Well hello! So I've been away for a few days and then I was working on a new site. We just got iWeb and David created a site for his artwork. Then I decided to try to move the blog over to that. Well. It seems to have tacked mine onto David's. So I wrote something, but it's over there. Come on over and see what's going on. It's not all done, but perhaps it will work. If it doesn't, I'll just keep using blogger.


Charm for sale When we were in Hawaii in January, we met a couple -- Sarah and Steven -- from Wisconsin. We've stayed in touch and now they're selling their house. Sarah has created (or had someone create) a Web site showing photographs of their home and giving information about it. It's so cute it makes me want to buy it and move there. You can see it here. If you know anyone who lives in that area who is looking for houses, you should pass this along. It's a great price and it's so adorable that it shouldn't be on the market long. (Did I mention they're photographers? That's why the photos are so awesome.) Even if you're not looking for a house in Hartford, Wisconsin, you should look at it anyway. I just could look at it all the day long.


Not next door to me So I have this fascination with a show. Not not Friends (this time). It's "Girls Next Door." Have you heard of this show? It's about Hugh Hefner's three girlfriends. I know, I know. It sounds really bad, but I just can't look away from it. Now here's the ironic part. While I was watching it the other day, David asked me, "Why are you watching that crap?" Is he kidding? It's about Hugh Hefner, Playboy and three hot chicks. Well, hot if you find bottle blonde and maybe a couple fake body parts (for some of them perhaps. But not Bridget. Hers are real. See, I just know too much about them.) hot. But what guy wouldn't? My husband. That's apparently who. I brought up these (ahem) points with him. They're young (Kendra, the youngest one, is about 21. And Holly is 25, which kind of surprised me. I thought she was around 30. Bridget is 31. They just don't look that young to me. Maybe it's all the makeup -- they just look ageless, like they could be 25 or they could be 36.), blonde and are sometimes (to say the least) scantily clad. Hugh Hefner should be his God. He has three girlfriends who live with him. But what does my husband say? "That's just weird. And I don't like that died blonde hair. And they're stupid." But he doesn't watch the show, so how would be know if they're stupid? Well, they're not. Sure Kendra apparently skipped a lot of classes in high school. (She asked if the Statue of Liberty was a real person. Though she could have meant if it was modeled after a real person, but it didn't sound like that at first. The answer, by the way, is yes. Liberty's face was modeled after the sculptor's mother. So there. But then, she did have to ask who Barbara Walters is. Oh yeah! AND she didn't know what the mile-high club is. I mean, how does that happen!?) But Bridget, she's pretty darned smart and has two degrees in communications and is working toward a master's in broadcasting. Sure it's unconventional and some people might (or do) argue that Playboy objectfies women and all that. But no one forces them into that magazine. And no one forces those girls to live in that mansion with Hugh Hefner, be waited on all the time, drive fancy cars and have their own TV show. (Um, hi Hef. Wink, wink. Oh just kidding. Calm down, people.) The girls seem to be cool people who really like each other. And they don't seem to be jealous of one another at all. I don't know how they do that. I'd be totally jealous. And they don't talk about the logistics of the situation at all, which I think intrigues me the most. How does that work exactly? Is there a schedule like on Big Love? And the guy's 80 for god's sake. How could he... oh nevermind, you get where I'm going with this. This whole topic reminds me of something else too. There's this guy who always asks me what I'm reading. His books are always political histories and such. (SNORE.) I think one day when he asks me, I'm gonna say "The History of Porn!" Just to see what he says.


Say it ain't soooo-ew-wooa-wooa Sometimes right before I fall asleep, I have all these grand blog ideas. Alas, by morning they are kaput. But as I started typing just now I remembered something I'd wanted to post about for a long time. It doesn't have much to do with the title, but I like that title, so we'll just keep that there for now, mmkay? So back to that first phrase... Sometimes right before I fall asleep... I hear voices. Not scary voices or anything. Usually it's David or my mom, dad, sister. You know, family types. And they never have anything useful or psychic to say. Just random things like "I fed the dogs earlier." Or "Your hair looks nice." Or "Why did that guy just do that?" Those aren't exact quotes, but you get the idea. It's never occurred to me freaked out by this or even that it's freaky. It's not scary voices or scary people. But I wonder why I do that. And if it's weird. Or if other people do that.


My life, my books OK Stephanie, here you go. It took a while, but I finally asked myself these questions about my friends the books. Name one book that has changed your life "Mr. Pine's Purple House" This was apparently my first book. From my grandfather. He always took credit for how much I liked to read. Ok, I have to mention two books. I'm sorry, but one? ONE!? The first one is from when I was a kid. This was the first interior design(ish) book I bought -- and the most useful one to someone who really just wants to make better use of what they have. "Use What You Have Decorating." We'll just ignore the little fact that it should really by use-what-you-have decorating. Sigh. One book that you have read more than once? "My Antonia" by Willa Cather One book that you would want on a desert(ed) island? Can I have a set? I'd say the Little House on the Prairie books just because they're very comforting. My fourth grade teacher read those aloud to us. God I loved that. After about two days on a deserted island, I would probably start to go a little nuts and need some good memories. One book that made you laugh? "Of Mice and Men." I don't know why or what I laughed at exactly. Not the mouse squeezing, that's for sure. But I did. I laughed. One book that made you cry? I read this book when I was a teenager and still think about it once in a while. It was called "P.S. I Love You" and I even found it on Amazon. I really should buy it. I cried and cried after i finished this book. It's about a girl whose parents are getting divorced and she has to spend her summer in Palm Springs. She falls in love with this boy (of course) and spends the summer with him, but at the end he dies because he had cancer. I sobbed, I tell you. And she got a bumper sticker that said "P.S. I love you," which of course meant Palm Springs. But the boy's name was Paul Straub. (I even remember that name after all these years. Scarred for life!) One book you wish had been written? Well, the one I'd like to write. I wish I'd already written it, I mean. And nope, I'm not telling you my ideas because you might steal them. I can't have that. One book you wish had never been written? Hmm. There are so many substandard books these days, huh? I guess I'd have to say Wintering by Kate Moses. I spent a lot of time trying to read that book and when I got to the end, I wanted to throw it across the room. It was supposed to be (loosely) based on Sylvia Plath's life right before she killed herself, but it just didn't work that well. That's my opinion anyway. One book you are currently reading? "A Year in the Merde" by Stephen Clarke. It's (fiction or almost true, the book claims) about a Brit who is spending a year in Paris to open a chain of tearooms. Basically, the French through the eyes of the British, which is kinda cool so far. One book you've been meaning to read? There are so so many. "Hard News" -- it's about the New York Times and the scandals at the NYT and what they mean for American media. All the books on this part of my list tend to be nonfiction. But I really have to be in the mood for nonfiction, which doesn't happen all that often.


Something to occupy my mind For one thing, why are weekend so short? Not fair. For two things, I'm off to Lowe's to see some tile and paint my mom picked out for her kitchen. Actually, this will be the second paint color she'll try. She has patches of Restoration Hardware's silver sage on the walls, but it's too dark. So I'm off to find something else and some kind of white for the trim. She said my dad told her not to use antique white (which I love) because it's too yellow. Humph. What does he know? He's just doing the renovation. (New floors -- termites -- remodeling the kitchen and bathroom, taking out a wall to make a bedroom bigger, creating some closets...) In two weeks, David and I are going up to help out. We'll be painting and hopefully helping do some cool stuff like hanging cabinets and/or tiling the countertop and backsplash.


Something happens when the fever breaks I've been hiding from the heat. Yes, in my house with the air conditioning. And yes, that is where my computer is. But as the weather page put it the other day, we've been experiencing "oppressive heat" here on the East Coast the past week. Corrospondingly, my mood has been oppressive and perhaps a little oppressed. And sad a little. I don't know why. Or maybe I just don't want to admit to myself why because admitting it means I'd actually have to do something about it. Or recognize that yes, in fact, I hate this aspect of my life and we might have to move. And I don't mean neighborhoods. (Although that would be good too considered we were awoken (? I'm so not looking that up right now) at 8 a.m. by the idiot neighbor banging on his open doorway with a hammer. For two hours. If he hasn't beaten whatever that is back into place in two and a half hours, he needs professional help. Which I think he needs anyway, but that's a whole other topic.) We're talking cities at the least and maybe even states. The whole idea is just too much for me to think about right now. I've always lived in Virginia. I like it here. My family is here. Actually, they're already about three hours away which makes it hard to see them very often. But we can't move back there because job opportunities stink and real estate has just exploded there. And we don't want to move to the mess of Northern Virginia. Anyway, we're looking around and weighing options. Starting over somewhere else is oddly appealing but also terrifying and bittersweet.


Lengths We were on our way to drop off some artwork that David just completed. The last time we'd tried to go to this woman's house, he got lost and we spent eons just driving around in a completely different area of town from where she lived. (Which is OK and not really the point of this story. It's just background. Oh yes, and we were in the Mini Cooper.) Me: Are you sure you know where we're going this time? D: Yes. Me: Are we getting off the highway soon? D: Yes. Why? Me: I just wondered why you're tailgated that car. D: I'm not tailgating. I'm a car length away. Me: Well, you're supposed to be three car lengths away. D: Nuh uh. Me: Yuh huh. D: Well, I'm two Mini Cooper car lengths away. Me: But I'm pretty sure they don't measure car lengths in Mini Coopers.


Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap I confess. I've been watching lots and lots of Friends. Because I now own Seasons 1 through 7 on DVD. Yeah, yeah, I know it's on all the time. (As someone asked me, "Can't you watch that three times a day for free!?") But they never play stuff in order. I'd been DVRing it, but sometimes they skip episodes and I can't always remember everything that happened. I'm serious about Friends, OK? I just can't help it. Anyway, the other night I was watching a couple episodes before going to sleep and Jasper happened to wander into the bedroom. I picked him up, but as usual he didn't want to cuddle with me. Sometimes I make him anyway. (I'm mean that way.) I flipped him on his back and laid him on my legs (they were stretched out in front of me). A new ep had just started so I made him dance a little and he clapped with the claps in the song. Poor Jasper was not happy at all (I'm sure he hates me, but I looooooooove him), but David and I laughed for like 10 minutes.


Too much cuteness The little girl on her big day: megan Her big brother: griff We didn't get any good ones of Abigail. Not even of her pouting, which I really wanted because I wanted to be able to show it to her when she grows up.
And also with you Yesterday, we became godparents for the third time. You'd think we'd know all about the process now. But no. We were waiting for the Buntings to arrive and saw the guy who does the baptism. You know... the guy wearing the collar. The guy we assumed was the priest. Until we overheard him talking about his wife. Uh, what? I looked at David, a little bewildered. "Did you hear that?" "Actually, I did." "If he's a priest, why does he have a wife!?" While we're considering this, Chrissy and Tommy arrive. I ask Tommy the question. "Who is that guy?" "You mean the priest?" (He thinks he's so great with sarcasm.) "Well, we just heard him talking about his wife. Splain that." "Actually, I have no idea who he is. They don't really teach you anything useful in the baptism classes." (He had to convert before he and Chrissy got married.) "It's all about your spiritual self and other crap like that. What really would have been great would have been for them to tell me when I was supposed to stand, when to sit, when to kneal. That kind of stuff." So we asked Chrissy, who notified us that he's the deacon. Ah, deacons. Yes, they have wives. We all file into the church, Megan giggles as the holy water goes over her head and the video camera wouldn't turn on. While we're all standing in the front of the church, the deacon walks buy with the oil and rubs some on Megan's head. "Hey, what's that stuff?" I whisper to Tommy, who's standing right in front of me. "Why do you keep asking me that stuff? I told you I don't know about this stuff. They didn't tell me! I'm here just for show!" "Humph. You've been no help to me today. But that stuff looks like olive oil." At the same time, David and Tommy both whisper "It's EVOO! EVOO!" Yes, we watch too much Food Network. Megan is baptized, we take a gazillion pictures, watch Abigail have a mini meltdown (we might have gotten a photo) because she doesn't feel like having her picture taken. Then as my stomach growls for the 100th time, someone says "OK! Back to the house for lunch!" I praise God -- and Mary and Jesus -- and we head to the car.


If it's the only thing you do today You just HAVE to visit this site. And prepare for your head to explode from the cuteness. Bookmark it, QUICK. What are you waiting for? Go! Go! Go!


Entourage Watching the opening sequence of Entourage: David: This music would be better if it didn't have words. Me: It's always had words, right? David: Yeah, but the voice doesn't really go with the music. Me: But I like it when they go "Oh yeah! Oh yeah!" at the end. David: But that's the part I hate the most. Me: Humph.


Lessons in nature Today I saw two beetles. And they were... they were... well, you know. I think at least. I'd just gotten back from the grocery store and went to clip a couple roses that had bloomed on my competely out-of-control rose bush. I clipped on and felt something hit my arm. I flinched, but took a chance and looked at the flower. It was just pollen -- or rose dust or whatever -- from the middle of the flower. Then I clipped another. I had them both in my hand, walking over to the herb garden to clip some mint. I figured I'd see if there was any pollen/rose dust in the second flower. But something caught my eye. Thinking it was a spider, I almost threw it down and took off running. (Spiders are to me what bees are to Nabbalicious) But I fought my fear and looked. Wait, I thought, that's not a spider, it's a beetle. No, two.. TWO beetles. And... Oh my god, they're making beetle babies. In my flower. Maybe that's romantic for beetles, like 4-star hotel. I could have gone a whole lifetime without seeing that. I dropped the flowers on the ground next to the bush, clipped the mint and hauled my groceries into the house, careful not to look in their direction. Like they'd be embarrassed or something. And now that I'm inside, I just thank the good lord that it wasn't spiders. There wouldn't even have been anyone around to hear my scream.


Could you just shut up, please!? Do you think it's possible to a cranky old lady at 31? Because I think I am. As I was standing in the aerobics studio at the gym this morning waiting for the teacher to show up (it was 9:28. the class is supposed to start at 9:30), I usually just listen to the conversations the other women have. I don't chime in. And that's because their conversations are stupid. Inane. Mundane. Not important. This one woman comes in every class just chattering away. Chatter, chatter, chatter. About nothing. Today as soon as she walked in the door, she starting talking. "Oh, that's just disgusting. Sometimes I bring up (the studio is on the second floor)an extra towel so I can dust before class." I didn't even want to know what she was talking about. "I haven't done that since my surgery, though. And mt allergies are SO BAD. A couple times, I came really early before class and mopped the floor because it was so gross. I do it at home, I can do it here too." The other women cackled and stroked her ego. "Oh WOW," they said, acting all impressed. What. Ever. I'm always the youngest one in the class and just never want to talk to anyone. Also, it's not even 9 freaking 30 so I'm probably still asleep. Since I don't get home from work until about 12:30 and usually get to sleep by about 2, if I get up at about 8:30 to make it to the 9:30 class, I get about 6.5 hours of sleep. Sometimes it's enough. Sometimes it's not. While I'm on the topic of the gym, I might as well get this other thing off my chest too. I hate it when people invade my space. I like to jump around in class and there's this woman who makes tiny movements, she doesn't go very far in either direction when we're grapevining and such. Yet, she ALWAYS has to stand right next to me. Close. Sometimes I hate her. Ah. Better now.


And then you had to bring up reincarnation Days, sometimes weeks, can pass and I'll still be thinking about a conversation with someone. A while back, BTV and I were discussing fate and things happening for a reason. I'm a believer. He's not. No matter what he says, I'll always be a believer. Maybe one day something will happen that will change his mind. Here's why I believe. Did you ever see that episode of Mad About You where Paul and Jamie talk about the museum blackout? When the subject comes up, Paul says it's his story, but Jamie insists it's her story. Turns out they were both there and they even met that day. David and I were in or near the same place a lot before we actually met. We went to the same church for Bible school for several years when we were kids. The church wasn't even close to my house. My aunt went to that church and that's how I ended up there. I don't even know why David went there. (Actually us in Bible school/camp is pretty laughable now. We're not know for our devout religion.) I babysat a couple times for a family who would come to town from D.C. on the weekends. Their house was on a winding country road. Across the street just so happened to be the farm David's family lived on. His mom knew the people I babysat for and would check in on the house for them during the week. We finally met on our high school's newspaper staff. It was the first year of the paper and the teacher organizing it wanted David to do artwork for it. I was the features editor. I know this sounds weird and scoff if you want, but the teacher had mentioned his name to me a couple times, but I didn't know who he was. Then one day, I was walking down the hall and I saw this guy. I don't know how, but I knew it was him. I can't say I knew I would marry him, because come on. I was like 18, how would I know something like that? But I knew something. I remember the way he walked, like he had somewhere to be. I remember the expression on his face, a kind of concentrated determination, he looked forward, never to the side and never behind him. We were on the newspaper staff together that year. I was graduating, he would be a sophomore. (Oh shut up.) It's really a miracle that we got together. I was interested in him, but he didn't seem particularly interested in me. I called him only once. And when I did he asked me, "What do you want?" (In his defense, he says he was sick that day. Mmm hmm.) After that, I wasn't sure about him. Some time must have passed, but I remember telling myself that was it. He clearly wasn't interested, so I wasn't going to waste my time. He called me that night. We made plans to hang out, but I almost didn't go. I'd seen him on a Friday and he had a phone number written on his hand. That year, I'd ended a really bad relationship and wasn't ready to go through something like that again. The lying, the cheating. I figured the number on his hand was his secret girlfriend's. Lucky for us there was no secret girlfriend. We've been together ever since and it's been an amazing time pretty much growing up with him, making a life together. And that is why I believe that there are things in life that you can't avoid. Things that fate puts in your path, sometimes more than once so you won't miss them. I'm very glad that I paid attention. And/or that David finally did. I'd been hurt pretty badly before and I'm not sure what made me trust him. Or what made him decide he was interested in me after all. But I'm glad it all worked out because I can't imagine my life without him.


The boy I heart Right before I leave for work every day, I say goodbye to the cats. This solves a couple of things. One, I know they're not shut into a closet or locked on the screened porch for the whole night. Two, I just love em and I want to say goodbye to them. The couple days ago, I knelt down in front of the futon in the office where Jasper was all curled into a ball sleeping. As I put my arms around him, he stretched and sniffed my face. I nuzzled his face. "Aww, Jas. Give momma kisses." And he licked my cheek. Yeah, yeah. I know, it was coincidence. But it still made my heart melt. Here's a picture of one of his more impressive feats. He climbed into the drawer by getting into the cabinet. Now that's skill. jasindrawer


Just perfect for that case of the Mondays If you need a laugh or 80, this is the place for you.


Doctor, Doctor During almost every aerobics class I take, there are two women who talk to each other through a good portion of the class. It's not always the same women, but it always annoys the hell out of me. One, if they can hold that much of a conversation, they aren't working that hard. Two, is it me or is it just plain rude? I always want to tell them to shut up. This happens at work too when people stop behind my cube and hold lengthy conversations. HELLO!? Working here. I've never said anything to the women in class though because I keep remembering an episode of Sex and the City when Charlotte goes to a Chinese doctor for fertility treatment. Charlotte, in her paper gown, is layng on the doctor's table with all these pins stuck in her face. Dr. Mao tells hers to relax and center herself, then leaves the room. On the street, the Cuban Liberation Front starts a rally. Charlotte tiptoes into the waiting room yelling, "Hellooo! Dr. Mao! I can't find my center!" Dr. Mao leads her back to the room. Before shutting the door, he tells her, "Charlotte, the city will never quiet down. You're going to have to learn how to block the noise out and hear yourself." So I try to block out the chatterers, but sometimes I just can't. They make it hard to hear the instructor. The instructors never say anything though, so maybe it's not my place to hiss at them. And if I did would I be known as the hero or the villain? Actually though, the older I get, the less I care what people think of me. Here's proof: We went to see The Devil Wears Prada last weekend (I liked it a lot) and some little teeny-bopper came bounding up the stairs to our row and asked David and I to move. Nope. Not doing it. Sorry kid. I'd just made David trade me so I'd have an empty seat in front of me so I could put my feet on it. I'm a restless movie watcher, see. Later I felt a little bad, but not really because I made sure we got there early to get good seats. So just go back to the bottom row, little girl. That's something I had control over, but people talking during class or chatting about stupid stuff right behind while I'm trying to concentrate? Dr. Mao?!


The squeaky wheel gets the grease Our bed's been squeaking. (Insert obvious joke here.) I've been suggesting for weeks that perhaps the bolts connecting the headboard to the frame have loosened. From time, OK? The other day, we'd been cleaning the house then collapsed on the sofa for a few hours watching something on tv. Since I can't remember what it was, it certainly wasn't that memorable. Oh, wait. We did watch an episode of Entourage (yay!). Other than that though, I think I remember complaining that there was nothing on and that I was going to bed. I got upstairs and climbed into bed. Squeak, squeak, squeak. I fluffed my pillow. Squeak, squeak, squeak. I breathed. Squeak, squeak, squeak. Then my husband came trucking up the stairs with the carry-all of cleaning products. It was 11 p.m. "What are you doing?" "I'm gonna clean the bathroom." "It's 11 o clock!" "So?" He dropped the supplies and came into the bedroom. "Well, could you help me make the bed first?" I hate getting into a messy bed. So we made the bed. Squeak, squeak, squeak. Squeak, squeak, squeak. Squeak, squeak, squeak. "Oh yeah, I keep meaning to look at those bolts." I dropped my pillow into place against the headboard. Squeak, squeak, squeak. Squeak, squeak, squeak. "Well, you know there's a problem if a pillow makes it squeak." I was kind of annoyed. At the bed mostly, but the husband was close by. "I've been asking you for weeks to look at it." "It hasn't been weeks." "Yuh HUH." "But I think my wrenches are out in the truck." "Well, I think you better go get them." Mumble, mumble. "What?!" "You heard me." "No, I really didn't. What did you say!?" "Well, I think I said 'I think you better shut up,'" he said as he went down the stairs. What? We're supposed to argue, right? I mean we've been married for seven years. These things happen. Oh, OK. I left out a detail or two. The secret is that we were laughing the whole time. That's why I couldn't hear what he said after I told him he better go get the tools out of his truck. I can't remember a time when we've hurled mean comments at each other. Sure, we have our moments. What married couple doesn't get on each other's nerves once in a while? But 95 percent of the time, we enjoy being together. Which is why it's funny when one of us (mockingly) plays the part of the shrewish wife or the jerkish husband. In any event, the bed isn't squeaking (him), the bathroom is clean (again him) and the bedroom is nice and vacuumed (me). And that was Saturday night at 11.


I finally got it mydoll Or rather Maliavale did it for me. (Thanks!) I've been playing with this site since Nabbalicious posted hers. And WOW does hers look like her. I mean SO MUCH. I think this one pretty much looks like me too. In fact, I'm wearing something similar right this very second. Update: As much as I love that site and it's modern paper-dollesque theme, has anyone else noticed that there's no nose? I can't believe it took me a week to notice that. I guess I was just blinded by the adorableness of the whole concept and kicking myself for not coming up with it first.
Evidence. Or why my eyebrows are not the same A couple weeks ago my friend Chrissy called asking if I wanted to get pedicures at one of those strip-mall places. Those places make me nervous, but it's a pedicure so yeah I want one. It was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend so we had some trouble finding one that was open. We finally did though. Guys did them, which also makes me uncomfortable. Not because I think men aren't supposed to do that stuff. It's not that at all. It's just one of those things you can't really explain. If it helps, all my doctors are women too. Even my dentist. There's just no way I'm going to talk about cramps and PMS to someone who will never ever have any idea about how that stuff feels. OK, that doesn't have anything to do with pedicures so let's get back to the task at hand. I didn't like the guy I got. He was rough and it seemed like he was pushing us out the door before we even came in. As we're sitting in the chairs, feet in water, Chrissy says she's getting her eyebrows waxed. Here?! She had to be kidding. But she surely was not jesting. She let them touch her eyebrows. And they looked fine. When we got to the car, I asked her how much it had cost. $5. FIVE DOLLARS! I was kinda mad that I hadn't gotten mine done too. So this past Sunday, we went to a different shop and had a delightful time with the girl who did our pedicures. She was adorable. She was Asian, with an Asian accent, but also kind of a Southern accent. I could never even try to imitate it. But I loved her. And the guy who owned the place was really cool too. Again, Chrissy brought up the eye brow thing. I watched as she had hers done. He took a long time doing it, was really careful and all. So I figured what the hell. He handed me the mirror afterward and they looked fine. And then. Monday I was getting ready for work and I took out the toothbrush (not my actual toothbrush) I have to brush my eyebrows with. I like to make sure all the hairs are going the same way and such. As I was brushing them, I realized they're not the same after all. One is noticably different. To me anyway. And I'm sure it's apparent to everyone I quizzed at work yesterday and they just don't want to admit it. One is thicker than the other. See for yourself. (Click on it to see it larger.) Even though the light isn't great in this photo, you can still tell. Sigh. THIS IS WHY I DON'T HAVE THAT STUFF DONE AT STRIP-MALL PLACES. I'm not quite sure what to do. I know it's not THAT bad, but I still want to hide. brows


BBQ Fritos The other day, David met some friends for lunch. I wasn't feeling well, so I stayed at home (on the couch). When he came back, he gave me quick peck on the lips as he walked by me. "You had chips." "Yep," he said. "Barbeque." "Yep. And?" "Fritos. You had barbeque Fritos, didn't you?" "Yep!" Either I know him that well or my sense of smell is very keen.


Oh yeah, AND I love the detox plan. I lost 3.4 pounds. Yee -- and might I say -- ha.


RIP basil I've been putting off confessing this, but my basil died. A couple of weeks ago, actually. I was very sad and told a guy at work about it. He brought me two plants he grew from seeds. He brought them to me, the plant killer. I can't disappoint him by killing the plants he lovingly coaxed into life. So I've been diligently watering them and moving them from spot to spot to capture enough sunlight. The thing is though, I can't feel too bad about the basil dying because other people have told me theirs died this year too. PLUS, my other herbs? Doing just fine. Beautiful, even. It's so awesome to just go out and clip some when a recipe calls for something. No more thinking "well, crap I can't make that dish because I don't have any chives" or parsley or rosemary or mint. You get the idea. So anyway, I'm trying not to kill the second go round of basil. I will prevail. Because I cannot admit to this guy that I killed his plants. Live, basil! Live!!
Out of my element Sunday, I met my sister and dad for lunch to celebrate Father's Day. They both live about 2.5 hours from me (or rather I live 2.5 hours from them, since I'm the one who moved away), so we decided to meet at the nearest "city" (Fredericksburg) so no one had to drive the whole trip. I'd cleared it with my sister last week, then called dad. He got all excited. "You know where we're going then, right?" I braced myself because I knew where this was going. How could I have forgotten? "Oh nooo." "That's right! Hooter's! My choice! My choice!" Well then. I guessed I was going to Hooters. That would be the second time he's made me go. The last time, he came to stay with us for a week and did some work to the house for us. A small price to pay for professional labor, I suppose. On Saturday I had lunch with a friend from work and confessed that I was going there. Only because I was being forced. He said he'd taken his kids there once because they wanted hot dogs and he couldn't find anywhere else to take them. A couple came in while they were there, but he could tell the woman did not want to be at Hooters. She made her husband sit at the bar, but when he kept turning around to see what was going on in the rest of the restaurant, she wanted to move because she probably thought he was looking at the girls. They moved to another table. Finally, she led him to a table on to the patio. I decided I wasn't going to be like that. Sure, I'm going to a place I normally wouldn't, but that's no reason to act like an ass. Ahem, there's plenty of that being seen already. (Come on, laugh!) So we met on Sunday and while we were sitting at our table, our waitress was talking to this guy at a table behind us. We couldn't figure out if that was her boyfriend or what. It didn't sound like they knew each other very well, but I heard her say to him, "You can always tell the women who don't want to be in here. They can be really mean." She said some other things, but that was the big point. I remembered the story my friend told me and was glad that I had decided to just go with it. And you know what? In all seriousness, the wings are pretty good*. * Disclaimer: I had only one wing. Still detoxing, you know. I ordered a salad and some crab legs, which I have to say were pretty good.


I should have already known this It's not a good idea to pit cherries with your new cherry/olive pitter whilst wearing a white shirt.


Step One I just subscribed to Self magazine. Every month, I'll get a little reminder in the mail. And all for only $1 an issue. Plus, there's some diet program subscribers can use for free. I already have that stuff with Weight Watchers, but hey it could have something worthwhile.
Back to life, back to reality Yesterday, I went to a Weight Watchers meeting and got to see a favorite leader who doesn't do too many center meetings. She told us how she'd gained weight, how she lost it and why she wanted to do it. I'd heard her story before, but it was still very motivating even though it made me sad a little. She did the work and now she's at her goal and is making herself stay there. In January 2000, I decided I'd had enough of feeling huge and being sedentary and wanted to do something about it. I'd never really dieted before and really never paid attention to what I ate. Now that I think back to college especially, David and I did some really bad eating. We just weren't aware that there were so much better ways to do things. He stayed thin, but I just kept gaining and gaining. And gaining. Enough. In 2000, I started doing things differently. I didn't skip breakfast, I ate smaller meals and for the first time in my life, I drank water. David and I were both working days back then so we'd walk after work or I'd do an exercise video while he made dinner. I also had a new rule of no seconds unless it was vegetables. Time passed, we moved to a new city, had new jobs. I kept working and working at it and by 2002, I'd lost almost 100 pounds. I'm not sure what happened after that. I kept it off for a while. Then it started creeping back. I've regained a good portion of it. But not all of it. Still, I'm mad and sad and all those things. It happens to almost everyone who goes through this. But I said it wasn't going to happen to me. And then. It did. Because I let it. Now I'm pretty sure my recent malaise has something to do with this. Other than disliking the hours that I work, I really don't hate my job -- I know it doesn't sound that way, but it's true. It's just work. It's tough and every day is a challenge. But i think if I had a mindless job, I'd be even more unhappy. A friend suggested yesterday that maybe I needed to find something outside of work to make me happy. Personal enrichment, he called it. For him, it was training for and completing a marathon. (Now let's not get too crazy -- that's never been something I wanted to do and would not be enjoyable to me. But you get the point.) After I thought about it, I decided I need to finish this journey I started. I got going and then never reached the end. I want to see what the other side of the mountain looks like. Although, I'm not sure that's the best metaphor because I thought losing the weight was pretty easy, keeping it off was the bear. So I guess once you go up the mountain, you really have to stay there. I'm about halfway down the mountain again. But that's OK because I'm about to dust off my gear and hook my climbing tools back into the rocks. Someone must have been looking out for me yesterday. After the great meeting, then BTV saying I needed to figure out what I wanted from life other than work, I stopped at Barnes & Noble to get some coffee and read magazines. I picked up an issue of Self called Self Dishes with a lot of cool recipes and menu plans in it. One of the plans is called a detox plan. It had photos and recipes and every day worked out for me. So I'm going to do that for a seven days. (More or less. I'll make some modifications here and there. Maybe I'll try to scan it or photograph it and post it.) So while I'm waiting for my chicken breast to bake (which I'll have with a salad of romaine, mushrooms and 1 tb of Caesar dressing), I'm making this promise to myself -- and to you if you're still there -- I'm going to stop sitting around watching other people climb the mountain and I'm going to do join them. It won't be easy and I know there will be days when I want to quit and buy a pint of Ben & Jerry's. But I hope I'll remember that I don't need to eat the whole container. Oh yeah and that I need to finish this thing I started. For me.


Say it - live it - like you mean it You know those songs that were popular when you were a teenager? Songs like "Jack & Diane" ("Hold on to 16 as long as you can -- changes come around real soon make us women and men") and the quintessential "Working for the Weekend" (no quote needed -- the name says it all)? I've decided that pretty much no matter what, people (being people) are never going to be satisfied. Songs caution teens to hold on to 16 as long as they can, but when I was 16, all I wanted was to be 25 (or insert your preconceived ideal age here) and on my own with college done and my real life under way. Now that I'm about 6 years past 25 -- I can say with some degree of certainty that I would never want to be 16 again. You're not a kid, not an adult, people don't really take you seriously, you're supposed to do as your told. I don't think I'd want to do all that stuff over. But. What I wouldn't mind doing over is the exploring part. College, I guess. Well, some of it. When I was a junior in high school, I got involved with something at school that eventually became my career. I thought that was it -- I'd found what I wanted, why keep going? The thing is, people are still just starting to develop at that age. I don't think they should be expected to choose the path of the rest of their lives at 18. You remember the jokes about some college classmate or other who would change majors all the time or just hadn't declared one? That wasn't me. I never wavered. But what if I had? What if I had been remotely interested in art or design back then? Or what if I'd done something completely unconventional for a woman and had gone into the contracting business with my dad? Learning how to build something from nothing sounds so appealing. Now. It didn't then. I read a story about a 16-year-old kid who says he wants to be a pediatric neuropathologist (or something). The kid's had a hard life and lives in a group home right now and it's great that he has a goal. But he's immersing himself in this life and who knows if that's what he'll want in 10 or 15 years. He's a junior in high school and is already making plans to take college courses during his senior year. He's got his life all mapped out. A friend of ours is a lawyer. I'm pretty certain he doesn't like it much. He went to a prestigous college, majored in economics, went to a good law school -- and will probably still be paying for it for a while to come. What's he love to do? He loves to cook. If I ever have kids, I hope I will teach them to take their time and figure out what they really love to do before choosing some career they may regret later. I have a lot of friends who do. Oh sure, we could switch careers. But to what? And do we really want to start all over when we're just starting to be able to afford life? Does anyone have a job they love? If you do, I'd love to hear what it is.


Hello blog, it's been a long time So what've I been up to, you wonder? Lots probably? Not really. Just taking an impromptu break. Didn't really mean to. Just one of those things that happens now and then. I've been watching a lot of Mary Tyler Moore (actually all of the third season) and wondering how it's still so relevent. Mary finds out she earns less than the person who had the job before her because... (oh yes, and it still happens today) it was a man. Even though she does a better job than he did. In another episode, she raves to Rhoda about friends of hers whose marriage she sees as perfect -- the one she'd want for herself. Then, of course, they separate. Also on the TV menu was an episode of Passport to Europe on the Travel Channel. The host, Samantha Brown, went to Monte Carlo. After showing us the opulence of Monaco, she took us to Eze, France. A tiny little Medieval village that looks like something from a fairy tale. And people get to live there. But she said something that struck me as so true, yet I'd never thought of it in terms of words. There's a certain amount of melancholy that accompanies visting a place like that. You enjoy the beautiful surroundings and sigh, knowing you're but a visitor amid the beauty. Your time there is limited. I can't watch that channel without itching to go somewhere and take a break from real life. Which, at 31, I guess shouldn't feel like quite the chore it's feeling like right now. Which brings me to another TV moment. In an episode of Sex and the City, Carrie says a New York woman is always looking for one of three things -- a job, an apartment or a boyfriend. And even when she has two of the three, she can let the elusive third thing eat at her. And so here I am with a fantastic husband, a pretty nice house and yes, a job. But one that feel like just a job. Maybe they're all supposed to feel that way -- it IS called work after all. But why do we let what we see as "missing" tear away all the other great things we have? If I knew the answer to that, I guess I wouldn't have asked the question.


A twist on the anniversary toast fire


Don't call us, we'll call you Today is our seventh wedding anniversary. That's copper for anyone who didn't know and might actually be curious. Not an easy gift-finding mission. But with a little help from my friend Maliavale, I think I got it mastered. We'll be having a late breakfast, going to the park to walk and take pictures (and hopefully not get rained on). Then we're planning to go see "The Break Up," even though I keep hearing it's not that great. (Hey, wait. Maybe that's not a good movie to see on one's anniversary? Eh. It's OK. I think we'll survive it.) And later tonight, we'll have dinner at a place called the Copper Grill. Fitting, no? When we get home, I hope there will be a. no rain and b. some marshmallow-toasting action.


A logical deduction, I think Dear People Who Order Toilet Tissue for Public Restrooms, Don't you know that if you order the cheap one-ply stuff (You know, the stuff you can SEE THROUGH? The stuff that cannot really be called TISSUE?), people will just use about three times as much? I mean really. Sincerely, Jasclo


Splitting hairs and/or heirs Picture this: Four woman sitting in a living room watching TV. They're all, in some way or another, playing with their hair. A grandmother twirls long gray locks around her index finger. A mother pulls out a blonde strand, slowly runs it through her top front teeth then casts it aside by letting it drift to the floor. She's pulls and repeats. A daughter twirls chunks of her long, dark, curly tresses around her index finger. Another daughter runs her fingers through her wavy auburn hair and along her scalp, feeling for bumps. I'm an heir to a hair obsession. It's been going on at least three generations. My mom's habit is the weirdest one -- we tell her she's going to make herself bald if she doesn't stop it. My sister and I have no idea why she does it or where she would have picked up a habit like that. My habit (I'm the last in the list) has an explanation. When I was little, I had a patch of exzema on my scalp about an inch behind my left ear. Like most people when told not to irritate an inflamed area, I picked at it. And picked at it. And picked at it. I'm pretty sure I thought that I could make it go away by taking it off. Considering that, I don't know how it ever went away. Sometime during college, though, those dry patches stopped appearing. So now what do I do? If there's ever any kind of spot on my scalp, I'll pick at it. I have a spot now that I just can't manage to leave alone. But this isn't limited to my scalp. David yells at me when I pick at scabs, but I just can't help it. And I know some of ya'll know exactly what I'm talking about because a fellow blogger, whose name I won't reveal (maybe she'll reveal herself), once asked if she could peel the skin from my sunburned back. I mean, I'd have done it myself if I could have reached it. (I told her no, but not before she could grab a section and pull it off. Yowza! I think she actually giggled a little.) This habit makes having my hair colored a bit of a sticky situation. Have you ever had those chemicals touch a spot of raw skin? Yiiiiiiikes. The five or so days before my appointment are deemed a no-picking period. Usually, I'm able to stick to it. But afterward, it's back to the old habit. But now, I'm going to try to stop it. Oh who am I kidding? I will try though. Because you should be nice to your skin. And in the immortal misheard lyrics (by me) in an early-1990s song by Snap called "The Power," -- "Skin, skin, skin gotta have it."* *The real lyrics are "It's getting, it's getting, it's getting kind of heavy." Another misheard version I found online was "The kitty, the kitty, the kitty's got a hatchet." Mwahaha. Bad kitty!


I am an enormous sucker and can be persuaded to buy almost anything or this is why I'm not allowed to watch QVC or the Home Shopping Network Saturday night, we went to dinner at a friend's house. We had lasagna and baked bread that was so full of butter that when I blotted it on both sides, then squeezed it to see if there was more butter in it, there was. If I think about it too much, it makes me feel queasy. Again. David went off to a movie with Tom (of the godchildren Buntings) and Chrissy (of Tom and the godchildren Buntings) would just drop me off at home on her way home. All went well, and if I hadn't eaten a piece of cheesecake, I might have been fine after dinner. But I hadn't eaten that much lasagna or bread for that matter. So I had a small piece of cheesecake. Big mistake. So when I got home, I watched a Netflix movie, but went upstairs after that. Which basically means I went upstairs to lay in bed and watch TV. There's no DVR or digital cable up there, so I never know what I'm flipping past. That TV, therefore, is usually tuned to a. The Weather Channel or b. Nickelodeon. I think I was watching Nickelodeon. They showed a commercial for the Chop Wizard. It cuts onions! And dices tomatoes! And eggs! Carrots! Peppers! And pretty much anything else you'd ever want to cube. Those things get me every. single. time. I love gadgets, especially kitchen gadgets. I stared, probably unblinking, at the commercial and memorized the Web site. I said I would investigate in the morning. It's only $19.95! And you get the dicing blade and a slicing blade. Of course, I don't usually end up buying them. Which is the miracle of TV. Also, just looking at that Web site, it says allow 4-6 weeks for delivery. But I want to make my salsa NOW. Monday, I convinced David to go to the mall with me. We went to Crate & Barrel. I guess subconsciously, that commercial made me want a new kitcheny gadget. I guess it doesn't help that I'm reading the Julia Child memoir. (Yes, still.) While I was meandering the sections, I found this chopper. It's the same thing! And it was cheaper! And I didn't have to pay shipping. And I could make my salsa that very day! As I was making my salsa yesterday, Chrissy came by. I told her about the commercial and that they always rivet me to the television in some stupor I can't knock myself out of. She said she has the same problem and every time she sees the commercial for the Food Saver, she almost always orders it. (I told Chrissy I just so happen to know someone who has one of those and has never used it. So (ahem) Erin, if you want to sell it, I have a buyer for you.) Also yesterday, I saw a commercial for this. After being riveted to the TV until the end of the commercial, I was able to restrain myself. But only because one of the claims made us cackle with disbelief. It said "cats love it!" and showed them using one on a cat. The cat did not love it, like any cat parent worth his/her kibble should know. If you go to the site, they play the commercial for you. But if you're like me, BEWARE. You might be mesmerized. Now. Salsa anyone?


Scenes from a salon Every six weeks, usually on a Friday, you'll find me at the salon having my color reapplied. (I found my first gray hair when I was 22. Thanks dad.) It's always a great way to spend the morning. For one, my colorist slash all-around awesome girl Amineh is entertaining as hell. We usually start out just catching up on what's going on with each other. We were talking about watching TV, she said she and her boyfriend watch BBC a lot (he's British). Amineh says she's not really into the BBC. "For one thing, British people are just not that attractive. I told him that one night when we were watching one of those shows," she said. "He looked at me funny and then said 'Gee thanks, hon.'" She laughed. "But it's just true!" But it's what she said next that killed me. "I mean, those people on that show? Not that attractive. Really? Is that the best you've got over there?!" Oh ho ho. Amineh. The poor British. I wonder if he'll ever take her to his native country. ******* When I got to the salon Friday morning, I couldn't park where I usually park because there were street-cleaning signs. Lots of them. For a split second, I contemplated parking there anyway, but I thought better of it. I got lucky and got a spot right in front of the salon as another car pulled away. Amineh had done my color and I was sitting at one of the bowls (that's what they call the sinks where you get rinsed) with toner on the color. (I don't really know what that means, but it looks nice. So whatever.) One of the guys came over to the girl at the bowl next to mine and asked her where she'd parked. She said just out on the street. Then he asked what kind of car she had. A green Galant, she said. "Well, they're towing your car. The guy's got it on the truck already and wants $60 to take it off. Is that OK?" The girl says sure. I would be freaking out, but she didn't seem fazed at all. The guy went away. Later I heard her saying how the signs should be clearer. Puh. If they were any clearer, there would have been one on her car. Another guy came over and asked where I'd parked. I said, "Oh, I parked out front. I saw the signs." The girl was still sitting next to me, though she probably didn't comprehend what I'd said. I mean, if she can't read signs... ******* While I was still sitting at the bowl, a guy sat down in the bowl on the other side of me from where the girl had been. Pasha, one of the apprentices, came over to shampoo the guy. This was (part of) the conversation they had. Guy: So, what's your name? Pasha: Pasha. It's Russian. Guy: Sounds Russian. Pasha: Yes, it's Russian. Guy: So where are you from? Moscow? Leningrad? Pasha: No. Guy: Oh. Well, those are the only Russian cities I know. Jasclo (in my head): You jackass. Pasha: I'm from ________. It's in the middle of the country. (I didn't catch the city he said.) Guy: I'm going to my cousin's wedding. He's marrying a Russian. Pasha: Oh really. Now I'm just waiting for him to utter the words mail-order bride. Because he's just the kind of guy who would. I do credit him for not asking if Pasha knew the bride-to-be. But I don't credit him with much else. By that time, Amineh had come back to rinse the toner out. So she got to hear other parts of the conversation. Guy: So, Pasha. Are you a stylist? Pasha: Not yet, I'm still learning. But yes, I'll be a stylist. Guy: So what's your style Pasha: I'm sorry, what? Guy: What's your style of... styling? Pasha: [stammers a bit] Whatever the person wants. Guy: Oh, so all styles. Anything goes? Pasha: Um, yeah. Amineh and I looked at each other, mouthing "What a freaking dork!" Then the shampoo was over and Pasha led him to a chair, where he was happily out of our hearing and sight ranges.


Express-lane insecurities After the gym yesterday (and after dropping off the blasted library book I've had for like two months -- I probably owe them a week's salary by now), David and I stopped at the grocery store to get Diet A&W root beer and some Diet Mountain Dew. When we got to the checkout line, we had those two things, two mini bags of chips and about six frozen meals. I call them "just in case" meals because usually I cook my/our dinner, but sometimes I run out of a little commodity called time. So as we stood at the checkout, the clerk (a woman) is passing stuff over the scanner and I have this incredible urge to tell her that we don't eat those things all the time. Maybe if it had been a guy I wouldn't have wanted to launch into listing the things I've cooked just in the past week. (Which actually now that I think about it hasn't been much. But in my defense, I was out of town for 4 days last weekend.) I managed to keep my mouth shut, but it bugged me that I felt I had to make excuses for our grocery purchases. Why do we always care so much about what other people think? I don't know the answer to that, but I do know that the older I get, the less I'm apt to care. I apparently just had a little slip up yesterday. P.S. I've been having some stomach troubles the past few days. I can only attribute it to oh say, something that begins with an s and ends in trawberries. And perhaps eating about half a pineapple is involved a little bit too. I bring this up only to spare you the (Hmm what's the right word? -- Discomfort? Maybe. We'll use that one.) discomfort I'm having. And I do this psa because a wise woman has spared me stomach trouble by telling me a. don't eat too many sugar-free Jelly Belly's and b. don't eat too much fat-free ice cream. Now these aren't things I would probably do anyway, but it's always nice to know when I might be approaching danger. Oddly enough, the same woman? She can eat Chipotle every other day and apparently that doesn't affect her stomach at all.


Friends Sometimes when I watch "Friends" reruns (which is very often), I marvel that they often make fun of each other or say some kind of mean things. Like the prom episode when Monica says "The camera adds 10 pounds!" And Chandler's comeback is "How many cameras are ON you?" Surely you couldn't really say those things to your friends without them being mad at you. But wait. Maybe you can. There are few people in the world you can truly be yourself around. Anyone you live with is bound to see the good, the bad and the ugly. And no matter how much time passes without seeing each other (if you're real friends, of course), that just doesn't fade. Erin and I lived together our freshman and sophmore years of college, then I transferred to another college. We saw each other a couple times after that, then went for a long stretch without contact -- maybe about five years. I missed a whole long-term relationship she'd had. We'd talk here and there. I remember she called me at work once right after I'd started my current job, I think we exchanged Christmas cards that year. We may have talked a couple times, then lost track of each other again. A couple times now I've called her parents to get her phone number because it was unlisted or there were too many listed to just keep calling until I got the right one. In about the past year, we've gotten back in touch and have managed to visit each other a couple times now. We've always been able to pick up where we left off, which is I think one of the marks of a true friendship. You don't get too many of those in one lifetime. The subject of what we'll call The Long Silence came up, with a lot of accusatory, "But you never called me"s and some "I did so! And I sent you a Christmas card!"s. Five minutes after we'd given up trying to blame the other one for The Long Silence, the whole thing was forgotten, which reminds me of Friends. Then I thought, well they didn't all live together, so what makes them so special that the little jabs don't matter? (Besides the fact that they're not real.) Then I remembered that they had all lived together at some point. Phoebe and Monica were roommates (before the show started -- we're going to go ahead and pretend they're real, ok?), then Monica and Rachel, then Phoebe and Rachel for a little while. Chandler and Ross were college roommates, then Chandler and Joey lived together, then Joey and Rachel. And Monica and Chandler, of course. That covers most of them anyway. And that's good enough for me. And because Erin used to live with me, though I was much younger then, I'm sure I was still cranky sometimes. OK, probably a lot. (I'm sure I was the one yelling at everyone in our suite to shut up so I could sleep.) And I'm sure I said some things I didn't mean. (Actually, now I remember an argument we got into over politics. A story for another day.) Kind of like Saturday night when I was waaaay past hungry and was getting pretty cranky and said "I don't like you right now." She didn't grimace, cry, yell or take offense at all. I guess that (among other things) makes her my friend for life.


The trip home Part II After spending Friday and Saturday nights at Erin’s, we trekked about an hour to my mom’s to say hi to my grandma and help my mom with some interior design stuff, then go to my sister’s housewarming party. (This is the busiest weekend I’ve had in ages. Friday, the so called “bead show,” but it was really a jewelry show. Lots and lots to see and buy. And the people weren’t mean at all. Story to come in a later post. Saturday, Erin and I went to a wine festival and bought several bottles. Yum. Sunday, my sister’s party and Monday – berry picking, then Da Vinci Code viewing.) On the way to my mom’s, I enjoyed the mountain scenery. It looks pretty much like this: (Click on it to view it bigger. I wanted to post a larger version, but it's too wide and runs into the sidebar.) home I didn’t appreciate it much when I was growing up. I was too busy wishing myself older and waiting to get out of there. I spent my teens wanting to get out, my twenties running from that town and now my second year into my thirties, I’m starting to wonder what I was running from. I like to think I was running toward something, like education. But I know I was also running from a few things too. My parents were really young when they had me and weren’t adults yet. Hell, I’m just now starting to feel like an adult. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be my age and have a 12-year-old. But as a 12-year-old, I knew the path my parents had taken was the one of the hardest ones in life. When I was that age, they were already divorced and my mom was working full time and raising my sister and me by herself. My dad was around of course, but the day-to-day stuff was always handled by mom. I recognized that wasn’t a course I wanted my life to take so I studied, determined I wasn’t going to hang around that town and have that kind of life. In the words of George Bailey, I was going to shake the dust from that crummy little town off my feet and I was going to see the world. (I’ve seen some of the world, but not much. Yet. I’ll get there though.) So when I go back home, I always feel a mix of this stuff, remember things from my childhood, feel a little weird being there. I asked Erin if she feels weird when she goes back home to Connecticut. As I stood there grasping for the right words, she said “Like you don’t belong there anymore?” And yes, that’s it. In a way. But there’s other stuff, too. There’s a curvy mountain road on the way to mom’s. There’s a house up there that I always loved and vowed that I would have a house like that someday. Big and beautiful with floors that didn’t slant and with air conditioning and with heat that didn’t come from a wood stove. (I’m pretty sure that’s why I hate matches and fire.) As I drove along that road Sunday, I wanted to take a photo of that house as I passed it. I turned on the camera, which was flashing its low battery light at me. Of course. I’d bought batteries but hadn’t put them in yet. I kept thinking the house was just around the next corner and that the old batteries would hold out. Finally, it died. So I got out the new pack, took the old ones out of the camera (while driving. Eek). Before I got the new ones in and shut the battery door, I’d just passed the house. I wouldn’t have gotten a good shot anyway because of all the trees surrounding it. But after I saw it, it occurred to me that my house is similar to that house. They’re both wood sided. Mine isn’t nearly as big and grand, but it does have central heat and air, two bathrooms, a dishwasher, garbage disposal, cable tv and computer. All things I grew up without. The non-negotiable on that list when we were looking for a house was the air conditioning. I swore I would never again live without it. Maybe some of that sounds rather material of me and I don’t mean it that way. It’s just that when you grow up with very little, there’s a game you play with yourself, I think. The “Prove it to yourself” game. You know the saying about people wanting to keep up with the Joneses? I don’t care about the Joneses. It’s myself I worry about impressing. Like I have to prove to myself that I’m a success, which I’m pretty sure is why I went through the “I want a BMW” phase. Do I need that? Of course not. Then we looked at bigger houses. But we don’t need that either. The attitude that I don’t need that stuff is new to my thirties. David and I put ourselves through college and have worked on our finances so that we don’t have to struggle (very often anyway) to make ends meet. So I don’t want to compromise that for a lot of crap we’d have to spend money on. So Joneses, just in case you thought I was trying to keep up with you, I’m backing down. And self, take notice. I’m going to stop running from who I was and how I grew up and just accept it. And maybe in time I’ll even be able to embrace it instead of feeling hindered and held back by it. I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family. So what. That’s the hand I was dealt and I think I’ve been playing that hand pretty damned well. If I do say so myself. And in this case, I’m really the only one who matters.


A trip home I just returned from a glorious weekend away. It was the perfect weekend, packed with friends and family. Although I spent the bulk on the weekend in Northern Virginia (hello traffic!) with my college roommate, Erin, we went to the country quite a bit. Sometimes I think it's not really the country anymore, then I see something like this and realize that my perception of "late" is apparently not the same as this place's. openlate I have other stuff to say, but I'm still formulating it in my mind. Plus, today is Strawberry Day, which means only that we're going to pick more berries. This time I will refridgerate them.


Fork mourning I'd thought of something to write about the other day and I wrote on a sticky note while I was at work. It was just a one-word reminder. I sat here thinking about it yesterday for a while. I could see it written on that sticky note. And it started with an h. Headaches? No, too long. Huh...haa..hats? No, not hats either. And definitely not herpes or hammers. Or hay or humpback whales. After a few minutes of that, I decided I'd never figure it out so I gave up and wrote about my mom instead. Which was great because I'd been meaning to tell that story. Today I got to work and found the note. Forks. Forks does not start with an h. But the fork story you will get. I take plastic forks to work to use for eating my dinner. But they're not just any forks. They're usually stolen, in a manner of speaking. Every time I got to Chick-Fil-A, I take a handful of forks. They're individually wrapped and they're sturdy and tall, not like the crappy little forks other places have. I don't like their spoons though so I actually buy a box of those from the grocery store. (They're too deep and I always end up cutting the corner of my mouth, where the top and bottom lips meet. Oweee.) The other day I stopped at Chick-Fil-A for a chargrilled sandwich and a large Diet Coke (it's either that or the chicken strips salad. YUM.) and grabbed a handful of forks, stuffed them in my bag and left. After eating the sandwich in the car, I stuffed the empty sandwich container into the bag. I even remembered to take it into the house with me. This was the day of the Strawberry Incident though, so when I got home I got distracted with cleaning up that mess and I forgot to get the forks out. I kept reminding myself that David would probably see it and throw it out if I forgot to get them out. And so the bag, which resembled a bag of trash, did in fact get mistaken for a bag of trash by my husband. He threw away my fresh supply of work forks. They had such useful lives ahead of them. Just think of all the Lean Cuisines they could have experienced. What a waste of a good fork.


A belated Mother's Day story I called my mom on Mother's Day like a good daughter. Actually, I called her, she didn't answer so I left a message. About an hour later, she called back but she didn't know I'd called. So I guess technically, my mom called me on Mother's Day. And I'm not even a mother unless you count the cats, which I used to. But it just doesn't seem right anymore. Besides the lazy babies didn't even get me a present. Anyway, that's really not the point of this story. We were talking about some ahem... colorful relatives that live near my mom. One of them said my mom runs her mouth, meaning she talks about people. Which I don't think is that true. She's not overly gossipy. Although now that I think of it, I do remember when I was little being told "Don't repeat anything you hear" a lot when she and her girlfriends were together. But so what. Everyone does that. Right? So we were talking about them (the colorful relatives) and mom said something like, "I don't know what's going to happen when someone else isn't paying the bills." (Hold on, maybe we do talk about people a lot. But they're our relatives, so we're allowed to talk about them. Plus, they're just mean people and it's OK to talk about mean people. Right?) The next thing mom said was "I guess she'll have to live in a van down by the river!" I thought to myself, did my mom just quote Chris Farley? Nah. Couldn't be. But then she said, "Bet you didn't think I knew about that, did you?" Nope. I sure didn't. "Who taught you that? I know you didn't see it for yourself." "See what?" she asked innocently. "Saturday Night Live, mom." "No, that's Chris Farley." Now I knew she didn't really know about it. She'd heard it somewhere. "Yes, I know it's Chris Farley. But how do you know about that?" "I read it on Nabbalicious." Well, how about that. I knew she wouldn't know that on her own. My mom is taking pop culture lessons from Nabbalicious. Next thing I know, she'll be swearing too. (That's a joke because she already has a potty mouth.) And then the plot thickened a little. Mom said she was at the restaurant/bar in our neighborhood with friends a few days after seeing "in a van down by the river" on Nabbalicious and referenced it to someone younger. He stared at her and said, "I can't believe you know about that." "Know about what?" my mom asked him. "Chris Farley." After she told me that story, she said, "And that's the only reason I know where it's from -- because that guy told me!" I admit to rolling my eyes, which I couldn't get it trouble for since she couldn't see me. But I also had a pretty good laugh from it. And in case she reads this, I'll have to add a reminder that she can't be mad at me for telling this story because I still have her present. AND I'm going to that bead show with her, which I've heard horror stories about. My sister went with her last time and said people push and shove. These women are serious about their jewelry-making supplies. The thing is though, my friend Erin and I got so excited when we saw the jewelry my mom has been making that we agreed to go to the bead show with her. I'll have to take the camera and get evidence of the angry-jeweler mob. But if anyone pushes or shoves me or steps on my toes, it's ON. Ha!


How did I miss that? Remember that show Spin City? The other day I turned on the TV to have some noise (I don't know why I don't turn on music instead) and turned it to Spin City. Mostly because Dharma & Greg was coming on after that. From what I could tell, Michael J. Fox's character was trying to get his co-workers to tell his girlfriend (that red-haired girl) something for him. But he had so many people trying to tell her that it was a classic incident of the grape vine, he told one person who told another who told another who told another who told her. She finally caught up to him and said, "Well, by the time it got to me, the message was that we hadn't broken up?" He was excited because he apparently didn't want to break up. But she did. Then I heard her say something that made something click somewhere in the recesses of my brain. "You know, Mike (or whatever his name is in that show), you can spin this any way you want, but we're still broken up!" Spin. And he works in the mayor's office. Politics. Ahhh, spin. NOW I get it. Too bad it went off four years ago.


Strawberry recipes Fresh Strawberry Jam From Cooking Light You don't need to bring out the canning equipment for this jam. Store in a plastic container in the refrigerator for up to a month. 4 cups halved strawberries 1 cup sugar 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice Combine strawberries and sugar in a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 1 hour or until thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in lemon juice. Cool to room temperature. Yield: 2 cups (serving size: 1 tablespoon) NUTRITION PER SERVING CALORIES 30(3% from fat); FAT 0.1g (sat 0.0g,mono 0.0g,poly 0.1g); PROTEIN 0.1g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 3mg; SODIUM 0.0mg; FIBER 0.4g; IRON 0.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 7.6g Strawberry sauce From Everyday with Rachael Ray • Warm up this sauce and pour it over pancakes, waffles or angel food cake. • Freeze it in paper cups with popsicle sticks. • Layer with fresh fruit, yogurt and granola. • Spoon over ice cream or sorbet. • Blend into a milkshake or a smoothie. 2 pounds fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar 4 tablespoon lemon juice (or juice from two lemons) 1. Combine berries, brown sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over med-low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Partially cover with a lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, unti the berries are softened and release their juices, about 10 mminutes. Let cool. 2. Pour the berries into a blender and blend until smooth. 3. Press the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a storage container. The sauce will keep up to 10 days in the fridge or up to 6 months in the freezer. (Yield: 3 1/4 cups)
The Great Strawberry Incident of 2006 If I'm going into this, I might as well go all the way. So you might want to grab a beer. (Speaking of which, and this will just take a moment -- I promise, I heard someone the other day say people aren't drinking liquor anymore. That it's all about beer and wine. I don't know who she hangs out with. We have a little of everything in our house.) On Saturday, I spent about an hour in a strawberry field picking 10 pounds of the little buggers. (I was planning to make jam.) Have you ever done this? Well. It's a lot of bending. The backs of my legs still hurt a little. Which is good because I told myself I was going to the gym every day this week. Well, Monday through Thursday because I'll be out of town Friday through Sunday. Have I done that? No. It's day two and instead of being at the gym in the weight-lifting class, I'm sitting here talking to you guys. But I do plan on talking a walk later. Maybe that will count for something. I had to work Saturday night, so I packed some berries in some baggies and took them with me to share with a couple people. I left the box on the front porch because I was worried Jasper would eat them. When David came home, he brought them in. Sunday morning, I cut some up for us and added a little mint from my herb garden. So yummy. The plan was still to make jam, but I wanted to hunt down a recipe online. But I couldn't do that because it stormed a lot Sunday and the Internet was down. We went to buy David some new suits. We were there for. ev. er and the sales guy was getting on my nerves because he was trying to talk David into getting more than he wanted to get. HATE THAT. When David was trying on the pants (because they all have to be tailored -- WHY is that again!?), the guy says to me, "So is it just you two or are there little ones?" Great. Now I'm getting the third degree to the guy who's pushing menswear? I say, "It's just us." To which he replies, "Ahh. I wondered how he got to buy suits on Mother's Day." Well, I guess I'll give him that. It is a good question. But still. Speaking of this buying spree of his, he also got shoes for which he used my DSW coupons. But I gave them to him. He didn't steal them from me or anything. And truth be told, I had to get some shoes too because you had to spend a certain amount to use the coupon and his shoes were about $10 under that line. I got some Keds thongs. I can't find a picture online, but they're like this, only the straps are pink plaid and the footbed is green. When we got home, I ran to the computer. Nope. Still out. It was out all night. And there the berries sat, waiting. I put some in a big baggie and stuck them in the freezer. The next morning, Monday, I got up intending to make the jam. Then I decided I'd get a pedicure. You know, to go with my new shoes. There were no morning appointments, just one at 2:45. So I figured I'd run my errands, get the pedicure then come home and make jam. I did all my errands, got the pedicure then decided I better pick up some stuff for dinner. I got home around 5:30. I walked in the door, dropped all my bags, looked in the kitchen and saw red. No, literally. And then figuratively, a little. The berries. They'd molded and the juice started oozing out the bottom of the box. Strawberry juice was everywhere. Pooled all over the little kitchen island and then dripped down the side, where it splashed onto the floor. I say splashed because you could tell it had splashed. They were little red juicy splatters for a 2-foot radius. I called the number on the box. The girl said I should have refrigerated them. Sigh. I did this last year without any problems. I must have put them in the fridge though last year. I called Chrissy and told her. She said it happened to them too. They had kept them in the garage and went out to get them Sunday night or Monday and they were all bad too. She said she saved a couple. I hung up and started digging around in the box. Well, not digging exactly. Ew. I was able to save 4 cups of berries. Just enough for one batch of the jam I decided to make. Which incidentally is the same jam I made last year and I have the recipe in my recipe binder, so I didn't even need to waste all that time waiting to look online for one. (I'll post it next.) The irony, though, is that I was worried about Jasper eating them or knocking over the box or something. When really, the berries... they needed to be saved from me.


The Awakening I opened my eyes Saturday morning and realized something wasn't right. First of all, it was still dark. Very dark. Which means I shouldn’t be awake yet. Then I heard a loud bump. I looked over at David’ side of the bed. Empty. "Honey?" "Yeah," he called from downstairs. "What was that?" "Oh, just me falling down the stairs." He snickered a little. I couldn't resist a little laugh in return. If you can’t laugh at your spouse, who can you laugh at? But I was concerned, so I gave him an "Are you OK?" "Yeah, but the power is off." My stomach sank a little. Then I heard the computer beeping, which it does when the power is out. It's some contraption that cost extra, of course. But that’s another entry titled “We are Suckers.” David stopped the beeping, grabbed a flashlight and came back to bed. "What were you doing up, anyway? Are you sure you're OK? Did you fall down the stairs?" "That beeping woke me up. It penetrated my dream. Then when I woke up, I thought I was still dreaming. I'm OK. I just missed the last step.” See? Things do go bump in the night. I just didn’t know my husband was the cause of it. “I’m sorry, sweetie. I wonder what made the power go out. What time is it anyway?” He said it was 4:30, we talked a few minutes, then I found myself wide awake. At 4:30 a.m. and with no power. I started to worry. When would it come back on? We better not open the fridge or freezer. I hope all the food doesn’t go bad. We’d gotten through Hurricane Isabel without losing power and now for some inexplicable reason, we’d lost it on some random Saturday morning? The irony was not lost on me. And the other irony was that I couldn’t sleep because we didn’t have power. The darkness, so still and so… dark was disturbing. Then I realized this is exactly what my mom did when I lived at home. Every time it would storm she’d say, “I hope we don’t lose any trees.” Not once did a tree fall. Not once. I don’t say that when it storms or rains, but I do get a slight panicky feeling like I left something outside. A few minutes later, everything around us sizzled to life including the neighbor’s spotlight that shines right into our bedroom window. It was on for a minute, then went off. We checked the alarm and I finally could go back to sleep knowing the clock would go off when it was supposed to and the food in the fridge and freezer wouldn’t thaw and/or spoil.


At the berry patch aberries2 a&gberries2
Just a wife, trying to do a good thing for her husband Last week, David was working a lot, like 13-hour days. On Wednesday, BTV said he was going in search of the new Tool album. That brought a conversation of why's from me and I'm sure looks of disdain from him and something like him saying I don't know what I'm talking about. Which is fine because I don't know Tool that much and really, I just don't want to. But I remembered David mentioning (rather excitedly) that it was coming out. So I asked BTV if he'd pick up one for me too so I could surprise my hard-working guy with it because I was sure he hadn't had time to go get it himself. So BTV found two (despite his proclaims that it would be "ALL SOLD OUT! People have been waiting for this!") and I went to pick it up from him before I went home from work. I was planning to wrap it and present it with a flourish, rather pleased at my coup. But I didn't wrap it, I just wrapped the bag around it figuring that would be good because he's a guy, right? Doesn't care too much about the wrapping. So when I got home, I was too excited to put it on his pillow or something equally gag-inducing, so grinning and maybe jumping around a little, I said "I got you a surprise!" and handed over the bag. He looked surprised, then started feeling the bag. "Oh no, I think I know what this is." "Why 'oh no'? Did you buy it already?" "I did. Yesterday." "When?! When did you have time!? He'd taken a break from work that day and had come home to see me for a while. Then I left for work and he... he... he... went to Target and bought that CD. Siiiiiigh. Whiiiine. With tears in my eyes, I told him I couldn't believe he ruined my surprise. Like he knew I would get it for him. Like he knew I was listening when he talked about the CD coming out. OK, maybe I wasn't near tears exactly, but I was really sad because there isn't usually a lot he wants and so I don't have occasion to buy him surprises very often. But when I'm sad or just in a funk, I'll tell him I need a surprise. Sometimes he brushes it off, like any husband would. And sometimes, he brings me something out of the blue. Nothing major -- a magazine, a notepad, a new pen, a CD or a book. After all it's the thought that counts, right? (Well, in this case anyway.) So when he told me he'd already been to Target and gotten the CD (where it was $5 cheaper, I might add), I made a sad frowny face and asked, "But did you get me a surprise?" No. No, he did not.


Another overheard and ludicrously stupid conversation As Nabbalicous and I lunched yesterday at a swanky cafe frequented by the "ladies who lunch" crowd (who complete the picture in their skirts and pony tails), I happened to catch this from the women at the table next to us: Lady 1: So, how's Michael? Lady 2: Oh, he's going to JMU now. And actually, he and some friends are starting a corporation. They're going to change the world through art. Isn't that amazing? Lady 1: That is amazing. Those theater people need to stick together. Change the world through art? Que? A corporation? Aren't those two thoughts mutually exclusive of the other? And the mother. She said it with a straight face -- "isn't that amazing?" Please. I hope those kids stay in school a very long time. A corporation to change the world through art. BAH HAHA.


Overheard "So if a person is jaywalking, do you have the right to hit them with your car?" Words. Fail.


My god, we're artful I finally bought a purse. Finally. The only problem was, I could not decide which one to get because they were all so darned cute. You can see for yourself at Sew Michelle. Just beware the cuteness. You will want all of them. I'll show you mine, but 1. It's the only one of it's kind (or there abouts) because it was made from a remnant left over from a special order. and 2. No, you cannot have it. (hee!) newbag Here's the inside: insidebag And here is where I spent half my weekend and David spent the whole of his: artshow He sold quite a few things, actually. (To see the photo bigger, click on it.) Tomorrow, I might post photos of some of his stuff to see if any of you readers would be interested in buying anything. He's working on getting a Web site. Production on it should start next month. (If you see anything you like in the photo, send me an email.) Speaking of art shows. Do you know what I love? When you have two hours to go and the rain starts pouring. Fortunately, we were under a huge tree and it shielded us from most of the rain. David carried most of the stuff to the truck as I sat inside it shivering. It was so cold all day and I, being a complete idiot, wore a skirt and flip flops. It took me about seven hours to get warm after we got home. Brr.


Are you going to Scarborough Fair? My thumb is somewhere between brown and black. I haven't earned a green thumb yet. I can't grow grass, as witnessed by photos of our yard before the big transformation. So what possessed me to think that I could be trusted with herbs (like, you know, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) is beyond me. But I know this: I'm tired of running out to spend $3 on them whenever I have a recipe that calls from some fresh herb. And then, I use only a little bit of it. The rest just sits in the fridge forgotten, wasting its tasty little life. So I asked a friend for some advice on growing them. She told me good ones to start out with. And it just so happened that there was an herb show here last weekend. So I went. And I purchased. I bought Italian large leaf basil (did you know there are a ton of kinds of that stuff?), some parsely (ditto), french thyme (i've since found out it doesn't do very well here. which means i'll just kill it sooner rather than later), spearmint and maybe something else. Then I needed a pot. I saw someone carrying a cool one at the herb show, but I didn't hunt one down while i was there. That was stupid because I ended up going to three stores before I could find it. And then it was at the expensive greenhouse, of course, so it cost a pretty penny. While I was there, I asked someone how to use the pot. It looked a little confusing. After explaining it to me, the gardener/horticulturalist/lady at the greenhouse said she'd just made an herb garden in one of those planters, if I wanted to buy that one. But I've already bought my own herbs, I told her, kind of sadly. One planted by a professional? Surely that would give me a head start. I looked at it. It was pretty. The price tag, however, wasn't so pretty. It was $100. But after I totalled up everything I'd spent, it came to $95. (I had to get more herbs to fill all the spots, and after seeing hers, I'd gotten a good idea of how to go about it.) And I thought this was going to save me money. Uh huh. Riiight. So I've planted them. I finished one night pretty much in the dark. I had to go into the house and turn on the floodlight that shines on the driveway. And then since it's motion sensored and I wasn't in the direct path of it, it would cut off every 5 minutes. Boy can that make a person angry. Then I had to drag out the hose and water them in the dark. I couldn't really see the results until morning. It looks nice and kind of professional-like. See? herbs Now, I just have to find a spot that will give it the sun it needs. That could prove maddening. We'll see which comes first: the maddening of jasclo or the demise of the herb garden. But after spending all that hard-earned cash to set it up, I will not let them die without a fight.


From the Chloe files I have things to tell you, Internets. Really, I do. It's just that every time I boot up the computer, I go do other things whilst it slowly gets ready and then I get distracted and never get back to it. For example, yesterday I messed around the house in the morning. (And by messed around, I mean I mostly watched the DVR.) And then I roasted a turkey breast. David happened to come home from work for a little break right after I took it out of the oven, so I left him to slice it up while I got ready for work. (It was a good day. I even put on makeup.) I was on my way back down the stairs when I looked over into the kitchen (it's all open) and saw Chloe standing on the counter. Eating the turkey. "Chloe!" She turned and looked at me, licked her chops and backed off. "Where is your father?!" She didn't answer me, of course. She never does. David came out of the office. "What was she doing?" "Eating the turkey! Now I have to throw out all those pieces! Where were you?" "I was signing on to the computer because someone just turns it on and leaves it on the signup screen." "I don't know who that could be. Ask Chloe." That whole not talking thing works out for me sometimes.


My -itis Hola. I'm Jasclo and I have a condition that rarely allows me to return library books on time. It's called cantbebothereditis. Instead, I go to the Web site and click "renew" at least once as the due date nears to put off driving the 5 miles or so to return the book. How lazy is that? I have two books now. One I finished about two weeks ago. The other is (I hope) in my car somewhere. (I suppose I should really try to locate it.) I've renewed the "missing" one once and I tried to renew the other one, but someone wants it. Yeah, yeah, I know. Disparaging eyes are being cast upon me. That's fine. It's not spite that keeps me from returning books. It's pure unadulterated laziness. I can barely be bothered to go and pick up a book, regardless of the fact that I just request it online. I don't even have to go hunt for it. They email me when it's on the reserved shelf wrapped in a piece of plain white paper with my name on the spine. All I have to do is park, run in, grab the book and check out. Well, and sometimes pay a fine. I guess I'll hunt for the one in my car and then take the other one back. Since you insist. This condition doesn't apply only to library books, by the way. I ordered a perscription refill about two weeks ago and still haven't picked it up. In my defense though, I just remembered it yesterday. What? You can roll your eyes, but it's true. I swear it.