Friday, April 30, 2010

revision week: day the ultimate

And, now, for my favorite:


I feel that I might have posted this here before, but I'm not sure and I'm not interested in skimming through my archives and figuring it out.

I had not seen this movie until a few years ago when Coach J told me she used it (and this trailer, I believe) in one of her classes. She gave the students the option not to watch it. I watched it on my own and I was completely freaked out (until the very end, at which point, I actually felt a bit of a let-down). I don't think I'll be watching it again. I will be watching this trailer again, periodically, just because I like it. And the song? I'll forever associate "Solsbury Hill" with movie.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

happiness is... possibilities opening up (I'm determined to stay positive about the future if it kills me) impromptu walk this morning (I know, with the walking already) and seeing a duck leading her ducklings across a lawn (got pictures with Cardo's phone, but that's with him right now and cellular telephone pictures never come out all that well)

...warm clothes and plenty of blankets (baby, it's cold outside...and inside)

...the promise of sunshine il quest weekend (more walking? definitely!)

revision week: day the penultimate

What does become of the brokenhearted? (Embedding was disabled. Sorry.) ["What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted - [STEREO]"]


"Bette Midler - Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"
I wouldn't still be breathing, even at the start of this. (Someone please tell me this is lip-synched.)


"Glee Cast - Lean On Me (Glee Cast Version)"
(No video on this one.)
I've not seen this show and I don't plan to, but this song has been stuck in my head since yesterday, so here's a revision of it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

i resolve: decluttering edition

I resolve to no longer buy those day-to-day calendars. I have been doing so for over a decade now and I just found pages from a 2001 calendar (that's the oldest I've come across so far today). Buying these calendars is something of a compulsion with me. I like to have that daily page to look at, but I can't stand the remnant pages. And, what a waste of paper. Because, really, if I still have pages from almost ten years ago, I don't foresee working my way through these scratch pages anytime soon.

I need to break this habit. So, come next January...NO MORE! I'll have to sign up for an e-mail-a-day calendar or something, because the clutter is ridiculous.

This is only a bit of the problem. And, do you see: some of that paper has yellowed with age. Ugh.


One more? Okay. I also resolve to stop buying movies I'm not sure I enjoy. I guess I'll have to check them out through Netflix before I buy. The problem is that I buy movies at Goodwill and I'm never sure what the selection will be. I know, I know, just stop buying them. Duh. Seems so simple, but it's such a hard habit for me to break.

Here's what went out on Freecycle yesterday:

(As I said before, that Hollow Man is not mine, but Cardo said I could give it away.)

revision week: day the third

"Alien Ant Farm - Smooth Criminal"

I'm not into the video. Just saying.


"Cake - I Will Survive"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

mnmlsm, or something entirely unlike it

That would be minimalism, in case you were wondering.

A friend recently told me she's interested in minimalism. She's been interested in weeding out the extra stuff in her life. I mumbled something along the lines of me also being interested in it but that I realize it's something I'm incapable of. (I actually, can't remember my exact stumbled-over response, but that's close enough.)

Here's the thing: I've always held on to stuff. I've whittled and whittled. I've given away bags and boxes and more bags and more boxes worth of stuff. And yet... Ah, there's always more.

We've lived in our current place for three months now (I can hardly believe that, but it's true) and the den is still a wreck. I keep saying, "I'd like a bookshelf for the closet so I can unpack and clean up." That's totally just an excuse. First off, I could just shove the eight boxes (I just counted) in the closet and that would help matters immensely, but I really do want to get rid of some of the crap. But, when I start to go through things, I always stop and think, "Hmm, I might be needing this at some point. What if I get rid of this [random piece of crap I probably haven't looked at in months or, ahem, years] and then realize I could have used it?" So, the stuff still sits. It's so much easier for me to focus on Pic's wreck of a room or the wreck that is the garage. And, even these I have largely ignored for the last couple of months. I am just overwhelmed by our stuff.

The other day, I concluded that our stuff is like weight. It's so easy to gain weight, and to gain it quickly at that. It's hard, for me at least, to drop the extra weight, though. As a family, we find it so easy and quick to acquire stuff, but it takes us so long to weed through and rid ourselves of it. Last year was something of a Year of Acquiring. This year I've hoped to realize something of a Year of Decluttering, but I've yet to feel successful regarding this.

I might be more successful with the assistance of some kind of personal trainer: a neutral party who would come in and just pack up a bunch of crap and recycle/give away what isn't needed, but even that thought fills me with a bit of anxiety. I'm entirely too attached to the tangible things in my life. Perhaps what I need isn't someone to clean up my room, but someone to offer mental and emotional help -- not a personal trainer, but a therapist?

So, for now, here I sit, in the tiny den, cramped with boxes and bags and papers and clutter, listening to podcasts and very, very slowly working off the excess.

revision week: day the second

"Bunnies: Wizard of Oz"

Monday, April 26, 2010

revision week: day the first

"You've Got Mail Recut"

(I'm saving my favorite for Friday.)

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I carefully washed around this tonight. It was a long, but enjoyable day. Back to the grind tomorrow.

what i'm looking forward to today

-- seeing friends!

-- a noon session on composting with worms (I think our compost is wanting worms)

-- a two o'clock session, "Growing Food Year Round in High Desert"

-- walking!

-- live music (although I can't handle it too loud)

Again, Happy Earth Day to you all! (Today is our annual Earth Day festival.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

a little night music

"Janelle Monae Tightrope ft. Big Bio [OFFICIAL VIDEO] PREORDER NOW!"

Friday, April 23, 2010

'tis date night (plus, some revision fun)

Yes, here at La Casa B, Cardo and I are taking a bit of time for ourselves and each other. Why, then, am I here typing instead of spending time with my loverly spouse? Um, Cardo is completely conked out in the bedroom.

Before he fell asleep, about a minute after we walked in the door, we did manage to spend a few nice hours together. We talked about our pasts and about our future. There's still a great deal of opportunity available to us and we're not entirely sure where we're headed, but we're sure we're headed there together, which is important to us.

To make date night a possibility, Pic is staying with our dearly beloved friends tonight (a sleepover!). She very much looks forward to hanging out with others. Cardo said, tonight, that we were thinking we were getting a bit of a break and that Pic is convinced that she's getting a break. Any way you slice it, it's nice for us all to have a bit of a break from each other so that upon reconvening, we really appreciate what we've just missed for the last several hours.

When we went to drop Pic off, we hung around for a bit, talking with Auntie C (although when we got there I did tell Pic she could grab her pack and go knock and the door and we'd see her tomorrow...I was, of course, joking). After a bit of the adults visiting, Pic ran over to Cardo and asked him, "Is it almost time for you guys to leave yet?" Yes, we were almost finished encroaching on her evening of fun. Besitos were doled out and we were off.

We'll meet up in the morning for breakfast and to pick up the wee one. Until then, we're minus one very energetic, hilarious, inquisitive, talkative child for the evening. I already can't wait to see her in the morning.


Cardo may be resting, but I've got plenty to keep me entertained. I've finally made it to the top of the library's hold list for U is for Undertow and I'm intrigued by the story already. I'm just sad knowing that I'll fall asleep eventually and I probably won't finish the book before I do.

Also, I'd like to thank Coach J for sharing the following video with me this morning. Throughout, I was laughing like the dork I am. Happy Birthday, Will:

"Shakespeare sketch - A Small Rewrite"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

cooking up some cleanliness

[I wrote this post yesterday, but then I hadn't uploaded my (wonderfully crappy) pictures, so I waited to post. I have done my second load of laundry. Clothes look clean and are soft.]

Okay, so there wasn't actually any cooking involved in this recipe.

I've finally made it through the end of my bulk laundry detergent. We have been using Kirkland eco-friendly (or "eco-friendly"...I never know how much to believe that products like cleaners are eco-friendly) laundry soap and it has taken us forever to get through it. I can't even remember how many months ago I found the detergent recipe I wanted to try out (five? six?), but I've finally gotten around to it. First off, shredding a block of soap is somewhat akin to shredding a block of frozen cheddar cheese.

The detergent didn't come out exactly as I thought it would. The shredded soap didn't mix with the powdered ingredients the way I thought it would (based on the pictures from the recipe I was using). I stirred the soap for about fifteen minutes. Then, after I put the soap in an old, glass, pickle jar, I shook it up some. I can't tell if mine just looks different because the soap I used is something of a bright yellow color. I used the Fels-Naphta*, one of the suggested soaps. Next time I'll probably just use the soap we have on hand, but I get very nervous about playing around with a recipe on my first attempt. I'll just shake my jar before measuring out each load's worth of soap.

Anyhow, I've done exactly one load of laundry with this soap (and I'm about to do another). I can't tell if our clothes are cleaner or not. I've never taken my clothes from the washing machine and thought, "Wow, my clothes are dirty." My clothes have always at least looked clean. Without access to some kind of a laboratory, I'm not sure how I'd be sure how clean different soaps are making our clothes. I do know, though, that our clothes are so much softer than they were before. The only change I made was the soap.

And, because the world seems to revolve around me (I jest), I found an article, "Do-It-Yourself Laundry Detergent", on Yahoo! just this morning. This article linked to another article, "The Great American Soap Overdose", in the Wall Street Journal. I love that the WSJ article ends on that throw-away line from the Seventh Generation co-founder, Jeffrey Hollender, about not even needing soap most of the time. Could he be a bit more specific? (Neither of the authors were specific enough for me regarding this issue.) And, I wonder how others in his business, including in his own company, respond to statements like that. Are they all kicking him, or wanting to, in hopes that he'll keep quiet about stuff like that?

I also once read that to test if you are using too much detergent, you can run some loads of towels through the washing machine. Throw your towels in, add no detergent, and check at some point (sorry, I can't remember exactly when...when the basin is full of water?) to see if there are suds. If you see suds, you know that you use too much detergent in your wash. The person who suggested this experiment claimed that most people who do this have to do this rinsing seven or eight times to get the soap out. I am carefully measuring my new detergent.


* I was somewhat nervous about using the Fels-Naphtha because of others' concerns (this is just one bit of reading I did). (Also, it's got "naphta" in it's name. I wonder where that originated?) I think next time, I'll use an olive oil soap, as suggested in the comments on that linked post. I just saw some at a nearby grocery store. We'll see how this goes for now.

Also, I cut off part of the soap bar, considering the recipe calls for 4.5 ounces of soap and the bar was 5.5 ounces. We have a kitchen scale and I used that to weigh the soap.

I held the soap by the wrapper while I was shredding it. Also, a while back, I bought a shredder at Goodwill to use only for shredding soap. I use an old coffee scoop for measuring out my soap. I made sure that the scoop measured one tablespoon.


Happy Earth Day tomorrow!

Monday, April 19, 2010

recycling-bin diving?

Cardo just brought home a big trash can so we can start composting. (Right now, we've been saving our foodstuffs in a bag hanging from the grill on the back patio.) We're completely new at this, so we'll see how it goes. I've been reading enough about it lately that I just can't not give it a try.

So, we were out for a walk today and the area we were in is having their garbage and recycling picked up tomorrow. Many had already set out their trash cans and recycling bins. In front of a couple of houses we passed, piles of black garbage bags were lined up. I'm guessing these were full of lawn clippings, but I wasn't adventurous enough to peek. In front of a couple of more houses were recycling bins full of newspapers and paper bags. I really wanted those newspapers, or brown waste (I'm trying to learn the jargon). I didn't take them.

What I am wondering: Is it okay to take stuff from someone's recycling? The person who put it there obviously didn't have any further need for it. Should I go knock on the door and ask? What do you think?

undocumented food

Wow. I realize that I haven't posted any food since early March. This does not, of course, mean that we have not been eating. We've definitely been eating plenty, no matter how monotonous our eating might seem (couscous and white beans anyone?).

So, as I work through the newer recipes I want to try, I'll also be posting some of the simple meals we've been making and eating for the last six weeks.

First up: baked polenta rounds with squash and cheese.

This was super-simple. The most difficult part was slicing the polenta into evenly-sized discs. I just bought a log of prepared polenta from the grocery store and used that. I believe I baked everything at the same time. This was so easy but definitely tasty. I can't remember what else we had that night, but Cardo did request that we make this again. I'd really like to try making soft polenta on my own. I have some recipes for that. I'm thinking to just add some vegetables (green onions, squash, carrots, spinach,...) and cheese to that too. Stir it up and we're ready to eat.

If you all have any food thoughts to share, to inspire me, I'm always open to suggestions.

And, now, I'm off to make rice and beans.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I know that April is half over now, but I've just looked through one of my old Cooking Light cookbooks for the April recipes. So many sound so good. I wonder what I'll actually get to. Here're the ones I'm seriously thinking about making. Any suggestions on which I should definitely get to?

* parmesan-crusted chicken with leeks and apples
* creamy parmesan pasta with turkey meatballs
* sour cream-lemon pound cake
* brown sugar pound cake
* cornmeal pound cake (it was a pound cake section...I'm not sure if I like pound cake, but it sounds good)
* rice-and-spinach gratin with dill
* creamy rice with asparagus
* zesty cheese ravioli
* tabbouleh with arugula and chicken
* applesauce, bran, and oatmeal muffins
* vegetable donburi over steamed rice
* risotto with asparagus, fennel and leeks (I've never made risotto and the process is intimidating to me)
* fresh strawberry pie (I had some awesome strawberry-rhubarb pie once in Bishop at Jack's Restaurant and Bakery)

Okay, now I'm hungry for something homecooked and delicious. Mmm.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

it's just one of those days...

...that a girl goes through/when I'm angry inside/don't wanna take it out on you. [Why yes, that song does still occasionally get stuck in my head all these years later. I can't believe that I still know it as well as I do and that I'm admitting so much here.]

It has definitely been one of those days. I've always kind of suspected that Monica was singing to a lover, but my angst is more of a general thing. I've been at the brink of my breaking point for, I don't know, a couple of weeks now. I feel like I want to crawl out of my skin (which is an absolutely disgusting prospect, but there you have it). I can't fall asleep, but I want to sleep all of the time. I can't seem to nail down any kind of a schedule. I don't have a moment that really feels all my own (even right now, when Pic is supposed to be resting, she's making very loud monkey noises in the other room). I feel like days are flying by and I'm accomplishing nothing at all in that time.

I need a bit of time to myself. I finally told this to Cardo and then what do I do? I automatically take back that request. He proposed taking her to a friend's house Saturday morning because he's going out, and I automatically said, "No, nevermind, it's okay." But it's not. I'm just so ridiculously restless that I both want to have some time alone and I don't. Actually, that's not true. I want some time alone, but I also want family time when Cardo is home. After he gets home and we eat dinner and play/walk/ride bikes outside, it's late and we start settling in. And, then, a whole day is, once again, gone. I hate to ask for time for myself. I know I'm not alone in this, as I've had many, many discussions with Auntie L regarding just this topic. While I know that a happy and sane mamma is essential to a happy and sane family, I feel selfish even wanting a break. ("From what?" I ask myself, a non-paycheck-earning person. Then I become upset because it's not like I do nothing all day, even though I feel like that's the case lately. Ugh and grrr.)

I'm not sure what this is about. It feels like cabin fever, except we are getting out. We get outside every day for at least an hour. Yet, I still feel like I'm losing it here.

So, I'm looking for suggestions for places for me to go hang out by myself. I feel weird going to the park alone because that's something we do as a family. I'm thinking maybe coffeehouse to curl up and read or stare mindlessly out of the window. What do you all do just for yourselves?

This definitely feels like a night when I want to call Cardo and ask him to pick me up a pint of Ben & Jerry's on his way home. (Were I a drinker, it'd be a pint of something much stronger than ice cream).

"Monica - Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)" [Check out the cell phone!]

happy ides of april...and, finally, an april resolution

I hope all of your tax preparing and submitting has gone well. For the first time, we made a mistake and somehow overlooked sending in two forms. We fill out and send in our tax forms early, though, so we still had everything sent out on time. Now, we're just waiting to hear back; we're hoping we didn't forget any other necessary items.

So, on to my April resolution. Actually, it isn't just for April. It's more of an ongoing project. Ongoing as in it's been going on for almost a decade now. What can we possibly have been working on for such a rather long time? Budgeting. Ah, yes. Fun with money (or, not so much fun with not so much money...something like that).

Over the years, Cardo and I have worked hard to become more responsible with our income. We've definitely earned more in years gone by, but I feel that we're definitely happier right now, even with my continuing struggle with depression brought about, in part, by money woes.

We're much, much better about eating at home, both because that saves us money and because it definitely helps us eat better. (I think we're both much healthier now than we were all those years ago when we got together, back in our heyday of eating out and not really being conscious of what we were even eating.) We buy less, stuff, we reuse a lot of stuff. To quote Yul Brenner's King, "Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera." So, we've got a lot of the basics down.

Yet, I still get tense when looking at our finances. I hate filling out the checkbook (and it's so easy not to when we can keep track of our balance online, but I'm still making an effort). And, ah Savings*, o how I miss you. Enough said about Savings (we don't get along all that well).

So, what I'm wondering now is: How do you all budget. What kinds of techniques work for you? I don't mean the very basic, "Don't spend more than you earn," because I get that already. I'm wondering more about specifics (specific techniques, not specifics about your finances).

Also, I'm wondering about cell phones. For those of you who own and use cell phones: Is there anyone who doesn't pay a ridiculous amount of money per month for his or her cell phone plan? We've looked into getting a plan with less minutes (we only once used up our minutes -- we went over and regretted it big time), but it would actually cost us more. I barely use my phone. We still have a landline, so it's not as if getting rid of my cell would leave me with no phone. (We looked into getting rid of the landline once, but we'd pay more for web** connection alone than we do for web and phone.) The thing is, though, that I like to have a cell phone just in case. This might be due to wonderful marketing in that I now believe I need my phone. Hmm***. Anyhow, I know Cardo does not want to be without his phone.

So, I know I just kind of blocked all bits of advice someone might have to offer. I'll probably just have to deal with the costs. Ugh. However, I'm still asking for advice regarding the phone issue and budgeting in general...please and thank you.


*In case you might think I'm doing that random capitalization thing, I'm employing personification here. Just clearing that up.

**As I was lying (laying? I can never, ever remember) awake last night, I was thinking of the old moniker Information Super-Highway and I thought I might begin calling this here interweb the ISH.

***I could get rid of my cell and try using pay phones when I'm out and I need to make a phone call...NOT! A few months back, Pic and I went out for a walk and we were waiting for Cardo to pick us up on his way home from work. I had my cell with me, but my battery died while we were out. I had to get change for a pay phone and then I had to actually find a pay phone (good freaking luck). I finally found a pay phone and it was broken. Pic and I just ended up walking home, but Cardo was none too happy that he wasn't sure where we were and where to pick us up.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

polite yogurt and other minutiae

-- I have recently fallen in love again with Greek yogurt with fruit or honey mixed in. It's so decadently tasty. Mmmm. Anyhow, on the side of my yogurt container is printed, "Suggested: Please Do Not Stir." How polite. :)

-- In yogurt related posting: Does anyone know how to make homemade yogurt? Homemade Greek yogurt? Is it worth it to make it at home? Cardo says his mom used to make yogurt at home but he has zero specifics regarding the process.

-- One hundred and forty five years ago today, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln, who died the following day.

-- Ninety-eight years ago today, the Titanic hit the iceberg and started to sink. (Only two more years until those tribute cruises.)

-- Soap operas were so named because of advertising and product placement in their shows.


Okay, I know that was weirdly all over the place. I'm a bit exhausted tonight. So, g'night all.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

o, to be that proverbial ostrich*

There are times when I really want to live the "ignorance is bliss" kind of lifestyle. Sometimes I just want to keep my head down, go about my daily business (much walking, much book-reading, much child-nurturing) and ignore much of the rest of the world. Generally, I want to believe that most people are good, most people are decent. I think the web does something to people. I know there are things I don't say here because those words could (possibly) reach such a vast audience. Even though I don't use my name here, I strive to keep this a space any person can feel comfortable visiting. However, there seem to be a lot of people who feel no compunction spreading hurtful and hateful words, possibly because they can remain anonymous here. (I've read plenty of articles, posts and comments on the anonymity of the web and the way that plays out. I'm sure, if you're interested, you can find plenty of reading material on the subject. Even without having read any of that, though, I have to wonder if people who are so incredibly mean here in cyberspace would ever really walk into a group of thousands of strangers and spout what they feel so comfortable spouting here. Think about that for a moment.)

I pointed out an instance of this kind of hateful/hurtful speech when I was talking about cloth wipes. I've come across it again, in many, many responses to this article on a desire to create a state militia in Oklahoma to protect against an overarching federal government. (I am trying to word this part neutrally.) I don't want to comment on the article itself, but on the comments. This is again an instance where I believe intelligent conversation and debate could take place, but where that has seemed to have largely failed. I started reading the comments, hoping to understand what others thought of this idea, but fearing that there would be a lot of viciousness. And, viciousness there is.

I did not, by any means, read all of the comments. At the time I'm posting this, there are already 5978 comments and I just cannot read that many. First, I don't have the time. Second, I don't have the stamina, I suppose I'll call it.

I cringe even reading the words "teatard" and "libtard" (I don't believe using words like "retard" and "gay" to represent something undesirable is even slightly okay). In the comments, Democrats and liberals are described more than once as cannibals who will either eat their own young or eat the young of others (I didn't know this "argument" was even being hurled around and I don't understand what is behind it). Obama was referred to, by one commenter, as Sadom Obamma (except, it was all upper-case). All Oklahomans have been grouped together as like-minded and in support of this militia idea by quite a few commenters who seem to think it's okay to call them "crackers," "rednecks" and "inbreeders."

I have to say that I did see some more useful discussion going on also. One commenter asks what the militia will be protecting against and the question does lead to at least some on-topic discussion. Some go so far as to actually quote the Constitution (thanks be, because I have a real problem with people calling on the Constitution without being able to point to a place in the Constitution to back up their arguments). And, I saw a few times people calling on us to vote. I've always kind of liked the argument that you can't complain about what the government does if you don't vote. I also believe, though, that we can all complain or compliment as much as we like, regardless of whether we voted, considering our right to free speech. However, I have to agree with those who would like us to exercise our voting rights before we shoot one another (something discussed by more than one commenter).

I can't write on this anymore. I've already spent an hour reading through comments on that article. (An hour, I know.) I come away from experiences like this disenheartened. I feel sad that there is so much hatred. I like to believe that I'm not that naive, but, at the same time, I try to mainly ignore the hatred that can seem so prevalent. I've been hurt enough by thoughtless, angry, mean actions. I've known of the hurt others have felt enough. I will never understand why some feel the need to be so cruel. I know that this will make me seem like a wide-eyed rosy-shades wearer, but sometimes this is the only way I get by. But, there has to be so much more.

So, I'll end with asking you all: what do we do? How do I get involved in a way that makes me feel like I'm helping and making a positive difference? How do I reach a point where I don't feel like I want to just check out of the human race? How do I reach a point where I don't question having brought a child into a world where such hatred is possible? (I know that I could easily start with not reading these comment threads. Most of the time I don't read them. I wanted what I consider to be real discussion.)


* According to National Geographic, ostriches do not stick their heads in the sand.

Monday, April 12, 2010


After about five or six months, my count on blogger has finally moved up. I'm not sure what was up with it, so I stopped checking so often. (I never mentioned it before because I felt really silly even looking at the "page visits" thing. I'm mentioning it now, though. I'm finished.)

Let me direct your attention elsewhere. It's been a very Hello, Dolly! time here at La Casa B of late. So, so long (or, you know, g'night):

"'So Long Dearie' from Hello, Dolly!" [Both the spontaneous singing and the over-the-top drama go very well with life here at La Casa B, by the way.]

(And, finally, Pic is fond of exclaiming, "Holy cabooses!")

this week...

...National Library Week. This year, Neil Gaiman is the honorary chair. (Our own beloved libraries are again experiencing cuts in their hours and days of service. On a related note, park services are also being reduced. Argh!) Today, the "State of American Libraries" is being released.

Our own libraries are currently offering tax help, resume help and compost pile-creation help. Bruka Theatre for Children is also presenting some Brothers Grimm performances. I think Pic might enjoy this. Also, Coach J turned us on to a drum performance that I think we'll try to check out this coming weekend.

...Young People's Poetry week. We recommend Jack Prelutsky. Love his work!

...yesterday (April 11): 42nd anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act. It was passed one week after Dr Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated and about seven months after President Kennedy was assassinated.

...tomorrow (April 13): the birth anniversary of Alfred M. Butts, inventor of Scrabble. I've played Scrabble exactly once in my life. I did okay, but I think that was mainly luck and that I didn't feel pressure to be super-intellectual. Small words can be very useful. Just saying. (Butts was also a co-founder of the Stanford Free Library in Stanfordville, NY (according to the article I linked).

...tomorrow (April 13): anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. It was published in 1962.

...Wednesday (April 14): the first dictionary of American English was published in 1828. Thank you Noah Webster!

There is, of course, a lot more going on this week, but these are just some events that interest me.

Happy Week to you all!

Friday, April 9, 2010


[Again, a part of SouleMama's series, "this moment."]

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

fat-bottomed girls, they'll be riding today...

[This is a long one. I'm tired, so I'm rambly. Also, I'm half-present. Blame the Stuff You Should Know podcasts. I'm addicted.]

Today's One Minute Writer: Are you "spoiled" in any way?

When I was young, I lived in one of those neighborhoods where there were often kids playing outside (until the streetlights came on and we all had to go home). This could have been a boon, except I've always been almost painfully insecure and my insecurity is agitated when I'm in a group, especially if it's composed of people I don't know incredibly well. When it came time for me to learn to ride a bike, I was both excited and anxious. I was a somewhat terrible bike-riding learner. My coordination is pathetic, which leads to my balance being off. So, I didn't have any sort of natural aptitude for riding my bike. Add in that I was learning out on the street with plenty of other kids (most likely including my little sister, who is all sorts of coordinated) riding their bikes around me, and the experience was not a fun one for me.

Shortly before Pic was conceived, Cardo and I bought bikes. We thought we'd ride a lot or something. We never did. I got pregnant and all-day-sickness besieged me for three months. And, my bike was too large anyhow. I'm just short enough that I couldn't find a bike small enough for me. I'm like this with big purchases: if I feel I'm forced to buy something, if I feel I need to make a decision, I just get whatever happens to be in front of me whether it is fitting or not. Fortunately, I don't feel this pressure often. Most of the time time, I just assure Cardo that I don't need whatever the item is, he shakes his head, and we leave.

Cardo and I were already in the habit of walking and we continued with that during my pregnancy and after Pic was born. (And, in case you haven't noticed, we still love us some walking.) We never really picked up biking again, although we both had brand new bikes (which we bought at K-Mart, so they weren't expensive, but they also aren't anything spectacular). I despise seeing these bikes sitting around. They represent both a failure on our part and a waste of money. Regardless...I just bought another bike.

When we were thinking about selling my car, I was thinking to get a bike I'd actually like to ride and then I'd ride that instead of driving so many places. So, I decided over a year ago to buy another bike. I finally got one last week. We were driving by a yardsale and saw my new bike. It cost us sixty dollars and I can actually touch the ground (barely) when my feet aren't on the pedals. I am determined to make use of this bicycle. I know that I probably won't use it as a major source of transportation, at least not now. I'm somewhat terrified of riding a bike on the side of busy roads, even when there's a bike lane provided. For now, I'll stick with walking, the bus, and riding in/borrowing Cardo's car. (I'm not totally giving up hope that one day, bike riding will be a much larger part of daily transportation. For now, though, we're just going to be riding for fun.)

Here's my new bike:

On the back was a little plastic license plate that said, "SPOILED." I pretty quickly removed that. No, I'm certainly not lacking in anything I need or even want, really, but I felt the tag was immature and not something I wanted to proudly display. (I was raised believing we should work for what we have, that we should earn it. "Spoiled" to me means being given anything I might ever think I want just because. I think Cardo might like to treat me to more than I allow him sometimes, but, no thanks, I'll pass. "Spoiled" also brings to mind whining. I really try not to least not about stuff I want.)

So, to make a long story short (TOO LATE!), when I saw the One Minute Writer topic*, I had to trot out my new bike for display in this here blog space. Yes, I'm spoiled, I suppose. I'll admit that here.

I am happy to say, though, that we took our bikes out earlier this evening for a ride. I was definitely wobbly. I really feel that I should be allowed to ride on the sidewalk (technically, I'm learning here). I'm hoping confidence will come with practice. We rode for an hour (!), although at a very, very slow pace. I was sure I'd last about ten minutes. I'm looking forward to lots and lots of bike riding and walking as the days grow longer.

If you're out there riding too: Happy trails to you!


*I'm not sure why the "spoiled" in the topic is in quotes. I'm not spoiled as in rotting. That could be another possible, albeit disgusting reading, no?


"Queen - Bicycle Race"


Finally, and P.S. Something to make you go, "Wha...?" I found that interesting tidbit on The Green Daily.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

on world peace

This morning, we heard a bit of the audio from the leaked video of "the 2007 killing in Baghdad of 12 civilians -- one of them a Reuters photographer and another the journalist's driver -- who were fired on from above by a U.S. Army helicopter"(see link). We didn't hear much of it, but we did hear the sound of gunfire. Pic asked what the noise was and when I briefly explained it to her, she responded with, "I'll just go over there, take their guns and throw them away. Then, I'm going to look grumpy at the guys so they'll never, ever do it again."

Monday, April 5, 2010

nightmares and...well, more nightmares

Sleep has always been an elusive element in my life. For the last two nights, though, sleep had come in copious amounts. However, my sleep has also been filled with nightmares which results in me waking up still not feeling rested. Ugh. And, argh.

The night before last, I dreamed we were so desparate for money to pay our bills, I had to join Cardo as an employee at his job (something they so wouldn't allow any longer, although there was a married couple there about nine years ago). All I can say is: I got no training and Cardo was mean to me. (When I told him about this dream, he actually apologized to me.)

Last night, I dreamed I was standing next to a huge concrete sign -- a sign you might see for a shopping center. I was holding Pic. I'm not sure if she was younger in my dream than in real life. There was an earthquake and the sign cracked and pieces of the cement started to fall. I managed to avoid us being hit by that. Then, the aftershock. Instead of getting away from the sign, I got closer (like those people in movies who run across the path of the impending doom instead of out of the way -- I never understand that). The whole cement sign started falling. I threw Pic away from me and she was safe. The sign fell and almost crushed me. I was only saved because it landed on something that held it up enough that I was only trapped under it. Someone came along and lifted up the edge and pulled me out. (We read a Hercules story yesterday. Hence the super-human?)

After that dream was over last night, I had another where a doctor in a mental health institution was killing staff there. And I kept seeing it happen. I'm not sure what my role was there: patient, staff, accomplice?

So, yeah, it's been a restless couple of nights. It's almost better when I only get four or five hours of sleep a night.

As for the earthquake dream, there was, of course, an earthquake in Mexico yesterday. I'm still waiting to hear from Cardo after he calls various family members to check on them. I hope they're all safe. No one has called us and I'm taking that as a good sign.

How do I turn off my mind so I can depend on restful sleep?

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Inspired by "in this moment" from the lovely SouleMama:

Friday, April 2, 2010

food taboos

I don't necessarily mean taboos held and followed by societies or religious groups (i.e. taboos against eating cats, dogs, other humans). I mean foods that you don't eat for more personal reasons, I suppose.

Okay, maybe I'm just talking about diet.

I find certain diet restrictions interesting because we don't always know what is in our food.

I first starting thinking about this in relation to sober alcoholics. It's easy enough to know not to drink a glass or wine or a Cosmopolitan. But, what if you're out for dinner (at a restaurant or at someone else's home...wherever): What if you order tiramisu and you don't realize that it might be made with rum or a coffee-flavored liqueur? What if you order a chicken dish and your chicken has a wine sauce? Or, what if you catch a cold and might want to take some big brand cough syrup [just an example -- you have to click on "ingredients" to see where alcohol is listed]? What if you think, "Hey, non-alcoholic beer. I can still have beer." Well, maybe not.

Also, I've been thinking about vegans and vegetarians. No marshmallows or other gelatin-containing food. Better check the label for carmine.

What I've been thinking about most recently, though, is: What about "foods" or additives that just sound wrong? I am planning to make some coconut muffins because Cardo likes those and I thought I might use coconut extract. (I wasn't sure if there was such a thing, but I'm pretty sure my mom had some when we were growing up. She had just about every kind of extract I could imagine.) I couldn't find any real coconut extract at the store. I did find imitation coconut extract, though. I could not bring myself to buy it. First, there was absolutely no "coconut" listed in the ingredients. Also, propylene glycol was listed. What is that? It sounded too sketchy to me, so I didn't buy it.

I looked it up, on this here interweb, and I find that propylene glycol is one of those magical substances used to make antifreeze, deicing solutions and polyester compounds. According to this 1997 article/pamphlet (I don't know why it's so old), propylene glycol has been "'generally recognized as safe' for use in food" by the FDA (same source as the link). Um, no thanks.

So, I don't only eat pure, whole foods. I'm working on it, but I do still eat some processed foods. In fact, I have hot chocolate with mini marshmallows* (hello, gelatin) almost nightly. I wonder how much other scary crap I eat? In the last five or so years, we've inspected food labels much more closely, but I'm still learning all sorts of fun (read: scary) new information.


* I'm weirdly picky about my hot chocolate. I like hot chocolate made from powdered mix and boiling water. I've tried making it with steamed milk and melted chocolate, but I actually don't really enjoy it. I'm weird, I know. At home, I only drink TJ's Conacado Fair Trade Hot Chocolate. However, my marshmallows are whatever mini marshmallows that happen to be on sale.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

april's resolutions?

I've been trying to decide what I'd like to accomplish this month. While I haven't made any real decisions yet, I've been joking with myself that I should term April "Start and Finish a Book Month."

Lately, I've been having a difficult time getting into books. I think my tastes are changing a bit. I've definitely been into more nonfiction lately. And, I've really been into pieces on food and on education. I also find it weird having gone for so long without having been assigned a book to read.

I recently started The Book Thief, after seeing it mentioned on Cluck & Tweet. I think that I might like another time. I just can't get into it. I remember the first book I had this problem with. It was a Dean Koontz book*. (My parents were very into Dean Koontz and I started reading him when I was in sixth grade. I went through many years of reading his works, but I haven't read one in a really long time. I refuse to give up my Koontz books, though, in case I one day feel I want to come back to them.)

Some other books I've started but have just not finished: A Confederacy of Dunces (I attempted that one when I started college), Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel, The Other Boleyn Sister, and Real Food: What to Eat and Why (these last examples are much more recent). These are all I can think of right now, but I'm disappointed with myself every time I can't finish a book. I'm trying to go a bit easier on myself here because, really, is it that important that I finish a book I currently have little interest in? No. It's not. At the same time, though, I'd like to make it through a whole book. I'm hoping that both The Story of Stuff and U is for Undertow are available from the library soon (I have both of those on hold for me). I'm thinking -- and hoping -- that I'll be able to both start and finish each of those.

Lest anyone think I'm a lot on the strange side for even taking the time to overthink this issue, I know I'm not alone. I managed to catch this tidbit on Talk of the Nation this morning. (I have a couple of more hours to wait until the audio is available online.)


* I suddenly cannot remember which book it is. I even looked on the Dean Koontz website at his full booklist (wow) and nothing is jumping out at me. I thought I'd never forget the title because not being able to finish the book felt like such a big personal failure. (Yes, I spend entirely too much time in my own head.)