, that's her!

Me: Did you say hi?

Natalie: No, that seems a little too stalkerish.

Me: (to Tom) We need two cartons of the eggs.

Me: (to Esbee who came around the corner suddenly) Hi! Are you Esbee?

Esbee: (looking ever-so-slightly wary) Yes, did I say something to offend you?

That will go down in my memory as the perfect blogger greeting. "Yes, did I say something to offend you?" It succinctly sums up the angst that so many of us feel about meeting Real People who have read what we write.

After we assured her that she had said nothing that we found offensive, and after we had introduced ourselves via our secret bloggy code names, we went on to have quite a pleasant CHat. I really enjoy getting to meet other bloggers and have speaking voices and mannerisms to put with the written "voice" I've grown used to reading.

As for Tom, he said very little as is his wont, but he was apparently also CHarmed by Esbee. CHarmed to the point that he didn't remember about the eggs I wanted him to pick up till we were all the way back home. :)

As we got done talking, Esbee CHastised me about my recent lack of blogging and CHallenged me to get back at it more frequently. Hey, at least writing this post was easier than trying to come up with CH snacks!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Keep Left Signs?? Boo!!

Now I know why I like to's all part of my life plan to become one of these ladies:

20 balls of wool a day! I'm going to have to work up to that.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cheating With a Facebook Meme

So, on Facebook everyone who is anyone, and a lot of people who aren't, are being tagged to do this 25 Random Things About Me meme. Since not very many of my blog readers are on Facebook, and vice versa, I thought I'd let the agony of this exercise do double duty as a blog post. Because I am Lazy Like That, but y'all knew that.

1. I'm not good at doing memes.

2. Or maybe I am (sinister laugh). See how I just blew two of the items with that randomness?

3. I was very, very, extremely, terribly shy when I was a child. Except at home.

4. I got over it, but I still find it hard to function well in large groups.

5. I'm not "shy" any more, I am "introverted". Which is much more fashionable, dahlink!

6. I wanted to have 6 or 12 kids, but God in His wisdom only gave me 2. And considering how often I crave peace and quiet, that's a good thing. Although God uses my kids considerably in my sanctification, so maybe I would be more like Him by now if I had more kids?

7. My favorite color has always been blue, but now that blue is fashionable I feel my loyalty waning.

8. I don't know what to pick for a second-favorite color. I like to wear red, but saying red is your favorite color sounds so...bold, or something.

9. Pink, I could compromise and say pink. Geranium pink, leaning toward coral, not Barbie pink.

10. I love words. I get words "stuck" in my head and have to pronounce them over and over, with the emphasis on different syllables.

11. I used to be able to make snap decisions, but after I got married that ability went away. Probably because I married Mr. Analytical. Now I overthink things even more than he does. :)

12. I find it easier to talk to men than to women, to the point that I butt into male conversations most inappropriately. If I ever have to receive church discipline it will be for arguing with men about politics. I also immensely prefer having a male boss to a female one. This might be because I have two brothers and no sisters and my mom has never been the girly-girl sistery type.

13. My dad taught me to argue when I was very young. My mom says that when I was a toddler (younger than 2, at any rate) I would hang out in the bathroom to watch my dad shave. He and I would argue while he shaved. He would say something like "So, do you like that bathmat over there?" and I would say "It's not a bathmat, it's a RUG!" We would go back and forth "bathmat!" "rug!"...presumably until he got done shaving and went to finish getting ready for work. Apparently my dad can argue and shave at the same time without cutting himself. :)

14. I use adverbs such as "presumably", "apparently", "inappropriately", and "definitely" a lot. And, yes, I did check the online dictionary to verify that those were adverbs before putting them on this list.

15. I just asked Colin to help me with this by telling me a random thing about me. He said, "You stay in front of the computer almost all day." Ouch...

16. I like tea, hot or iced, no sugar or sweetener, sometimes lemon. I do not like coffee.

17. I am a cat person. I grew up having cats and dogs as pets, but never really developed a big love for dogs. I mean, I like them...I just don't want to live with them.

18. I'm a cat person to the point that I feel like I can think like a cat, which is sometimes helpful. To my cats I am The Mom Cat, and they know that if they do not obey they will be punished cat-fashion...I bop their noses lightly and hiss in their faces.

19. If you knew how really weird I am under the surface (oh, maybe you do?) you wouldn't think #18 was so strange. :)

20. I almost never feel properly dressed or comfortable in my clothes. I never have, and quite possibly (adverb!) never will.

21. I make myself a detailed to-do list every day. If I didn't I would feel as though I never accomplished anything. By "detailed" I mean I have things on there like "eat breakfast" and "read newspaper".

22. I never know what to eat for breakfast. It's supposedly (adverb!) the most important meal of the day, but I put it off for hours until I get hungry enough to just grab anything and eat. I need to have a breakfast cook on staff who will have a perfect nutritious breakfast prepared and ready for me the minute I hit the kitchen in the morning.

23. Natalie had a book when she was little called "Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch", in which the heroine of the story received a "wall-to-wall refrigerator with built-in automatic foodmaker". I want one of those.

24. My favorite season is Fall. My favorite days are cool, crisp, and sunny. Second favorite would be cool and misty.

25. Because of #24, if I could live anywhere in the US I would choose either Colorado or the Pacific Northwest. Outside of the US, I would pick Ireland. Or Wales...but I would worry about the nocturnal badgers.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What's Up?

Oh bother, people, I have a blog, don't I? Someday maybe I should write a real post, eh? But here's What's Up today:

What I've Been Wasting Time Doing: Entering many giveaway drawings on the Bloggy Giveaway Quarterly Carnival-Thingy. I don't win anything, but I never give up.

What Needs Fixin' On The Blawg: My blog links are terribly out of date and don't really reflect my current blog-reading habits.

What I'm Listening To: John Mellencamp's Trouble No More album, via I-Tunes, probably uploaded by Natalie two computers ago.

What I'm Thinking: John Mellencamp will always be John Cougar or John Cougar Mellencamp to people my age. Who does he think he's fooling? And will he write a new version of "To Washington" for President Obama? And when John Cougar was John Cougar were cougars called cougars...and if you don't know what that means you will have to go research it for yourself because I couldn't find any links without stinky language.

What's For Supper: Chicken and Stuffing Casserole, carrot coins, and that's about it. "Carrot Coins" has such a school lunch sound to it.

What's On The Needles: One Row Lace Scarf in a bright red shade of TLC Cotton Plus. Beginner's lace with inexpensive yarn, because I need something bright to wear with a black outfit and I wasn't prepared to sink a lot of cash and heartache into it.

What I'm Reading: Too many blog posts and message board threads and not nearly enough real books.

What I Should Do Right Now: Get up from this chair and go finish supper before the at-work people get home.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Interview Time

This is a meme going around. The questions I'm answering were given to me by Cathy at It Will Be Funny Tomorrow. These are the rules, if you'd like to join in:

1. If you want to participate, leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.” (And your e-mail address if I don't already have it, please.)
2. I will respond by e-mailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Here are the questions Cathy asked me, along with my answers. Some of these were easier than others!

1. Name a person that you admire who has profoundly changed your life and tell us why.

My husband. It might be a little cliched to say this, because marriage is supposed to profoundly change us, so it's not unexpected. But, marrying Tom changed my view of myself in many, many ways. He has always seen potential in me that I don't see in myself, and beauty where I certainly don't see it. I admire him for, among other things, his strength, calmness, and tenacity and trust in God in the face of any kind of adversity. He daily deals with things on his job that would completely do me in, and yet he gets up every morning and faithfully goes in to do battle again. He brings that kind of tenacity and calm to our marriage and family and I would not be the same person I am now without him.

2. What would you most like to be remembered for?

I would like people to say when I am gone that I glorified God in my daily life, and that I was a godly wife and mother. I am very, very far from that ideal.

3. What is your favorite comfort food?

Fried meat (fried chicken, chicken fried steak, or fried pork chops) with mashed potatoes and cream gravy!

4. Tell us one dream you have yet to accomplish, and whether or not you think you'll ever be able to accomplish it.

I would like to visit Ireland, and at this point I don't have any reason to think I will be able to do that. Times change, though, so maybe in years to come it will happen.

5. How are you most comfortable sleeping (be as detailed or brief as you like)

We have a king-sized bed because I am most comfortable sleeping on My.Own.Side of the bed with nobody touching me! I sleep mostly on my left side, with a down-alternative pillow for my head and a squishier pillow to hold. I like flannel sheets in the winter, and flannel top sheet in the summer. I like the room to be cold enough that I can cocoon under my covers without getting hot. I prefer my covers to be untucked at the bottom so I can arrange them around me however I like without my feet feeling trapped. I like several layers of very lightweight blankets rather than one big heavy comforter.

If a cat is sleeping with us, I want her to be either against my back and not pushing or shoving or else over on Tom's side of the bed. I like the room to be as dark and quiet as possible but I don't need white noise. If Tom has to have the ceiling fan running I can tolerate it, but my preference is to not have it blowing on me. If someone else in the house has to get up before me, I prefer that they just go ahead and bang doors and turn on lights. I may or may not be able to sleep through that, but someone sneaking around softly closing doors, tiptoeing, and whispering will always wake me up!

Okay then, I guess you can see what's important to me in life...sheesh! :) I'm a picky sleeper, I admit it.

Leave me a comment if you want to be interviewed and I'll start thinking up some questions.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Things I Am Pondering Thinking About

•Is Colin going to need braces? I hope not, but his teeth are a mess right now, so it's hard to say. If we take him for an orthodontia consult they'll want to put a palate expander or somesuch on him. $$$

•How much I love my washer and dryer. My washer, in particular, is a technological marvel compared to what I've had before. It uses less water, but lets me do a full-immersion wash and double rinse if I want to. Best of all, it spins the clothes out so thoroughly that the washer and dryer finish their respective cycles in just about the same amount of time. I started doing laundry at 8:15 this morning and just now put the 6th load in the washer, a mere 6 hours later.

•How little I understand the economy. Or maybe how little I understand the true depths of sinfulness of the human heart.

•What to cook for dinner. It's looking like a Chicken and Rice night...heads up to the family members returning from work.

•If I make Pear Crisp with the pears that are ripening/spoiling in the garage should I follow the recipe and add the Craisins to it? Will they contaminate the whole mixture so that the Craisin Hater in our house can't eat it?

•What would make our microwave door stop functioning properly? It has one of those "push button to open" kind of deals, and it's taking two or three firm pushes followed by prying at the door with a fingernail to get it opened.

•Still pondering the craft projects. I think I'm going to attempt thick socks with worsted weight yarn before making myself go blind using the thin sock yarn. I might also make myself a decorative scarf...the kind that looks good rather than keeps warm. Natalie got me a black top for Christmas and if I wear it with black pants I'll need something to inject some color or people will think I'm from New York.

•Trying not to think about the new Consumer Protection Act that might/could/will totally screw up the American manufacturing sector. Said sector is out there, it's just composed right now of very small businesses. To my little pea brain it seems like the best course of action would be to regulate and test toys and products coming from China, and encourage small American manufacturers to create alternatives.

•Wondering if the item above means I should be stockpiling fabric, yarn, etc.? Those things will probably have to be certified, too, right? Which should mean that they'll be getting ever more expensive. I have a pretty healthy stash of cross-stitching supplies, but not much in the way of yarn. Well, maybe the government is showing me which way to go with my crafting? Hmmm....

•Considering "raising the bar to walk effortlessly underneath":

Monday, January 5, 2009

Crafting Conundrum

As I head into 2009, I've been pondering what direction my crafting efforts should be taking next. I know, I know, a bunch of you just said "She's yammering indecisively about crafts again...kill me now!"

Here's where I am, crafting-wise. I am currently crocheting an afghan/throw to put on the back of our loveseat. It's a simple repetitive pattern, just a giant granny square that changes color with each round. It's creating exactly the effect I want, but it's not terribly stimulating or challenging work. Obviously every project can't be challenging, though, or I'd never be able to watch TV.

In cross-stitch I have one project currently in progress and one completely kitted and in my work bag. The one I'm currently working on is a Prairie Schooler alphabet piece featuring fruits and vegetables. As soon as it is done I will frame it and hang it on the little piece of soffit that conceals the range vent above the kitchen cabinets.

The other piece I have ready to start on is Fleurs de Provence by Sweetheart Tree. It's a lot more intricate stitching than the PS piece, which is why I have them both in my bag at the same time. I am supposed to be switching off between them, but I haven't been in a "difficult stitching mood" for a while, I guess.

But now I'm wondering what, if anything, I should work on after these things are done. Or what I should slot into each category when I get the item from that category finished. After pondering this for some time, all I seem to come up with is problems. For instance...

Knitting: I'm a beginning knitter, but having finally mastered purling I could stretch my skills by moving on to something (ANYTHING!!) other than dishcloths. But...I don't wear sweaters, Tom doesn't wear sweaters, Colin doesn't wear sweaters, and Natalie buys or knits the sweaters she wants. None of us wear mittens, and gloves are beyond my comprehension. We have plenty of hats right now, although that might be an option in the future. Tom and I each have a scarf and that's really all we need; Colin would like a scarf but would not wear it and would probably lose it. I attempted socks yesterday, and discovered that I can at least begin socks...I can use dpns and I can work in the round, but I may go blind and batty in the process. So...maybe not socks, either.

Crochet: Again with the issues of sweaters, mittens, gloves, scarves, etc. I could make an afghan for the big couch and one for the chair, but I'm not sure if we really want that much afghan-age in our decor. Maybe.

Cross-Stitch: My walls are starting to fill up to the point of Tasteful Simplicity. Now, I know with cross-stitch it is possibly to create an attractive look of Massed Groups of Needlework, and I actually like that look. But I'm in the in-between point, and I'm not sure if I have the decorating skills to choose the right pieces to stitch to begin moving in the MG direction.

Which brings me, in all three categories, to the point all crafters reach eventually...the point where we begin to think about crafting for gifts or profit. I'll rule profit out right away. Right now I'm not interested in the kind of time pressures and extra work that would be involved in marketing any of my crafting. I doubt that the market would be there in this economy, anyway.

Giving away crafts is a really, really touchy thing. Basically you are giving something either to decorate a person's home or to clothe them, and they have no way to return it if it is not to their taste. I know my immediate family well enough to craft for them. (See above about all the crafted things they DON'T need.) I've also cross-stitched one piece for my mom, and she liked it and displays it. Beyond that, though, I'm afraid I'd be wading into treacherous waters. My dad wears sweaters, so if I were to develop some Sweater Skills he would be a possible victim recipient.

Ideally, I need to have a bunch of friends and relatives start reproducing soon. Babies are the best victims for knit and crocheted objects. Baby afghans are fun, fairly easy, and almost all new mothers like them. (Or are really good at faking appreciation.) Beyond afghans, there are little knitted bibs and sweaters and other sweet things which look cute and are not huge time commitments. Here again, though, I think the crafter has to pick her victims carefully. I don't know if any of the young women I know are like this, but I have heard of young moms who would never put something homemade on their child. And, of course, there are always taste issues. We who craft usually think of ourselves as having good taste...but one person's zesty fun purple and lime ripple afghan is another person's nightmare.

So, that's where I am at now. Fill my house with more afghans? Make sweaters for people who don't wear them? Find some needful and beautiful item to make that I haven't thought of yet? Bribe my friends and relatives to have children?

Any ideas?