Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November pointless lists

I'm writing this with one mother of a head cold, so if it doesn't make any sense, it's because my skull feels like it's been packed in cotton.  Good times!

Today!  Is Eric's 41st birthday!  The birthday boy gets to pick whatever he wants for dinner and dessert, and he picked tacos and oatmeal cake.  Again.  He's picked those things for probably his last ten birthdays.  Maybe longer than that, I don't know, my brain is cotton, remember?  My point is that even the girls knew what he was going to pick.  And one of them hasn't been around that long.

Eric is pretty low key and didn't want much for his birthday, but the girls and I tried to make it somewhat special, anyway.  Abby made a birthday card last night, and Johanna made two in school today, apparently.  I stopped by this little organic store on my way to work to buy a Hopworks IPA.  Eric loves and adores that beer, so I was feeling pretty awesome just for remembering.  But they didn't have a Hopworks IPA.  Oh, they had stout, and he'd have drank it, but it's not his favorite.  So I got a Ninkasi Total Domination IPA and then some seasonal... dark ale something?  I can't remember, but it had a cool bottle, so that's how I made THAT decision.  (Sleigh'r Dark Double Alt Ale.  Thanks, Internet!)

Then I went to my favorite grocery store for cough drops, and lo and behold, they not only had the Hopworks IPA, but they had it on sale.  AND they had all sorts of Ninkasi beers, also on sale.  What. The. Heck.  I could have gotten him four at the grocery store for what I ended up paying for three... and had a better selection.

I'm still a little annoyed.

When I got home, the girls and I each took a beer (Abby wanted to give the Hopworks, and Johanna took the seasonal Ninkasi, which left me with Total Domination.  Just as I'd hoped), and went out into the kitchen and sang Happy Birthday to You, except Abby just lip-synced the words, the dork.  Johanna sang loud and proud.  So did I, because we've been married for 16 years, so it's not like Eric hasn't figured out yet that I can't sing.

We had tacos, we ate cake, and then Eric opened up birthday cards and presents.  My mother made him molasses cookies, his mother made him no-bake cookies, and I made chocolate chip cookies earlier this week.  Plus we have cake.  We have more treats in this house than we know what to do with.  Which is awesome.

Well, anyway.  This month's pointless list is pretty pointless, and also pretty short.  I need some new categories.  One thing I would like to note is that I froze all month long.  I keep thinking about how four months ago it was July and I was toasty warm.  Time is weird.

Movies watched:
Prince of Persia.  Only not by me, just Eric and Abby.  Still, it's the first real movie anyone has watched on Netflix since the whole "no DVDs" fiasco/decision.  (The grudge is holding fast, Netflix.  Just FYI.)

The Sorcerer's Apprentice.  Again, just Eric and Abby.  Well, I came in at the end, I guess.  I love Nicolas Cage.  We need to see Raising Arizona again.

Big.  The whole family watched this one.  Abby thought it was a creeper show and kept going on and on about pedophiles.  But Johanna liked it--she was fascinated by this little snippet of the '80s.  She's all about the '80s, for some reason.  I try to tell her that they really weren't that great, but she doesn't believe me.

Books read:
Food, Inc.!  Finally!  I tell you what, I was on a mission to finally knock this one out.  I found the second half easier to get through--more hope than hopeless, as it were.  It really was a great book, and definitely worth reading.  I'm slightly embarrassed it took me so long to get through.  Sometimes being the choir is hard.

And that's it.  Well, I was afraid to start a new book with Thanksgiving right around the corner.  Been there, done that, and it didn't make my life any easier.  But I have high hopes for December.

Quote of the month:

Picture of the month:

Too. Much. Cuteness.

Monday, November 28, 2011

You may think that I'm out of hand

So!  Remember when I said this on Thanksgiving?
And P.S. I am not buying a single, solitary thing on Black Friday.  Not even a cup of coffee.  You know why?  Because Black Friday is dumb.  Take that, The Man!  I am immune to your commercialism.
Friday dawned all brimming with hope and anticipation.  It's interesting setting out to be an anti-consumer.  But how hard could it be, taking My Own Personal Boycott to the streets?  I don't buy that much stuff anyway.  Right?

One thing I do love to consume: Coffee.  We're lucky to have a few local roasters in town.  I've been wanting to stop by my favorite of the lot and get a quart jar filled with decaf beans.  Because!  Then I can avoid unnecessary packaging!  And my jar is so cute!  And I could leave for work early!  (Hello, fighting children!)  And then I remember: My Own Personal Boycott.

We'll call this Consumer Crisis #1.

Well, fine.  I still had coffee beans anyway.  So I made an extra-large pot of coffee, with plans to bring some with me to work.  Because I also love to consume coffee at work, especially now that the weather has changed.  But Eric, my one true love, saw that I'd made extra and had a cup, which threw off my rationing scheme (confession: There IS no rationing scheme).  And of course I was running late, so I didn't have time to make a new pot.

No biggie.  Eric deserves lovely coffee, too, and anyway, water is good for you.  Yay water.  (No exclamation point.  Water just deserves a period.)

I get to work and... well, stuff happened, I guess.  It was a paper day, so that was awesome, but it was also the Friday after Thanksgiving, and no one was really thinking we'd be open, I guess, because the place was dead.  I'd look out at Eric's office, all dark and gloomy, and try not to feel depressed.

And then Stacey was all, is it a coffee day?  Some days just are coffee days.  The ladies at work gave me that coffee card for my birthday, and believe it or not, I still have money on the thing.  And we've had plenty of coffee days since July.

But.  I said I wasn't going to buy anything, and technically, using a gift card is still making a purchase.  I guess.  I can pretty much justify anything, but I was having trouble justifying that.

And then I was like, hey, I think I have a free one coming!  So I checked and sure enough, I did.  So that's not consumerism, right?  Going and getting your free cup of coffee?  Because you'd already purchased ten?

I hope not, because I totally did, and the whole time I was drinking my delicious hot tasty coffee, I was thinking, crap, I wonder when I blog about this if my public will understand?  (So essentially just my mom, and she thinks I'm wonderful, so we're probably cool.)

We'll call this Consumer Crisis #2.

Drink my coffee, yadda yadda yadda, the publisher comes out about 4:30 and is all, you can go home now if you want, because nothing is going on.  And I was all, cha-ching!  Getting to go home early takes me back to my school days when we'd have an unexpected snow day or school would get out early because of inclement weather.  I can't help it.  It just brings me joy.

But then I had Consumer Crisis #3.  We were planning on leaving Saturday morning for my grandparents' house, which is actually over the river and through the woods, and my car needed gas.  Do I go home and tell Eric that I would have filled up to save us the time Saturday morning, but I couldn't because of My Own Personal Boycott, or do I buy gas because waiting 12 hours is dumb when I have the time now?

I filled up the car.  Eric, who was not boycotting (and bought a pinochle iPad app, of all things), thought that was fine, because gas isn't something you buy just to buy.  And I was like, what about a cup of coffee, except that it was free?  And he was like, that's okay, too.

I love my husband.

Anyway, the whole experiment was interesting.  It really got me to think about what I buy and why I buy it.  I'm STILL thinking about it.  There are just things I enjoy purchasing, and it's sort of a pain not to buy something on a certain day just because you've arbitrarily decided to do My Own Personal Boycott.

What I can't decide: Did it matter in the grand scheme of things that I didn't technically buy my cup of coffee on Friday if I ended up going shopping on Saturday and Sunday?

I'm not really sure where this leaves me, unless you count that uncomfortable feeling that maybe I'm not immune to commercialism after all.  It sucks to have your bubble busted.

New Order, "Regret."  When I was in college I'd listen to this over and over and over.  "I was a short fuse burning all the time."  "We're dealing in the limits and we don't know who with."  "Just wait until tomorrow.  I guess that's what they all say, just before they fall apart."  You might have to be 19 to appreciate it, but still.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How about me enjoying the moment for once?

I should not laugh at this,
and yet.

It's sort of funny how something you plan for weeks in advance comes and goes so quickly.  The family has left, the kitchen is sort of cleaned up (the dishwasher can only go so fast), and there's hardly a leftover in the house, although really, who could eat anyway?  Oh, right... the girls.  Johanna is munching on cold stuffing as we speak and trying to negotiate how many raw cranberries she can eat.  Abby found a box of candy from Halloween and had a piece of that, for some reason, instead of leftover pie.  Kids.

I have to say that this Thanksgiving went fairly smoothly.  For one thing, I did not start any new books.  Been there, done that.  (Hello, Thanksgiving 2008!)  For another, I made a list of all the chores I needed to complete OR ELSE.  I was able to prep my food, clean the house and make sure that I had enough silverware.  Last night we did a last sweep of the house, cleaning everything except the bathrooms (well, really, what's the point when Johanna still needs to brush her teeth?  She has no aim).  This morning all we had to do was get up, toss the turkey in the oven, and chill.

Unless you're Eric.  In which case you also washed the windows inside and out, vacuumed up the ash around the woodstove, got out the folding chairs from the garage and dusted them off, emptied all the trash, did a load of laundry so Abby could wear that one new shirt of hers, and put the leaf in the table.  He probably did other stuff too that I just didn't see.  I was positively exhausted, watching him rush around from my spot on the couch.

And here I thought we had it licked last night.

Anyway, I did some careful turkey math and concluded we needed to get our 18 pound bird into the oven at 7:30 a.m. if we wanted it out by noon.  The package directions said it'd take about 4 1/2 hours.  The package directions are lying liars who lie, because it was done at 10:45.  I didn't even have time to baste the thing.  So Eric carved it and put it on a platter, and we just tossed it in the oven about a half-hour before everyone arrived to warm it up.  While he did that, I tackled the gravy and got the dishes clean.  And made coffee and spiced cider.  It took him a really long time to carve, and I wasn't sure if it was because he was being very careful with the especially sharp turkey knife, or if he was just tired from his self-imposed morning chore list.  (You've got to pace yourself on these big days.)

Abby wanted set the table, and even though we usually do it cafeteria-style, I figured, why not?  I inherited 8 china place settings from my Grandma M. this summer, and this was their inaugural dinner at my house.  Abby carefully arranged each setting, and then made a darling little arrangement for the middle of the table from things she found in our yard (who knew roses were still out?).  The only glasses we own are pints collected from various breweries, so that is what we used.

It all made me very happy.

The pint glasses really complete the look, don't you think?
And also, that's my only tablecloth.
Flower arranging is not a skill Abby got from me.
Thank heavens for Grandma W.

And then all that was left to do was wait.

Two weeks ago I thought there would be 8 of us, and then last week the number jumped to 18, and then this morning the final count came in at 20.  Ironically, that is EXACTLY how many plates I have, including Grandma's china.

My parents were first to arrive.  My mommy brought me my very own baking dish of homemade stuffing "for later."  I hid it in the back of the refrigerator.  I do not think that was even remotely wrong.  Next came my father-in-law and a special guest, a visiting priest from the Congo who used to spend summers here.  He hasn't been able to get back for a few years, and he could not believe how tall Abby had gotten--he used to pack her outside after Mass when she was like three or four.  And hey, this was his very first Thanksgiving celebration.  I had to wonder what it all looked like to him.  Hopefully more like family fun and less like pointless gluttony.

Next came a whole slew of people, so that really swelled the numbers.  I had started to put things out, and then everyone added their contributions, and it was like, wow.  We are totally not going to starve.  I made cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and apples, "the raspberry salad," and the turkey and gravy (der?).  My mom brought homemade stuffing,  pumpkin pie and whipped cream, and my mother-in-law brought a three-bean salad, mashed potatoes and cranberry-oatmeal cookies.   My sister-in-law Elaine brought a veggie tray and pecan pies, and my sister-in-law Liz brought a fruit salad and drinks.  My niece Jessica brought dinner rolls and a collards dish (well, her husband is from Georgia), and my nephew Sam came in with half of a Hubbard squash that he'd roasted and was all like, "I brought a squash!"  And everyone who encountered it was like, um, what is that?  Except it turned out to be the surprise hit of the dinner, which pleased Sam ever so much.

Anyway, we said grace and then, after a little persuasion, got the people to start lining up and filling their plates.  No one wants to go first, I guess.  Everything was so delicious.  Our living room was crammed full of people, some eating on Grandma's china and some eating off my regular dinner plates.  We had people at the table and people on couches, and even people in Abby's room, where Eric had set up a "man cave" of sorts--his brother Bub brought a TV so they could watch football, and Abby set up a card table.  We ate until we were groaning, and then my mom, Elaine and I put out the desserts.  So that started up the crazy once again.

The cousins ended up in Johanna's room.  She put on a fashion show for us, with the other girls serving as fashion consultants. We heard a lot of laughter coming out of that room, and seeing Abby's Facebook posts later proved that they were indeed having a good time.

While some of the boys watched football and the cousins played Johanna Fashion Show, the rest of us sat in the living room and chatted.  It's nice to have a day where the focus is just on being thankful and enjoying each other's company.

And P.S. I am not buying a single, solitary thing on Black Friday.  Not even a cup of coffee.  You know why?  Because Black Friday is dumb.  Take that, The Man!  I am immune to your commercialism.

But I digress.  It's still November, and it's still Thanksgiving, and I have a lot to be thankful for (I feel a list coming on):
  1. Eric
  2. Abby
  3. Johanna
  4. The life we lead as a family
  5. Did I mention Eric?
  6. My parents
  7. My in-laws
  8. All the people who traveled to spend Thanksgiving with us
  9. And all the people who love us
  10. For my new job that isn't so new anymore
  11. And the friends I've made there
  12. Actually, for all of our friends
  13. That the girls are happy and healthy
  14. All the artwork that Johanna makes for me
  15. And all the stories Abby writes
  16. That the girls know my grandparents
  17. And that they at least remember one of Eric's
  18. That our families get along
  19. And actually enjoy seeing each other 
  20. And look forward to seeing each other again
And also for my dishwasher, now that I think about it, as I can see that its third load of the day is clean and waiting to be put away.  And then refilled.  It sounds like Eric and Abby are going to watch a movie, which means Johanna and I will be hanging out together.  Or maybe taking a nap.  No, wait, this is Johanna we're talking about... definitely no naps.

Alanis Morissette, "Thank You."  Because it's Thanksgiving! "How about getting off of these antibiotics?"  I've always liked that line, along with, "Thank you frailty, thank you consequence, thank you silence."  I don't know if I'm really thankful for disillusionment or terror, if you want to know the truth, and I've never been one for unabashedly bawling my eyes out.  But you know, there's just a lot in this life that is awesome.  And I'm very thankful for that.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why aren't there any songs about food fights?

I was THIS CLOSE to writing the aforementioned post on Why Wal-Mart Hates the Guests Its Invited Over for Thanksgiving, but then.  As I was browsing through all sorts of crazy Wal-Mart junk trying to find a digital copy of that Thanksgiving flyer, I came across a video blog by a woman who went into Wal-Mart on purpose to see if she could buy everything she needed for Thanksgiving dinner for less than $40.  Because she is a "Wal-Mart Mom."  I did not know that even existed, but it does.

So there she is, all excited about her Stovetop, and her fake gravy, and her Green Bean Casserole with the canned beans and the mushroom soup and the fried onions or whatever the hell those things in the can were, and her turkey of questionable origin, and I'm like, I can't do it.  I cannot write that post, because this lady is too sincere.  I'd just feel like a jerk.

It was totally fascinating watching her choose all this packaged stuff.  I can't shop that way, what with my food allergies and everything, but sometimes I wonder if I'd take the easy way out if I could.

It's hard to actually answer that question, though, because I can't take the easy way out, and anyway, I like to cook.  Plus I care about where my food comes from, how it was raised, and what is in it.  I care about excess packaging and the effect of plastic on the environment.  I like knowing my farmers and patronizing their farm stands.

Not that we don't get the occasional take-and-bake pizza.  And not that we don't have packaging in the cupboards.  And not that our local farm stands are open year-round.  I just do what I can, and hope it makes a difference somehow.

But I'm left wondering this: When did mealtime become rocket science?  And why do I feel like an elitist poser just because I'm making our meal from scratch?  Honestly, I'd like to know.  Because I'm scratching my head over here.

Are there any songs about food fights?  Because that's what I'd choose for today's song, only I can't think of one.  Ah, well.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

So turn the television off and I will sing a song

So my public called after reading my last post (hi, Mom!) and said that not only is she clamoring for more, my posts aren't long enough.  Well, fine.  It's a snowy Saturday morning, and really, what else do I have to do besides drink my coffee?  And unload the dishwasher and pick up the living room and try to figure out where that smell is coming from?  If THAT isn't a solid case for blogging, I don't know what is.

View from the porch.  P.S. I tried to take a picture of Skilly
in the snow, but he was most uncooperative.  So you just get this.

Now then.

I'd like to report that our children have better social lives than Eric and I do.  Yesterday Abby called me at work, all excited, because her homeroom/science teacher had volunteered to take anyone interested to the theater to watch Breaking Dawn.  And she was all, can I go?  And I was all, do you have money?  And she was all, Mrs. A said we could pay her back on Monday.  And I was all, wow, your teacher is insane.  Sure, go for it!

Then I get home (having called Eric, of course, so he wouldn't feel the need to file a missing persons report upon coming home and not finding Abby there) and Johanna was flying.  Grandma and Grandpa W. had called to invite her to the high school musical (which we saw last weekend, and it was completely awesome).  Johanna loved the whole experience last week, so the thought of getting to go again was almost too much.  But she managed to get her dinner down and was ready to walk out the door when her grandparents came to pick her up.

So Eric and I are all like, wow, this is awesome.  The house was quiet.  Totally weird, and yet, somehow we managed.

The quiet didn't last too long, though, because then Abby called and said the movie was over and we could come pick her up.  We hopped in the car and drove to town, carefully, mind you, because it was starting to freeze and even though our county is great about sanding, still, you see, it was freezing.  So we got passed by some idiot in a no-passing zone, and I was all like, well, I'll try not to laugh when you end up in a ditch.  And I didn't, but probably that was because karma did not smote that car like I had hoped and I wasn't in the mood.

Mrs. A had, I kid you not, about 20 kids with her.  She had arranged transportation to get all the kids down there and now was hanging out with them to make sure they were all properly whisked away.  That's dedication.  Or, as I mentioned earlier, insanity.  (It's a fine line.)  Seeing all those kids, I was like, uh, how much do we owe you?  Because I'm pretty sure she had to max out her card to get them all in the theater, and that made me feel sort of bad.  So we forked over $7 (get it?  FORKED?), not realizing until later that she had gotten Abby and two of her friends a large popcorn to share.

Tangent: I bought two necklaces from Mrs. A during Harvest Fest weekend.  They are my favorites.

Abby's best friend was also in the group, so we volunteered to take her home, too.  The girls were high on Edward.  There was a lot of chattering and laughing in the backseat, along with demands from my oldest that I take her whenever I get around to seeing it (I never bother with opening day.  I've got stuff to do, and anyway, crowds tend to piss me off).

So we get home, and it's so cold outside, and Eric has built a fire, and we watch CHUCK because we love that show, and Eric ends up going to bed early, and Abby falls asleep on the couch, and I'm just sitting there by the fire adding to my Recipe Box iPad app and thinking, huh.  Friday nights rock.

Johanna finally got home around 10 p.m.  Her grandparents reported that she thoroughly enjoyed the show yet again, and did her wolf-whistle thing after ever scene.  (Note: It's a fake wolf-whistle, but it actually sounds pretty real.  Not sure how she manages that.)  So I got Johanna to bed, and then somehow managed to get Abby off the couch (the kid is almost as tall as I am, so it's not like I can just pick her up anymore), and then got myself to bed.  By this time, it was nearly 11 p.m., so I had high hopes of sleeping in.

Which never happens, of course, but the good news is that I fell asleep quickly and stayed asleep until 7 a.m., which never happens, either, the sleeping part, I mean.  Yet I was not ready to face the day, so I just grabbed my iPad and cruised around on Twitter, reading various articles until I finally had to pee so badly that I figured I may as well get up and confront my fate.

And my fate, in case you're wondering, was pretty much just to make coffee for me and toast for the girls.  And ignore my household chores.  Luckily, Eric hates to sit down and so he's picking up the slack.  You'd think I'd feel bad about that, and yet, not so much.

Here's another thing I've been meaning to blog about but keep forgetting: My glasses.  I really love my glasses.  I have sort of gotten used to the whole depth-perception ordeal, so even that potted plant at work doesn't look like it wants to reach out and kill me anymore.  I find myself putting them on first thing in the morning now, like when I'm trying to read about Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on my iPad and the screen is all blurry.  I'm very grateful for Vision Coverage and my eye doctor.  And the receptionist for showing me these frames.  A plus: Telling people I'm both near- and far-sighted is FUN. Everyone's all like, whaaaat?  And I'm all, I know!  It's so awesome!

Well, now.  Eric is itching to do something today--and that something looks like shampooing the carpets.  SCORE.  Which means, however, that I must stop writing this very lengthy (lengthy enough?  I don't know, I sort of try to keep it down so it feels weird trying to purposely write a lot) and start getting ready.  Because we're also going grocery shopping for Thanksgiving, baby.  OH, that reminds me, has anyone else seen that Wal-Mart flier for Thanksgiving?  How you can get your canned green beans and potato flakes and your turkey?  Holy cow, people, that's a post begging to be written, and maybe I will, should Thanksgiving prep not overwhelm me.  Because COME ON.  Do you hate the people you've invited over for Thanksgiving or what, Wal-Mart?

P.S. Johanna and I are also headed to her school this afternoon for a PTO-sponsored movie.  I'm trying to be all involved this year, so I get to take money or make popcorn or something, and then babysit.  Should be fun.

Nickelback, "Leader of Men."  Look, I don't even like Nickelback, but I cannot stop listening to this song.  (Wow, that guy is ugly.  And also, does this remind anyone else of that Foo Fighters video?)  And I told Eric it was going to be my next post-song, and I am a girl of my word.  "I am not a leader of men since I prefer to follow."  Word.  Oh, I'm also attached to: "Whisper things into my brain, your voice sounds so hollow."  But really, the whole thing makes me very happy.  Anyway, I listened to this song 22 times in a row Thursday.  And yes, I am serious.  (iTunes keeps track.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

This post needs a title, apparently

Testing out the Blogger app for iPad. This keyboard/screen is whack. On the upside, I can now technically blog from anywhere.

Because we're always going cool places. And my public is constantly clamoring for updates.

Fact: Neither of those statements are actually true. You might think I'd feel bad about that, and yet, not so much.

Note to Blogger: The iPad?  Has a lot of screen space.
Feel free to embrace that.

Question: Did I pay a lot for this app?
Fact: No, I did not.  I did not pay ANY MONEY AT ALL.  So I'll quit complaining.
Fact: I love Dwight Schrute.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

You bring me blankets for the walls of my forts

I've been writing words, and then erasing them.  Writing some more, erasing some more.  I'm getting sort of tired of the whole ordeal.  I wanted to say something about how we got our first snowfall of the season today, and how I volunteered in Johanna's classroom, and the first graders were so excited, but then at work, the adults were despondent, and why is that, do you think?  But every time I try to write this out, the words suck.

So let's just look at new pictures I've found on StumbeUpon, okay?  Because I've had it with the words.

Something to talk about during Thanksgiving dessert.
You're welcome.

Who knows?  But that chalk drawing rocks.

If I'd have found this before Halloween, I'd have made it
my Facebook profile picture.

This IS my Facebook profile picture.

How I feel after failing at blogging.  Ah, well.

Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories, "Alone."  Specifically: "So what is this weather and what is this darkness, and why do I feel so alone?  And when will it snow, it's been raining for hours, and why do I feel so alone?"  (Also, whoever made this video, it is sort of awesome.)  Except that it's been snowing for hours and I'm wishing it would rain.  Whatever.  At least we can all agree that it's dark.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Told to dissolve, or choose to fade

I'm bored.

We were super social/busy this weekend, which was all varying degrees of awesome.  Mara and Alex and the boys came on Saturday for lunch--that's high on the awesome scale--and then Abby and I helped at the church's annual dinner/bazaar on Sunday--lower on the awesome scale, but still entertaining.

And what's that, you say?  My mother made more for the baked goods booth than ever before?  In her first year of being in charge?

That's high on the awesome scale, too.

Anyway, we cleaned house before Mara and Alex came, and then Eric didn't even go outside all weekend to work on any project at all, which means he turned his attention to the inside of the house/playing with the girls.  Both highly awesome, in case you're still keeping track.

So today I find that I don't have many chores to complete.  I did a load of laundry ("A load of laundry a day keeps the chaos away," says Flylady, and I believe her, though it doesn't always happen in this household), and made some pumpkin bread (the secret?  Adding chocolate chips to the batter.  Chocolate chips make everything a celebration.  I don't make the rules, that's just how God intended), and changed everyone's sheets (tip I found while surfing the internet: Put your sheet set inside one of the pillow cases.  I can't fold sheets worth beans, so the stuffed pillow case looks sort of whack, if you want to know the truth, but still, it's behind the closet doors, so who cares?  And it does keep the sheets better organized without a whole lot of extra effort), and unloaded and loaded the dishwasher.  The only thing left on my list is to prep dinner.

I'm thinking stir fry.  I got a lovely head of purple cabbage at the farm stand down the road, and some red peppers from the farmers' market, and I think I've got a carrot or two somewhere.  Is that enough for a stir fry?  I've got green beans and corn in the freezer.  Maybe they'll make it in there, too.  Oh, and chicken.  I roasted a chicken yesterday before we left for the church.  Sometimes I'm quite on top of it.

And served with rice, of course.

Although I just read a blurb about how rice is ruining the world, because it uses up like 1/3 of the world's fresh water supply.  Except it feeds half the world's population, so maybe that's not bad odds?  The point is, I have no idea, I'm just in the mood for stir fry, and it sucks to think my dinner is sending the earth down the wrong environmental path.  But if I already have the rice in my pantry, not using it would also be wasteful.

I believe that's called "justification."

The way things are going, I'll probably have time to mess around on StumbleUpon and find cheesy quotes like this one:

...That make me smile regardless of the cheese.  If I play my cards right, that will eat up enough time so cleaning the bathrooms will be rendered impossible.

Whew.  It's exhausting being bored.

Chevelle, "Letter from a Thief."  Because I just stole a whole lot of your time, yo.  (Maybe this song will make up for it.)  For a long time I thought Pete was saying, "Defend it all against Voldemort," but it turns out he's really saying, "Defend it off and fool them all."  (So close!)  I love you, Chevelle.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Mostly I just wanted to write on 11-11-11.  So hopefully you're expectations are low.

A couple stories from work, since apparently that's all I have to talk about:

We've had a few skateboarders congregating in our parking lot recently for some reason.  Maybe because we're on a downhill slope.  They've been staying near the top and not getting too crazy, so even though it's been a major annoyance, no one has said anything.  Yesterday, however, they started doing tricks off the front railings.  And I was like, you know... this is idiotic.

So I went out there, fully appreciating the irony.  It wasn't all that long ago I was all like, skateboarding is not a crime!  Not that I skateboarded, mind you.  I just thought that rules against skateboarding were stupid.  Then I grew up and started thinking about smashed skulls all over the front railing.

The kids (who might have been early twenties, I have no idea, everyone looks like babies these days) just sort of watched me come out.  And I was like, look, I'm really sorry [total lie, I wasn't sorry at all], but we can't have you skateboarding here because of the liability.  If you smash your head open and there's blood and guts everywhere, we could cover it for the paper, obviously, but then we'd get sued.  So you'll have to go somewhere else.

They just sort of looked at me (no biggie, I get that a lot) and started walking away without saying a word.  And I was like, I cannot believe that actually worked.

And I was a rock star in the front office for chasing the baby skateboarders away.  Well, for the time being, I guess.  We'll see what today brings.


We have this 18-year-old in the press (who likes to be called Pollo, but I call him Little Chicken) who is the happiest person I have ever met aside from my own little Johanna.  He's quite entertaining, so it's fun when he comes into the office to say hello or goodbye or because he's waiting for his ride.  As he left yesterday in a whirlwind of laughter, I shared that he reminds me of a puppy because he's always just wagging.  Everyone agreed.  Because I'm right.  Obviously.  But then I was all like, ah, children.  Just wait until life sucks the hope out of him.

And I thought Stacey was going to collapse on the floor.  "I cannot believe you said that!" she gasped, hardly able to breathe.  And I was all like, what?  That's not even funny.  Give it time.

Perspective and experience.  That's all I'm saying.

Then Chris the office manager shared that she saw him hop up onto one of the huge recycling bins in the back and stand there on one leg.  And she was like, I told him I wished I could do that, but as a member of the Safety Committee, he needed to not do that anymore.  And I was like, see?  Hope, sucked out.

So I felt vindicated.

P.S. Special thanks to my Grandpa G., Grandpa M., Uncle Bob and cousin Jesse, and Eric's Grandpa K.  for their service in WWII, Vietnam and Iraq.  "Thank you" doesn't even begin to cover it when you're talking about someone putting their life on the line, away from family and friends to boot, just so I can sit safely at home.  Words can be very inadequate.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I used to write letters, I used to sign my name

It's a very chilly, foggy, blah sort of morning, but I've got my coffee, so really, it's not so bad.  I've been drinking an ungodly amount of coffee lately (if there even is such a thing).  It's decaf (bummer) because my stomach sucks and I'm trying to be incredibly adult about it, but still, I wonder if this much decaf is good for a person.

Well, whatever.  It tastes good, anyway.

My plan for the day: Write letters.  I've got a bunch of letters I needed to write like a month ago, and today is the day.  Right after I do this.  I'm not sure why I'm putting it off again.  Maybe because I feel like I've got nothing to say.

Not that THAT has ever stopped me.

When did my life stop revolving around letters?  It doesn't seem like all that long ago when I would write at least one letter a day--usually more--and the trip to the mailbox was THE highlight of my existence.

I loved writing and receiving letters in high school, but the whole institution was essential during college.  Phone calls were expensive.  Letters were not.  And more often than not, I'd hear from at least one of my friends every day.  We were all in the same boat.

Ah, but the agony of not getting a letter that you were expecting.  That could ruin an entire day.  "Must be a holiday," we'd call out when nothing showed up, because obviously if it wasn't, our mailboxes would be stuffed.  (That's college for you.)

My mother used to work in an elementary school, and sometimes one of her small groups would write me letters.  They were short and sweet and adorable, and I enjoyed answering them.  One time, my mother's co-worker and good friend had one of her small groups send me a package for Halloween, filled with candy.  It was awesome.  I was the hit of my wing for quite a while after that.  No one could believe that package.  Not even me.

Eric and I met the summer before our senior year in college.  We were across the state from each other, and letters were our main form of communication.  I used to write the bulk of my letters to Eric in my Art in the Dark class.  (I think technically it was Art Appreciation, but we didn't call it that.)  How I got an A in that class I will never know.  I didn't buy the text book and I didn't pay attention to the slides the professor was always showing.  I just wrote to Eric.  He saved all my letters (I have his, too--I put them in a pretty box that's stored in my retreat) so I could even go look to see what dumb things I was writing about RIGHT NOW if I wanted to.

(Curiosity got the best of me.  On Nov. 8, 1993 I wrote a letter to Eric about an Art in the Dark test, my music appreciation and Nature of the English Language classes, what our friend Darrin was up to, the neighborhood cat sporting a hot pink collar that I thought should be navy, and how envious everyone was of our crappy apartment.  And getting locked out, apparently.  No real memory of that, but I suppose that's what letters are for.)

I used to write my letters by hand.  Then I got a word processor and that simplified the whole ordeal quite a bit.  And also: No writer's cramp that way.  Then we got a computer and I was all about email.  Now I just check Facebook and click "like" whenever someone writes something that I like.

Sorta boring.

Since I've started blogging, I've heard from several people that they're not hearing from me as often as they used to--which, granted, hasn't been very often at all for a while now.  I could list the reasons (job, kids, house, life) but really, it just comes down to this: It's no longer a priority.

But today!  Today is the day!  Right after I edit this post, and clean my bathroom, and do some laundry.

Kidding!  (Probably.)

Arcade Fire, "We Used to Wait."  This sums up letters PERFECTLY: It seems strange anekatips*, how we used to wait for letters to arrive. But what's stranger still is how something so small can keep you alive.  (A side note: For some reason, this song reminds me of "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger.  The book, not the movie.)

*I won't lie, I had to look it up.  The definition is long and boring, but it basically means to re-create.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I think I'll take another way instead

Saturday night and I'm sitting alone in front of the computer, blogging.  That's in no way remotely sad, right?  Eric and Abby are watching a movie and Johanna is in bed.  I could watch the movie too, I suppose.

Nah, never mind.  I'm still mad at Netflix.  (Stupid streaming selection...)  No matter.  Words are quite entertaining.  Words, words, words.  Just for kicks... I'm going to try to write this entirely in Haiku.

Friday, the weird work
week finally ended.  Thank God.
That afternoon the

phone lines were messed up
and every time the phone rang,
it was just a dial

tone on the other
end.  That got real old real fast.
I wasn't very

surprised, though, because
of how the week had gone.  Messed
up phone lines seemed like

a given.  Somehow
we made it through the day and
then!  Date night!  Hooray!

Except!  We couldn't
find anyone to watch our
Johanna.  So she

came with us.  Why not?
Jo and I split fish and chips
(mmm!) and Eric had

a chicken sandwich
thing, and we all ate way too
many french fries and

emptied the bread bin.
(Because "basket" didn't fit
in that line.)  We drew

on the table with
crayons (don't worry, there was
a paper down for

that very reason),
and Johanna thought we should
all draw what we were

thankful for.  She drew
vegetables, a toilet, and
Jesus.  I am not

kidding.  We had a
really great date night. Someday
we'll do that again.

Never mind.  It's just too slow to write an entire entry that way.  Lesson learned. Possibly.

Oh, and Abby was spending the night at a friend's house.  Otherwise, she'd have been there, too.

Which brings us to today.  Remember when I wrote this?
And!  Last night, I went to my first PTO meeting since Abby was in first grade.  And I learned that I, Trisha, can sponsor the annual walk-a-thon thing and get my business card on the t-shirt for a very reasonable fee.  Only I don't have a business card.  So I'm thinking: Johanna's Mom.  I can't stop giggling when I think about it.  Johanna's Mom in the midst of all the actual business cards, and people being all like, whaaaaat?  And me laughing in the corner.  It's almost too much awesome.  I'm TOTALLY going to do it.
(What do you mean, you don't remember?  I'm totally offended.)  Well, that fundraiser thing was this morning.  Instead of "Johanna's Mom," our ad (that's a term used very loosely by the PTO, apparently) said "Trisha and Johanna."  Johanna was THRILLED.  I bought us each a shirt to celebrate the awesome.  Sure, we're posers, but we're posers with our NAMES ON A SHIRT.

We walked, we came home, we sat by the fire and tried to warm up again.  That was a cold experience, I tell you what.  And then I ditched both Eric and Johanna and went to a PartyLite show at Stacey's house.  Deb the Receptionist was there; Deb from Sales was not.  When we had to go around and say how we knew Stacey, I was tempted to say we'd met in a mosh pit, but I was surrounded by co-workers and Stacey's family, and my manners got the best of me.  My mother would have been ever so proud.  Anyway, I got this:

"Change O Style."  It's got changeable "panes" so I can switch
them out with the seasons.  Fancy!

I've been wanting one of these electric "warmers" for awhile.  I'm going to put it on top of our wood stove and let it break through the bleak darkness that is winter, all while dispensing a pleasant ginger pumpkin scent into the air.  (At least until Eric builds a fire and forgets to move it, and the cord burns up.)

Here's something I did not get, but it made me laugh:

It's a USB Diffuser with Refill.  Um, really?

Not on my list, but who am I to judge?

Then I came home and roasted a chicken, made buttermilk mashed potatoes, pulled out the coleslaw from earlier in the week, and baked a pan of brownies.  I wonder if PartyLite has a roasted chicken-scented candle, and if they don't, why is that?  Eric had been cleaning the garage, but as soon as the smell of that chicken started floating through the house, he was suddenly ready to come inside.

This feels like an abrupt ending, and yet.  That's all I've got.

Screaming Trees, "Something About Today."  There's something about today I can't explain.  (And yesterday, and this whole weird week.)  Gone so long and feeling so let down, seems as though I'm living underground.  (Well, not really, but it sounds cool.)  All the miles couldn't make it change.  I might know tomorrow, not today.

P.S. Uncle Anesthesia was the very first CD I ever bought.  From Tower Records!  (The early '90s were so awesome.)  Gram M. had given me Christmas money, and she was very nonplussed when I told her I'd gotten this.  She was just happy I was happy.  (Thanks again, Grammie.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Your thoughts realign

The public continues to astound this week at work.  It makes things sort of interesting, and also sort of scary.  And while the whole week has been weird, yesterday really took the cake.

Again, I say unto you: Work with me, people.

The most awesome phone call came about a half-hour after I got to work.  A little old lady (WHY is it always little old ladies?) wanted to place a $500 and under free classified ad (those are Big Hits) for like fifty thousand books.  The rules of the $500 and under free classified ad?  ONE item per household per week (and $500 or under, but I suppose that goes without saying).

Oh, and she came out swinging--no phone number, no introduction, just I have a whole garage full of books that I'd like to sell for 25-cents to $2.50 each.  That was my first clue that things were not going to go down well.

Here's a sample of our conversation.  I've cut it down by like ten minutes (I am not joking) for the sake of brevity.

Me: The rules of the $500 and under free classified ad are one item per household per week.  Unless it's just one book, or a collection of books for a set price, we'll have to go with the one month, $20 ad.

Little Old Lady (LOL): I don't think someone is going to want five boxes of westerns.  I just want 25-cents to $2.50 for each book.

Me: I know.  I'm sorry.  They're* very strict on the rules.  It can only be one item, or one collection of items...

LOL: It's actually three categories of books.  I want to get rid of them.  I could get more money, but I just want 25-cents to $2.50.

Me: I see.  But the rules of the $500 and under free classified ad are one item per household per week.  So unless you pick just one book, or one collection, the $20, one month ad is the best I'm going to be able to do for you.  You can list all the books you want!  It hits all the area papers AND goes online tonight!

LOL: I want the free ad.  The books are less than $500.  And I've seen books in there before.  Books!

Me: Was it a collection?

LOL: I could get more money for them, but I just want 25-cents to $2.50.

Me: I'm really trying to help you... and I'm sorry, but the rules of the $500 and under free classified ad are one item per household per week.  They're very strict on what we can place under this classification, and boxes of books at different prices don't qualify.

LOL: What about dolls?  I have lots of dolls.  I could ask $30, but I just want $15 apiece.

Me: Is it just one doll?

LOL: [Silence.]

...And we went round again, only it didn't take so long this time.  Perhaps she finally got that I wasn't going to cave.  Maybe she finally heard me.  It's hard to tell with little old ladies.

It just kept going from there.  I tried to do my work, but the public seemed set against me actually accomplishing much.  THEN at like 4 p.m. I remembered that it was Wednesday, and I'm supposed to measure one of our area papers as soon as I walk in the door for our bookkeeper.  OOPS.

But!  My mommy and family friend Kookie came to visit me!  I've known Kookie since I was born, I think.  I have no memory of not knowing her and her family, anyway.  So there!  I was wishing I had more time to show them around--papers are quite fascinating, especially when the presses are running or there's a deadline and the newsroom is full--but still, it was fun to be able to see them and chat for a minute.  And I got out of helping someone at the counter because Stacey was all like, you chat, I'll do it. Cha-ching!  The way the day was going, I can only imagine what the request was...

P.S. Today I had all sorts of plans: A committee meeting at Johanna's school, then help in her classroom, hit a baking sale at the store and go to work, then possibly the farmers' market.  But!  Johanna is not feeling well, and she's home from school.  My favorite mother-in-law took Abby to school, and now I'm trying to figure out what Plan B is.  There's some nasty things going around, so I wasn't surprised that Johanna's stomach was hurting or that she really felt like puking (we broke her a while back, and throwing up is like the worst thing in her world).  She's now on the couch watching Netflix (Popeye earlier, now Dragon Tales).  Well, who needs Plan A anyway?

*It helps sometimes to blame The Man.  No one knows who that is, including me, but it's someone to take the fall.  This defuses many situations.

Washed Out, "Eyes Be Closed."  Because mellow is where it's at today.  I have no idea what these guys are actually saying, so I Googled the lyrics, and wow, no one else does, either.  (Ha.)  Rising up you float outside yourself, find the source of light, fly home, you go mumble mumble, rising towards the light...  (Close enough.)