Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Blog, New Year, New Post

OK, so the blog isn't really new--I just finally got an option to upgrade to the new Google Blog. And it isn't the new year yet, as there's still another day to go. But this IS a new post, and that should count for something, right?

I've been tagged by Jenn, so I'll get this done now--I am supposed to:
1. Find the nearest book.
2. Name the book & the author.
3. Turn to page 123.
4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
5. Tag three more folks.

OK, I have bookshelves above my desk, so there are quite a few books. I'm selecting the one I can grab with the least effort, which happens to be Polgara the Sorceress by David and Leigh Eddings. Now, Polgara has been sitting where Belgarath the Sorcerer would normally sit, but Belgarath was lost some time ago and I've been waiting patiently for the old wolf to wander back. I'm guessing he got caught up with some drinking, or running with the golden eyed wolf in the Vale, so I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, Polgara is a prequel, of sorts, telling of her life before the events in the Belgariad and the Mallorean. I got hooked on them a lifetime ago--and I don't think I ever properly said thank you, so thank you. Anyway, here's the selection:

"A very close examination of my reflection didn't reveal any wrinkles, though--at least, not yet.

The four of us spent about ten years--or maybe it was only nine--concentrating our full attention on the Darine Codex, and then the Master sent father to Tolnedra to see to the business of linking the Borune family with the Dryads. Father's use of chocolate to persuade the Dryad Princess Xoria to go along with the notion has always struck me as more than a little immoral."

There is a joke in there that's really funny if you have read the series before. Otherwise, that passage seems a bit strange. But no worries! If you want to understand, there are only five books in each series! Time to get cracking!

As for tagging someone else, I'll pass. If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged.

We're coming down from the holidays and vacation is nearing its end for Tom. We got the big boy furniture for CJ and the new sectional for the living room on Wednesday, and we're very pleased with everything. Tom and I have been cleaning the whole house to address our storage issues and toss out some junk. For a brief moment on Thursday, I had a completely clean kitchen--all dishes and counters clean. Then I blinked and the moment passed. Tonight we're staying home since Tom and I aren't fond of going out on "Amateur Night". I did give him a barware set for Christmas, so I may have him break it out and use it. CJ checks under the Christmas tree occasionally, looking for more presents. I think he'll understand things a bit better next year. All in all, it's been a great week and I've really enjoyed the time with my family.

Friday, December 22, 2006

CJ's Second Birthday

Christmas time is very busy for us this year, since CJ's birthday is a week before it (aw, my little tax break baby!). Tom's birthday is also close to the holidays, so we're making a concerted effort to make sure CJ has a separate birthday and separate Christmas, and not blend the two together.

Of course, I still get to shop the same sales, but that's beside the point.

So Tuesday was the big day for my big boy, and he got to stay home with Mommy because he had a cold. He's been home with my all week because of that cold, and now Mommy has it. Anyway, Tuesday morning we greeted him with Happy Birthday! He played on his own very well while I got some work done, then my friend Jay came over around 4, bearing grande mocha frapuccinos. Jay kept CJ entertained and chatted with me while I tidied my kitchen and began baking CJ's birthday cake. I made a spice cake with cream cheese icing from a recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens red plaid cookbook from 2000 (but I can post it for Jenn later). Jay finished the icing while I started dinner--spaghetti and meat sauce, one of CJ's favorites. Tom and Erik arrived shortly before dinner, and we all sat around the table.

CJ really likes Jay and Erik. I think he might have a crush on Jay, because he always grins at her and acts on his best behavior until she makes a funny face at him and then he cracks up. Erik is very tall, and CJ is fascinated by that--he leans his head way back to stare at Erik, then later will make faces to make Erik smile.

After dinner was singing and cake, and we had a brief moment of panic when CJ tried to put out the candle with his hand instead of by blowing. He was successful--but most importantly, no blisters or other injury. He was VERY surprised, though--I think touching the candle flame definitely did not feel good. After cake, Tom brought out the presents I wrapped earlier in the day.

I hope we're not spoiling him too much! He got lots of coloring stuff, a couple books, an art desk for keeping his crayons and papers, a little golf set, a new pirate playset, and his favorite gift from Jay and Erik--Pirate Potato Head! It's a giant Potato Head filled with 4 smaller potato heads and all the pieces are pirate/see themed. We all played with this one! Erik and created what we called the Pirates of Dr. Moreau while CJ clapped and approved or everyone. Then he took one and repeatedly held it up for Erik, made it dance, then giggled to himself before doing it again.

So, my little boy had a fantastic birthday and we've had a blast playing this week. I'm now on vacation starting today, so no more work for me until January! I'm really excited about Christmas--we have a naked tree we need to decorate (but it smells wonderful!) and I can't wait to see how much CJ will love Christmas morning after seeing how much he enjoyed his birthday!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas List

Alrighty, I guess it's my turn.

1. Eggnog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot Chocolate.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Tom and I wrap all the presents, but all the ones for Christopher are marked, "From Santa".

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Colored lights for both.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No, I get and give plenty of kisses.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
It varies. We've had a couple years where we didn't put any up. A few years ago, Tom had to work on Christmas Eve and we hadn't gotten a tree or anything, so while he was at work, I put up old Christmas cards and strung lights and hung stockings as a surprise. Last year, we didn't decorate the tree till Christmas Eve after putting CJ to bed--he loved it on Christmas morning.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
I don't have a whole lot of background on tradition. Some years, Tom and I open a bottle of wine and eat grapes, cheese, and crackers while listening to Christmas music. That's always good. I can't think of a specific dish.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
I don't have any. I used to enjoy going to church with the Clan. Opening it up to the whole Holiday season, I loved Granny;s New Year's Eve parties and I miss those greatly.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
When I was really young and from the Jehovah's Witnesses. I don't remember ever believing in Santa Claus.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Yes, one each. Previous years, our friend Candi has celebrated with us, and we've always made sure she had a present under the tree from us for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This is our first Christmas without her, and that makes me sad.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
A couple strings of lights, some glass balls, some painted decorations, and other ornaments we've received over the years.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it, and miss it.

12. Can you ice skate?
Once upon a time before my center of gravity shifted.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
A mini-disc player I didn't even know I wanted or existed. I still use it almost every day at work.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
I don't really have one. I've started baking spice cakes for CJ's birthday (right before CHristmas) so I'll go with that.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
I like filling up the stockings--ones for me, Tom, each cat, and now CJ.

17. What tops your tree?
Previous years, nothing, or a Santa hat. This year, Tom got a color changing star for the top. Since CJ is currently obsessed with stars, I think he'll like it very much.

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?
I'm uncomfortable with both since I haven't done it very long. I think I like them both equally, but they both stress me a bit--I'm never sure if I got the right gift to give someone, and I'm never sure I've properly thanked the giver when it's something I really like.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
O Holy Night--sung by David. I miss that a lot. I wish I could have it on CD to play every Christmas Eve.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
Yum--but only the peppermint ones. Cherry ones are disgusting.

21. Favorite Christmas movie?
A Christmas Story, Elf, and Bad Santa.

22. What do you leave for Santa?
Nothing. I'm a bad girl.

Friday, December 01, 2006

In a Pickle

Yesterday, I talked to Jenn while I was upset about something. I won't be going into those details anytime soon, but suffice to say Jenn was the PERFECT person to talk to about it.

Anyway, in an attempt to cheer me up, Jenn asked me if I knew pickles were evil. I was puzzled--I love pickles, always have. During the first few months of my pregnancy I ate a gallon of pickles a week! So I got to thinking about it, and I think she's absolutely wrong.

See, pickles are cucumbers soaked in brine, and brine contains large volumes of salt. Salt was very important before refrigeration for preserving foods, including meats, and in Roman times, soldiers were paid in salt (hence the word "salary"). In modern times, salt was infused with iodine to keep people from developing goiters, and it's been shown that the complexity of salt's composition amplifies a variety of flavors, making the taste more intense than if the food is eaten unseasoned. Salt is used in many recipes, including baking, for this reason.

Cucumbers grow from tiny seeds sown in the earth and can be harvested in a short period of time—two months from planting. Cucumbers contain potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and prevent muscle cramps. They are rich in fiber and are useful in cooling and relieving tired eyes.

Matthew 5:13 refers to Christians as the "salt of the earth", inferring that their faith was necessary to "season" the world and make it a better place to live. The "salt" they provided through their faith and actions would turn their communities into havens of morality, goodwill, and worship, and without their faith, the earth would be worth nothing.

Going back to salt and its benefits, goiters were a big public health problem until it was determined that iodine helped thyroid health and improves thyroid function. Certain vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, are cruciferous vegetables, and they impede the absorption of thyroid hormone within the body. Those who are hypothyroid (like me) cannot eat broccoli or cauliflower while taking synthetic thyroid hormone or else the synthetic hormone will not be absorbed and the thyroid will continue to malfunction. Eating foods with iodized salt, like pickles, helps preserve the malfunctioning thyroid while allowing the body to use the synthetic hormone as replacement for the hormone that the body does not produce. Proper thyroid function is critical for humans—the thyroid governs the body’s metabolism, determining mood, energy levels, hunger, calorie burning, digestion, and reproduction in women.

See, if the thyroid is imbalanced, a woman’s body chemistry will go awry, changing her estrogen production. Ovulation reduces and the natural cycle lengthens and becomes irregular, making it hard for the woman to conceive. So proper thyroid function is essential for women to be fruitful and multiply!

You can see now, absolutely clearly, that pickles are certainly NOT the evil fruit from the Tree of Knowledge to be avoided by all costs. Pickles are manna from Heaven, filled with potassium and iodine, giving us the essential building blocks we need to carry out good deeds, avoid gluttony, and produce new generations. Pickles are a tangible manifestation of “the salt of the earth”.

Because of its ability to impede thyroid function and reproduction, it is also clear that BROCCOLI is the true fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, and should be avoided at all costs.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I've Been a Little Listless

Luckily, Suze started this one and Jenn picked it up--so it's my turn!

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought? Dude, I need to brush my hair.
2. How much cash do you have on you? About $30.

3. What’s a word that rhymes with “DOOR?” Four.

4. Favorite planet? Pluto. I don't care what those scientists say. Take away Pluto, and My Very Elderly Mother Just Served Us Nine nothings.

5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone? A number I don't recognize. I get a lot of drunk dialing, so some reason.

6. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone? I don't have one since I'm stupid about downloading ringtones. Tom has his phone programmed to play "Birdhouse in your Soul" when I call!

7. What shirt are you wearing? A brown/grey t-shirt that has Mr. Owl and the Tootsie Pop Kid and asks, "Mr. Owl, How many licks does it take?"

8. Do you “label” yourself?I would if I had one of those DynaLabels from when I was a kid. Maybe I should get a Brother P-Touch, and label everything in my house like some OCD freak--wait. I read this wrong. Sorry, pseudogeek.

9. Name the brand of your shoes you’re currently wearing? Sketchers. A comfy brown pair I bought on the Cape.

10. Bright or Dark Room?Dark.

11. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you? I think she has an amazing will despite everything she's gone through and I wish I could bottle her so I could drink her and absorb some of that. She'd have a greater kick than Ale-8, but not as flat tasting.

12. What does your watch look like? I don't wear one. My last watch had the battery die, and I never replaced it.

13. What were you doing at midnight last night?Sleeping, until I had to get up to go pee and have a drink of water.

14. What did your last text message you received on your cell say? My bill is ready for my review and payment.

15. Where is your nearest 7-11?The only one I know of is 32 miles away, near where I used to work.

16. What’s a word that you say a lot? No. (I have a 2 year old, give me a break!)

17. Who told you he/she loved you last? Tom.

18. Last furry thing you touched? My cat, Zeke.

19. How many drugs have you done in the last three days? Caffeine, Nicotine, Alcohol, Nasonex, and Synthroid. So, five. Not so far gone I can't count.

20. How many rolls of film do you need developed?None! For a change.

21. Favorite age you have been so far? 28-29. I was 28 when I got married and got pregnant and 29 when I had my son.

22. Your worst enemy?Me. And Syndrome.

23. What is your current desktop picture? Random cute picture of CJ--home and work.

24. What was the last thing you said to someone? "How many lushes do we have in this crowd?" Said to our admin, while we were deciding if we should bring wine to our lunch event today.

25. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly what would it be?Million bucks. I can buy first class tickets, then. Actually, I could buy a house back East within driving distance and not have to fly again!

26. Do you like someone? I'm married--I'm supposed to like him, right?

27. The last song you listened to? I had to laugh at Jenn's answer of White and Nerdy, because it's the answer for me, too. I listened to It's All About the Pentiums right before that.

28. What time of day were you born?1:17pm

29. What’s your favorite number? the square root of 1764.

30. Where did you live in 1987? BFE. Almost literally.

31. Are you jealous of anyone? No, not that I can think of.

32. Is anyone jealous of you? Lindsey Lohan.

33. Where were you when 9/11 happened? At home, nursing a horrible headache.

34. What do you do when vending machines steal your money?Pound the buttons a couple more times, a little harder, then I curse.

35. Do you consider yourself kind? I try to be. I'm as philanthropic as a misanthrope can be.

36. If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be? I'm trying to imagine the circumstances in which I *had* to get a tattoo. Like, if the Democrats really went nuts and enacted some law that we all must have an American flag tattooed on us to prove our patriotism and act as a national ID card. I'd get mine on my ass--that way, any time I had to show papers to an official, I'd moon them. "License, insurance, and registration, ma'am." "Sure, officer!" Ziiiiip!

37. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be? Spanish. Maybe Italian. I'm a sucker for Italian, like Wanda.

38. Would you move for the person you loved?Absolutely.

39. Are you touchy feely?Yes. But only with certain people. If you're not one of those people, don't touch me. If you are one of those people, you'll know, since I'll likely touch you first.

40. What’s your life motto? I've never really thought of a motto for life. I just live it.

41. Name three things that you have on you at all times? A pen, my glasses, and those little mite-things that live on your eyebrows.

42. What’s your favorite town/city?Brewster, MA. No question.

43. What was the last thing you paid for with cash? A hot dog and a soda at Costco on Saturday.

44. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it? I can't remember. I write lots of letters, but never mail them.

45. Can you change the oil on a car? I used to be able to, but not anymore. I used to able to change a battery, too, until the car manufacturers started putting that bar across the battery to support the frame--I don't have a wrench that can fit those bolts. So now I have AAA.

46. Your first love: what is the last thing you heard about him/her?While not technically the *last* thing I heard about him, he cut off his mullet. That's noteworthy.

47. How far back do you know about your ancestry? I know back to my grandparents on each side, but that's it. I know that I am Scotch, Irish, Welsh, and Cherokee, which means you don't want to be around me if I go on a bender.

48. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and why did you dress fancy? I wore a sapphire blue dress, had my hair and makeup done at Regis salon, and got a french manicure. I have never been so fancy in my life, but it was my wedding day.

49. Does anything hurt on your body right now?My shoulder. I slept on it funny.

50. Have you been burned by love? Once or twice, but it doesn't matter now.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post Election Thoughts

I started to respond to a comment earlier in response to some Arizona election results, and I thought I might take it to a post. Skip or read, it's up to you.

I am extremely dismayed by the measures brought to Arizonans this year on immigration, and even more dismayed that they passed. The immigration "crisis" is not what it is cracked up to be. Before working for my current company, I worked for a check cashing place, cashing payroll and personal checks, doing payday loans, and sending Moneygrams (I think Moneygram got bought out by Western Union long ago, so that may date me). I cashed many checks for Mexicans in the Valley and I saw my share of green cards. I maybe saw one valid green card. Most of the others were fakes and easily noticeable as fakes, but I accepted them if I could verify residence and employment (as did my coworkers, and as did just about any other employer). My point is that the majority of immigrants living in Arizona are not working for low wages and taking cash under the table. They are trying to become citizens and become legal; they use these forged green cards to gain regular jobs at minimum wage or above, they pay taxes, they pay Social Security, just like I do. Many of my customers were laborers and I saw their advice stubs; I know they were paid fairly for their work and contributed to the government. I know many of them had fake Social Security numbers, but not for identity theft--again, it was to add the element of legality to their lives.

I'm not saying that there isn't a problem with illegal immigrants working for cash without legit status--I know it happens. But it doesn't happen as much as Republicans would make you think it does, and despite common belief, not every Hispanic person in Arizona is here illegally. I think from an economical standpoint, one reason for the backlash is the amount of money sent from Arizona to Mexico. Most of the paychecks I cashed were turned into wire transfers to families back home. Moneygram catered to this, offering $300 transfers for only $10 (domestic fee for $300 was $30). I would have customers come to me with 3-4 different transfer orders for $300, all going to the same place. If that money was going back into our state's economy, I doubt anyone would have a problem with that.

One proposition we had on the ballot was raising the minimum wage, which passed. Opponents of this proposition claimed this would increase the amount of illegal immigration because our jobs would pay more than those in Texas and California--a bit contradictory, if you ask me. If these same opponents argue that most immigrants are working off the grid, how can they be employed in these higher wage jobs? The argument can't go both ways.

One last word about immigration--it is very dangerous for Mexicans to cross the deserts to get here, but not until those yahoos went down and started acting above the law and intimidating any Latino they saw. People used to leave water stations in the desert for those crossing, but don't dare to now. Coyote smuggling is increasing because the risks are higher--not from the elements, but from Barney Fife wannabes with more bullets and less brains. We don't need a wall across the Sonoran Desert to protect us from the Mexicans, we need protection from the Minutemen. Maybe I sound soft, but I believe most Mexicans coming here want a better life for their families, better opportunities for their children, ways to escape the corruption in the Mexican government, and many have family ties here already. I wouldn't be here if my ancestors hadn't made the trip from the British Isles, and I know how Irishmen were treated at the turn of the century. Mexicans are the 21st century Irish, and that just isn't right. Give those who are here and gainfully employed amnesty, give those who are here are working under the table the means to establish legal status, and figure out a program to help those who want to come. Stop talking about building a wall and start talking about building a community.

From one disenfranchised group to another--what the hell is going on in this country that people are actively trying to take away rights from other people based solely on what they do in their bedrooms? Why is gay marriage such a threat to the American family? Despite the facetious comment I left on Suze's blog, it's not like we're being forced to be gay or marry a lesbian--we simply have a group of people who want to same basic rights afforded to them as are afforded to most. Here's a newsflash--less than half the families in America today are happily married couples with their natural children. There are gay parents, single parents, divorced parents, adopted kids, in vitro kids, blended families, cohabitating couples--the threat to the American family isn't gay marriage but a narrow-minded view on what makes a family. Families are created out of love, pure and simple, and biological equations are meaningless beyond that. Want to save the sanctity of marriage? Ban divorce. Make it harder to obtain a divorce or an annulment and maybe then people will stop looking at marriage as a means of vetting a relationship that isn't really going to last. Understand that marriage can be difficult, requires commitment, and can take some work from both parties and preserve your union with that understanding; stop attacking others because they sleep with partners of same sex. Love is love, commitment is commitment--let gay couples have the same rights as married couples because they deserve those rights and they, as American citizens, have the right to be treated fairly.

Lastly, the Democrats have secured the House and may even pick up the Senate once the counting in Virginia and Montana is done. Howard Dean, listen up--the people of this country have indicated to you and your party that they are tired of the War in Iraq, tired of government corruption, and tired of childish actions and partisan politics. Here's what your party, under your leadership, need to do from here:

  • Balance the budget. Give it to Bush to sign. If he doesn't, seize that opportunity to show you have tried and he refuses and use that momentum to pick up more seats in 2008.
  • Open investigations into the Iraq intelligence that led us into war. Keep the doors open on this one--show the American people that truth is important, regardless of how messy it may be.
  • Enact legislation to bring lobbying back into check and severely limit the favors a Congressman can receive from lobbyists. Bring the power back into the legislature and away from the corporations.
  • Begin urgently, intelligently, looking into alternatives to fossil fuel comsumption for energy. research the alternatives, draft proposals, and do something before it's too late.
  • Do not use this opportunity to punish Republicans for their lousy treatment of Democrats over the past six years. Don't close Republicans out of meetings, dump bills on them hours before vote, stick them in broom closets and janitor closets to conduct business as they did you. They will take those actions and use them to gain traction to supplant you again in 2008. Instead, drop the Valerie Plame leak--it's old news. Try to gain some support for your social programs. Ask for their help in drafting an exit strategy for Iraq. Keep them involved in discussion, make them feel like they are part of this government. Not all Republicans are as corrupt as the highest ranking in power; some of these people mean well and will need your guidance, not your vengeance.
  • Lastly, when the time comes that Democrats face a scandal (which will happen, you are all politicians in Washington, after all), don't hide behind talking points and insult our intelligence with Jedi mind tricks. Own up to it, take the necessary actions to purge those who are responsible, and move on the greater heights.

OK, I think I'm done. I feel better for having gotten that out.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I've Got to Get Out of This State

And find a place in the Poconos....

Early results are in, and I am astounded by the stupidity of most of my fellow citizens. Arizona had nearly a dozen propositions on the ballot for this election, and I'm dismayed by the early results I see:

Prop 100, which would deny bail to any illegal immigrant arrested for a felony--Currently passing with 77% favor. (Update: Passed, 78-22)
The problem with this proposition is that it's a blanket denial on one group, paving the way to deny bail legally to other groups. Today, the target is illegal immigrants. Tomorrow, the target could be sex offenders, drug dealers, pot smokers--anyone against the norm.

Prop 102, which would deny illegal immigrants the right to punitive damages from a lawsuit--Currently passing at 74% (Update: Passed 75-25)
Again, blanket disenfranchisement of a particular group, paving the way to enact similar legislation against any other group. And I could be wrong, but I don't think illegal immigrants have turned to torts as a money-making opportunity as the proponents of this proposition would have us believe.

Prop 103, which would declare English the official state language--74% in favor. (Update: Passed 75-25)
Thanks to this wonderful proposition, our state workers will no longer have to be bilingual, and government paperwork will only be in English. Currently, we keep paperwork available in over 200 languages to accommodate all people in AZ. Yeah, this won't cause any issues at all.

Prop 107, which would amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions (already illegal in AZ)--failing at 51%, which is way too close for my comfort. (Update: FAILED, 51-49. Narrow, but I'll take it as some small sign of sanity.)
The way this wonderful proposition is worded, not only would marriage be defined narrowly, but the State of Arizona would not be able to provide domestic partner benefits to state workers, their partners, or children of those unions (which the state does today). It's also poorly written, meaning that heterosexual couples who live together but are not married might not be able to get state health insurance for their children. Insane, and did I mention we already have a law on the books making same-sex marriage illegal? Redundancy at its finest (and most evil).

Prop 300, which limits education services to illegal immigrants AND their children--passing at 71% (Update: Passed, 72-28. This one proves most did not pay attention in civics class)
Children of illegal immigrants, who reside in AZ, would not be able to attend state universities on in-state tuition rates. This one is the worst in my opinion, since said child, if born in AZ, would be a US citizen but still denied in-state status. Let me repeat that--a CITIZEN of the UNITED STATES, born in this country and given citizenship under our country's CONSTITUTION would be denied in-state rates and possible educational opportunity based on the immigration status of his/her parents.

I'm most disappointed by the raging xenophobia and hatred that permeates these propositions. I'm sick that the people of Arizona bought the arguments of straw and voted in support. Trust me, I am very, very interested in real estate deals back East, especially New England. We're looking at Vermont, but maybe we should go to New Hampshire.

Live Free or Die, indeed.

EDIT: I updated this post on 11/8 with the percentages available from AZ's election results site. A few weeks ago, a astudy was released that ranked Arizona 50th in the US in terms of intelligence--that's right, I live in the dumbest state in the Union. After these election results, I believe it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Four Day Weekend!

I just shut down the laptop and packed it up--I'm not touching it again till Tuesday morning. I have a four day weekend for no real reason, and I like it that way. It's been a tough couple weeks, and it'll just continue through the rest of the year. This is my little break till Thanksgiving, and after that, it's bulling through till my end of year break.

In the meantime, I'm going to the doctor tomorrow for a much overdue checkup, probably getting blood drawn, and maybe going to lunch with Jay. I'm talking to Tom tonight about a honey-do list to get a few things done, and I plan to enjoy the weekend with CJ. He's going to daycare tomorrow, but I might keep him home with me for a Mommy Day on Monday depending on how things go.

That's about it. Maybe I'll have more after the weekend.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

When You Thought It Was Safe to Answer Your Door

Knowing how much Everett loves the Mormons, I had to post about the recent Watchtower tract wedged in my door while we were away. The title is, The End of False Religion is Near!, and it has to be the strongest piece of Jehovah's Witness literature I've ever seen. I'm tempted to scribe it word-for-word since I could not find a copy of it on, but I have determined it's part of a month long campaign for the Witnesses; you may receive a copy of it soon if you haven't already.

The reason I say it's the strongest piece of literature I've seen is because this tract comes close to outright stating that modern Christianity of any demonination is false religion, souring politics and paving the way for Armageddon. It asks questions to determine what is false religion and gives deliberately vague, thinly veiled examples that are easy to recognize without qualifying as libel. A few examples:

1. By teaching the concept of souls going to Heaven after death, churches are practicing false religion by going against Christ's statements that the dead will be resurrected.
2. Jesus Christ is referred to as "a widely respected religious figure".
3. Church groups that ordain homosexuals as clergy members or condone child molestation by religious leaders are practicing false religion.
4. The harlot spoken of in Revelation is false religion. The beast with seven heads and ten horns represents the world's political leaders who listen to the harlot and use false religion to justify their actions.
5. Eventually, the "rotten tree" of false religion will be struck down by the beast upon God's instruction.

The solution? Call a Kingdom Hall and ask the Witnesses to show you how to escape false religion through their instruction in the Scripture.

Some of you may know that I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. Mom met some in G-town when I was two, and she liked their message. I went with her to the Kingdom Hall in town and participated in the Bible studies at our apartment or at an elder's house. I read the materials, but had too many questions. By the time I was 8, I began to realize there were some problems when the elders couldn't answer the questions I had about calculating the rings on one of the Cedars of Lebanon, or about the Trinity, or the missing references to Jehovah in the Holy Scripture, or about the 144,000 people from the 12 tribes who would go to Heaven after Armageddon. Eventually, I went only to the Nisan 14 services under protest, and finally stopped going when I was 12.

I find it very interesting that the Witnesses are proclaiming themselves so strongly that they are the true religion--they always have, but not by blatently attacking Christianity as they do in this pamphlet. I learned during my time at G-town Baptist that the Southern Baptist Convention considers them a cult because they have a different translation of the Scripture and use supplemental books to teach about their faith. Irony? Maybe.

Another reason I found the tract interesting is it made me ponder my world view based on what I learned in childhood. Halloween has really stemmed this thought wave for me, and it's similar to what I went through last Christmas. See, Witnesses do not pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag or celebrate birthdays because they see it as putting a false idol or oneself above God. Witnesses don't celebrate common holidays, like Christmas, Halloween, or Easter, because the modern celebrations are based in pagan rituals. As a child, when my classes had holiday or birthday parties, I went to the principal's office and sat in the quiet tolerance of the secretary at his desk, drawing on copy paper. I didn't dress up for Halloween. I didn't meet Santa Claus. I didn't believe in the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. No chocolate bunnies, marshmallow Peeps, or stockings filled with fruit and candy canes for me. The closest day I had to Christmas was when Mom brought home the layaway box from Sears with our back to school clothes.

Last Christmas, we made a concerted effort to make sure CJ had a separate birthday and Christmas because of their proximity to each other. I dove into making a birthday cake and buying birthday toys whole-heartedly, but struggled with Christmas. As beautiful a sight as our trimmed tree with presents beneath was, I felt a faint pang of guilt, as if I were wrong in having it. I still haven't decided about Santa. I'm leaning toward teaching CJ that Santa is a personification of goodwill towards others, not a separate being, but I don't want calls from angry parents because my kid told their kid Santa ain't real. This Halloween, I was relieved that CJ's daycare has banned costumes as it means no one will have the experience I had of being the only kid who didn't dress up.

Don't even ask me where I stand on the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. I haven't gotten that far.

Because Witnesses do not believe in the concept of the Trinity, and this was drilled into my head at an early age, I don't believe in the concept that 1=3. To me, the Bible is mainly a collection of creation myths and attempts to explain fantastic phenomena beyond human comprehension at the time, and a way of defining a purpose because people need some sense of purpose. In my personal worldview, I confess I take things a step further and do not believe that Jesus Christ was the literal Son of God. I believe Christ was an exceptional man, very wise and compassionate for his time, who taught great concepts that should be followed. I don't know if Christ thought he really was the Son of God, but I believe that he was certain his death would cleanse the sins of mankind, as God said. Despite my doubts of Jesus' divinity, I accept my salvation without reservation--as I see it, God said it, Jesus believed it, and since we have no proof when it comes to religion, the intent is good enough for me. I'm not comfortable calling myself a Christian, though, because I don't follow the Old Testament, and really only follow what Jesus is recorded as saying in the Gospels themselves--love your neighbors, help the poor and sick, keep the government out of the churches and the churches out of the government, don't judge. Those are my basic morals, and I really don't care what food I should or shouldn't eat, who sleeps with whom, what days I should sit in a tent in my backyard, or whether or not I'm completely righteous and everyone else is going to Hell. I don't even believe in Hell!

As you can imagine, I've been thinking about these things a lot since Christopher was born. While I would rather not taint him with my unorthodox way of thinking, I know the questions will eventually come. While I would like for him to learn about God and the basic stories of my youth, I don't want his knowledge coming from propaganda or from politicized churches spouting judgement and hate in their proclamations of God's Word and Love. I want him to have an open mind about other religions and cultures, but not so open that he becomes lost and doesn't know what to believe--or becomes so open that he accepts any old doctrine that comes along without looking at things from a critical point of view.

This parenting stuff is hard. Forget about diapers, meals, and the constant supervision. That stuff is easy compared to these thoughts keeping me up at night while my baby soundly sleeps.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wild Blue Yonder

This weekend the Thunderbird Balloon and Air Classic was held at Goodyear Airport, which is about a mile, mile and a half from my house. I've been hearing the Blue Angels since Thursday when they first flew in to practice. Rather than pay the ticket prices to see entertainment we didn't really care about, Jay and Erik and Tom and I decided to make a day of it.

Tom cleaned up the backyard yesterday and cleaned the grill, I cleaned my kitchen, and Jay and Erik brought lots of cow! I made a batch of CheezIt burgers and another batch of parmesan burgers (Jay's idea), got the hot dogs together, and Tom slapped them all on the grill. As we finished a late lunch, we watched a four-prop military plane of some sort fly around and then come straight for the house! He passed right over us at an altitude of about 200ft--right about the time I realized my camera was still inside!

After eating, we went behind our backyard to the street and sat in the shade of our yardwall so we could get a better view of the close-to-the-ground manuevers. Erik and I discussed the merits of developing and building a one-way view wall, like the mirrors in interrogation rooms on TV. CJ contented himself to playing with gravel, dirt, and dried leaves while we waited for the Blue Angels to start. According to the schedule they were supposed to start at 3pm, but we didn't see them until 3:30--apparently they have some runway stuff they do first before taking flight.

CJ loved the planes at first, as they were flying farther away and the sound of the jets wasn't as loud. Eventually, they came close enough that I could read "U.S. NAVY" painted in orange under the wings. At that point, the jet noise began to scare CJ, and I took him back into the house shortly before the show ended.

When we came back to the house, CJ wanted to go into the backyard, and we did, until he discovered the loud noises traveled there, too. We went back inside and cuddled for the rest of the show until Tom, Jay, and Erik came back. Since it was such a nice day, we had shut off the AC and opened all the windows; my cats went into hiding. Zeke was found right away but we didn't find Shadow until an hour after the Blue Angels had finished. I had checked all his usual hiding spots, then Tom checked, then Jay joined the search. While she and I were looking, I checked my kitchen cabinets again and sat down--that's when I spotted him, curled behind a charcoal grey pan the same color as his fur! That's why we named him Shadow!

Later, we had the rest of the burgers and watched Mythbusters while waiting for the fireworks finale. I gave CJ a bath to clean him up from his play with gravel, dirt, and dried leaves, and the fireworks started at 8:10, 20 minutes earlier than the night before. I took CJ outside, but it was past his bedtime and he didn't like the pops, so Tom took him in to bed. The fireworks lasted almost 20 minutes, and CJ was sound asleep when we went in to check on him.

All in all, it was a fantastic day! There will be another Blue Angels show today and then the airshow ends. I'm hoping that large plane flies over our house again--I have my camera ready for it! I got lots of pictures of Blue Angels doing cool things, and although they'll likely look like little dots on the photos, I'll post them in a few weeks when I get the pictures back.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I Have a Full Network!

My friend Jay has an awesome husband!

Months ago, I was talking about getting a new computer to replace my desktop that's still running Windows ME (no longer supported by Microsoft). He works with computers and networking, and without my knowledge, he began building me a new PC out of spare parts he had lying around. Jay had to let me know the plan a few weeks ago, after my keyboard died from water spilled on it, and I was planning to buy one.

Anyway, they came over today and he set up the new PC and networked it to our laptop and printer, THEN he networked everything to the old desktop so we can move files off it and turn it into a file server. I have a full network in my house now, and I'm not sure what to do with it, but it's way cool! Before, only the internet connection was shared, and I had to save drafts with my email for file sharing. Not anymore. And he replaced my keyboard, too, which was very nice of him.

I bought them lunch at Quiznos, since it was the least I can do, and I now have new ways of wasting my time on the weekends as I get files burned, sorted, and organized. This rocks!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Giving Birth to Athena

Since I didn't answer the phone when Jenn called yesterday, I thought I'd head off the singing at the pass.

I'm sick. Tom and I were both sick with stomach bugs last weekend, then the flu hit this week. It hit Tom about midweek, and I came down with it badly yesterday, despite my best efforts at fighting it off with tea, Airborne, and some homeopathic medicine called Oscillo-something that's supposed to lessen the impact and shorten the duration of flu symptoms. It may have worked, and if it did, that's scary. I had one of the worst headaches ever yesterday taking over my entire sinus cavity. Dude. Horrible! I don't know about the 1-10 scale of pain, but this one fluctuated between "Holy Sh!t." to "F*&k me!" most of the day. Combine that with the fever hovering around 102 despite fever reducers, and I was laid low.

Today, the headache has dialed down but has me scared. The fever is under 100, but not much. I'm waiting for everything to kick in, but we'll see how today goes. Yet another exciting, relaxing weekend in our household. Thank goodness CJ seems unaffected, judging by the amount of energy he's currently exerting tossing a hat around the living room.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hooked on Crack

All week, Starbucks has been running a promotion in my workplace, providing free Doubleshots and Iced Coffee drinks (in the cans). I can't help but think of Suze and wonder if she would drink this stuff since it's free. I'm building up quite the collection. I figure they're coming in like drug dealers--get us all hooked this week and then next week, in our desperation for a fix, we'll began buying them at two bucks a pop. I could be a little paranoid, though. Getting hopped up on caffeine can do that.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Thinking About 30

I've been thinking about Jenn's post and her fear of turning 30 and I'm wondering if I just got lucky or if I'm a little strange for not having freaked out too badly about that hurdle myself. Granted, I'm 31 now, so I've had time to adjust to my fourth decade of life, but it occurs to me that despite my status as wife, mother, and valued talent at work, I haven't completely grown up.

What does it say about me that:
  • The only CDs I've bought for myself in the last few years have all been Weird Al albums?
  • My last DVD purchase was a double bill of Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain?
  • I love my son's game of running down the hall shouting "Eeeee!" so much that I join in, running after him and yelling the same.
  • I refuse to watch Titanic, fully convinced I'm the last person in America who hasn't seen it. Tom says I'm being stubborn, but honestly, I have no interest in seeing it.
  • I think Army of Darkness is a much better movie than Citizen Kane.
  • I still listen to music made before 1998 and prefer it to anything coming out on the radio today (except for Weird Al).
  • I'm shocked when I don't get carded for cigarettes or wine.
  • I giggle at every fart I hear and burp freely in front of my son (who tries to imitate).
  • I let my son play with his food, letting him discover what happens when chicken nuggets are dropped into a glass of water for himself. I can clean up the mess later.
  • I use CJ's crayons more often than he does. I have a whole shoe box filled with colored pencils and various types of markers for when I feel like being creative, and I can't wait till CJ is old enough for fingerpainting and modeling clay!
  • I'm way more into Blue's Clues than CJ is.
  • I still can't resist a good opportunity to retort, "Yeah, that's what she said!"
  • I can't wait for Trick and Treat this year!

Strange, deranged, or normal? Am I being dyslexic in matching my actual years to my mental state?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The One With the List

You know how on Friends, they had the one about the laminated list of your five "freebies"--the five people that if you ever met them, regardless of your current marital status, you'd get a pass?

Well, Keith Olbermann is on my list.

Wanna know why? Check this out and see.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Can You Smell What the Beck is Writing?

I am addicted to cooking. This isn't too bad considering that I enjoy cooking and do it daily. I don't enjoy cleaning up afterwards, but that's another blog.

When my sister and I were little, Mom and Dad would take us to Cynthiana every Saturday (which seemed like forever away from G-town) and leave us with our grandmother while they ran errands and went grocery shopping. As a child, I resently this highly--the idea of my parents having the audacity to do something that didn't directly involve me was highly insulting--but I completely understand it now. I'm waiting for Christopher to develop my old talent of pulling a grocery cart down the aisle by tugging on the edges of the shelves, taking out the occasional display of cereal boxes, pasta boxes, and even ketchup bottles!

At least ketchup comes in plastic bottles these days. When I was little, they came in one size glass bottles, and they could smash spectacularly on the tile floor of Ken's Super-Valu if the cart hit the display at just the right angle. Maybe I was only three, but I understood angles of incidence, reflection, and refraction. Too bad I don't understand those as well today.

Anyway, while Mom and Dad left us behind, enjoying themselves, maybe stopping at Angelo's for yummy strombolis before making the usual rounds to the stores, Jamie and I hung out at Granny's tiny apartment, visiting with her and the odd assortment of aunts, uncles, and cousins who would stop by to say hello.

Granny had an old gas stove. I used to think she was silly since she didn't know how to cook on an electric stove. Her kitchen was tiny and cramped, but Granny had worked hard through her life, cooking every day for her family and keeping house while they tended to the old farm, and she had exactly what she needed and nothing more. Her mixing bowls must have dated back to the Depression--her pots and cast-iron skillets were at least that old. She always had something on the stove: brown beans simmering in a pot with hamhocks and onions and a skillet of cornbread, still steaming, waiting on the counter; a pot of boiled potatoes, fresh snapped green beans, and jowl bacon sitting on a back burner waiting especially for me; biscuits, sausage, bacon, eggs, and gravy made from the sausage grease (eggs were scrambled in the bacon grease). In the refrigerator was always an old Tupperware cake dish of Jell-o with marachino cherries, pineapple, and some other canned fruit I could never make out, all suspended in the gelatin despite my best guesses as to how that was possible, or the same dish filled with banana pudding, slices of banana, and nilla wafers, assembled in layers and topped with Cool Whip.

That banana pudding was Heaven for me. I don't know why I don't make it myself, but I know I loved my Granny's banana pudding and dream of it to this day.

Anyway, my point (if I have one) is that Granny always had food at the ready, and within minutes of walking in the door to her apartment, every family member was asked, "You hungry? I got a little sumthin' 'roun' here summare, iffn you're peckish." Of course, this standing question was always answered with, "I had dinner a little earlier, but I could eat."

Remember, on Dad's side of the family, they had breakfast, dinner, and supper. Not lunch. And brunches were unimaginable.

Granny would disappear into her kitchen, pulling out plates and bowls and forks and spoons and dish up whatever old time feast she had waiting, making sure everyone ate and had seconds and even thirds if they wanted it.

I would sop up the brown beans with my cornbread, drinking any leftover simmering liquid like soup. I would beg for those fork tender potatoes and green beans soaked with pork flavor, eating bowl after bowl after bowl until my mom would physically stop me from getting more. I would pick out the fruit from the Jell-o after puzzling over it, giving it to Dad to eat since he couldn't eat the sugary gelatin, slurping the Jell-o between my teeth and making disgusting sounds while Granny shook her head and Dad shushed me. And the pudding--oh! That pudding! I would eat the pudding in tiny little bites, as small as I could get on my spoon, eating each crumble of nilla wafer and slice of banana separately, making it last.

All these meals were eaten at her kitchen table, made of tin, pressboard, and yellow formica, while sitting on a padded vinyl chair under her kitschy 1950s pointy clock (the kind with star points all around that was ugly in 1980 but would be worth some serious money on Antiques Roadshow today). I would watch her as she pulled roasts from the oven, tended to her simmering pots, and sometimes wash her dresses and aprons with her roller washing machine, pulled up to her kitchen sink, with her washtub and washboard nearby for serious scrubbing.

My dad had learned how to cook from his mother; after his time in the Army from 1946-53, he spent a few years as a bachelor before meeting his first wife, getting married, and moving to the pig farm in Ohio in '58. He made brown beans like Granny did, used her old cast-iron skillet for his cornbread, and on Sunday mornings, my family awoke to smell and sound of Dad cooking what later was known as the "Sadieville breakfast"--sausage, bacon cooked crispy AND chewy to accommodate my sister's and my different tastes, soft biscuits, eggs over easy, and that white gravy with lots of sausage grease and lots of black pepper. We'd come into the kitchen, still rubbing our eyes, while Dad would chuckle and pass me the butter for my biscuit before I even asked.

Some Sunday afternoons, Dad treated us to his special salmon patties--canned salmon, carefully deboned, mixed with cornmeal and crushed saltines, then panfryed in the cast-iron skillet in some Crisco. Every time, Dad would warn me not to eat too many since they were very rich, and every time, I ate salmon patties until I began to feel queasy and realized I'd eaten too much--but they tasted so good!

That's not to say my mother didn't cook. She did most of household cooking while my sister and I grew up--once she started working and I hit middle school, we all took turns cooking dinner after getting home from school. For a brief time after Dad had his heart attack when I was 11 and before he returned to work a year later, he had dinner ready every night when we got home. After he started working at Ashford, Jamie and I became proficient at making Mom's simple recipes, picked up from her mother and based heavily on convenience foods from the 1950s. Lots of Hamburger Helper, canned sauce and veggies, and rather salty and bland. I don't mean to slag my mother--obviously she learned from her mother and did her best, but her experience growing up in Pennsylvania in a relatively middle class home was much different than my dad's experience growing up in Falmouth after the Depression.

I kick myself now that I didn't pay more attention to my father's and grandmother's cooking. Obviously I paid attention to the flavors and aromas, but I didn't pay attention to the assembly. Many of the dishes I loved as a child I will never have again--Granny passed away long ago, and Dad isn't in shape for cooking a Sadieville breakfast any Sunday soon. Hell, he doesn't even live in Sadieville anymore! I did attempt brown beans a few months ago, using a combination of what I remembered, what I learned from Alton, and chunks of a ham I had baked the week before, but it wasn't the same. I don't know how to season a cast-iron skillet to add the flavor of 60 years of use beyond buying a skillet and using it for 60 years. I feel bad using too many convenience foods like fish sticks and chicken nuggets on the nights we don't get home until after 6pm, but it's impossible for me for make the simple, fresh foods I had as a child in the time alloted in my life today. My real opportunities to cut loose and play in the kitchen are on weekends--and that's if I feel like cooking after I get all the pots and pans washed from earlier in the week.

Despite this, I am very much like my grandmother in that I must feed anyone who walks through my door. It doesn't matter if I have dinner already made, don't have anything defrosted, or wasn't even expecting company. If you show up at my house, I will try to feed you. I may even be insulted if you refuse. My friend, Candi, used to joke that the only time she had a homecooked meal was when she came to visit (which she used do once a week). Now that she's moved to Ohio, she's told me what she misses most is my cooking. What she doesn't know is I miss feeding her more.

So, it's another rare weekend post. My baby is napping, my husband is working his one Saturday a quarter, and I have a kitchen to clean. After I get everything squared away, I think I might use those overripe bananas to make some banana bread, bake some cookies, and get some beans soaking for simmering tomorrow.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Go And Buy the CD

Like you know you that you should, but don't download this song.

And don't download any of these songs either unless you're pitiful.

Seriously. New album. Go get it--I will as soon as I'm done playing Halo 2.

My Blog Was Down, But It's Back Up

Doo-dah, doo-dah.

I actually had something I wanted to say this morning during the outage, but I forget it now.

I am craving some free time--seriously craving it, but I have no idea what I would do with it. My report isn't getting published today; something came up that needs to be captured in the requirements and we need another week to get those settled and complete the final review before publication. I still have three more reports I need to start, and a person in Bangalore I'm trying to mentor long distance even though I can't quite figure her out. I know she's very capable although she's fresh out of school, but I'm not being direct enough in my requests, I think. Time to bring it down a level and specify to the letter what I need. Not that I've been letting her dangle and guess what I want--I thought I was very explicit, but apparently not enough. I think it's also a cultural thing that, especially because she's new, she won't tell me when she has an issue or problem with someone not responding to her. So I have to intuit what she needs and specifically ask if she's getting that one thing, THEN she'll tell me what the problem is.

I'm fighting the urge to do the tasks myself for a few reasons--first, she needs the experience, and we're hoping that she'll become very valuable to us in the long term if we can work through the short term tasks. Second, I don't have time to these things myself--if I did, I wouldn't have gone to my boss to ask for another person. Third, I think I might just be management material someday, and this will become my daily life if I go that route. So I need to practice now and learn the challenges and when I do decide to go into management, I won't need to learn those challenges when my goals are on the line. My boss is urging me to take a lead position, but I'm declining for right now. First, if I'm going to coach people on how to be a business systems analyst, I need to get this stuff down for myself. Second, there isn't an open lead position on my boss's team, and I like where I am now. Give me a year (or till the end of this project) and I'll be ready. Till then, I'm not interested.

Yesterday, I had a full house while working from home. CJ had some, tummy troubles, shall we say. I think he had too much juice the night before. Tom got CJ to daycare basically just in time to clean CJ up and bring him back home. Tom kept an eye on CJ while I worked, and after his nap, CJ decided he wanted to play in his room by himself. This is a way cool development! He's figured out how to turn on his stereo to play his CDs (basically hitting the play button), and he sorts his toys among his baskets. He knows which is the trash basket, which is the laundry hamper, and which are his toy baskets. He likes to close the door, so we pop our heads in every once in while to make sure he isn't trying to climb up the dresser, but otherwise, he's just fine.

Such a funny little boy--he's obsessed with keeping things tidy. If I'm changing his diaper, he has to put it in the diaper pail immediately. If he's eating and gets ketchup on his hands, he must have a napkin to wipe himself, and that napkin MUST then go into the trash. While I'm cooking, he plays in the kitchen and must help Mommy by handing me wooden spoons he pulls out of the dishwasher and throwing away any boxes or bags. I've had to fish my oven mitts and kitchen towels out of the trash cans thanks to his peculiar sense of order. He must have separate cups for juice, milk, and water, and a plate for his morning banana. And at bedtime, he MUST have his stacking cups, his monkey, his blanket, his two stuffed octopi, four small board books, three big board books, his soft basketball shaped rattle, and one of his pirates from his pirate ship (though he sometimes prefers the parrot). There's barely enough room for him! But all these things have to be in his crib, or he literally won't fall asleep until he has them all.

I am amazed at the things he is learning, and fascinated by his burgeoning sense of logic. A few examples:
  • In the bathtub last night, he kept standing up and dancing. I told him twice to sit down, and the third time, I said it more forcefully. He sat, and I said, "Thank you!" He grinned, then stood up again. I told him to sit down, and he did, and when I said, "Thank you!" he smiled wider and stood up again. That's when I figured out he likes the praise, and this is his way of getting it.
  • Yesterday, we caught him right after he marked the wall with a crayon. We told him not to do that, and I got a cleaning wipe to clean the mark. He watched me, then he started swiping all the walls he could reach with his hand, helping me clean them. I told him he was a good boy, helping Mommy cleaning the crayon marks--that's when he looked at me and grinned and marked the wall while I was watching him, then he swiped his hand over it and gave me an expectant smile.
  • Two nights ago, we got home late from work and I started on dinner as soon as we walked in the door. CJ comes to me with a big blue tumbler and pointed at the refrigerator door (where the ice and water dispensers are). I filled the tumbler with a bit of water, but he shook his head no and backed away--he didn't want it. Then he brought he a red sippy cup with juice leftover from that morning. I emptied the cup and washed it out, but when I opened the fridge, I thought he was pointing to the milk. I gave him the sippy cup of milk, but he shook his head no and backed away. Puzzled, I thought maybe he wanted the milk in a regular cup, so I got a small one and poured some milk in it--he wouldn't take it. Finally, I put together what he was trying to tell me with the original tumbler and sippy cup--I put some juice in a small juice cup, and he was happy as a clam, taking a deep drink before toddling off.

I should mention that once I got it figured out, I thought it was rather clever. His clues were good--not his fault Mommy was stupid. And of course, when dinner was ready, he had to have his plate, a fork, a spoon, all three cups with milk, water, and juice, his half eaten graham cracker, and a napkin before he would sit down to eat. He neatly lined up his cups, too, just so, before digging in to his meal. He let us know a few weeks ago he was done with his highchair--he climbed into one of the dining chairs and patted the table, telling me to put his plate there.

He's not even two! Those with more experience--am I raising a veritable genius, or is this a case of Mommy being easily amazed by normal development?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Wrong Number

Let me preface this by saying that since I don't speak Spanish, it's a safe bet that anyone calling me who speaks Spanish doesn't mean to call me.

I don't know why I answered the phone--I didn't recognize the number on the caller ID.



"Who is this?"





Two Posts in One Weekend?

It's almost too good to be true!

Still heavily into the nesting we've been doing this year. This morning, I took CJ to Target and got some odds and end--real cat food bowls for my kitties, diapers, new shoes, new trash can, and new office chair.

I'm not the type to revamp the way the house looks on complete whims every year. I tend to keep things until they complete break down. My husband just lugged a couple Queen Anne chairs into the garage a few weeks ago--we bought them from a consignment shop about 9 years ago, and although they are shredded from the cats, I've been vacillating on whether to toss them or pay the money to upholster them. A full reupholstry job might cost as much as simply buying a new chair, but I really like the style--they're open arm with lovely carved wood and simply clawed feet. I'm still not sure what to do with them, or even where to put them once I get them done, but I'm reluctant to get rid of them in case I need them.

The previous cat food and water bowls were the plastic ones that came with the carriers we used to move them into the house over 4 years ago. They were never supposed to be permanent, but they worked--I recently decided I needed real, nonskid bowls after I kicked one of the water bowls three feet across the floor for the hundredth time as I went to the pantry. The trash can serves two purposes--one, it has a lid which may help CJ stay out of the trash (although he loves to throw things away). Second, our garbage program is changing to one day a week with recycling very soon, and I'll need a second can for recyclables.

The office chair is the replace the one I currently have that kills my back. The new one, which I put together earlier and am sitting in now, has lumbar support and adjustable height. I have the laptop on a little table in the living room and am currently typing while Tom and CJ sit on the couch snacking and watching football.

I'm trying not to think of the work I have to do when I go in tomorrow. It will be a very busy month, but hopefully I'll have some time to post during football games since the new season just began.

Still left to do in the house--I have my heart set on this sectional sofa I saw with a recliner and a chaise built in. It's at a very good price, too. Still need to order CJ's big boy furniture, although I now know exactly which set I want to get. I need to move my desk from the den into the living room, get a new computer to replace my aging beast running Windows ME with its 800MHz processor and staggering 128MB of memory, and get some sort of wireless hub that will let me plug in my work laptop at my new living room work area and work there. Then the couch, chair, and ottoman go into the den for a nice, comfy, hanging out type room, and a few bookcases to go here and there. One nice thing about Arizona construction--the tend to resolve around the "Great Room" concept (living room, dining area, entry area, and kitchen in one open space). The challenge is figuring out how to effectively use the space since traditional rules don't apply.

Alright, enough about my boring plans to accumulate some consumer debt--CJ can count to three! I was playing with this puppet--it's basically a glove with a monkey head at each finger tip--and I was counting off the monkeys. Anyway, I said, "One...," and CJ said, "Doo."

I was shocked, but told him that's right, Two! So I said, "Two...," and CJ said, "Bee."

I was really surprised! He did it consistently, though, adding four ("doh") only twice. "One, doo, bee, doh." Mostly he just goes to three--but still, I bet not many 20 month olds can do that!

He's also decided that he will no longer use his highchair--he climbs up into one of the dining chairs and sits rather nicely in it. We have to tell him to sit down occasionally, but he behaves. He still tells us when it's bedtime, and potty training is going well--he tells us he wants to use the potty, but I don't think he has the ability yet to make himself go. We let him sit on the potty till he wants to get down, then we put his diaper back on. Usually he goes a little while later, then he comes to tell us he needs a diaper change.

We've also begun the battle for "nakedtime". He's figured out how to take off his shirt and shorts, and shows a clear preference for bare skin on the weekends. He takes off whatever clothes we put him in, and sometimes takes the diaper off too (a little easier since we're using pullups now). It's taken as much as ten minutes to chase him around to get a new diaper on him. I didn't know it started this early, but I know it will last for a while. I'm waiting for the call from daycare to come and pick up my streaking son.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I Want to be ElastiGirl!

Tom's watching The Incredibles, and ElastiGirl just went somersaulting over buildings, and that looked really cool! I wanna do that!

I have recovered from my temporary hypothetical finger paralysis and found a bit of time, so I thought I'd post on what's been going on for the past couple weeks.

Sorry, got wrapped up in the movie.

We had intended to settle down to a nice long weekend over the Labor Day holiday. Didn't quite happene. Friday night the air conditioner broke down. It was blowing, but it wasn't cooling anything down. We made it through the night despite the rising temperature, then I called the A/C company our neighborhood is contracted with early Saturday morning. They weren't able to send a tech until after noon, so we went out to breakfast and then bummed around Linens and Things until it was time to meet the tech at our house.

It was actually very nice to get out, but the lack of sleep from our hot night slowed us down for the rest of the weekend. Sunday, we were supposed to go out for cow in celebration of Jay's new job (she starts in my department on 9/18), but CJ was just being a big handful and we were so worn out by 5pm I had to call and cancel.

The good news is the A/C repair was a relatively quick and cheap one--just a blown capacitor.

I wish I had something more exciting to report. Still working on getting my work published next week, still ensconced in conference rooms for marathon analysis sessions, and still trying to balance time needed at work with time needed at home. But my project team still likes each other despite 7 hours together a day and my boss is very appreciative of my efforts. In fact, thanks to an approach I suggested, we've already saved almost $200K and might save close to a million by the time we're done. That's gonna look good on my review this year.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Guess Who's Teething?

And it's not my little boy!

I went to the dentist this morning--when I was on vacation, my perfect mug of clam chowder contained a bit of sand and I chomped it. Chomped it good. I was afraid I might have cracked a back molar, but I didn't feel any pain, so I filed it away as one of things to take care of when I got home.

A few nights since getting back, I've woken myself up by biting something hard, but not finding anything in my mouth. I thought it might be parts of a tooth. This week, I realized I had a dull ache on the left side of my face (same side I thought I'd cracked), and when it started getting worse yesterday I called my dentist.

OK, so I went to the dentist this morning prepared for the worst. I was thinking cracked tooth, exposed root, and root canal time! I brought two books and my mini-disc player just in case (no, I haven't gotten an iPod--I love my outdated years ago Christmas present of a mini-disc player even though it's today's equivalent to Betamax). During the x-rays, we found a surprise--a wisdom tooth!

Three years ago, I had full mouth x-rays that showed I had no wisdom teeth. I also found out I still have two baby teeth (and if I lose those, the Tooth Fairy better pay me handsomely for 30 years of care without cavities!). Anyway, the wisdom teeth must have been too far up to see, since today, I could clearly see one against my molar, coming up and in at an angle and pressing against the root of the molar as it makes its way above the surface of the gum. Turns out the pain I'm feeling is the attempted eruption.

Curious, we took some more x-rays, and found two more wisdom teeth in similar positions, about to erupt. The soreness in my right bottom gum, which I thought was from chewing too much on that side, is the from the gum trying to open to let the tooth through.

31 years old, and I'm teething! I'm way too old for this!

The good news is that my molar is just fine, no crack, no worries. And since I had my cleaning done, my dentist was able to identify a minor gum infection along my front crown work from three years ago. I say minor, but I have referrals to an endodontrist and periodontist to check all that out to make sure if doesn't get worse and I don't lose the crowns. And also, I'm going to get fitted occlusion guards to wear at night--that way, if I grind my teeth, I won't cause any more wear than I've already done. I had a root canal seven years ago after breaking a molar from grinding in my sleep--I don't want to go through that again.

And an unrelated note, I got my car back this week. The warranty company approved all the repair and I picked my car up this Wednesday morning. I can feel the difference in the steering and I kick myself for not noticing it before. But, now it's fixed and I should have another good year of driving, barring any unforeseen problems. I think if something else goes wrong, it may be time for a trade in.

On another note, because I'm proud of the work we did--this Tuesday I participated in a delivery project to give students at an impoverished school all the supplies they need for the year. My company does this every year, and this was the first time I got to see the students' reactions. Oh, my, what fun! So many smiles and thank yous, and the efforts from my company were outstanding! Thanks to our school supply drive, we provided enough supplies for 5000 students! We were able to cover two schools here in the Valley, and the rest went to the Governor's back to school program to be distributed throughout the state to similar poor schools.

Last year, we helped over 2000 students, including children who came to Phoenix after Hurricane Katrina, setting a record. This year, we broke that record. I can't wait to see what we're able to do next year!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Misquoting Paul?

CNN reported that a woman has been dismissed from teaching Sunday school--after 54 years--because her church adopted a literal interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15:

Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman
to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam
was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but Eve was deceived and
became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing,
provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

I recently read Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman, and this story jumped out at me since this interpretation is directly dealt with in Ehrman's text. It is his assertion, based on a examination of the style difference of this passage and the contradiction it presents to Paul's claim that there are no male or female in Christ, that Paul did NOT write this passage. There is evidence that Paul was joined in his ministry by women, and would not have felt that women could not teach within the church. I find it really odd that this church is choosing THIS passage, since it's dissected pretty thoroughly in a book available to laypeople, not just Biblical scholars.

Apparently, women of the first centuries after Christ's death found His message quie popular--it offered a different role than that seen in the community and promoted a sense of community within the church that brought more responsibility and encouraged leadership roles in the church. The opinion is that monks, looking to preserve the subservient roles of women in some cultures, inserted this text as social comment. This revision would have happened long ago, before the concept of a canon or official copies. There are other comments discussed in the book that may have been inserted into Paul's letters to serve a similar purpose.

And now you see one of the reasons why I have not gone to a church in over a decade (this past May excluded). When it comes to the organization of religion, the organization is performed by man, and when man is involved, imperfection is the only certain factor. Some differences may be subtle (like the old joke about Methodists taking showers while Baptists prefer baths) and have little bearing over proclaimations of a true faith or honest practice of what is believed to be right. Other differences, like this situation, are more profound and have a distinct, powerful effect on the congregation that follows those differences.

Is this woman any more or any less Godly than the reverend making the decision? I don't think so, since she's likely been teaching since before the reverend was born. But because he is in the position of power, he decides the church doctrine. The result is a congregation following not the Word of God, but the word of a man. To me, that seems awfully misguided.

I'm not anti-Christian or an athiest. Agnostic, maybe. Lazy? Certainly. But I have an inner sense that tells me what is right and good and what I should and shouldn't do. That inner sense tells me that this decision is not right, and not something I would want to follow.

While My Used Car Gently Weeps

I took my car in on Friday for scheduled maintenance. I asked for the 15K service since I'm about to hit 75,000 miles, check of the brake pads since I thought they'd need replacing, and a check of my tires to confirm the tread since I'm completely paranoid after my blowout in Tom's car. I left the car, caught the shuttle home, and waited for a phone call with the price (which I had already ballparked in my head).

Friday afternoon, I get a call from the service manager--I do need new brake pads and a flush of the brake fluid, and my tires are only in need of alignment. Sounds fine until the manager says, "But we found a few other things upon closer inspection." I brace myself and ask what the problems are.

Leaking rach and pinion steering. Leaking power steering hose. Collapsed front engine mount and collapsed transmission mount.


I pick my jaw up off the floor, and remember to ask if my warranty will cover the work. I bought the car used 3 years ago, certified pre-owned, and bought the 4year/48K mile warranty after a disastrous repair relationship with my previous car.

I'm only 5000 miles from warranty expiration. I drive a lot--my daily commute is 80 miles.

The service manager called me later Friday afternoon--because of the overall cost of the repairs, they want to send an insurance adjustor out to inspect the car before giving the approval, and the adjustor won't be out until Monday.

Luckily, I got a call this afternoon--the warranty company will pay for all repair (as they should! I have the maintenance records!) but I won't get my car back till tomorrow. Maybe.

So today I worked from home, and tomorrow, I'm carpooling with a coworker to our volunteer activity--distributing school supplies to children at an impovrished elementary school. Tomorrow afternoon, I hope to have the car back.

I told my boss today that between the toll on my car from the commute and the prospect of oil at $100 a barrel, he may want to buy a webcam if he wants to see me. If oil gets that high, I won't be able to afford to drive to work.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Call Off the Search Parties

Boy, a gal gets busy with work and the next thing you know, the hounds are baying! No, I didn't hurt myself getting down from my soapbox. I just have a huge project report due on 9/1 and have been in meeting after meeting nailing down the information I need to get the report done. Then I can breathe for a couple weeks, and it starts all over with the next phase of the project. Typical stuff for me, and I won't bore you with details.

I did talk to a certain someone on the phone briefly today, though, and I'll recap--I'm fine.

Tom and I have been working on nesting. Odd, I know, since I'm not pregnant and have no plans to become so. We've just decided that our house isn't like a home, and we're trying to turn that around. I can see the floor of our den for the first time since we moved in. Also, Jay's sister went to college, and I used the opportunity to unload some clothes, a futon, two endtables, a folding bookcase, and a TV/Stereo stand that were taking up space in the house. I supposed I could have asked for cash in exchange, but since she and her brother drove out to my house in the burbs to load everything into their truck on a hot July day, just getting rid of it was payment enough.

The past few weekends have been spent brainstorming what the house should look like--getting organized, mainly, since I'm a packrat with little use for structure but under a great need to straighten things out. Work is stressful enough--my house doesn't need to stress me more, and things like filing bills and updating the car registration are not things that should slip. We have a full list of what we'd like to get, ideas on designing our den and CJ's room (CJ is ready for big boy furniture now), and some projects already underway. I've got one project done already! Took me a few weekends, but I cleaned out my kitchen and made it workable--I created one space for baking/prep work, another space for cooking and serving, and a smaller space for dirty dishes and washing them (instead of having pots and pans spread across my whole counter). I got smal but servicable cart for additional counter space when needed, and put up a dry-erase calendar and board and a cute bulletin board for noting groceries, to-do items, important dates, etc. I even hung up a few chrome baskets for pizza coupons, other papers, CJ's artwork from daycare, and whatever else I need handy. So far it's working very well, and it's made dinnertime much easier. Now, I have to clean out and reorganize my fridge and freezer--the freezer is bursting at the seams!

So we are deeply into the nesting. The idea is to spend a good deal of time making storage space, setting up systems, making things nice and comfortable, and then on weekends it shouldn't take too long to tidy up. Then we can relax and maybe even do stuff as a family! This is a good time for it, too, since it's too darned hot to go outside. Poor CJ, he wants to play outside almost every day, but he can't--not when it's still 100 degrees in the backyard and the patio blocks are hot enough to steam veggies.

Speaking of CJ, he started a new routine that has us completely baffled, but rather happy. Instead of kicking and screaming at bedtime each night, he now TELLS us, "Nigh-nigh!" and wanders off to his room. We make sure he has his blanket and his monkey and a book and a small toy, and put him in his crib. Then he'll tell us, "Bye!" and that's our cue to turn out the light and shut the door. He'll play for a bit, then falls asleep on his own. Unbelievable! I think part of it must be something he picked up at daycare. Another part could be that we got the futon and a couple odds and ends out of his room, so he can actually play in there. The biggest part, I think, is the feedback loop--we're finally getting to a point where he understands a good deal of what we say, and he's forming words to get across what he means. He knows "Nigh-Nigh" means bedtime--probably from us saying Goodnight or Night-night when we put him to bed. He's also learned how to get across that he wants more milk and how to let me know he's asking for something--"Mom? Moe?" while holding his cup out.

He can also quack like a duck and meow.

CJ started another new room at daycare this week, just zipping through the lower levels. He's now with several pre-2yos who are very active and working on potty training. The room is bigger than his previous rooms, with a climbing slide set inside and a larger toddler playset outside. There's also a huge pillow on the floor, perfect for running and making a good dive! He was a bit hesitant about the new room Monday morning--he held onto my shirt while I crouched next to him. One little girl who's been in every room with him since infancy came over to say hi, play with my work badge, and pat my hair. Then another little blonde girl I didn't know came over and handed CJ a giant stuffed fish. At that point, CJ didn't need me anymore. He had two cute blondes and big fish; what more could any little boy need?

I think that's about it for now. I'm sure as soon as I post I'll think of something highly amusing and kick myself and then promptly forget whatever it was, but oh, well. At least I've bought myself a small respite from the baying.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Got Some Things to Talk About Here Beside the Rising Tide

  1. Ned Lamont trounces Joe Lieberman fairly strongly in the Connecticut primary, sending a clear message from the "rabid venom-spewing lambs" in the blogosphere that change is afoot regarding the war in Iraq.
  2. Lieberman mulls over the idea of running as an Independent, and Harry Reid announces he would seek to strip Lieberman of his committee appointments if that happens.
  3. Yesterday, British and US agents uncover a terrorist plot and declare a red status for Homeland Security--a status that Press Security Tony Snow said the president had approved the day before.
  4. Lieberman announces his intention to run as an Independent to little fanfare as the current White House Administration rally behind the idea of attacking Iran and renewing the vigor behind the war on terror.

As the Church Lady might say, "How conVENient!"

I've no doubt that there are people out there hell-bent on destroying the United States, and the current Bush agenda gives ample kindling to that fire. But why wait till these people are on planes to swoop in and arrest them? Why not make the arrests once the plot was uncovered rather than risk lives by waiting so long? Why start making your case to invade another country when an exit strategy (hell, a measurement of success) hasn't been drafted for the war you're currently in?

Why? Because it's an election year, my friends, and this year the House seats and a third of the Senate seats are up for grabs. The Connecticut primary is just the start--the litmus test of how the warmongers will fare this year, and they failed. They failed big time. If a 3-time incumbent loses the race in his home state and faces an unlikely prospect of winning a 4th term AND that incumbent was once the Vice-Presidential nominee for the DEMOCRATIC party, what chance will the Republicans have?

Very little. And the Republicans know it. And they're scared. So they're pulling out all the stops:

  • Iran is now the "single threat" to democracy in the Middle East and to the United States. Let's forget that we were dealing with Iran in the 1980s to undermine Saddam Hussein and sowing seeds to invade them in the 1990s. Or that a member of the Office of Special Plans under Douglas Feith was indicted for sharing state secrets with Iranian officials to drive the country into war with Iraq. Suddenly, Iran is a threat.
  • Lebanon and Israel have erupted again into war over control, hostages, and military prisoners, while Israel continues to deal militarily with Hamas over questions of legitimacy and land borders in Gaza. The U.S. vetoed a resolution from the United Nations condemning the Gaza actions, and states that Israel has a right to defend itself against the Palestinians—despite the fact that the current Gaza conflict began when Israel seized two Palestinians.
  • It is interesting to note that Hezbollah is supported by Iran and Syria—the two countries Bush has been focusing on this year to broaden democracy in the Middle East.
  • Oh, did you know we’re supporting Israel with jet fuel and bombs in our quest to solidify peace? Yeah, I thought you might not. Those New York Times reports in July slipped through the cracks in our mainstream media.

Given what we know now about the PNAC’s desire for upheaval in the Middle East dating back to 2000 and their need for a catastrophe EXACTLY like 9/11 to rally support, and what we know about the manipulation of intelligence by our own officers to support an attack on Iraq, is it any wonder that I have to question the timing of our current terror alert with the general election coming up in November? The Republicans have already dusted off the ultra-conservative aces in the hole--flag burning, estate tax, and gay marriage—yet Bush’s approval rating continues to sink, Republican support continues to fracture, and Lieberman lost his bid for reelection in the Connecticut primary. The death knell for partisan, war-supporting, deficit-spending, big money politics has sounded, and the people of this country are awakening to the corrupt stink of what’s been left behind.

So don’t forget to put your deodorant in your checked baggage, don’t forget to whisper a quick prayer to God or whomever to protect you and your family and your country, and don’t forget about the troops in Iraq who would love to take a break from the oppressive heat and see their families again as soon as someone can figure out how to make it happen.

Most importantly, this November (or earlier for the primaries), don’t forget to VOTE!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

If I were a bell, I'd be ringing.

OK, I think I can finally take a break and begin writing about the vacation. The longer I wait, the more I forget, and that just can’t happen.

We stayed in Brewster, which is near the elbow of the Cape on the bay side. The house (owned by my brother-in-law and occupied by my mother-in-law) is intended as a getaway for the whole family and a place where we can all get together on occasion. Unfortunately, some of the family couldn’t join us, but we did have a nice weekend with my BIL, his wife, and their two kids. The house has deeded rights to a private beach a quarter mile away where it’s nice and flat and one can walk out quite a ways at low tide. At high tide, the water depth is only about 10 feet and nice and clear. The flats are also a clam bed, which means low tide stinks to high heaven. There are markets and restaurants and little shops within walking distance, so we did a lot of walking. People on Cape Cod are almost disgustingly healthy with all the walking and biking.

The Friday before my birthday, Tom and his brother surprised me very well. They had gone golfing and planned dinner. Mom got swordfish, per BIL, and Tom stopped for a Boston Cream Pie. My BIL had brought up a bottle of sparkling Riesling from an old office celebration that he had been saving for a special occasion. After dinner, they surprised me by bringing out the pie with candles and popping the cork!

My BIL told me he had asked Tom how old I was turning, since he thought I was in my 30s somewhere. Tom immediately answered, “29,” so my BIL knew I was turning at least 30. I got a good man, though—at least he tried!

The next day, we went to the ocean beach where Tom tried boogie boarding and CJ and I played in the sand. The water was cold and rough, so we didn’t go in. That night, Mom babysat CJ while Tom and I went out to dinner, alone, for the first time in over a year.

That’s right. Over a year. We have to find a babysitter.

I had clam chowder and split my Oscar Sirloin (sirloin with crab and béarnaise sauce) with Tom to sample his Salmon Steak with Hollandaise sauce. We had a bottle of Pinot Grigio with dinner and coffee after, and took a nice long walk through some back roads to get home.

On Monday (my birthday), Tom and I went to this harbor café that was cute and scenic, but the food sucked. My fish and chips were an oil slick, the fries weren’t fresh cut, and Tom’s fried oysters were too big and still cold in the middle. Plus the cole slaw was bland. At least we can say we went. That night, we walked to the Woodshed, this old bar a mile down the road where we listened to a band called the Slackers (three middle-aged white men with cool covers) and drank Sam Adams Summer Ale. I had four. The band played Land Down Under and one of the guys played flute and it rocked! We left during the second set while they were playing and I stumbled down the rock singing Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard, openly wondering just what it was that Mamma saw. Tom just kept replying, “Whatever it was, it was against the law!” and we giggled like kids, shushing ourselves as we got to the house. Mom had locked us out, accidentally, but woke from the living room sofa to let us in while Tom and I did the universal pee dance on the porch—after all, we did drink four beers apiece.

My MIL did a lot of babysitting—she insisted on it, since she doesn’t have much opportunity. CJ loved playing in the kitchen with her old-school copper measuring cups, old Tupperware, and wooden spoons, making up his own one-man band. Tom and I plinked around on the piano, and I picked out Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star while CJ joined me to sing it (oh wa oh wa oh wa oh, ah wa wa, ah wa wa). The kid picked up the notes and key immediately—this kid will be gifted at music, I say it now.

We took several walks to the beach and the organic market where I think the girl behind the counter kind of liked me. We walked to the bookstore where I picked up a book of Sudoku and got obsessive about it, finishing half the book and working my way up to blue belt. We let CJ play in the surf until his hands and feet were all pruney and he still howled like a banshee when it was time to leave and we picked him out of the water. We all got tans. I drove to Chatham one day and had the best mug of clam chowder I have ever had at this café called Anytime Café, eating the chowder while studying the funky physics mural on the wall.

Tom and I went to see Guys and Dolls at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis. I mentioned earlier that it’s in its 80th season, and the show was phenomenal! The sets were minimalist and designed in blue and white; painted flats wheeled in and out of the wings by the actors as the scene changed without dropping the curtains. The men’s dancing was exquisite, unbelievably liquid, which completely made the show. The sewer backdrop, flown down from above the lights, was rather Seussical in design, and the designer, in a nod to the era and Al Hirschfeld, incorporated the name, “Ally” everywhere—traffic light glass pattern, the bunching of a tablecloth at the Hot Box, the curtains’ billows at the Hot Box, in the grid of the trashcans and the crosshatching of shadows on the flats. I fell in love with the design instantly, especially since the stage was very small. Somehow, I missed this musical in my training so it was a real treat, and I finally understood why Susan would look at Andy Connerly so wistfully and regret having done Guys and Dolls before our freshman year.

I guess that was about it. Lots of fun, lots of family time, and beautiful weather even when it rained. Not you can see why I wish I were still there.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Things You May Not Know About Me--Music Edition

I accidentally hijacked another blog's comment section for a music discussion, and I feel badly. So I've decided to bring it over here. Following Suze and Jenn, here's an installment of things you may not know about me, but around music. Enjoy!

  1. I mentioned this in the aforementioned comment section, but my son's nursery is decorated with John Lennon illustrations inspired by the birth of John's son, Sean.
  2. I weep when listening to the classic rock station in town since they've added Peter Gabriel and U2 to the playlists.
  3. The last CD I purchased for myself was Weird Al Yankovic's Poodle Hat. I play "Bob" incessantly as a result.
  4. The last CD I bought before that one? Al's Running with Scissors.
  5. The first song I learned to sing was "You Are My Sunshine" from a Don Williams tape.
  6. I am very familiar with the oeuvre of Boxcar Willie.
  7. I did not know any kind of music other than country, gospel, and bluegrass existed until I was about 8 years old.
  8. The first rock album I ever heard was Van Halen's 1984.
  9. The second rock album I ever heard was Purple Rain.
  10. I saw Prince during his Musicology tour in late March, 2004. I found out in May 2004 that I was pregnant. Draw your own conclusions.
  11. I discovered over vacation that my son can sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star despite not knowing the words, and may have perfect pitch.
  12. I commonly cite song lyrics, much to the consternation of my friend, Jay, who is not always familiar with the songs I quote.
  13. I wanted to see Toad the Wet Sprocket play with Big Head Todd and the Monsters in Hyannis while I was on the Cape, but couldn't find anyone to go with me.
  14. My brother in law was silent for a few moments when I asked if I could take his 15 year old daughter, my niece, to the above concert. Then he asked me to please repeat the band names.
  15. My niece asked me to repeat the names as well. I just told her they were popular when I was about her age, then realized that darnit! I am getting old.
  16. Ben Folds is amazing on piano. That's not about me, but you may not have known it.
  17. My cats have their own theme songs. Zeke's is from the Talking Heads: "Psychokitty, quest-que c'est? Meow meow-meow meow, meow-meow meow-meow-meow meow--Run run run run run run run away!" Shadow's is the Dreidel song: "Shadow, Shadow, Shadow, I made you out of clay; And when you're dry and ready, with Shadow I will play."
  18. I stopped listening or paying attention to most mainstream music when Britney Spears began becoming popular. Otherwise, I felt like throwing the radio.
  19. I really miss working in the college radio station sometimes.
  20. Why I don't have a copy of Jagged Little Pill is beyond me, but I should go find one.