Wednesday, March 31, 2010

this american life

A bit over a year ago, a friend started a second job. I can't remember exactly what the job is, but I know that it involved something like selling insurance. In his training, he had to learn to sell his product to others. Part of the sales pitch was a video displaying what was possible with this company. Out of respect for my friend, I didn't laugh at the images, but I really wanted to. The video promised huge houses (really, really huge), expensive sports cars, and various "toys" such as motorcycles and boats. The whole time the voiceover on the video was telling me, "This is what you want," all I could think was, "This is so NOT what I want."

At the same time I was thinking this, I was also thinking about my own upbringing, which (to me) is an interesting study in certain contrasts. At the same time that we were a family of savers and people who made do with what we had, we were also a family of dreamers. We thrift-shopped, we ate most meals at home, we bargain-shopped for groceries. But, I remember my parents wanting more. They were (and are, I believe), big on dreaming big. They once had a business that depended heavily on people having such dreams as those I describe above in that video. I remember going to look at model homes, dreaming of the day we'd move out of our 1960s' house (which, I kind of loved). We'd look at RVs and they eventually bought a (used) one (for which we had a family meeting to choose the vanity plate). They dreamed of having more time with the family (which I always found ironic because the business took so much time away from the family...). I was, as I often still am, very often off in my own world. When we'd look at the model homes, I'd dream right along with them about a new house, but then we'd go back home where I'd hole up in my room. I wasn't so much into the whole RV thing, although I did very much enjoy our trips in the Executive.

In the last year or so, I've been reading and listening to a lot of stories about how our collective American dream might be shifting. However, I don't agree with the tone of these articles. I think our expectations and realizations might be changing, but I think our collective Dream isn't much different than what it was. I don't see that we idolize celebrities and other mega-rich any less. There are plenty of news stories along the lines of "Halle stuns in red dress" and "The most expensive homes in America." Those stories are right there alongside the ones suggesting we get fewer mani-pedis and that we make our coffee (or tea or hot chocolate) at home use a travel mug. At the same time that the limit on one of my credit cards (Oh Evil Plastic!) has been lowered, I'm still getting credit card offers in the mail.

So, back to the Dream: I do dream big dreams. We have a few sets of big plans (different plans based on the different directions our life might go). If we don't want a super-sized house and a pleasure yacht, what do we want?

We do want a house*. We want an older house, with big trees, in a neighborhood that feels lived in. We want plenty of yard space that we can, bit by bit, convert to garden space. We want fruit trees. We want solar or wind power. We want a clothesline outside. We want a lot more in the way of tangible goods, but I get superstitious about sharing and I've already shared a lot in those few sentences. More than all of this stuff, though, we want time with each other. Although I've been telling Cardo for years that I want to own a house some day, the other day I told him that as long as we had our family time together, time I so tightly cling to, I would rent forever. That's a big step for me.

We'll see what the future holds...


*I've read and read about how much more eco-friendly it is to live in an urban setting, renting an apartment, but I want a house. I just do.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

moving on up...or not

Cardo was telling me the other day that if I got a (paying) job, we'd become part of the middle class. That statement made me wonder: What exactly defines "middle class"? Because, here's the thing: I was thinking we *were* part of the middle class.

We don't own a house and the one car we have left, Cardo bought used from his friend. But, hello, I have many (oh-too-many) years of college education behind me. We have access to this here interweb and an array of fancy appliances and technology-type gadgets. Sure, my cell phone is a few years old and doesn't have a camera, but I *do* have a cell phone. After my last computer died (and the computer "fixers" at the Big Chain Store *said* they fixed it, but they really only "fixed" it, but not even, nevermind), we bought a new computer. And, I bought a new laptop a couple of years ago. (A laptop that I use a lot less now that I'm no longer enrolled in an institution of higher education...Oh how I miss you, Ivory Tower*.) We (only just) get by with only one of us bringing home a paycheck.

So, yeah, I was thinking we were pretty average. But I really have no idea. Not that any of this matters. No matter what we might be called -- upper lower-class, lower middle-class, people who will live like grad students FOREVER -- it won't do anything to change our lives. I just find the whole topic interesting.

Anyhow, I saw this article a few days ago and it confirms to me that we are *not* a part of the middle class. Whatev.


*I always want to call it the Brick Tower, but then no one else would get my too-inside reference. Ah, well.

blog sprint

One Minute Writer from last Saturday: Write about three things that need to happen for you to have a good day.

1. Find motivation to make dinner.

2. We *all* sleep through the night.

3. Chocolate! Chocolate needs to happen.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

missed opportunity: family date night

This past Friday, our local drive-in opened for the season. Pic has never yet been to a movie. I don't know that she can sit still (or still enough) through a movie. And, in case anyone hasn't noticed, movie tickets are expensive. I really don't want to buy three tickets and then end up leaving twenty-five minutes in. And, movies are loud. Really, really LOUD. I'm not a fan of the loudness.

Anyhow, about the drive-in. We were thinking this would be a perfect way to introduce her to going to the movies. We can sit in our car, in our pajamas. We can bring our own treats that don't cost a fortune. We can turn down the volume.

So, Friday, we swung by the theatre/parking lot to check out which movies would be showing. One was called Repo Man (Or Repo Men?...I don't know what that is) and one was Hot Tub Time Machine (which I know has John Cusack but which I'm pretty sure I'll never want to see). Those were both out. Cardo and I saw Alice in Wonderland a couple of weeks ago. We both figure that parts of that would freak Pic out. The only real option for her was How to Train Your Dragon. I liked the Shrek movies I've seen. I did not like Madagascar or Madagascar 2 (I'm not sure which I saw most of, I just know that I didn't like it). [In the advertisements, it's stated that Dragon is made by the makers/creators/producers/something of the Shrek movies and Madagascar.] We let Pic watch a trailer* for How to Train Your Dragon but she decided she didn't want to watch it. Cardo got exasperated for just a moment, but he didn't lose his patience (yea!). I don't figure there's any point in taking her to a movie that she doesn't want to see. That'd just be mean...and a waste of money.

So, we'll try again in a few weeks. I wonder how long until they change the titles?

Note: The last time I saw a drive-in movie was back in high school. I went with some friends. I think we saw two movies, but I only remember seeing Hollow Man. I loathe that movie. "We" own a copy of it. I say "we" because I know it's Cardo's. It's his horrible, horrible movie.

What are you guys doing for fun?


*Why are they called "trailers" when they come before the movie is released?

Friday, March 26, 2010

to eat or not to eat**

I just came across this slideshow, entitled "12 things you should never put in your mouth." I have to admit that I have eaten some of these products in the past. I've eaten Twinkies, although it's been over a decade. I've also eaten Lunchables, although not the ones featured here.*

A couple of items that totally make my skin crawl: the Sweet Sue brand canned whole chicken that can be consumed cold and the complete cheeseburger in a can. These foods seem like worst-case-survival-type foods. (And, I realize my privilege in being able to say that I've never had to resort to eating something like this. I've always had plenty of other, much more appetizing options.)

One the slide featuring the Twinkies (Twinkie sushi, actually), there is a link to Twinkie recipes. One of the recipes is for a Twinkie Taco. The ingredients are Twinkies, tortillas, maraschino cherries, marshmallow whip, sugar and ground cinnamon. Basically, you fry the tortillas in butter and then coat them in cinnamon and sugar. You pile on the rest of the toppings and then? Well, to quote the recipe: "Ole!" Um, Ole! indeed. Because nothing could be closer to Mexican cuisine. And, correct me if I'm wrong, this is more of a Twinkie tostada than a Twinkie taco.

Oh, "Food," how you boggle the mind.


* I remember bringing Lunchables to school and having a friend always remark, "Do you know how much sodium is in that?!" What is it with Lunchables, though? I made the mistake of getting a small crackers, meat and cheese (or should I say, "meat" and "cheese"?) one for Pic once and she wants one every time we go shopping. I still let her have an occasional Lunchable. It is one of my mamma-guilt issues. I don't let her have them very often. It's funny that so many of the things I ate as a kid I prefer she not ever eat at all.

** There used to be a show called Adventures in Wonderland that Peecho and I used to watch. There was an episode where Alice had to decide whether she should eat some fruit that had the potential to boost her athletic talent. There was this song that went something like, "To eat or not to eat/The fruit that is so sweet/It could make you a star athlete/Or it could knock you off your feet." That song has been stuck in my head for almost two decades. Why my brain insists on latching on to some things while completely discarding others, I'll never understand.

"Adventures in Wonderland"

waste...and the waste that accompanies it

I hate to buy things just to throw them away. I think that I become more aware of things like this as the years go by. It's not that I didn't think about how wasteful I was when I was younger, I just think about it more and more now.

I've just gotten over a cold that kept me in my bed for almost all of Wednesday. I think I used about a roll of toilet paper to blow my nose. (We don't buy facial tissues. Cardo used to use paper towels as tissues, but we haven't bought paper towels in something like a year and we finally ran out of them completely many months ago. I swear that man would use sandpaper on his nose if it was readily available.) I hate opening a new roll of toilet paper -- and that's another thing: we buy toilet paper in bulk from Costco and each roll is (wastefully) individually wrapped in a waxy kind of paper -- and I hate having to replace it less than three days later.

I know that some people think the use of handkerchiefs is revolting, and I know that many, many, many people think the use of cloth toilet paper (also sometimes called family cloth, family wipes or cloth wipes, as it isn't paper, of course) is beyond revolting, but what do you, my handful of readers, think?

I really do hate the idea of flushing all of that money down the drain (ha!...yeah, I know).

I've been hearing about toilet cloth (as I would like to call it) for quite some time. I like to think that most people have, but then I have to remember that not everyone is into the same reading/listening that I am (duh).

The Organic Sister has a kind of how-to post, "TMI Alert: Cloth Toilet Paper." When I say "how-to," I don't mean anything graphic. I just mean she discusses how they use toilet cloth in their home (actually, their previous home, as they are now traveling in Benny the Brave). I have this blog post bookmarked...just in case.

I've also heard talk about it in an NPR interview of the family from the movie No Impact Man (I still haven't seen the movie). When Neal Conan asks Michelle Beavan about the issue most people seemed to want to focus on, the no-toilet-paper issue, she seemed to be so over the topic as something, well, scandalous. Her tone, her acceptance of cloth wipes, makes me question my own hesitation about trying cloth wipes.

Oh, yes, and I just (as I was typing this) read this relatively dated (I'm talking in interweb time here) post on The Green Daily: "Could you give up your toilet paper?" I thought the comments would be interesting and would represent mature thought and debate. Mainly not, though. I am so tired of the argument that using things like cloth napkins or cloth toilet paper will use up tons of water because then you have to wash those too. Um, yes, you throw that stuff in with the rest of your laundry. How big do some people imagine cloth napkins to be? (This is the first time I've seen the argument regarding cloth wipes, but my counter remains the same. I don't think anyone is suggesting we use beach towels as toilet cloth.) As far as I know, producing paper also uses water.

Actually, go read that very short blog post and skim through the comments. Many of the commenters seem to be very angry and vehement about wanting to continue to use toilet paper (which is what Mayville-Cox, the writer, says she plans to continue doing, although she does use recycled toilet paper). Who would have thought this would be such a heated issue? I've never read anyone talk about their cloth-wipe use as a means of absolute salvation for the planet.

I'm always disappointed when I read something really interesting online, something that has the potential to generate some great discussions and the comments spiral off into ugliness and disrespect. Wow.

I haven't read the article Mayville-Cox references and I'm unable to pull it up, but I'm interested in what the writer of that article had to say.

Anyhow, I've spent entirely too long on this post and browsing around for information on this post. I'll leave you with a couple of browsing links: cloth wipes and handkerchiefs. (I'm gathering from my reading that cotton flannel is a good option for both cloth wipes and for handkerchiefs.)


Of course, before I took off, I had to at least look up "how toilet paper is made." Here's a quick video.

"How Toilet Paper is Made"
[Videos like this are strangely enthralling to me. I'm not sure if YouTube has changed a bit or if I just clicked on a strange video. I can't find the little bit of information on the video that usually shows up on the right side of the video for me. I'm not sure what this television show is, but I'm going to guess it's from the Discovery Channel. :)]

Thursday, March 25, 2010

today is...

...National Letting Go of Stuff Day.

I kid you not. I did not make this up (someone else did).

I actually love the concept of letting go of stuff both physical and non. I sit here at my desk littered with books, colored pages, two cat stuffed animals, a cloth napkin, some borrowed yarn, a mug of writing utensils and much more. Next to me, on the floor, are the slippers Pic never wears and a hanger that belongs in her closet. Behind the desk are boxes that I have still not unpacked from our move (yeah...we've lived here for two months now). I've been decluttering bit by bit, but, well, it (the stuff) pours in daily. Pours in.

And, I have a lot stuffed into my head too, right now. I try to let go of some of it, but that doesn't work so well. Cardo is constantly perplexed because of my ability to hold onto every little worrisome bit of information and constantly worry about it all.

How do you let go?


As you can surmise, not much going on here at La Casa B. Between the hello-come-and-and-play sunshine and the um-no-stay-in-bed-all-day head cold, things have been moving pretty slowly. I am so looking forward to Saturday, though. The forecast is promising outdoor fantastic-ness.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

happiness and its opposite

Unhappiness is...

...spending three-plus hours grocery shopping. Just Pic and me. No Cardo. First in a teeny, tiny grocery store. Then, in a rather large, way-overcrowded one.
...stressing out so much due to the volume of people too close to me that I had to sit in the car and sob before we could go to the park last night.
...developing a sore throat due, no doubt, in part to the high levels of stress yesterday.
...the feeling of apathy that threatens to drown me due to information overload but still feeling that I have not enough answers.

Enough of that.

Happiness is...

...waking up with the whole family all snuggled into the bed. (Pic came in early this morning, but we were lucky because she went back to sleep for a couple of hours.) hour at the library where several of the librarians stopped to briefly chat with us. We love our library and our librarians.
...a half-hour at the park, watching Pic play with other kids.
...a half-hour walk with Pic and Ariel, her dinosaur. Stopping to notice the tiny details we'd miss if we were hurrying off somewhere or if our minds were wandering elsewhere.
...fifteen minutes of drawing in the sun. (We sat on large rocks at the park. Pic refuses to sit on the grass while little chunks of soil are present. (I think those poop-looking chunks of soil have something to do with aeration.) When I told her we could sit on the grass at the park and color, she said, "Okay, you have fun with that.")

Little flowers growing outside someone's fence. (It's a good thing Cardo was at work, because he'd keep walking, worrying that the people of the house would come out and berate us for taking the picture.)

Little tiny flowers growing in the cracks of the sidewalk.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

checkbook hemmorhage*

Every time I balance my checkbook -- which is a very frequent occurrence -- I get shaky. I hate to see how much we spend and on what we've chosen to spend our money. The balancing part is good for me because it does something to help me curb our spending. And, really, we've gotten incredibly better about our spending in our years together. We eat out less (this has been true of the last six or so years, but when we first got together, we ate out a lot). We cook more from scratch (this comes about because of my ever-growing interest in making food and growing my abilities in the kitchen). However, most of our unnecessary spending is from eating out. Not at sit-down restaurants, but just stopping by HoB or My Favorite Muffin at least once a week. Ugh. Okay, not "ugh" regarding either of those places, just "ugh" that we do that. And, I wouldn't feel so badly about that, were it not for the other food spending we did in the last week.

Cardo and I went on a date on Friday! I love to have some time for just the two of us to spend together (even though Pic is present in our conversations), but we're not good at the whole dating on the cheap thing. We always end up going out to eat and I'm never really satisfied by what we choose. I leave feeling that we've spent too much and that I've eaten too unhealthily. So, I proposed that for our next date (I can dream, right?), we cook dinner at home and then go to a local place for an open mic night. No, we won't be performing anything, but we can hang out and be entertained for the price of a cup of coffee or hot chocolate (or iced tea as the weather warms). Actually, we are just so wonderfully boring that once last year, during a date, Cardo asked me what I wanted to do and I told him that I wanted to walk in the park (just like we do multiple times a week). So, we did. So, we could make dinner at home and then go hang out outside, down by the river or at one of the parks. We are pretty laid-back.

Okay, the money from last Friday as been spent. I hope we've learned our lesson. (Actually, I don't know if Cardo even minds the money we spent in the way that I do. He tends to not worry about *anything* the way I do. And, we did go to the movies, which ended up being something we both liked. We bought our tickets from Costco, saving ourselves some money there and I waited to hit up the grocery store after the movie for my dessert because there's no way I'm paying cinema prices for their popcorn, candies or drinks.)

Any other date night suggestions for us?

As for the money thing? The getting shaky upon balancing the checkbook thing? I hope this goes away. I've been an adult for enough years now that I feel silly feeling this way, yet here it is. I often figuratively step back and think, "Life is definitely not long enough to worry about this ALL THE TIME." And I take a breath. Then, though, I think, "Yeah, that's true, but bills must be paid. Debt must be repaid." It's not the bills or the debt that I mind. I might be weird, but I really don't mind paying what I owe. I just would like to have a bit left over when those bills and that debt are paid. I'd like to have a savings account. (Ah, Savings, how I dream of you.) I'm still hoping this year ends better for us, financially, than it has started. Included in this hope is that we will be even more responsible with our money at the end of the year than we are now. It's been a shamefully long time since I've even undertaken actually balancing our checkbook (because, hello, I can check the balance every second of every day as long as I've interweb access), but I find the practice helpful.

I'd love to hear how others of you successfully budget. Please.


* Yes, that's spelled correctly. I looked it up to make sure. It just looks so, so incredibly strange.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

me! me! a meme

Okay, so no one needs to be so excited about me. I just needed a title. I've been reading through others' blog archives and I sometimes see memes. I don't like to tag people for memes and I don't like to respond to them if I feel I have to. If you so choose, please feel free to swipe the meme questions for your own blog (especially seeing as though I felt free to borrow this from elsewhere).

8 shows i like to watch:
1. Monk
2. Psych
3. Murder, She Wrote (yeah, I know...really, I know)
4. Gilmore Girls
5. Reading Rainbow
6. Mister Rogers
7. (Um...I used to watch Ally McBeal and plan to do so again)
8. (Um...I also used to watch My So-Called Life and I'll probably watch that again)

8 restaurants i like to eat at:
1. Dish
2. Massimo's (not the one downtown)
3. Beach Hut Deli
4. China East
5. House of Bread
6. My Favorite Muffin
7. My home
8. Your home...invite me over (just kidding)

8 things that happened today:
1. Spring started
2. woke up next to my whole family
3. ate a ham and cheddar scone at HoB
4. went to a school open house
5. went to a baby shower (am excitedly awaiting baby)
6. won a baby-food-taste-test game
7. visited Grandma J
8. read a great deal of a for-fun book

8 things i am looking forward to:
1. park tomorrow!
2. grocery shopping (it's been a while)
3. meal planning
4. seeing Pic in the morning
5. finishing my book and starting the next
6. watermelon (I can't help it. Pic has been talking about it for months.)
7. finding (or, perhaps, just really seeing) my passion
8. good news (please)

8 things on my wish list:
1. sleep that comes easily and is truly restful
2. far-flung friends to be closer
3. plenty of time with my family...always
4. the inspiration and motivation to pull out my sewing machine and (begin and) complete a project
5. paying off debt
6. more time for more books
7. a huge injection of confidence
8. answers...and with them, a sense of peace (is that two? I think they go together)

birth and rebirth

I've never really understood why the year doesn't begin in Spring. My questioning wasn't so strong when I lived in Vegas where the changing of the seasons isn't all that noticeable, but here where we actually do have snow and then the melting of such and the blooming of new life after such snow has melted, I question the year beginning January first much more.

I feel that the year really should start at the Vernal Equinox. Don't the seasons just so nicely correspond with phases of our lives? (Or, have I just been reading entirely too much early modern literature? I'm sure the trope is highly available in the literature of other eras, too.) Spring is the start of life. Summer is the late youth and early adulthood. Autumn is maturity. Winter is old age and death. (Yes, I know, that's kind of sad for Winter...unless we view this, naturally, as a cycle. Then, the death that occurs in Winter provides the soil for the life that returns in Spring.*)

And, yesterday, I heard something on the radio that goes along with this notion of mine. (A notion that, yes, I do realize is so not original.) On Star Date, Sandy Wood, reading a script prepared by Damond Benningfield, explained that the Gregorian Calendar, which we still use, is calibrated using the Vernal Equinox. She reports that when people were first figuring out the idea of the year, the "period between vernal equinoxes determined the length of the year. This period is known as the tropical year..."(StarDate Online Spring Equinox).

If it wouldn't be so confusing, I would just change the way I defined the year, celebrating the new year on the Vernal Equinox. However, I'd always be confused. Ah, well.


* The other day as we were walking, Pic and I were discussing death. I can't remember why. She truly believes that when we die, we'll become part of the soil. (I have yet to explain to her cremation. Also, I haven't told her that people who aren't cremated are usually embalmed and also buried in boxes to keep the soil and its inhabitants out. As far as I'm concerned, I can just be buried as is and become part of the soil, but I'm not sure this will fly.) Anyhow, she was saying that one day I would die and I'd become part of the soil. "You'll be a soil woman," she told me. I like this notion.

Friday, March 19, 2010

is intelligence relative?

Cardo and I were on our way home from a date (!) tonight when we were, of course, talking about Pic. (Yeah, we so don’t have a “no talking about the kidlet” rule for our incredibly infrequent dates…what can I say? we love us some Pic). Cardo started to say, “She’s smart,” but kind of stopped himself. I knew what he was thinking. I also think she’s smart. However, we were both acknowledged that we really only ever spend time with her, as far as children go. Sure, we see other people’s kids, but we don’t spend any really extended period of time with them. And, they’re all either older or younger than Pic.

Pic seems to understand lots of ideas pretty quickly. And, she maintains her grasp on most of these things. However, there are times when something just doesn’t want to stick. I used to wonder if she’d never remember her colors. For some time, everything was yellow. There are times when I think she’ll never get the hang of recognizing the following numbers: 6, 7, 8, 9. Actually, she does have seven down. Of course, she refers to it as, “Before the 8…7.” Just like that. Small things, I know.

Then, I have to wonder: What really counts as intelligence? What makes a person smart? Sure, I got good grades throughout my schooling, but plot me down somewhere with a map and have me try to find my way around and I panic. Yes, I can read a map, and, depending on the sun, I can figure out which direction is which (I’d be screwed at night, because I don’t read stars), but I have absolutely no internal sense of direction. I’ve lived here for more than a decade now and I still get lost in places I’ve been hundreds of times.

I don’t understand how my computer works, how electricity works, how cars work. (I understand bits, sometimes, but in general, I’m a at a loss.) I have a hard time remembering how to spell “exercise” and I recently spent a day spelling “cheese” as “cheeze.” I can do some math in my head, but I still rely on writing it out or using a calculator to check my work (especially in balancing the checkbooks).

The more I learn, the less I feel I know. The less intelligent I feel, which is particularly difficult for me because I was always told, growing up, that I was intelligent. That was the one thing I felt I had going for me. It’s really hard to question that, to feel that waver under me.

So, back to Pic. Is she smart? I think so. I think that everyone I’ve met is smart in some way. There’re people like me who are book smart and there are people like Cardo who are hands-on smart. (I just realized that I’ve heard the term “book smart” and the term “street smart” but I’m unsure how to describe people who can figure out the inner workings of machines and such…mechanically smart? Chissa?)

I know that there are definitions for smartness and intelligence, but do they really reflect every kind of intelligence? Am I just too wrapped up in this idea that everyone is special in their own way (one of the great, great problems of my generation, according to many)?

I know people who have gotten great grades in school without even trying? Does that make them smart? Does it mean that they've figured out how to play the "game" of school? Does that mean that they have stellar memories (if so, lucky them!). I've known people who have gotten terrible grades in school. Does that make them not smart? Does it mean that they simply aren't trying? Does it mean that they might not be smart in the ways that school measures?

Okay, I know that I'm starting to ramble here. I've been thinking on this for quite some time now (years, people, years) so you might think I'd have this more worked out by now. I obviously don't. I just have to say that this kind of an issue makes me so hesitant to use labels. Yes, I actually hesitate to tell my daughter, "You're smart" because I don't know what will happen when she gets into school. What will happen when she is compared with all those other students? Is that when intelligence really begins to be relative? As I mentioned above, being smart was my thing. "The smart one" was my identity. I felt so much pressure (mainly my own, I'm sure) to live up to that, to surpass others' ideas of me and I so often felt resentful (often of myself).

Argh! I have to end this here (which I just typed "hear"). It's the middle of the night. I don't need to be so far into my own head right now.

Any thoughts, though?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

bloggie, plain and tall

I looked at my blog today and I realize how very simple it is. I'm afraid of change. Yes, really afraid of it. I'm afraid that if I change anything, I'll somehow delete all of my posts and all of the formatting I've worked on. I don't know enough computer-ese to be comfortable with making drastic changes. (I should know more, yes, considering I'm here so often, but I don't. That is just how it is.)

I've attempted Big Change before and I somehow lost all of my links. Something stupid like that. I had saved everything (somehow...Blogger told me, but I don't recall) and was able to restore everything to normal. However, every once in a while, I stop to take a long, slow gander and I'd like to see some change here. Probably not going to happen in any significant way anytime soon.

However, you'll no doubt notice the (gigantic! titanic!) picture header. I can't get it to go above my title. Ah, well. The picture is not of a duckpond, but of ducks in the river. I'm okay with that.

With the incredibly beautiful weather, we've been spending inordinate amounts of time out of doors. Tomorrow might not be looking so hot (ha!), so we might not be out as much as we have been every other day this week. I'm really trying to enjoy every day for what it is, though. Then, I see on the seven-day forecast that next Tuesday might be bringing us some snow. Oh, Spring, I know that you give no guarantees against snow or sleet or any other Winter-like weather, but...ugh. Ah, well. It's not like we pack our winter gear away. That's why we have a coat closet, no?


P.S. Lately, I'm totally wrapped up in Calvin and Hobbes. I love this strip. I'd post and post some more the particular strips that speak to me, but I don't think that'd be smiled upon. Is it wrong that I am so infatuated with this comic? Too bad if it is.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

my struggle with stuff

I've long been attached to my stuff. Cardo likes to tease me because I still have some things from the time I was in high school (and, um, from before). I have weeded out tons and tons of stuff from my possessions and yet I own more. My somewhat mindless collecting of stuff began before I became an adult. I didn't mean to mindlessly acquire, but it happened. I'm a person who can pack up a box during one move and not unpack it for three more moves and never miss what's in the box. I probably don't even remember what is in the box.

I've worked diligently to declutter my life, although it doesn't really look like it. For several years now, I've given a lot more thought to my purchases: Do I need this? [Most likely not.] Is it worth spending the money on? [Probably not.] Is it worth the amount of hours I have worked to earn the money (or, the amount of hours Cardo has worked to earn the money)? [Probably not.]

I've greatly reduced my consumption of stuff (um, I'm really not including books in this category of stuff -- I love and value my books and I've become much better about checking books out from the library instead of buying them immediately). However, we still manage to collect more...stuff. I myself am definitely a work in progress.

I'm trying to see my things as such: things, not little bits of myself or something like that. I don't need to have a bunch of junk surrounding me. It doesn't make me feel better. In fact, it makes me feel worse. When I look around at all of the junk we have accumulated and have yet to return to Goodwill or Savers (where we most likely bought it in the first place), I become anxious.

Anyhow, this brief bit of introspection was inspired by this short video clip:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Annie Leonard
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care reform

As soon as the local library website is once again working, I'll be adding The Story of Stuff to my library holds list.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

in negotiation

Cardo and another co-worker are currently trying to sort out who is going to have which holiday off. His co-worker asked for Easter and Mother's Day. Cardo balked a bit at this, so I had to talk some sense into him [read that phrase lightly].

We don't celebrate Easter and I don't plan on celebrating Mother's Day. I don't mind if Cardo has to work that day. If we're going to do anything, we can do it the day before, or something.

Today, as we were walking, though, I came up with a compromise for them. I suggested to Cardo that he agree his co-worker gets Easter and Mother's Day off if he can have Earth Day and Father's Day off. Co-worker agreed.

I figure that most people would hear that suggestion and think, "Um, okay. Earth Day, Schmearth Day." Or something. This is one holiday I can really get behind, though. And, usually Cardo has to rush off to work. This year, I'd like to be able to linger at the Earth Day festival if we choose. I'm looking forward to it!

(As for Father's Day, I'm still trying to figure something out. Our fall-back gift is a framed picture of Cardo and Pic together. Ideas?)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

psa: free pet adoptions

The Nevada Humane Society is offering free pet adoptions on adult cats and dogs (over four months old, excluding certain dogs) through Sunday.

I just came across this. And, I am so wanting another cat. I don't think Cardo does, but I do. Another cat or two or twelve. I don't believe adopting another cat is going to be a possibility for us right now and I know that adopting a dog isn't, but I wish the Humane Society the best with finding these animals safe and loving homes.


P. S. I also just noticed a blurb on the site stating that black pets are much less likely than other colored pets to be adopted. I have no idea why this is.

Our no longer covert cat! I love when he crosses his paws like this.

Friday, March 12, 2010

and the quiet settles in

For the last two nights, I've had about three hours of sleep a night. Today was a pretty full day and I wearily typed out my to-do list in the wee hours of this morning. I have to say, though, that today was totally worth the effort.

After some obligations this morning, this afternoon was all about cleaning up and making food. I cleaned mirrors and toilets (what fun!) and took down all of our hanging laundry. Then, I started in on the food. I did learn a couple of things from my food today.

I thought that tripling the recipe for the eight-serving cake would yield twenty-four cupcakes. Um, no. I ended up with thirty-six cupcakes and enough batter to make one more. (There was no way I was going to make a single cupcake, so that last batter went down the drain.)

It's not a good idea to cook twelve cups of macaroni at once. The pasta went from not done to whoa! over-done in what seemed like a moment. (This could also have been due to me also making thirty-six cupcakes in batches of twelve and putting together the cheese sauce for the pasta at the same time I was cooking the pasta. Yeah.) So, yes, we had somewhat gloopy macaroni and cheese, but so be it.

Inviting people over fills me with anxiety. Inviting enough people over that I know we will run out of dishes by the end of the night fills me with a lot of anxiety and then some more. However, this very last-minute yet long overdue gathering today leaves me feeling happy. Happy to have the friends I have. Happy for handmade cards. Happy that a friend I've known almost all my life was able to come. Happy that she brought her daughter and this girl and Pic can further develop a friendship that might last decades and more. Happy that Pic has so many people in her life, outside of this little family, who love her so.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

it's the sun, it's the sun...'s the beautiful sun! (The song goes on, but I digress. Quick, Coach J, you take it from there!)

We've been getting out no matter how incredibly freezing-freaking-cold it's been. And, about that cold, it's weird. We dropped Cardo off at work today and a woman on the radio let us know that today's high is going to be 53 degrees [F, I have no idea in Celsius]. She said that it would be "warm." And? I agreed with her. I've been here a long, long time, when I agree that below sixty is going to be warm. There are a couple of days next week when the forecast is calling for 66 and 67 [I haven't a clue how to get the degree symbol on here], and I'm thinking, "Hey, I won't even have to wear a jacket. I can pull out my shorts." Okay, so the shorts thing is not at all serious.

So, yeah, about that cold. It's really the Wind and her chill factor that have been causing the problem. A couple of weeks ago, we were out walking, me without my jacket even. Then, this Tuesday, when Pic and I went out, we only made it to one of the nearby grocery stores and hung out there until Cardo got off work and picked us up (yes, I think some people were beginning to wonder what the crud we were doing, but there's a coffee counter and some seating so it's not like we were wandering the aisles for over an hour (I know) without basket or cart).

Yesterday, I woke up to a thin layer of snow on the ground outside and I was very disappointed. (I wanted no snow, not more snow, mind you.) Pic and I still went out in the afternoon anyhow and, when Cardo got off, we all went for another walk outside together. And, I'm planning more sunshine and chilly air for later this afternoon.

So, Winter, I apologize. I tried not to will you away, but I think I'm doing it anyhow. It's been fun, what with sledding and making snow ducks and such, but I'm ready for Spring to arrive. Please, Winter, don't be too upset and send me a big old load of snow for wishing to part ways until December. Please.

Ah, ducks, welcome to my little duckpond. :)

I don't know the names of flora and fauna. I just don't. I've given a lot of thought to the subject, but I don't feel I need to start another post right here.

Pic "filling up with air," she explained to me.


Note: When cutting down the size of my pictures, I reverted to what I used to do, leaving me with very unclear pictures here, but I really don't want to spend any more time at the computer right now. I either want to be in a deep, dark sleep (not going to happen at the moment) or outside.

Monday, March 8, 2010

this week is...

...National Sleep Awareness Week.

Today is...

...International Women's Day
...United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace

Thursday is Johnny Appleseed Day. (One of two such days a year.)

Saturday is National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day. (There are various links for this. You can, if you feel so inclined, look some up.) (Oh, and this reminds me: As Pic was playing with Kid Pix on the computer today, she was spelling out "Happy Birthday." She asked me where the "i" is on the keyboard (it's just a straight line, so it's easily confused with a lower-case "l" (see?)). I told her it was in the top line of the letters and she asked me, "Oh, next to the "umbrella"? It took me a moment to understand what she meant. Oh, that child makes me smile.)

Oh, happy week to you all!

bet you bite a chip

Remember that Chips Ahoy! catch-phrase? Do they even have commercials anymore? Eh, doesn't matter.

That catch phrase kept popping into my head last night as I finally decided to break out of my cooking/baking funk. Inspired by the mini muffins Pic absolutely loves to get when we go to My Favorite Muffin, I decided to make some chocolate chip muffins. I used the recipe in Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, using mini chocolate chips instead of larger ones. The recipe yield is supposed to be 12 muffins, but I came out with 12 plus 12 mini muffins. And, oh, those mini muffins...they came out something much more akin to thick, bite-sized chocolate chip cookies. Pic loved them. We have none of the mini ones left! (I waited, hoping for some sunshine, to take the picture this afternoon.)

As for the, um, dark hue of my muffins? Let's just say that I'll be picking up an oven thermometer the next time we grocery shop. Definitely. The larger muffins were not nearly as crunchy as the smaller muffins.

And, prepare yourselves for evidence of my food slump.

This is what we had for breakfast the other day (minus the cheesecake that came in that yellow package...that was Cardo's birthday treat from the night before). Breakfast of champions right there. Home-popped popcorn with a bit of butter, fresh mandarins for me and canned for Pic (I don't understand, but she really didn't want the fresh fruit). Milk for her. Hot tea for me.

e-books? no, thank you

Cartoons of the Week

I just saw the cartoon linked above. (That's the only way it would let me insert it into my blog, so I'm guessing they would frown on my copying the image and posting it here. It's two children looking at a book lying on the floor. One says to the other, "It's called 'a book.' ...Not sure where the batteries go.")

I've given lots of thought to my book addiction. I love books. I love to open a book and feel it in my hands as I read. I love to be able to write on my books -- only certain books, of course -- if I feel the need. I love to see them lining my shelves (and, um, stacked on every surface of my home and stuffed into every pocket in the car).

I can't really get behind the e-book idea. Cardo keeps asking me if I want some kind of electronic book and I'm very afraid he's going to buy me one. I told him that the only time I can imagine wanting one is if I were a frequent traveler and I needed to bring lots of texts and I didn't have the space/strength to lug them around.

I'm a somewhat staid, old-fashioned lass. Not in all respects, of course, as here I am posting to a blog. I have yet to embrace, or even try myself, Twitter, though. When I get stuck on an idea, it takes a great effort to get me to budge.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


What I'm going to say here may sound really silly, but so be it.

I've given a lot of thought to my sense of rhythm lately. My rhythm, I have thought, has just been so off. I can't get it together. I'm getting more rest than I regularly got in the last four years (yikes), but it comes at weird, mainly inconvenient times. I'm awake long into the night when others are asleep, when my family is asleep. I have felt so lucky to have been able to spend so much of Pic's life at home with her, but I have pretty much zero daytime to myself. Cardo is always asking me why I'm up late doing things like writing or washing dishes. Late at night is when I hit my stride. Late at night is when I, at long last, have a bit of time for myself. Late at night is when I've always thrived (throve? ha! I'm sticking with "thrived").

I'm not exactly sure what is going on with me lately and I'm trying not to get too caught up in it for fear of spiraling down into something I can't back out of. I have decided, however, that my rhythm is not wrong, it just doesn't mesh with what I believe is expected of most people. I have a whole set of ideals for my life -- one of which has to do with me embracing my wonky rhythm -- but I don't see how they can become reality. I think I'll just have to accept that my rhythm is natural for me and it's okay that it isn't like "everyone else's" (yes, I understand that there are entirely too many people in the world for me to actually believe that there are only two rhythms: mine and Yours [capitalization intentional]). I think I'll also have to accept that if I am going to join the system I'm trying to join, I'm going to have to adjust, even if it kills me. (I studied some unfun stuff on sleep issues in my Intro to Psychology class oh-so-many years ago.)

Okay. On to less vague and depressing matter, but still on rhythm, of other sorts. I've seen some fun music videos out here in the interweb lately. I'll (re)share one here for now.

"OK Go - This Too Shall Pass - Rube Goldberg Machine version"

Friday, March 5, 2010

on my mind

My braid here reminds me of bread. Of tasty, tasty challah, to be exact. Mmm. I'm a bit food obsessed, while trying not to be. It's not easy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

just a pinch between the cheek and gum

We didn't really have a chance to celebrate National Pig Day* on Monday because Cardo was unexpectedly off. Instead of my planned activity, we spent a good deal of time outside, which was fabulous. (It seems even better now, given our current bits of snow and our freezing cold wind.)

So, yesterday, Pic and I made a kind of paper plate puppets: three pigs and a wolf. I searched all over for a version of "The Three Little Pigs." Out of all the books we own, I knew we had to have at least one version of the story. I was surprised to find that we might actually only have one version, albeit in two different volumes. The earlier volume it has been collected in was first copyrighted in 1923 and the second was first copyrighted in 1956, but the versions, both adapted by Joseph Jacobs, seems to be the same (I only read one version when I noticed the beginnings, at least, were verbatim).

The story isn't the cleaned up version where the foolish pigs who built their houses of straw and sticks** had a chance to run to their more practical brother's brick/stone house. No, in this version each of the first two pigs is eaten by the wolf and, in the end, the third pig eats the wolf.

This version, the version I read Pic yesterday, starts with a bit of verse:

Once upon a time when pigs spoke rhyme,
And monkeys chewed tobacco,
And hens took snuff to make them tough,
And ducks went quack, quack, quack, O!

Then comes the story.

And, just in case you might not believe there was a time when monkeys chewed (or at least smoked) tobacco, H. A. Rey offers further anecdotal evidence. Tonight, Pic asked me to read her Curious George (a book I definitely have some problems with). At one point (after the man with the big yellow hat stuffs George in a sack and steals him out of Africa), George settles in at the man's house. George enjoys a good meal and then a good pipe. He sits in the chair, contentedly puffing away on the pipe.

It's interesting to go back and read earlier versions of stories. Pre-Disney, pre-PBS versions of stories. I don't want to idealize the older versions just because they're older and may be more authentic. However, I also don't want to only expose Pic to the very sterilized (for lack of a better word...optimistic?, sunny? Disneyfied?) versions of the stories because I know there's a history behind what we have. And, wolves eat pigs. At least, they would given the opportunity. Pic asked me, "But, did he just eat the pig for pretend?" and I told her, "No. I think he really ate the pig." She responded, "Okay, but the wolf didn't chew the pig up." When she retold the story, using the puppets, the wolf still swallowed the pigs, but they reappeared in the end. (Where's that woodsman from "Little Red Riding Hood" when you need him to slit open a wolf and release his most recent meal?)

Anyhow, I initially was only going to comment on the tobacco references. I was thinking about such things already because this post on now-illegal substances like cocaine and opium being marketed to, basically, the whole family. Cocaine toothache drops! Opium for all ages! What'll it be a hundred years from now? (I'm guessing something along the lines of, "I can't believe they fed all of those processed food-like products to their children!")


*What's my tone here? Am I being sincere? Is there a bit of my tongue tucked into my cheek? :)

**In the version we have, the second pig built his house of "furze." I assumed that is a kind of stick, but I looked it up anyhow. "Furze" is another term for "gorse" (thanks computer dictionary). "Gorse" is a yellow-flowered shrub of the pea family and is from the Latin for barley. (I'm a bit obsessed with the dictionary. You're welcome.)

Monday, March 1, 2010

this month is...

-- Irish-American Heritage Month
-- National Women's History Month
-- National Craft Month

This week is Newspaper in Education Week.

Today is National Pig Day.

Tomorrow is Dr. Seuss's birthday.

Have a happy March!