Monday, December 19, 2011

walking!

Yep, that's my title. I'm not the only one extolling the fabulousness of walking.

(Please be sedentary for 10 minutes for this...then you can go for a walk.)



"23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?"

Monday, December 12, 2011

blog sprint: time travel? grazie, ma non

Today's One Minute Writer: You have a time machine. What point in history will you never visit?

Just about every point, ever. I'm a woman. I have red hair. I like to be clean. I like being able to go to school and read and choose whether to stay at home or go off to work (sometimes that choice is a bit more theoretical, given the current economy, no?).

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On another note: I figured out how to watch What Not to Wear online. Begin me never accomplishing anything again, ever. I've always loved makeover shows. At the same time, I wonder why "we" buy into it all. And, yes, I totally buy into a lot of what they say. And, no, I don't dress the way they'd recommend. (I do remember they once let one guy shop at thrift stores. That'd definitely be one of my conditions...as if they'd allow me conditions.)

monday music: 'going to the store for hot dogs and wine'

Speaking of public transportation: this is the song that comes to my mind.



"Is That You, Mo-Dean - The B-52s"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

ah, public transportation

It's been about two-and-a-half years since we became a one-car family. Most of the time, I'm okay with this decision. And, as I'm the one who made the decision, I probably should be. Every now and then, Cardo asks me if we should get another car, but I don't think so. We live in a small enough place and we can walk a lot of places we need to go.

When we had two cars, we spend more money. Not just in insurance and registration, but just in crap we didn't need. It was so much easier for me to just go to stores and spend money when we had two cars.

Every once in a while, though. Once in a while, I just want to scream when it comes to depending on others to get me where I need to go. Thursday, last week was just such a case. I left one place at 3:30 and didn't make it home until after six. I was exhausted enough and upset enough that I just wanted to cry. I managed to keep it under control, but barely. I tend to carry so much stuff with me (another topic for another time?) that I can't always comfortably walk all the way home. I love to walk, but not with sixty or so pounds worth of crap weighing me down.

And, here I am again, having to remind myself of my goals and figure out if they are still my goals.

And, later this week, there I'll be again, waiting for the bus to take me home. An hour-plus commute for a ten-minute trip. Ah, well. I am, overall, still grateful that I can easily access several busses and that there are day-passes and that I have a place to take the bus and all that.

Friday, December 9, 2011

to sleep

Okay, seriously, who decided that December would just skip along? A moment ago, it was the fourth and now it's the ninth.* How did that happen?

In a lot of ways, I'm grateful to be as busy as I am. At the same time, I am, as always, striving for some balance. I know that I've said it before, but I'm kind of an all-or-nothing person. That just doesn't work here in real life, not even, I don't think, for those prodigy-type-people who seem to devote all of their time and energy to one activity. I mean, they have to do other things to live, right? Eat, drink, sleep, relieve themselves. At least those things.

Right now, I would really just like to tuck myself under my covers and catch up on my favorite blogs and look around on pinterest. I'd like to finish the book I'm reading. (I've been reading it since the end of October and if I keep up with my 10-pages-a-day schedule I'll be finished with it in the end of January.) I'd like to get the book I have on hold at the library and just devour it. (When I put it on hold yesterday, I was number 208 on the waitlist.) I would like to sleep until I can wipe out this exhaustion.

Basically, I'd like to do a whole day of resting and relaxing and spending time alone. It feels selfish, but that's only because it is. I think I'll try for a day like that sometime within the next month. I think that's an okay thing for me -- a parent/spouse/employee/et cetera, et cetera, et cetera -- to desire and make happen.

In the meantime, I think I'll head off to bed ridiculously early here. I have train rides and walking, planning and studying, laundry and dishes in my future. That calls for a good night's rest.

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* I seriously just typed that three times. It looks like the first three letters should rhyme with "pin." Ah.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

twain on nablo...or something

I just read the following.

Nobody, except he has tried it, knows what it is to be an [newspaper] editor. It is easy to scribble local rubbish, with the facts all before you; it is easy to clip selections from other papers; it is easy to string out a correspondence from any locality; but it is unspeakable hardship to write editorials. Subjects are the trouble -- the dreary lack of them, I mean. Every day it is drag, drag, drag -- think, and worry and suffer -- all the world is a dull blank, and yet the editorial columns must be filled. Only give the editor a subject, and his work is done -- it is no trouble to write it up; but fancy how you would feel if you had to pump your brains dry every day in the week, fifty-two weeks in the year. It makes one low spirited simply to think of it. The matter that each editor of a daily paper in America writes in the course of a year would fill from four to eight bulky volumes like this book! Fancy what a library an editor's work would make, after twenty or thirty year's service. Yet people often marvel that Dickens, Scott, Bulwer, Dumas, etc., have been able to produce so many books. If these authors have wrought as voluminously as newspaper editors do, the result would be something to marvel at, indeed. How editors can continue this tremendous labor, this exhausting consumption of brain fibre (for their work is creative, and not a mere mechanical laying-up of facts, like reporting), day after day and year after year, is incomprehensible.


-- from Roughing It

'jane, get me off this crazy thing...called love'


"This poem sucks!"

Bits of this movie are stuck in my head right now, partly because Cardo and I were discussing how big my head is today. But, it's really the above line that's playing on repeat in my head. Not, because I am experiencing the sentiment, but because there are other crazy things I'd rather be off right now. (Oh, geez, I need to go back to reading eloquent writing, not mangled writing, before I stop by the pond. But, I'm oh-so-tired. And, whiny. And, oddly, giddy. And, restless. It's getting to be tight 'round here. I need to just be.)

Friday, December 2, 2011

beginning of a tradition

It's been thirteen years since I've been "home" for Thanksgiving. (I use quotation marks because I've long since made my home where I am, but there in the quotation marks I'm referring to my parents' home.) Cardo and I have been together for most of those years (and, Pic has been around for almost half of that time) and we haven't really ever done much to celebrate (that or any other holiday). Celebrating holidays just isn't one of our things. Holidays tend to make me sad because I start to think about what I'm missing. To stave off the lowness, I just attempt to avoid the whole holiday deal (except Halloween, which I continue to love). I've long since known that my strategy doesn't quite work and I always allow myself to wallow a bit.

So, this year, we decided to establish what we will eventually be able to call our Thanksgiving tradition. Becuase of the work I've been doing for the last many years, I'm home with Pic that day, but Cardo doesn't have that same luxury. He worked twelve hours this last Thanksgiving. When he got home, we were off to the movies. I figured there is always some general-audience-type movie that comes out right around Thanksgiving and we had several options this year. (That's probably always the case, but we don't go to the cinema often, and I don't really pay that much attention to what is going on there.)

After the movie, we stopped at a friend's place for a bit and then came home to make dinner. I don't cook meat, so I bought some already-cooked turkey breast at the grocery store. We did make sweet potato casserole together and I made chocolate chip cookie dough (I don't think I ever got around to making the cookies that night.) We might have eaten something else, but I can't think what. Sparkling cider also made an appearance.

Overall, it was an okay day. I love our friends, but I'd really rather it was strictly a family evening, so next year, I'm asking that it be just that. (That's the plan for now, anyhow.) A trip to the movies and a small dinner at home. Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

happy birthday (anniversary), mr clemens

Have been doing a bit of reading around in Clemens's works lately. A sampling, from his time at the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise (December 30-31, 1862):

THRILLING ROMANCE. -- On our first page, to-day, will be found the opening chapters of a thrilling tale, entitled "An Act to amend and supplemental to an Act to provide for Assessing and Collecting County and Territorial Revenue." This admirable story was written especially for the columns of this paper by several distinguished authors. We have secured a few more productions of the same kind, at great expense, and we design publishing them in their regular order. Our readers will agree with us that it will redound considerably to their advantage to read and preserve these documents.


I would so read the local paper if the writing was in this style.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

not-quite-monday music: no one's gonna stop this girl from havin' fun



"The Muppets: 'Me Party'"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

yeah, so, hi there

Okay, the last post I wrote: I didn't mean that I was out of blogging. I just needed some rest. I have not felt very rested in the last few days, so not blogging obviously didn't help so much.

Well, then. November is almost over. Last night, I was thinking to myself (y'know, as opposed to thinking to someone else), "NaBlo? Really? Who was I kidding?" I probably could have done it if I had jumped right back in, but I just haven't had it in me this month. I have had a whole lot on my perpetual to-do list, but not a lot to share in this space. And, not a lot of energy to even get myself around to this space.

I'm working on all of that.

For the last few days, though, I've been trying to figure out how to reach a state of peace for more than a few minutes at a time. How do you do that? Really?

There has been lots of walking 'round these parts. Autumn is quickly fading and I know the next three weeks will rush right by, so I've been getting out into it as much as I can (and, I've been dragging the family with me).

Ah! I'm so scattered today. I'm writing to get myself back into the habit. And, as a way to find some peace. I'm writing to remind myself that in three-and-a-half weeks, I'll have a moment to breathe. A lot of moments. Ah, yes. That, I am looking forward to.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

and...i'm out

Oh, alas and alack. I have a really good reason for not posting on Thursday. Not an excuse, just a reason. A fabulous and needed dose of r&r. I'll not mention what time I went to sleep nor what time I woke up on Friday, but it was early enough on Thursday for me to think, "Hey, I've got plenty of time left in this day to post."

Anyhow. I've received some dissapointing, yet expected, news today. Not devastating. It's small and personal; nothing like those whose lives have been directly affected by the fire here. Let me keep things in perspective, shall I? Yes.

However, this news does cause me to slightly rethink my plans for the next several years of my life. And, I'll just say again that I'm disappointed.

Okay, I have to go do some more paycheck-earning work, but I'm back in the posting mode, although, ah, NaBlo, how sad I am that I wasn't able to commit after all. But, I really needed the sleep.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

look me in the eyes

I wonder what it says about me that I am incredibly uncomfortable looking someone in the eyes for more than a few moments at a time. I start to have this little conversation with myself, in my head:

"Where do I look?"

"Left eye? Okay. Yeah, that was long enough."

"Right eye? Yeah, that's not better."

"Both eyes? My eyes aren't capable of that!"

Then, I start to figure I can perhaps just look right between the person's eyes, but I start to think the person will realize I'm staring at his/her forehead. So, I look down. But, really, aren't we taught to look someone in the eye when they're talking to you? I'm pretty sure that wasn't just me. So, I can only look down for a while. I could just close my eyes, I suppose, but that seems weird.

And, of course, by this point, I've had this freaking debate going on in my head the entire time I've been a part of the actual conversation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

peek-a-boo*

You know that dream where you're talking in front of a group and you look down and realize you're naked? Well, I've never had that dream, but yesterday? I decided, eh, who needs dreams when you've got real life?

Okay, so I wasn't naked, because I seriously think I would notice that. I did look down at one point yesterday, though, and realize that two of my blouse buttons were undone. Right there at my bust. (My bust was apparently going for a little pun there, busting out of my shirt. I was not amused.)

I didn't really know what to do. I suppose I could have pulled a "Hey, everybody, look at that over there in the opposite direction of me!" but I simply kept talking and buttoned up my shirt.

Insert long sigh here.

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* I was tempted to title this 'peek-a-boob' but I never refer to my breasts as boobs, so I didn't want it to be the title. However, I was thinking about how convenient it would be as a title.

Monday, November 14, 2011

monday music: 'just sit right back and you'll hear a tale' (or, 'because i could not stop for death')

One: Head on over and listen to the Gilligan's Island theme song (cannot embed, alas).

Two: Read some Emily Dickinson. Try some "Because I could not stop for Death" or "My Life had stood -- a Loaded Gun."

Three: Add steps one and two above. Sing to self or others until you can get something else stuck in your head.

You're welcome.

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I learned about this that semester I also learned about YouTube. I'm pretty sure I was one of the last people to know about either. Okay, maybe not, but probably, right?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

things that make you, well, want to gag, really

The other day, Pic and I were at the grocery store, waiting in the checkout line, when I saw an incredibly un-delectable sounding food: Sasquatch Big Sticks. (You can click on that link to see the packaging.) Basically, think of a somewhat angry-looking Harry from Harry and the Hendersons on the outside of a box of meat sticks.

Nothing about that sounds good to me.

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I wish I did have something delectable to share here, but I haven't made anything exciting lately. I did eat entirely too many dark chocolate-covered peppermint Joe Joes from Trader Joe's. So good, but I was so sick. I think I'll have to wait another year before I buy more of those. (Maybe.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

oh, norms, lest we forget you

So, yes, Disney movies aren't exactly the location of social norm defiance or questioning. I know this. People should be paired off: man-woman. And, they live happily ever after. All is right in the world. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I watched Tangled with Pic today. I've seen it before and I'll probably watch it again.

At the very end -- if you don't want to hear about the very end, don't read -- the male lead says something like, "And after years and years of asking, I finally said yes." Female lead admonishes him and he admits that he asked her.

Why? Why do we need to reinforce that no only must everyone pair off into heterosexual couples, but that the man has to do the asking?

That part just bugs me. The movie could just have ended with him saying, "I finally said yes."

Friday, November 11, 2011

nearly wordless (and nearly out of time) friday

Item: One patient canine.



Totally blurry as child is not nearly as neurotic as mother about getting the picture.

__________________

NaBlo: We're still on.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

a lesson in...something

Determination, perhaps?

I am physically exhausted right now (my eyes want to close). I'm about to go get into bed and think about whether I should go to sleep. Yes, it's 7:01 in the evening as I write this.

However, I knew I couldn't go lay down before I posted. But, I only have flitting ideas of topics. Enter: One Minute Writer. Today's prompt: With the Internet at our fingertips, is there too much information available? If so, in what way?

Yes. But, really, that's not what I wanted to write about regarding this topic. (The prompt brought to mind this other thing.)

Sometimes, I come here and ask questions, the answers to which I could find through the google god. But, I don't always want to look things up online. Sometimes I want personal accounts from people I know (or people I "know"). This is why I read so many blogs. I want to know how other people do the day-to-day thing. When I want to know how to cook or bake something, I want to hear about the experience from someone non-random. When I want to decide on a new book to read, I want a suggestion from someone familiar.

When I have a Desk Set-type-question, I want the mental exercise of trying to remember the answer with a friend, not by interacting with a search bar and dealing with the wiki-world and the like. Although I'm using the computer to communicate my queries, I don't always want EMARAC to be the one giving the responses.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

i'm calling this 'stranger than fiction'

I grabbed a box of tissue today because, out of all my choices of different boxes, it looked fun, like it'd lived up the room. I was checking out the weird alien/ameoba guys on the box when I noticed a "see bottom for directions for use" note on the top. Really? Directions for use? Okay, how could I resist that.

On the bottom, something to this effect: "It is a violation of federal law to use this in any way other than directed. For use as a facial tissue only." The tissue was infused with some kind of bacteria-killing agent or something.

That is some scary tissue. I returned the box to it's spot and grabbed another colorful box that didn't make me feel as if I might be contributing to the production of some super-bug, resilient to all of our antibacterial attempts.

Really, though, that tissue freaked me out. Why would I want to put that on my face? Why would anyone?*

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*Yeah, I could be asking the same question about the sunscreen and makeup I wear; I'm doing the best I can there, so I'll do the same with disposable tissues.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

toxic love

I've got plenty of, well, crap swirling around in my head right now. I feel full of uncertainties and questions and also a lot of hurt for other people. I think, after a pretty rough patch a few weeks ago, a patch full of briars that threatened to hold onto my skin, I'm actually okay. I'm kind of exhausted, which makes it difficult to ponder too much about anything for an extended amount of time without falling asleep, but I really do think I'm okay. Or, at least, I'll be okay.

This does not stop the confusion and pain, though. Perhaps I'm just realizing that's part of life. I can feel that pain but not take it on as my own? I wonder if I'm capable of this, or if the pain is just waiting for me to allow myself to fall into old habits? As I said, it's only been a few weeks since the last low.

But, oh, the questions. Why do we hide so much of our pain from others? Is it because we are ashamed that we are allowing ourselves to endure this pain? I feel this way sometimes; I want to just tell people, "Oh, yeah, I'm fine," even when I'm not because I know I shouldn't allow myself to not be fine. But, is that always a choice? I want to say yes and no at the same time. Yes, I'm allowing myself to wallow and hurt. No, the hurt and fear are uninvited and don't intend to leave and I can't do anything about that.

I get why I don't hide my hurt with others, but do others hide their hurt away? Is it because they believe no one can help them? Because they feel they have to get through whatever it is alone? Because we're always supposed to look good on the outside no matter how screwed up everything seems when no one is looking too closely?

Sometimes I feel that facade is a lie. Not just a cover, a protection against unwelcome eyes, but a lie. Life isn't always easy and I think sometimes we can make it more difficult by hiding the difficulties. Does the hiding somehow extend the trouble and pain? I wonder. We spend so much time trying to bury what's wrong that we don't address it, put it out there in the world, let it go?

I have lots of questions, but no real, coherent answers.

So, because I am afraid to go back to the constant wall-building and darkness, pain and, well, more fear, I've asked for help. I've asked for help once before, at a time when not asking would have resulted in something I can't think about. This time around, I'm feeling like I'm rowing calmly on a somewhat placid lake, not like I'm hoping for a dinky little lifeboat as I clutch a railing on the Titanic.

So, I've asked for help. If I can offer help, I'm here. I probably don't have any good answers, but I can just be here and listen. And, I hope that helps.

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I didn't mean to ramble so much, to think through writing only to come to no conclusions, but there it is. I'm starting to question whether there's not some great celestial event or something that can explain the current turmoil I see around me. Because I can't explain it any other way, so it might be time to start blaming the stars or the alignment of the planets or something.

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On a much lighter note, as I try to skim the surface and not sink, I told Cardo that I may just be toxic, and then I couldn't get this song out of my head:



"Hexxus (Tim Curry) sings Toxic Love"

Ah, Tim Curry.

Monday, November 7, 2011

monday music: 'it's really time for you to be in bed'



"I could have danced all night"

This was running through my head last night, as I was facing an all-nighter. And, anyhow, I can always go for some Audrey. (Even though it's not her voice, it's still her and I'll be happy about that.)

Anyhow, I got sleep. Ready to face this week. Yep. Enter Determination, stage right.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

home cooking

Cardo and I were lucky enough to have a date night on Friday. We didn't do much, nothing fancy, but we did actually cook at home. I keep saying that we should do that on our date nights, but we often end up eating out. Last time, we were very much less than impressed with the restaurant we chose and we won't be returning. At least at home, we don't have to worry about bad service and we're more likely to cook something healthy at home.

So, Friday, we roasted some Brussels sprouts with apples and turkey bacon. It was good. I keep thinking that I'll like Brussels sprouts more than I do, but then I have to remind myself that I've made them, like, twice. I totally believe that the more often I eat them, the more I'll like them. I think I'm right. We also cooked some pineapple (we just put in in the cast iron skillet on the rangetop) and it ended up fabulous!



Lest you imagine that's all I ate, fear not. We also baked some potatoes, but, geez, that takes forever. I suggested we put the potatoes in before the Brussels sprouts, but we needed more than just ten minutes. So, we had a two-course meal.

I also made Cardo watch Jumping Jack Flash with me. He can't get over the fact that I watched it when I was a kid.

[Not the cleanest language in this clip, just to let you know.]



"Jumpin' Jack Flash - Telephone Booth Scene"

Saturday, November 5, 2011

cat tales

Once, a few years ago, I walked into a professor's office and he asked me, "What happened to your face?"

"Oh, my cat attacked me."

"That's funny," he said, "I wouldn't keep a pet who attacks me."

Well, Kitsy, as we so often call him, is still here. While I get what Dr Chair was saying, I also love my cat. He's a member of the family, and we accept him despite his occasional testiness.



He (the cat, not the professor) came into our lives in 2004. Cardo decided he wanted to get me a cat (a decision I think he still regrets sometimes) for Valentine's Day. In true us fashion, we didn't get a cat until March. We adopted Snuggles from the SPCA. He was already named and I had this weird notion that it wouldn't be right to change his name. He was absolutely tiny, and he was rather snuggly then.

Shortly after we adopted Snuggles, I got pregnant with Pic. I was sick almost all of the time during months two through four (into my second trimester, which I didn't think was the way it was supposed to go), so I wasn't up and around a lot. Snuggles would sit on my chest and tuck his head under my chin when I was sitting down. Eventually, I also napped a lot during my pregnancy. Snuggles was only too happy to join me for a nap. He still looks at me when the day has gone on long enough expecting me to go take a nap so he can settle in too.

For a while, he had a brother. This was 2007 to 2009. We had Lucky (also adopted and also already named) for a little less than two years. Snuggles, being a spry four years old, loved playing with his brother. Lucky, who had been found in a field with crates full of kittens, was probably older than the ten years the Human Society employees guessed him to be, and he wasn't always as enthusiastic about Snuggles's playfulness. However, Lucky tolerated it well.



Snuggles himself has shown great patience with the young 'uns. When Pic was but a wee bairn, she would grab his fur, delighting in how soft he was. Snuggles waited until she had been up and running for several months before he started defending himself from Pic's often overzealous advances. He's the same way with our dearly beloved friends' little one now.

With the rest of us, though? Well, he gets in his moods. He'll lure you in as he sprawls out, tempting us to pet him or rub his tummy. And, I still fall for it, even though I know he seems to detest having his tummy rubbed. It's a trick. He only wants to grab your hand and latch on with his claws and teeth.

My dad still laughs when I mention Snuggles by name because he, too, knows the dangers of trusting the cat too easily.

Although I'm wary of being too attached to animals because I know they'll inevitably die (as will we all), Snuggles is firmly tucked away in my heart.* I love that he still awaits a daily nap, as if those still happen on a regular basis (we both wish). I love that he plays fetch. I love that he purrs loudly to himself as he's getting ready to go to bed, even though no one is petting him. I love that he looks black in most light, but when the sun shines on him, he's the color of some fabulous deep dark chocolate. I love that he snores.



When we were deciding on a new pet recently, I was so hoping to adopt another cat. I was overruled, two to one, though, and we got a dog. More on her next week.

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* Aren't you glad I didn't say "literally"? Because that would be gross.

Friday, November 4, 2011

maquillarte, an art i've not mastered

This week, one of the many electronic newsletters I receive contains a demonstration on how to do your makeup (or, como maquillarte -- I subscribe to both the English and Spanish version and rarely open either).

And, again, I love what makeup can do, but I also marvel that people have the patience for all of these steps. There are times I kind of wish I wore more makeup (more than just my powder foundation two or three times a week), but at some point, I have to wash it off and then I just look like me again. And, it's hard enough to see my face when I'm just putting on foundation. Eye makeup? Ugh. I have to get so close to the mirror to see my eyes that, well, everything blurs because I'm too close. I think if I was handy enough with makeup, I would be able to apply it without looking? But, really I don't know if that's how it works.

I suppose I could always go the way of permanent makeup...if that didn't completely freak me out. In the meantime, I'll leave the cosmetic fun to others.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

compare and contrast

[The following is another post I wrote long-ish ago and never got around to posting here. I was trying to figure out a rhythm in this space before I posted these writings. I think I've got it figured it, even if my practice has not been perfect.]

I wonder if it's human nature to make comparisons between people. There are times I feel it's all we do, but I think I'm incredibly sensitive and I have this inferiority complex coupled with a vicious streak of perfectionism (yes, it's fun here in my head).

But, really, right now, I'm thinking about this in terms of being a parent. It seems like, from the start, people are checking 'em out and sizing 'em up*. It's all about when our respective kids rolled over, started crawling, got teeth. How old was your kid when she started walking? How many words or signs did your kid know by the time he was a year old? My kid started talking in complete sentences when he was nine months old. Oh, really? Mine was already reading Tolstoy by then...when she wasn't composing concertos and starting the newest dada revolution.

Or something.

Actually, at first I felt like this was the tenor of a lot of conversations and I tried not to get sucked in, but I wasn't always successful. I can go on and on about how long it seemed to take Pic to finally start crawling. (How old was she? I can't even remember now. Eight months? Ten months? All I know for sure is that she started at some point and has long since moved on.)

I had a nice big freak-out around the time she was four. She wasn't reading picture books on her own by then. I couldn't sit her down with The Piggy in the Puddle and have her give a reading for us.

I've worked really hard to not feel any pressure when it comes to any of that anymore. I've tried to not put any pressure on any others either. I know that I probably still ask those questions -- Oh, is she starting to walk now? -- but I leave my responses to the more general 'oh' or 'uh-huh, well everyone learns/develops at his or her own pace, right?' variety. I really try.

But, back to what I was saying above: is it natural that we make these comparisons or am I so far entrenched in a system of constant evaluation/ranking/hierarchizing that to be without that feels wrong?

The questions I get about Pic now are along the lines of what she's learning and how much she knows. Is she learning? Does she know the requisite very-young-person stuff? Is she finished with kindergarten?

I find my reactions to these questions range from discomfort to amusement. I obsess so much about the reading thing for reasons I won't go into now, that I want to be able to answer that she's reading and comprehending and thinking critically about Hamlet by now. I mean, duh, of course, why wouldn't she be, right, with a mom who has deep roots in literature? I'm striving to keep all of that anxiety bottled up or scribbled in my own writing to keep it away from Pic, but it's not easy.

As far as the other questions, the questions about her grade level? I find those a bit amusing. We're not homeschoolers who are replicating school at home. We're unschoolers. Pic's never been in a grade. She's never been a part of the K-12 deal (although we always called daycare 'school' when she was going). She'd be in kindergarten had we sent her to more traditional schooling**. But, here's the thing: we didn't. We didn't send her off to school. She's not in any grade. If she stays home, she'll never be in any grade. I'll never be able to tell someone what grade she's in. I have no idea how she'll respond to this question when she starts getting it herself.

I know the whole concept freaks people out and I'll tell you, it freaks me out a bit, too. I was all about school when I was there. I'm kind of still all about it. I was good at school. It's one of the only things I've ever been really good at. I was good at the tasks and the tests and the worksheets and getting the right grades. I myself am learning how to exist outside of that. I'm not even really certain we can live completely outside of that as the career Pic has chosen for herself will require a college degree.

I'm waiting for someone to ask if Pic is happy or where her passions are instead of the more focused questions about content and grade-level of her learning. I think we're all so ensconced in the rhetoric of schooling that it takes a paradigm shift to be able to discuss learning outside of multiple-choice and essays and scantrons and report cards.

* I actually have a children's book named this. I haven't ever read the book and I have no idea where exactly it is right now, but really...

** I always find it strange to call public/private school 'traditional' because I feel homeschool was probably more the traditional schooling well before 'brick-and-mortar schools replaced them as the new traditional. I also don't like to always say 'brick-and-mortar' because then I like to mentally shorten that to 'b-&'m' schools and then I just start thinking 'bm' as in 'bowel movement' and, yes, I really do think about everything this much.

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11/3: Wow, it's been a whole bunch of weeks since I wrote that. I had almost forgotten about it. I wrote it probably somewhere near the beginning of the summer. I'd like to add a bit:

I was very obsessed with the topic for a while because I was hearing how another's child was doing so very well in the traditional school subjects. I felt like a 'And how's Pic doing?' was implied at the end of each statement. I have definitely calmed down over the last few months. Perhaps it has something to do with entering a new decade in my life and deciding that I need to shift so much of my life, to step back, to calm down, to find happiness in what I have.

At the time of the conversation I just (kind of) mentioned, I decided I was just going to say 'That's really great for [whoever]." I figured this would be a good, general response to these situations in which I was feeling uncomfortable, threatened even. I know that I need to remove myself from competitive situations if I want to accomplish much and feel good about myself. I mean, hello, I am creating competitive situations out of thin-freaking- air, so I definitely need to chill.

After using that standard response a couple of times, I started to really get behind it. Because I really do think it's great that your child is reading (I love reading) or that his child is flying through math or that her child picked up playing the piano like it what the child was born to do. I also think lots of things Pic does are great.

Rationally, I know that others aren't constantly challenging me to prove how fabulous my own child is. I know that I bring this all on myself. I also know that my own child is her very own person and I am not responsible for her accomplishments. I feel that I am responsible for trying to expose her to/guide her to/teach her what she is interested in.

Also, I now know how Pic would respond to someone asking what grade she's in. I'll write about it later, as I've written to much here...without even saying all that I wanted to say. I'll remind myself that I like to think through my writing and that this is definitely bloggy-type writing and that I'm swirling around too much in my head on this topic right now.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

nearly ww






I think I actually like the curls-in-progress look better (at least it's kind of weird). Next time, I'll not put my hair up when it's very wet (I did wait a day-and-a-half to take the headband out).

Thanks to Poke for the idea, via Pinterest.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

nablo, or no?

I am wondering if I should commit to NaBloPoMo this month. I can't believe it's already November! I'm sure I have enough to get by on without adding more stuff to do, but, well, I occasionally like to join in. I think I even completed the challenge once.

I am thinking, though, I've got to be all "gotta do more/gotta be more" if I'm going to commit to this. Perhaps I'll read more, experience more, cook/bake more, create more so I'll actually have something to write about.

I think I can do this, especially if I take more pictures. Oh, that reminds me, though, I have almost 1300 pictures I need to take off the camera right now. O, digital photography! How easy you make it to take a bazillion pictures that will never be seen in hard copy.

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All right. Enough contemplating this. I have to do some actual paycheck-earning work now. (Geez, is it really only the beginning of November? Ah, perspective.)

a bit of lit: 'high' and 'low' culture

From Diane Long Hoeveler's "Frankenstein, feminism, and literary theory": "...feminism has long posited that 'high' culture is a system that favors males and that acts to ensure the continued power and status of the patriarchy. By examining what has traditionally been considered 'low' cultural artifacts, feminists have opened up and made available many works written by women and neglected by the literary establishment."

I would also argue that literary feminism includes opening up the canon and the conversation to include more than the men who've reigned and the women mentioned above,to also include every other voice possible. Perhaps this is just my naive idealism shining brightly? I think that's okay, though.

Monday, October 31, 2011

even more monday music: happy nevada day! happy halloween!



"The Killers - Nevada"



"Monster Mash"

monday music: 'you sit and while away the idle hours'



"Adam Haworth Stephens - The Cities That You've Burned (NEW 2010)"

A little quiet, a little hypnotic. I'm going to fall asleep before I finish my work, but it'll be a nice sleep.

water with various foods floating in it

Oh, doesn't that sound appealing? Unfortunately, that's about as accurate a description of the soup I made yesterday as I'm going to get. In the middle of the night, as I was cleaning the kitchen,* I decided to finally make the soup I had been thinking about. I needed to use up a bunch of spinach that was threatening to slimify (so not a word, I'm sure, but there it is). I sauteed several cloves of garlic in the bottom of the big soup pot. And, when I say saute here, I actually mean it. For once, I didn't burn the garlic. Then, I started adding spinach. I was afraid the garlic would turn on me and blacken, so I added some low-sodium vegetable broth also. I'm pretty sure I didn't let the spinach wilt enough before I added the rest of the broth. I also added a teakettle full of water and a can of black beans, a can of white beans and a can of butt peas (er, garbanzo beans, chickpeas, whatever).

That's it. Yes, I should have realized that the soup would be incredibly flavorless. Especially as I rinsed the beans. Perhaps I should have added that liquid. Hmm.

I thought I'd be extra fancy and blend some of the soup and pour it back in to thicken the soup, but it was still pretty watery. This morning, when I told Cardo, "Last night, I made soup! But, it's pretty tasteless," he responded, "Like usual?" Oy! I'd be more hurt, but he's right. I tend to seriously underflavor food, especially because I don't like a lot of salt.



I ate the soup, with some sourdough toast, for breakfast. I tried to make it better by adding a wedge of Laughing Cow garlic-something-or-other cheese as the soup was heating. As the cheese melted, it did make the soup cloudier. Overall, the soup is serviceable. I did get a decent serving of vegetables first thing today, and that's what I'm really focusing on. But, really, I'd like the food to taste more...tasty. Alluring, enticing, scrumdiddlyuptious. Something.

I shudder at the idea that I need a recipe to make soup. (Really, I just shuddered.) I feel like soup is simple and I should just be able to make it. So, what's the deal? Do I just need to be adding salt? I don't often cook with meat, so I don't have that to add, but I could try something with turkey bacon, perhaps, which I'll be using later this week anyhow.

Suggestions, please.

Also, while I'm thinking about it: I was lamenting to Cardo this morning that eating well is difficult. I totally get why we can so easily overindulge on salty and fatty foods -- they've got flavor! I have to make a conscious effort to give my body much-deserved healthy foods, especially fruits and especially especially vegetables. About one second after I finished moaning over my breakfast, Pic walks out of the back of the condo and cheerfully says, "It's easy to be healthy! I'm eating a pear!" Oh, to be six and to not have funky food issues.

Related: I'd like to write about things I really shouldn't write about here. For now, though, I'll say that I'm tired of hearing things along the lines of "People are overweight/obese/fat/whathaveyou because they are lazy/they don't like to exercise/they don't eat well/they deserve it." I'm obviously paraphrasing here.

I don't eat as well as I should and I probably don't exercise in the most effective manner (but, damnit, I do exercise daily, even if that only means I've walked), and I still have a lot of excess me that I'm not always (or ever) comfortable with. I'm making small changes that I hope will help in the long run, because I am thinking "long run" here, but I've long since grown weary of the assumptions. I'd like to write more on this, and solicit kindly-phrased advice, later, but the topic is on my mind right now, so I thought I'd bring it up.

For now, I'm considering my ever-evolving relationship with my body to be an important part of my own life learning. I'm working on improving myself and I'm trying to patiently see what changes result. I know there are easier solutions, but I'm trying to do what is right for me and quick fixes and I don't get along in the long run.

I feel like I should end with some upbeat affirmation: I'm bettering myself every day in every way. Or something. I'm trying here, but, geez, can it be lonely.

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* Oh, cleaning the kitchen. There's an argument right there for never eating at home. It's kind of like cleaning laundry: an argument for going bare.

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I'm thinking this post has been brought to you by the punctuation mark the comma.

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Finally!: send along soup recipes please! Heavy on the vegetables, light on the meat. Grazie mille.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

a little look at language: hardcover book, and other retronyms

I am, of course, reading some more "On Language" columns. I'm still over thirty years behind in my reading.

Just as I do with blogs, I am reading through the archives of this column, working my way up to the most recent entries. I'm loving this because it's funny to see how words and uses of language I don't give any thought to were once so debated. I also like to see what we are still arguing about thirty years later.*

Anyhow, I just learned a new term: retronym. I hadn't heard that before, but I know the concept. Retronyms are terms to indicate something that already exists but now also exists in a newer version; the new term is crafted to avoid confusion. William Safire, in "On Language: Retronyms," writes of the creation of "acoustic guitar" to distinguish from the newer electric guitars and of "natural turf" (i.e. grass) to distinguish from artificial turf (i.e. astroturf). Safire goes on: "Other retronyms include 'hard-cover book,' which was merely a 'book' before the soft-cover book came along; 'manual transmission,' which used to be the 'gearshift' before 'automatic transmission' became popular;...."

I also found this list of retronyms. (What the heck is Bush 41? Bush, Sr.? Or, H.W.? Basically an indication that we're referring to the 41st, not the 43rd president?)

And, here's a Daily Writing Tips article on retronyms. You don't need to buy a subscription to check this out. (I can't say the same for the NYT archives.)

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* For some reason, I keep thinking of the older (definitely not very old) cookbooks I have that say something like, "If you have a microwave oven, you can use it to melt the butter" or what-have-you. (Hey! Microwave oven -- another retronym!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

imaginative play and some wondering, to boot

[I buy gifts and cards and never actually give these things to their intended recipients. That's actually something I vowed to work on in my 101 in 1001. (Oh, yeah, I also write lists like that, and then eventually just set them aside. Oy.) Basically, I'm a planner, and I even occasionally start to realize* my plans, but, I'm really better about the planning than the follow-through. Another case?

A while back, I went on a writing spree. I had all these things I wanted to share in this space, but I wrote them elsewhere and have just let myself become overwhelmed by various bits of life. So, I have all of this writing waiting for me to do something with it. I'm finally getting around to sharing here. The following is something I wrote probably in early September. See, I'm working on improving myself; and, I figure that starting with the small stuff is at least starting.

* I can use 'realize' that way, right? As in 'make real.' I'm saying yes, because I just did it. And, yes, I'm off to look it up now. Yep, the use is legitimate. Also, another definition I didn't know is, according to my computer's handy built-in dictionary, "make (money or a profit) from a transaction)."]

A month or so ago, Pic asked me to play 'ladies' with her and I decided we could use the ladies to play out the Beauty and the Beast story (or, rather, a mishmash of Beauty and the Beast stories). I was tired of only ever playing restaurant and library with the dolls.

So, over the weeks, the story has evolved into a merchant father with three daughters (two kind and one obnoxious). The father has to go out to sell merchandise, because that's what he does, you see. He goets lost and ends up at a mysteriously open, yet empty palace. He goes in and calls out repeatedly but no one answers. The merchant enjoys dinner, a dry night's sleep and then breakfast before he takes a book from the castle's library and a rose from the castle's garden and gets caught by the beast ('Um, excuse me, I'm a beast,' Pic narrates) who wants two daughters in return for the merchant's life. The father returns home, retrieves his two daughters who go to the palace. One marries the beast. ('I would like to marry you,' Pic voices for the beast as soon as he meets the youngest daughter.) The father and the other two daughters live with them, too. Not too long after, the youngest daughter has a child who is not at all furry because her mom is 'not a beast-woman.'

Pic is often upset when I try to change the story up a bit -- although she doesn't seem to mind when she alters it. She was going by the story I was telling her and by what she remembered from the Disney movie. Finally, we watched the Disney movie (it's been on pretty constantly for the past several days) and read a version of the story. I keep trying to show her how there are different versions of the story and how we can really make up whatever we want, and yet, I continue to hear, 'Mamma! That's not how it is in the movie!' (Um, what's that again child who insists there are three daughters, only one of whom is greedy and mean?)

Today we broke out one of our many, many story collections and read a version of the story in which the merchant had been rich but has lost his ships and cargo at sea. After a year of living meagerly, he sets off to retrieve cargo from one of his ships that has suddenly come ashore, only to find out that his goods have been promptly stolen. The prince/beast in this story has been turned into a beast by an evil fairy. That same fairy has made his parents invisible. They reappear when Beauty falls in love with Beast. Oh, and there's a silver ring as instant transportation device in this story.

This time, I read through the story as Pic and I acted it out with her dolls. We ran through the show twice, adding our own flair along the way.

Now, we're (once again) watching the Disney movie. (Okay, so it's on while I compose and while Pic skates around the living room.)

Some observations on this movie:

* Why does Mrs Potts have such a young child? How old was she when she stopped having kids? Or, does she just look older because of the caricatured older-woman features: matronly build and grey hair.

* Why does 'Beast' not get a real name? Because, seriously, if his parents named him Beast, what did they expect out of him in life?

* What happened to Beast's parents?

* What's up with the timeline? At the beginning, Beast is turned into a beast when he refuses shelter to an elderly-seeming woman. He has until his twenty-first birthday to get someone to fall in love with him. It's been a decade when we get to the story. So, Beast was ten when he refused to let the woman in? And, then, she set him the task of getting someone to fall in love with him...at age ten?

* Were there not teapots and candlesticks and clocks and feather dusters and armoires and stoves and all the rest before the enchantment? Because all those animate objects are presumably people (we see them back in their human selves and we see a lot of other people in the castle at the end), so is there a whole set of inanimate household objects stuffed in a cupboard somewhere?

* How does the bookstore owner stay in business? The one transaction we see is him giving Belle a book and everyone else seems to think reading is strange.

* There's a part in the opening song when a woman with an armload of babies apparently says, 'I need six eggs,' and a guy sings, 'That's too expensive.' For the very longest time (like until yesterday), I thought she was saying, 'I made success' in her frantic voice and he was telling her that her procreational success was too expensive.

* I love Angela Lansbury.

That is all.

Actually, I could probably ask a million more questions, and I do have more, but I'll stop here...for now.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

a bit of lit: quick quotes edition

A couple of things I'm currently reading...

"By the time the shade had reached the river, Augustus would have mellowed with the evening and be ready for some intelligent conversation, which usually involved talking to himself." -- Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry

"Bully has nothing to do with a bull: it comes from the Dutch for 'lover,' boel." -- The Joy of Lex, Gyles Brandreth

I'm not really sure what to do with the information in that second quotation. Is there some kind of a tough love mindset going on? Actually, I doubt it; I figure someone thought the word sounded appropriate in a situation when one person was pushing another person around, and, although the word didn't really fit the situation, it stuck, despite the cruel irony.

midweek music: 'stick shifts and safety belts/bucket seats have all got to go'

I was listening to an old episode of The Splendid Table when this song came on:



"Stickshifts and Safetybelts"

I'm liking Cake's sound more than I did when I owned this album oh so long ago. I'm definitely liking the sound of this song, although I'm a big proponent of paying attention to the road while driving.

Monday, October 24, 2011

musical monday: 'i get by with a little help from my friends'


"With A Little Help From My Friends - Beatles"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

please allow me to introduce babs

A bit ago, I finally made a purchase I've been thinking about for over a year. That's how I shop: I think about buying something, I read around a bit, I think some more, I share my thoughts with others, then I sometimes actually make the purchase. I even actually saved for this purchase.

So, meet Babs:



Yes, I named my blender. We haven't had a working blender in a very long time. Since we got this blender, we've been deep into the smoothies again. This evening, Pic and I had the above (juice, apple, pear, spinach, ice).



I thought I could handle pear in the smoothie, but I could still feel that weird beadiness. As soon as I use up these pears, I might skip them in my smoothies. Or, I'll try to get used to it. Who knows.

We have not come anywhere close to doing all we can with the blender. I look forward to making my way through the cookbook that came with it. (Yes, I like to read through cookbooks and mark recipes for future use. I know I'm not alone, but I still feel kind of strange admitting that.)

We've also made sorbets and ice cream. Behold some very tasty strawberry ice cream:



Mmm.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

nearly ww: school's in session!

pre-dawn

I stepped outside this morning, jacket on, smoothie in my hand, laden down with books and papers. The sky was dark but the air wasn't as cold as I expected. I spotted a light or two in the houses I passed. A shower was running as someone prepared for the day.

The sun didn't crest the mountains until I was only about fifteen minutes from my destination.

And, here's what I figured: my perfect day would include me being awake when the sun and stars change places overhead. I love being up so early in the morning, before my little bit of the world is really stirring. This so seldom happens, though, as I'm much more likely to be up all night long and sleep well into the daylight hours. I do so love being up late into the night when my little world is mostly resting.

So, my perfect day, as I imagined it this morning would be waking up before sunrise, taking a walk, coming awake slowly; napping in the middle of the day or in the late afternoon; walking again; falling into bed late in the wee hours. I'd probably have to do a few things in addition to walking, so I'm thinking some reading and writing, baking and craft-learning, and whatnot should be included.

How do I sign myself up for this?

Monday, October 17, 2011

musical monday: brought to you by daughter judy



"The Jetsons Movie: 'You and Me'"

Pic and I watched this movie tonight. Oh, my...I don't know. This sequence, though, was my favorite part. Don't really love the song, but I probably did/would have when I was young. Who knows.

n'mores and other minutiae

I have actually seen recipes for no-bake (and, therefore seemingly absolutely nasty) s'mores. Think, instead of toasted marshmallows, regular old marshmallows (which I don't really like). Or, marshmallow fluff. Think, instead of melty (dark) chocolate, chocolate frosting. Or, chocolate syrup.

Seriously: ugh!

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In other La Casa B stuff:

I just realized that I can watch full episodes of 30 Rock instantly on Netflix. Commence me catching up and not sleeping for the next, oh, so many hours. (Hulu is insisting that I subscribe to something-or-other, which I'm unwilling to do, but I really want to catch up. So, yea for randomly surfing Netflix Instant!)

New make-up has been purchased. I am wondering if there is good, safe kid make-up and when Pic will start insisting on it. She was in awe at Ulta yesterday. However, we left with the usual: mineral powder for very pale people. That's the only facial make-up I currently own. (We have a somewhat large and growing collection of non-formaldehyde, non-phthalate nail polish.) Sooner or, well, sooner, this will not be enough for Pic. She's so interested in so many things traditionally feminine and I can't provide her with very much knowledge in these areas.

For dinner tonight:



I tried roasting tomato slices. Apparently I don't know how to do this very well. Perhaps I'll look up some techniques. Slices topped with plain breadcrumbs and freshly-grated parmesan cheese.

Very green smoothie. It was somewhat visually unappealing. It was good, though. Quarter cup whole milk, one banana, lots of spinach, about a cup of strawberries, half an avocado, ice. Not exactly low-cal or anything, but I'm more focused on getting plenty of vegetable matter into my body. Possibly more on that later.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

yes, really, castor oil

Today's adventure? Seeking the perhaps elusive castor oil. I have a feeling this is one of those ubiquitous items and I've just been living under a rock, or something.

I started calling around, hoping to not have to drive to store after store without finding the oil. The Winco employee asked me, incredulously, "Castor o-il?!" (You have to imagine the end of oil being spoken at a very high, disbelieving pitch.)

The employee at TJ's asked me, "For cooking?"

"Um, no, for your body. Like, for my skin."

"Oh, okay, yeah, I have olive oil and canola oil."

"Um, thanks."

The first employee I talked to at Whole Foods immediately told me they had the oil and transfered me to the Whole Body department where the employee there reassured me they had what I wanted. Later, when we got to Whole Foods, the Whole Body employee recognized me from my call and led me right to the castor oil.

Yea!

Cardo told me, during this somewhat mellow search, "I thought you were saying castrol, for cars."

Anyhow, a bottle of castor now resides under my sink. What weird thing will I ask around for next?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

tired, but determined

I feel right about on the verge of having entirely too much to do. I also feel that I'm just not going to allow myself to melt down. I'm really sticking with this determination.

I think I have to realize that late August through the end of the year is always my busiest time. (Remind me of this when I say that late January through late May is my busiest time.) I think I'm right, though. Last year, when we joined our fabulous homeschooling group, we had a flurry of activity in these end-of-the-year months. Then? Not much going on group-wise. We started to pick back up with the nicer weather, for regular out-of-doors get-togetheres, but the group had shrunk. We're starting to grow again, and we've had a lot and we've got a lot scheduled. I know that, statistically or logically or whatever, I cannot say that things will slow way down come the new year, but I am thinking they will.

I've recently had to put off a project I've been looking forward to working on. I just can't get my head wrapped around* making it work for the others involved and myself. I don't often lament being a one-car family (I won't allow myself to), but, seriously, sharing one car is often inconvenient for me.

There's so much more I could be doing right now, and so much more I want to be doing right now, but I'm going to try to focus on what I am doing right now. It might seem to make sense to drop some things that don't benefit me in glarlingly obvious ways (paycheck-earning, socializing, ecc), but the activities I'm holding onto are like soul salve. So, I'll continue walking (I usually walk at least an hour a day)because it keeps me sane and I'll continue writing here because I like the habit. I would like to do one or two more things just for myself, but I can't seem to figure out if I should first add to my activities and let everything settle where it will or if I should smooth myself into a rhythm first and then add to it.

Perhaps I shouldn't overthink so much? Probably. Right now, though, I'm tired and I think I'll just close my eyes for a while and let my subconscious work on it as the rest of me rests.

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* What a weird image that is, no? Heads wrapped around things. Kind of freaky, actually.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

ww


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

makeup; or, i might as well apply a thick layer of lead to my face

I don't have nice skin. I think I maybe did, pre-eleven-years-old, but definitely not since then. I would like to hide behind makeup, but, geez, makeup can be scary. I only own powder foundation. (I'm so ill-versed in makeup that I'm not even sure that's what it's called. I always have to look it up.) And, I only wear it days I work outside of my home, which means rarely ever.

For the last several years, I've been using Bare Minerals. One container of powder lasts me a good, long while, so I don't have to worry about buying new makeup often. As my little container is almost empty, though, I have to worry about it now. I thought I'd be an informed consumer/user, so I turned to Environmental Working Group's cosmetics database to perhaps find a less expensive, but not terrifying, makeup. First, what I'm currently using has a moderately high overall hazard, including occupational hazards (what the what?!). Second, yes, makeup is scarier than I thought. I'm glad I don't wear it much more often. Why do we poison ourselves for vanity's sake. (I don't even know how the manufacture of all of this stuff affects those doing the manufacturing or how it affects the environment.)

I might go with Physician's Formula (this specific powder), which I know I can buy at nearby stores (as in, I don't have to buy my makeup online). Still, reading even those stats kind of freaks me out.

If anyone has feedback regarding makeup that won't cause my face to fall off, I'd love to hear it, please.

a little look at language: not so funny

Last night, I knocked my knee on something in the kitchen and experienced a moment of numbness and then tingling. Although I bumped my knee and not my elbow, I immediately thought of the term "funny bone." I have never understood why people ask, "Oh, did you hit your funny bone?" when one is reeling in pain after smacking her elbow.

Well, a little later, I was reading through some New York Times archives (of course) and was enlightened. In July 1980, William Safire wrote, in the "On Language" column dedicated to discussion of puns, "Once in a while, puns become part of the language: the 'funny bone' is a play on 'humerus,' the bone that extends from shoulder to elbow."

Tell me I'm not the only person who didn't know that.

Monday, October 10, 2011

monday music: 'you're all harper valley hypocrites'

Not quite sure how I came across this song. It's been lurking around on a sticky note for who knows how long.


"Harper Valley P.T.A. movie clip / singer Jeannie C. Riley"

Also, not quite sure I've never seen this movie. Because now I kind of want to see it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

tea obsession: mint and honey green tea

As part of my do-it-myself movement, I have been trying to replicate a beloved thing or two at home. This tea is one of those things:



I went scouting around this here interweb looking for recipes for this, but I was not happy with what I found. The best recipe I found called for both sugar and honey. My response to that was, "Sugar! and honey! What?" I thought about how crazy that was for a bit before I actually got around to looking at the label on the bottle. As printed: filtered water, organic cane sugar, organic green tea, organic honey, organic spearmint extract, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), citric acid, and natural flavors*. Oh, oops, there are both sugar and honey in the tea.

Anyhow, I never got around to using the recipe because I figured out something on my own.

A technique, with not-all-that-helpful pictures:



I put a small bunch of mint leaves into six cups of water and bring that to a boil. (I've been buying organic mint from the store. I am also growing mint, but my plant is tiny with leaves about a twentieth the size of these. She's still alive, though, which is fabulous to see each morning when I water her and talk to her.)



As soon as the water boils, I throw in six bags of green tea and remove the pan from the heat. I add four tablespoons of honey and stir it all up. After a bit, I place a tea strainer over my pitcher and empty the contents of the pan into the strainer. (My pitcher is thick glass, I should probably mention. I doubt pouring the incredibly hot tea into a plastic pitcher would be a great idea.) If there's any space at the top of the pitcher, I just pour in a bit of water. I let the tea cool and then place it in the refrigerator.

(And, yes, those are the only pictures I took. Oy. Well, it has taken me somewhere around six months to finally post this, so this is about right for how I'm currently operating.)

When I'm ready for some tea, I do half tea and half water with ice. I guess I'm just so used to watering my tea down (why did I start that?), it's normal for me. I suppose you could just drink the tea as is, if you felt so inclined.

I recently bought some of the Sweet Leaf tea (which, until this very moment, I was convinced had "Grandma's" in it's name) and found it way incredibly exceedingly too sweet for me. I've been watering that down, too.**

I have to say that I'm feeling pretty good about being able to make this at home. There was a time I figured you couldn't do most things at home (because I was incredibly delusional, I guess?). I'll be working on tea lattes at home in the coming cold months. I tried this last year and even before that, I think, but I wasn't loving the results. Part of it was that I was using premade vanilla syrup (for Earl Grey tea lattes) and it was just kind of gross. I have better tea now and I'll be attempting to make my own syrup.

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* Every time I see "natural flavors" on an ingredients label, I automatically think, "I wonder if it's bugs." Every freaking time.

** How is it that a bottle of this tea is too sweet for me, but an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream isn't? Hmm? Really, I'd like to know.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

8 years and a date night; or, what you will

This past July, Cardo and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary. Eight days later, we celebrated ten years together. And, by celebrated, I mean we actually went out on a day very near our anniversary, which we've done once before (twice, if you count being in our dearly beloved friends' wedding together on our fifth wedding anniversary).

This year, we went to see Twelfth Night at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. One who knows me well might think that's an event I have been attending since the moment I heard of it. I've been twice, although I've known about the festival for many years. Cardo and I saw Richard III and, now, Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night holds a special place for me, as I played a scene as Viola-as-Cesario as a teen. I've also read the play many, many times. It's not my absolute favorite by Shakespeare, but it's up there. This year's performance was the first time I've seen the whole production. (Actually, as I didn't see myself perform, it's the first time I've seen the play at all.)

Overall, the performance was a good one. I enjoyed watching most of the characters and the music accompanying the play was lively and, at times, sultry. There is a lot I don't remember about the show, now, as I saw it three months ago, but I'd see it again.

A couple of weeks later, Cardo, Pic and I went to see the Young Shakespeare company perform the show. The show was geared toward a younger audience, which meant there was audience participation, a bit less Malvolio (no servant-in-a-box) and some explanation before the show. Honestly, I enjoyed this second show more. It might be that we were sitting right up front and I like to be close for live performances; we were pretty far back for the first show. But, I think it is largely to do with how much the performers for the kids' show enjoyed putting on the play. Also, I found the Viola in the second show much more memorable.

I was so glad, a little relieved actually, that Pic loved the show. We had taken her to a performance of Alice in Wonderland, Jr. in December, and that went well, so I had high hopes. I look forward to taking her to the theatre much more often in the future. We've got one or two more shows on our to-see list this year.

Friday, October 7, 2011

nablo: between

So, the guiding idea for NaBloPoMo this month is "between." Two things popped into my head, both songs, both of whose audience is children.

Anyhow, I'm not officially signed up for NaBlo this month, but I know I'm not getting a picture posted today, so "this moment" will have to wait until tomorrow. Which leaves me sharing with you what's been stuck in my head for over a week now.


"Between the Lions: 'Between the Lions' Theme"

And:


"Sesame Street: Wayne Brady Demonstrates Between"

You're welcome, I'm sure.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

bits and bobs

* The pets were up all night, frantically chasing and attempting to attack one another.

* When we went for our walk this morning, we actually had to bundle up. (Think coat over jacket, long johns, thick socks. Of course, by the end of the walk, I had shed my coat and jacket, but still.)

* Why does the bottom of [the freaking page on my typepad version of this blog] say "more recently" when you want to see what I've posted less recently? And, why can't I figure out how to fix it?

* I feel actual, physical pain when I spend too much time away from the library. (I swear, it's true. I'm not exaggerating AT ALL!)

* My hair looks pretty much the same as it did when I was six.

* My child is watching a movie that I can't stand. And, I suddenly have a new appreciation for my parents every time this happens.

* I continue to marvel, "It's autumn! I love autumn!" every several hours.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

nearly wordless wednesday






Because, really, if I'm going to let my hair grow out, I'm going to do something with it...every once in a while.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

quick quote*

I have, for the last 1331 days, had a quotation sent to my e-mail inbox. Most of the time, I delete the e-mail without having read the quotation, but today I thought I might as well check out whatever words of wisdom had been sent my way. Here they be:

INTEMPERANCE.--A man may choose whether he will have abstemiousness and knowledge, or claret and ignorance.--DR. JOHNSON.


("Intemperance" is the category under which the quotation-choosing deities have categorized this, in case that wasn't obvious.)

Okay, then, abstemiousness is mine, bring on the knowledge! I haven't overindulged in food since, oh, this past weekend, and I have yet to ever indulge in claret. Seriously, now, where's the knowledge?

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* Alas, no quill.

a bit of lit: elizabeth jackson to her son

Still reading Women's Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present, edited by Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J Adler. Still reading it very slowly.

Another good mother-to-son letter. Another letter to a to-be president. Elizabeth Jackson wrote this to her son, Andrew, when he was fourteen. She died the year she wrote this.

Excerpt:

If I should not see you again I wish you to remember and treasure up some things I already said to you: in this world you will have to make your own way. To do that you must have friends. You can make friends by being honest, and you can keep them by being steadfast. You must keep in mind that friends worth having will in the long run expect as much from you as they give to you.

...

In personal conduct always be polite, but never obsequious. No one will respect you more than you esteem yourself. Avoid quarrels as long as you can without yielding to imposition.

...

Never wound the feelings of others. If ever you have to vindicate your feelings or defend your honor, do it calmly. If angry at first, wait till your wrath cools before you proceed.

Monday, October 3, 2011

dream journal

I actually own a fancy little journal in which I've recorded a dream or two. I think the last time I did so was at least a decade ago. I like to think about my dreams, but I start to forget details pretty quickly. I forget most of my dreams entirely pretty quickly after I wake up.

Some, though, stick with me. And, every once in a while, I wish that I actually record my dreams right after I wake up. But, geez, dreams are hard for me to capture. Mine aren't always so linear and don't always make so much sense, and I start to forget things as I try get it all down on paper.

Last night, I had one of those sticking dreams. Actually, I had several dreams. This, I remember. What the other dreams were about, I forget.

What I do remember: I dreamt that I was a teenager again, living with my parents. My dream-parents (who were the same as my actual parents), filed for bankruptcy and moved us out of our house, into a two-bedroom, one-bath, tiny apartment (let's see, at about the time I was dreaming about, there would have been something like five or six of us living in our house). For whatever, reason, it took me a while to realize that we had moved, that the apartment was our new home. I really started to freak out, though, when I asked my mom if 'they' (whoever was in charge of our money at this point) would let us go back to the house to get my books. My told me they wouldn't and I flipped out. I started screaming about not being able to leave my books, about needing to go rescue at least half of them, about not caring if someone else lived there now, I would burst in and get all of my books. I was having a hard time breathing.

That's what I remember. Now, I like to analyze my own dreams. I believe that I worry even in my sleep. I don't think that my dreams -- at least the ones I remember -- are symbolic of something totally different (books? that must mean I will soon swim the English Channel, and the like). I think this dream shows what I worry about (money) and what I value, perhaps a bit too much (books).

Also, I dream that I'm a teenager again a lot. A lot of people I know and knew show up in these dreams, which are overlaid with my current worries. Actually, I sometimes worry about teenage things in those dreams, too ("what the heck is my locker combination again? I'm going to be so late to class because I can't remember it!"). I don't even live in the present when I sleep.

monday music: low notes

There is something about cello that touches a part of me; cello entrances me. If I could find a cellist who could just play forever, I could waste away watching it a la dreamers and the Mirror of Erised.

Also, Nirvana has been popping up a lot for me lately.


"2CELLOS Cover Nirvana Classic 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' Live On SiriusXM Pops"
(Sorry if the end is a little screechy for a Monday morn.)



And, well, I saw "With Or Without You" on the sidebar of the above video and The Joshua Tree is a total nostalgia album for me.


"2CELLOS (Sulic & Hauser) - LIVE 'With or Without You' by U2 (HD)"


Okay, then, I couldn't resist a little "Smooth Criminal." Now, that's only the four thousandth time I will have posted a version of that song here, no?


"2CELLOS (Sulic & Hauser) - Smooth Criminal"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

food stuffs

Okay, now, it's October. It's time to get serious about this blogging stuff. I've had all these plans for blogging more regularly for months now, but, oh the rhythm. There has been no rhythm sweeping me up...in any part of my life. I would say it's time for me to create my own rhythm, but I'm one of those totally uncoordinated people who has to count aloud to dance to music. Ah, well.

Seriously, though. I'm putting my fingers to the keyboard and forcing myself to make this a frequent habit. (Does that phrase even make sense? Frequent habit?)

I haven't regularly posted about food in forever. That's certainly not because I haven't been eating. I have a complicated relationship with food. I overthink it. Then, I get all bogged down in thinking what a luxury it is for me to have the problems I do with food. Then, I realize I've gotten so wrapped up in my own head that if I don't distract myself quickly, I'll never get out.

Anyhow, I'm trying to change my relationship with food. Maybe we've grown too comfortable with one another and need to spice things up? (Except, of course, I'm a pretty big fan of very bland food.)

After all this lead up, you might be thinking that I'm going to post some spectacularly fabulous dish today, but, well, I'm not. In fact, I'm posting something I need to work on. At the same time, I'm posting something that shows me trying to widen my palate (which I just spelled "palette" and had to look up to figure out what was wrong because I knew something was off*).

So, without further spewing of words, I present to you The Breakfast of Champions:



Or, y'know, Breakfast of Those Who Like Heart-Unhealthy Foods in Very Small Quantities. Actually, this is my bowl waiting for its grits. I'm sure I've had grits before -- I even think I've made them -- but the recollection is murky. I made them according to the box, but, wow!, were they salty. I added salt to the water, as recommended and there's salt in cheese, no? My butter is unsalted, so I know it wasn't from that. The next time I prepare grits, I'm skipping the salt in the water. We'll see if that makes them any better. I certainly hope so, because I have an entire box of the things to consume.

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In other food-related bits: My child is quickly developing all of my cooking skills (or, should I say 'skillz'?). She proudly proclaimed to me the other morning that she prepared her own breakfast. When I got up, she told me, "I made breakfast for myself. I made cold toast!"

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Please note my note about ice cream on my last post. I'm still feeling the effects. I have not slept, but I have caught up on two blogs I've was so behind on! How can I finally convince myself that that much ice cream just isn't good for me (for any living creature, really)? You'd think the sleeplessness and anxiety that follows would do it, but apparently not.

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* This (it's not until 2:12, sorry) is what is now stuck in my head:


"Tommy Boy (1995) Theatrical Trailer"

Saturday, October 1, 2011

happy (belated) equinox!

Okay, so we're not at all big on celebrating stuff 'round La Casa B. I would actually kind of like to celebrate more than we do, but I set about creating such big fantasies of what our celebrations could be that I never actually get around to anything. (Hey, there, that describes so much of my life. Oh, to live in the moment! Someone get that through to me already!)

This year, though, we had a built-in celebration set for autumnal equinox: camping! For one reason or another, we didn't make it out camping at any other point this summer, although we did talk about it a lot (hey, it's not just me, apparently!).

Autumn is my absolute favorite season. I love the late light of summer and the reawakening of spring (and there's probably a lot of awesomeness associated with winter, I'm sure -- oh, like moonglow reflecting off hills covered in freshly-falled snow), but autumn? O, loverly, beautiful autumn. I marvel almost daily that, "Wow, it's not even seven and it's getting dark!" and "Oh, look at that tree! Look at that tree! Look at THAT TREE!" Halloween and harvest decorations make me happy.* There's the food, too, certo: apples, pumpkins, roasted vegetables for breakfast or lunch or dinner. What's not to celebrate about autumn?

So, this year, a small group of the homeschoolers went camping, beginning on Equinox. Some of the group are regular campers (I wouldn't call us that for several more years) and one family was embarking on their first camping adventure. We had about an equal amount of adults, children and pets. (We even camped with a cat -- not ours -- who did fabulously.)

The trip was everything camping should be as far as I'm concerned: setting up/taking down, cooking/eating, hiking, talking, laughing. Also, I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've camped as an adult and have not taken my work with me. I refused to this year.

I hope this becomes a regular event. If not a yearly camping trip with the homeschoolers, though, we have plenty of other camping friends. And, yes, we could always try camping on our own again (we haven't done this since Pic was a about a year-and-a-half).

But, camping to celebrate autumnal equinox? It seemed so perfect. It was.

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* For the most part. There's a house we sometimes walk past that has an array of variously, and freakily, painted mannequin heads hanging from the the tree in the front yard. This tree does not make me happy.

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P.S. I just ate a lot of ice cream. That might just explain the strangely hyper tone here. Perhaps.

Friday, September 30, 2011

g'bye september

Dearest September,
We certainly had our ups and downs. It's been...long. Thank you for the outings and the many walks. As for the cold and lingering throat thing...I'm not so thankful.

I could probably have better handled our time together, but, well, I'm ready to move on.

Let's give it another go in about, oh, a year, shall we?

v

a little look at language and a wee bit of wondering

Let me ask: When someone prefaces or follows a statement with "honestly," do you tend to believe that person's statement? Is that term a tip-off that the person isn't being completely honest? Is it akin to certain body language (not meeting someone's eyes, for example) that belies untruths?

I have this reflex, at least when reading something, to question the term and the writer's truthfulness. For whatever reason, I feel so much better if the word is just omitted. At the same time, I don't buy all of those tricks for spotting "tells." I don't believe that everyone who uses the phrase "honestly" or "to be completely honest" and so on is lying. Also, I recently read an article listing signs that someone is lying and I didn't buy the list. Okay, so maybe some people clear their throats often or become shifty-eyed when lying, but almost every item on the list was something I do when talking to people one-on-one -- not because I'm lying but because I don't possess a lot of confidence.

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I have been watching a lot of Friends lately. It's one of the two series we own in full and I was bored one day and put it on. Now, it's like a challenge to finish the series although I lost interest about seven hundred episodes ago. Anyhow, I could go on and on about Friends stuff, but I won't, I promise. I will ask, though, why didn't they recognize the 9/11 attacks in some way on the show? It's hard for me to understand why there was never a mention at all. I can understand why they didn't make it a major part of the plot, considering the show is a comedy, however, why not a mention at the end of the show before the credits rolled? Hmm...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

ww

a bit on lit

A couple of quick things:

Happy Banned Books Week! I'm still trying to figure out which book to read to celebrate this. One for me, one for Pic, actually.

I'm disappointed that I won't be able to attend the "I Read Banned Books" event at UNR tonight. It's at 6 in the Knowledge Center, if anyone else can/wants to go.

Upcoming: Booksale Bonanza! October 28-November 6. I cannot wait, although, yes, I have to. I wonder if homeschoolers count as teachers for the last day?