Monday, July 31, 2006

'Nilla Puddin'

Life is good. Guuuuud. Steffi is back in the U.S. (we spent 1 hr. 30 min. on the phone tonight catching up), our power is still on, we balanced our budget for month-end July and M didn't scowl at the computer screen and shake his head and I didn't cry a single tear (wooo hooo! we made up $24!), Zozo went down like a dream (like she always does, awesome kid that she is), and now M is makin' me some 'nilla puddin'. I gots my cat sitting here and a glass of ice cold milk waiting. The air conditioner kicks on regularly, keeping our home at a comfortable 76 degrees. What could be better?!

Started The Customer training today. Very interesting so far, and we're just four hours into it. I have to ask my spouse to evaluate me. Hmmm. That ought to be interesting. I suppose it wouldn't be an honest assessment if I threatened to chuck my pudding at him if he wrote anything negative. This is supposed to be a growth experience for me, so I'll just let him write what he really thinks. Being male, I'm pretty sure his thoughts will soon devolve into something along the lines of how good beer and doughnuts are, but that's the chance I'll have to take.

Nothing much else going on, which is a welcome break from the hectic pace of the last month or two. Cloyd is doing okay...he visits Siteman in the next couple weeks or so and is anxious to hear what they have to say and to get started on his treatment plan. Everyone keep praying for him.

That's about all I know. I'm going to go check and see how my pudding is coming along now. And the cute guy who made it for me...

Back to the grind (and happy to be here!)

It's so nice to be back to normal again. Whatever "normal" is. I mean, being back in our own home, on our regular schedule. Feels like a vacation!

Today I start some advanced customer service training here at the spa. It's called "The Customer" and is all about making the most of our assets to better serve our customers, both internal and external. I mainly serve internal customers, but sometimes I have the chance to directly interact with our clients. And all of my marketing efforts do impact those clients so I think this can only be a good thing.

Got here early this morning (7:30 a.m.!), as M and I carpooled, and I'm already feeling quite productive. I got Mitch's printer fixed so he can print from his computer again. I responded to two voicemails from Friday, and zipped through my new e-mail messages. Am currently wondering if Stefster is back in town (her town, not mine, unfortunately) as I can't remember exactly which day she returns from her kick-ass (or ass-kicking...I'll wait to hear from her) hiking trip around Mont Blanc. I sure have missed her, although part of me is glad she was gone during the power outage as she didn't have to listen to me gripe for 8 days about having no electricity.

Zozo was so happy this morning! She always wakes up happy, and it just sets my day off right to walk in and see her beaming little face. I got some alone-time with her yesterday and I soaked up every second of it. After her lunchtime bottle, she flipped over in my lap and held on tight and we just rocked and snuggled. It's the best feeling in the world. Then, after her nap, I went back in to get her and she was so excited to see me that she gave me a "hug." My heart just melted. I am so very blessed to have her.

So, yeah, even though it's Monday morning, I'm in a great mood. I'm going to get my green tea and clean up my desk and log the sales of my Red-y To Help nail polish (maybe I could be in sales after all!) and run my Monday morning reports and check my on-line gift certificate purchases and IM M and see what he's up to, and probably call Steffi's work line to get her voicemail and see when she's returning...

In training today from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and I'm really looking forward to it.

Many thanks to Beano for Zozo's activity table. She absolutely loves it and crawls right over and stands up at it. She already has her favorite buttons, and I can see how much it's going to help her with learning to walk. You are an awesome auntie, Beans!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

More Stein Boxes!

Worked on the basement today, while M worked on Christmas. I found more A-B stein boxes. Sheesh. We're going to need to rent a storage unit just for those. I also found:
  • three cell phones that will be donated to church (they have one of those boxes where you can deposit your old cell phones)
  • two small televisions that I'm pretty sure don't work
  • a fancy deluxe Krups cappucino machine that has never been used because every time we get it out we see the nine million teeny tiny pieces that have to be hand-washed with every use causing us to box it back up and go to Starbucks
  • our rollerblades (remember those?!) that we haven't strapped on since before we were married, and which I'm positive would cause a busted ankle if I tried them now
  • my old stereo that still has the record player on top (for you younguns, albums were played on record players, and they were before cassette tapes, which were before CDs)
  • an old CD holder which is now completely obsolete since we carry our entire music collection with us daily on something that is the size of a deck of cards
  • a portable CD player that is larger and heavier than the afore-mentioned iPod, and does not have our entire music collection downloaded onto it
  • our old cordless phone that never did work very well, along with my beloved answering machine that I had used since college until M decided we should go high-tech last year and get an all-in-one system that put a phone in every room here, which is actually quite nice but renders unnecessary one's trusty college answsering machine
  • various assorted items that made me question, "Why on earth are we holding on to this junk?!"
I had planned to give the few things I was going to find to Beans to put in her next garage sale collection, but after having amassed the above pile (and more!), we've decided we have enough crap to have our own darn garage sale (sorry Beans!).

Yesterday afternoon was the Z family reunion. 100 people at Sue's house. Would've been just fine as she had tents and chairs and games set up outside...but the torrential downpour sorta put a damper on the whole thing. It was bright and sunny (if a little, okay a lot, humid) right up until 3 p.m., when the event started. Then it started drizzling and eventually the skies just opened up.

People were crowded in the house, the garage, and the (unfinished) basement. Still, a great time was had by all. We had a very lovely prayer service for Scotty, who is battling pancreatic cancer, and several other family members who are ill. Please pray for them.

That's about it for now. I'll be spending my next few evenings working on the basement, as we have incentive to get it cleaned back up: Zozo's 1st birthday party will be held here, and it would be nice for people to have a place to sit and eat. Details, details.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Red-y To Help

Beans and I got our mani/pedis last night. Well, I got a mani/pedi, Beans got just a pedi. Our toes are happy. I went with Dutch Tulips on the toes and a classic french on the fingers. To keep them looking good, of course, I can't do any dishes for awhile. (Hint hint M!)

Came back and played with Zo in the library for awhile, ate some dinner (Sam's pizza), played some more and went to bed. It actually felt like a normal evening, which was very welcome after this last week.

Yesterday afternoon I went back to Red Cross to pick up some "Preparing for a Disaster" brochures for our employees. The spa recently got in a new OPI color, Red-y to Help, which is a special edition color commemorating the 125th anniversary of the American Red Cross. A dollar from every bottle sold goes back to the Red Cross. I had happened to mention it to a couple friends when I was donating blood Thursday and they said, "Oooo, bring me a bottle and I'll buy it!" It's a very pretty wine red with some shimmer to it...perfect for fall and winter, and I'll be darned if I didn't sell all 12 bottles yesterday! I even got the head of Financial Development (fundraising) and the CEO to buy! Anyway, if any of ya'all are interested, I can get bottles for you. They are only $9.14 with tax, and it goes for a good cause. Just let me know!

Right now, Zozo is down for her morning nap, M is out working on Christmas, and I'm doing laundry and picking up the house. Sometime today I have to run out to Dad's and get the kitties. Dad and Judy integrated them into the house gradually, and now all four kitties are co-existing in the general living quarters. Not sure how they did that given Tachi's penchant for beating up Max every time she sees another cat, but I'm thinking they have a real future in cat training.

This afternoon we're going to the Z family reunion. Given the sheer number of us, I'm thinking it's going to be pretty packed. Am looking forward to it, and excited for Zozo to meet her extended family.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Home Sweet Electrically Powered Home

We have power!!!! After 8 days, and staying at two other houses (thank you Grandma Frank and Mom & Dad Z), we have a house in which everything turns on and runs as it's supposed to. There is no sweeter sound than that of the air conditioner kicking on.

Thank you to Ameren Rich, who got us restored in 10 minutes yesterday afternoon. Thank you Mom Z for letting Ameren Rich drive his Ameren truck on your grass so he could use it to get us fixed in 10 minutes. Thank you to Ameren Angela for assessing the situation and telling Ameren Rich to fix us.

The sky is a beautiful blue, it's Friday, and I'm gettin' my fingers and toes done after work today. Not a bad day!

Of course, now that I've said that something will happen to muck it all up.

Get this, the reason we were having electricity problems had nothing to do with the storm, according to Ameren Rich. He said squirrels had chewed through our neutral, and it was just coincidence that it happened when the storm hit. M's theory is that they chewed it almost through and then the storm came through and busted it all the way. I think M's probaby right, because as crazy as our squirrels are, I can't picture one hanging out on the wire, chewing away in the middle of a storm. Damn squirrels. We have a million of them in our yard. The flashing on the roof of our house had to be replaced before we moved it b/c they had chewed it all up. Our friend Mary had to re-do her patio furniture b/c they had chewed scalloped edges into every piece. Our back door neighbors, Pete and Susan, have chew marks in their relatively new fence from the squirrels. I've sat in my house and watched them chew on the corner of the other neighbors' gutter.

You know how Bill Murray's character, Carl Spackler, in Caddy Shack was obsessed with taking out the gopher? I can see me ending up like that trying to get rid of squirrels.

Last night we went to Taylor's to celebrate Papa's 34 years of being a kick-ass crane operator. Food, beer, cranes...doesn't get much better than that. Papa has some really funny stories, and we had a blast just hanging out with him and some of his colleagues. So, congratulations to Papa on his anniversary! We love you and are very proud of you!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Power Update

Ameren is at our house right now, this very moment, workin' on our little sitchyashun. Yay!

Keep your fingers crossed...the Z family just might be able to sleep in their own beds tonight.

Ameren Angela

Stopped by the American Red Cross St. Louis Area Chapter this morning and donated a pint of my O negative blood. Ran into lots of old buds, and managed to successfully avoid my old boss which pleased me to no end b/c that would have been awkward, to say the least. It's that whole, "I thought we were friends but turns out you were just kidding" thing.

Anyway, from what I understand, the Red Cross is runnin' pretty low on blood, especially my fancy schmancy type O negative (the universal blood type that can be used for anyone, thankyouverymuch), so if you can donate, please do it. People need your help, and you never know when you or a loved one might need blood, so it's good to always have some stashed in the cupboard. That's just a figure of speech, you know. They don't really keep blood stashed in a cupboard. Everyone knows it's in the pantry.

Came into work having done my Good Samaritan deed for the day and called up my buddies at Ameren. Talked to a lovely lady who said she's been received lots of calls like mine and that there are two...TWO...houses in my entire zipcode without power. She couldn't confirm that we were one of them, but took my information and "sent it to the field." Makes me wonder what happened to my info that I gave Saturday and Sunday. I think "the field" might be Ameren code for "the trashcan."

Something must've worked, though, because shortly after that M called and said that Mom Z had seen an Ameren worker wandering through our yard and ran out to talk to her. Go Mom Z! If I know Mom Z, I know she would've tackled the girl if necessary. Anyway, long story short, Angela from Ameren talked on the phone with M and he was able to tell her that even though it LOOKS like we have power (the little disky thing in the box is spinning), we don't have enough to run anything larger than a lamp or a fan. Which would be fine, except that we need to like, eat and do laundry and try to stay cool in 100 degree heat. Ameren Angela said that the company's goal is to get power back to everyone in the area by the end of the day today. So keep your fingers crossed!

Zozo's heiny (is that how you spell heiny? Or is it heiney? Or heinie? Or hiney? Anyone? Anyone?) is doing much better. The redness is almost all gone.

Funny story from her sitz bath the other night. She was playing with her toys and squealing and splashing, like she usually does in the bath, when she decided to try something new. With no hesitation, she slowly leaned forward and put her entire face in the water. I think it wasn't what she expected because she sat up quickly and got that look that says, "I'm gonna cry and it's gonna be LOUD!" We did our usual clapping and saying, "Yaaaay! Good job Zozo!" and after about 20 seconds of looking at us like we were crazy with the "I'm gonna cry" look frozen on her face, she decided not to cry and instead continued playing as the water dripped off her nose. She's an awesome little kid.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

We're collecting collections

I've read a bit of a book my co-worker has sitting on her desk, called, "Living the Simple Life," and it's quite appealing. Especially the part about paring down the physical amount of stuff we own. The author made a reference to looking at just the stuff we plug into the wall, and then I started thinking that I could narrow that focus down to just the rechargables and it's amazing. Here's the list of rechargable things in our house:
1. My cell phone
2. M's cell phone
3. My palm pilot
4. iPod
5. Lil' Nikon point 'n shoot
6. Big Dog Nikon D100
7. Battery recharger for batteries to be used in remotes, toys, radios, etc.
8. M's laptop, when he brings it home

We have a container on our kitchen counter that just holds all the recharging cords. This is ridiculous.

I can't see getting rid of any of the stuff on that list, but it's just an example of how complicated our lives have become. There has got to be other ways to pare down.

The book referenced Barbra Streisand's efforts to simplify: she sold five of her seven houses and got rid of her Tiffany Lamp collection. Now, I've only got my one (broken) house, so I can't go to that extreme, but I'm starting to wonder about our "collections." We have beer steins, sports memorabilia, matchbooks, Precious Moments figurines, antique cameras, books, Legos, various assorted flying toys (you can guess whose those are). I have a little container of perfume samples in my dresser drawer that I've had for years. I think I've worn each of them maybe once, at that. Why do I keep them?

Most of this stuff sits around and is rarely looked at or used, except when we have to clean them. The steins alone are worth a small fortune, and while they're cool as hell, I'm starting to wonder if we really need them. (I know I'm going to get a call from M the moment he reads this: "Noooo! We can't get rid of the beer steins!") It's not just the steins, though. It's all the crap that comes with them. We store the boxes downstairs b/c everyone knows you must keep the original packaging to retain value. In starting to clean out our storage area out there, I piled stein boxes on the long couch to a stack about three feet high. Then there are the little collateral pieces that come with them...collectors pins and pens and certificates and flashlights and assorted crapola that we'll never use because they have the A-B logo on them and are part of the "collection." Also, being members of the Official Anheuser-Busch Stein Collectors Club, we get the quarterly newsletters that we dutifully stick in the Official Anheuser-Busch Stein Collectors Club Newsletter Binder, along with the regular publication of where we can purchase Official Anheuser-Busch Steins, never to read them again. They get filed behind the little laminated sheet that contains our annual Official Anheuser-Busch Stein Collectors Club Charter Membership cards.

So, we spend tons of money on items that sit on a shelf and rarely get looked at, we spend time cleaning these items, we give up precious storage space to store the empty boxes these items came in, and more space to store the collateral items we will never use or look at again. And this is just one of our many collections.

Can you see where I'm going with this?!

P.S. We still don't have power...but at least we have each other!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

No power can make ya cranky

No, we still don't have power.
Yes, Zozo still has her rash (although it's getting better).
Yes, we are still staying at Mom and Dad Z's.

I think that's about it for the updates.

I've found that little things are starting to annoy me. This is probably due to being displaced from my home for going on a week now. Here is my current list of peeves.

1.) Having major gastro-intestinal issues is not fun when you're staying with your in-laws. Neither is going home and hugging the toilet in an 85 degree house, but it beats completely grossing out your loved ones.

2.) Someone here at work has determined that we should recycle paper. If it's got a blank back, it can go through the printer. Hence, several items I have printed this morning are on paper that has already been printed on, written on, highlighted on, folded and stapled. It has holes near the top where all but one of the staples had been removed, and yes, there is still one staple in it. My question is this: if you would like to run used paper through a printer, why not run it through your printer? Why come and cram it into mine? I'm all for recycling, but this is ridiculous.

3.) People are getting all fired up at Ameren for not having power. Now, I'm still without power (essentially), but I've decided it's fruitless to get pissed at Ameren. They didn't cause the storm. They don't have magic wands that they can whip around at will and create gobs of work and angry customers for themselves. I heard the argument that when Ameren purchased UE they laid off a bunch of people "so they could make more money." No, I'm pretty sure they laid off a bunch of people to a.) keep the company solvent and b.) not have to pay a bunch of people to sit around and wait for one or two big storms a year. It's called good business practices. If Ameren didn't care, I wouldn't have seen a team of electrical workers from Nebraska in my area the other day working on restoring power. Get over it already. Ameren is not out to get you, or me. They're doing the best they can. Mother Nature happens sometimes, and she's got a wicked sense of humor.

Those are my peeves of the moment. I'm just a bit cranky right now. Grrrrr.

Oh, been meaning to post this: There is a man in our parish named John O'Leary who has an incredible story of courage and survival. You can read his story and vote for him to receive the Energizer "Keep Going" award by visiting and clicking on the gold Energizer Rabbit. It's a pretty neat story, and John is amazing, so I encourage everyone to vote!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Diaperless and loving it!

Ahhh, back at work, and some semblance of normalcy. The power is on here, fully, and everything works. Well, at least so far. I just got here, though, so we'll see how the day goes.

Zozo's first night of sleeping in the buff went remarkably well. No poopies! M was anticipating a scene from the apocalypse this morning, and I think was greatly relieved that there was very little mess to clean up. I'm to call Dr. F this morning and see if he wants to see her, which I'm thinking he might given that she's been battling this since about Friday and it's still very red. She did dry out quite a bit last night, which is what we wanted, and so we slathered on her A+D ointment and diapered her for breakfast. Grandma probably has her in her first sitz bath of the day as I type.

She is loving the baths. She always loves her regular baths, so when the Cardinal Glennon nurse from the exchange last night said, "Try to keep her in the sitz bath for 15 to 20 minutes" I was able to respond, "No problem!" Last night she bathed in her daddy's bathtub, from when he was her size, and she had a blast. Splashed to beat all heck. First with her hands, then with her legs. She absolutely loves the water, and we just sit there and laugh.

Okay, just talked with the doctor's office. We're stepping up to Lotramin cream, so I'll have to run to the store and get some. More later...ta ta!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

My neutral is loose

I'm able to update the blog again...from yet another computer. This time I'm at Mom and Dad Z's, whom I have to thank for so many different reasons.

We have power, oh yes, we have power. Not nearly enough to do anything, really. We seem to have a "loose neutral." Which essentially means that all the strong winds knocked our ground wire loose from the either the pole or our house (our best guesstimate is the pole) and so just a bit of current is trickling through. We can run some fans, the lights, the TV, and re-charge the electric toothbrush, but anything more than that causes first what looks like a brown-out (the lights all dim waaaay down and everything looks eerie) and then causes whatever large appliance we've just fired up to eventually burn out. This means no A/C, no dishwasher, no refrigerator, no washer, no dryer, no microwave, no computer. It's like a big electrical tease from Ameren. Well, either a big electrical tease or a giant "F--- you!" And the kicker? Well, because we're the only house around affected by this (of course), Ameren has absolutely no plans to come out and fix it as they have bigger fish to fry what with 400,000 homes still being without power.

I'm trying really hard to see the humor and irony in all this, but it's wearing thin. To top it all off, Zozo's raging diaper rash is back with a vengeance, for which I broke down and called the doctor's exchange today (on my cordless phone, which apparently doesn't draw enough power to do any major damage and so works just fine). She's (Zoe, not the nurse) taking four sitz baths a day now, in baking powder, and has A+D ointment. This evening she is sleeping au naturelle (in the buff, nude, naked as a jaybird, in her birthday suit) per the nurse's recommendations. That was fun...we did up the bed all right with a towel and pads (I should say Mom Z did up the bed) and we put her down, and within thirty seconds she peed and we (Mom Z) had to do it all over again. We kissed her goodnight, threw her in the crib and got out of dodge before she could pee again (or before we could see her pee again).

As of tonight, we are staying at Mom and Dad Z's temporarily. Hopefully temporarily. It all depends on when the good folks of Ameren decide we've been inconvenienced enough and fix our loose neutral. We held out as long as we could at our humble abode, but since I can't even nuke two little jars of baby food for Zoe or store anything in my fridge, we finally called it quits and are going to hang out here for a bit. It's quite convenient, as I don't have to move my 800 pounds of facial stuff here but can simply run across the backyard to apply all my goodies.

I called Ameren again today (I now have the trick to getting through to a real Ameren's too convoluted to type out here, but if you want to know, call me, on my cell because I can't live at my house just yet) and pleaded with the woman who answered, Lori, to pleeeease have someone come out and fix my loose neutral (she recognized the term, which was heartening) as I have a baby at home for whom it's becoming increasingly difficult to care. I think I got through, as she kindly said, "Oh, I'll get this written up right away." Now, she could be saying that to every single person who calls in, but it made me feel just a bit better.

I've heard the term "loose neutral" so much over the last two days that it's become part of my everyday vocabulary. I told Mom Z that it's going to be my insult of choice from now on. Instead of saying "He's got a screw loose" or "the lights are on but nobody's home," I'm going to say, "Bless her heart, she's just got a loose neutral."

Friday, July 21, 2006

Yes, we have no power...we have no power today...

FYI: the title is to be sung to the tune of "Yes, we have no bananas."

Well, here I am, blogging away on Uncle Milt's computer at Grandma Frank's house. Yes, I'm a multi-location blogger. Not by choice, mind you. It's by necessity at this point. Ya'all ought to be extremely grateful I'm getting anything at all out there. Wait a sec...I think none of you have power either, so posting anything is probably pretty fruitless.

We lost power at the spa this afternoon, forcing us to close early. I ran home to pick up a few things and took advantage of the light and being able to actually see there, so I folded three loads of laundry and put it all away, and made our bed. It doesn't sound like much, but it's amazing how much better a bedroom looks when the bed is cleared off and made. I don't feel quite so displaced now, even though this will be the second night I don't actually sleep in my own bed.

Many, many, many thanks to Dad and Judy for boarding the feline children for us. I don't know what we'd do without you! And I know you're not just providing a cool place for them to stay...I know you're going down and petting them and loving on them, and for that I'm so grateful. Heck, they're probably getting more attention from you now than they've gotten from us since Zozo was born. They're in hog heaven, and probably won't want to come back home with us!

Peg, Mitch and their kitties are now at a Homewood Suites in Chesterfield. "Only $25 a day for the cats!" Peg was sold. We had a hilarious conversation this morning concerning who gets their power back when. We agreed that we will probably be among the last to have power restored and then Peg asked, "You know why, don't you?" Having no clue, I asked why. She replied, in all seriousness, "Well, because we don't go out and kill people!" I thought I was gonna die laughing. Her theory is that "our" kind of people find friends or family to stay with, or get a hotel room. "Those" other people go crazy in the heat and start shooting each other. "They're hot, they have no food and no place to go. What else are they going to do? Why do you think the National Guard is in St. Louis?" I haven't heard of riots and looting breaking out yet, but I guess we're on the brink of mayhem.

Well, I think I hear Uncle Milt baby-talking to Zo, so I better go up. She needs a bath tonight before her ba-ba. I'll try to post more tomorrow!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Electricity is a good thing

Who needs power in St. Louis in the middle of summer anyway?!

105 degrees today, before the heat index, and 450,000 folks are without power due to the big storm that kicked our collective ass last night. We are one of the 450,000 homes without power (I'm blogging from work...shhhh...don't tell anyone). Our being without power means, of course, Mom and Dad Z are without power, which means that Mom Z and Zozo are heading to Grandma Z's today since she does have power (it probably wouldn't be good for a 10 1/2 month old baby to get up to 105 degrees...just a guess). That means she needed to take my car with the child car seat, which means that M took her boat-car (a gigantically huge automobile that gives me the willies when I think about having to drive it...FYI Mom Z hates it too, but it was a gift so she feels sorta stuck with the damn thing) and I took M's car.

M's car is a fun little sporty job that's a kick to drive...except when there are no working intersection lights between home and work and they've all turned into four-way stops. Clutch in, shift into first, clutch out, a little gas, ease forward, clutch in, shift out of first, clutch out, brake...repeat fifteen million times at each intersection.

We have power here at the spa, which is miraculous, but we'll have a ton of cancelations and no-shows, and those that do come in will be running late thanks to the traffic debacle. Uncle Mitch is having a colonoscopy today (prayers, please!) and will have to go back to a house with no power. Dad is coming in to get a (relatively portable) air conditioner from the spa and is taking it over to Peg and Mitch's with the generator. They're going to stick him and the cats in one room, seal it off from the rest of the house and try to keep it cool. Dad and Judy have power, so I'm leaving later to go get our kitties and transport them (and their food and their litter boxes) to their basement (they have two kitties who would not handle feline guests very well).

M is at work, where they have power, but no internet access. This means no instant messenger and no e-mail, which is a royal pain in the behind...especially when you're working for a company based solely on high-end technology.

Our GM here at work is leaving tomorrow on vacation for a she was forced to bring her last load of laundry in to finish it up.

Watching everyone scramble to make alternate plans is rather amusing, or would be if I weren't caught in the middle of it. Beans has no power, and neither do Grammy, Papa and GG. I heard that part of one of the terminal roofs at the airport blew off and landed on the highway last night, and some bricks from the Switzer Building near Eads Bridge landed on the bridge. The Millennium Hotel in downtown lost a few windows, and MetroLink was out for a time. Few bridges were closed after tractor-trailer trucks were blown over. One of the reporters said it best this morning: the damage is wide-spread but not catastrophic. I am worried, though, about all the elderly, sick, and babies today with this heat wave. I'm so grateful that Grandma Frank offered to let Mom Z take Zozo over there today. Thank you Grandma!

Okay, well, that's an update from this end. It's a little crazy, but it could be a helluva lot worse so I'm grateful all we have to deal with is some minor inconvenience. Thank you to everyone who called, concerned about Zozo and us and offering to help. We love you all!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Green tea is good (as opposed to blue tea?)

So I talked to Beano for over an hour last night on the phone, and it wasn't until well after we had ended our conversation that I realized I hadn't expressed my condolences to Shawn for losing his uncle Bill. I hate it when I'm a putz. Beans: tell Shawn I'm very sorry for his loss and if there is anything we can do to help, just let us know.

Other than gabbing with Beans, I started reading a new book ("Professionally Speaking," which will hopefully help with, well, speaking professionally...what a novel concept) and vacuumed and played with Doodle.

M was outside most of the night, working on the stands for the Arena seats. I believe he's got about a bajillion hours put in on them now, which is quite ridiculous considering they are just small metal bits that hold up a few seats. It's evolved into the Project From Hell, as Dad Z put it, though, so I shouldn't be surprised it's taking this long. Most projects around our house turn into Projects from Hell. This is precisely why condo or loft living is so attractive to me.

We had our event yesterday, for which only 10 people showed up. That was fine with me, given that it was our first one of this kind and we were going through the learning curve. Lots of ideas for the next one, including charging for it (people will be more likely to show up if I've got their credit card number), and not using products to make pretty displays. That's what I had done, and wouldn't you know that one of the products walked out the door with one of our guests. It chaps my ass that you can provide someone with a free lunch, a free goody bag full of really nice samples and free gifts, lots of valuable information in a lovely setting, coupons for free spa services, and that person still feels the need to steal something. Grrrrrr.

Doing a test here: Grammy, when you read this, call me. (And no, Beans, you can't call her and tell her to read this and call me.)

We have our management meeting today, and I've ordered the CEO Tenderloin samich. Mmmm...doesn't that sound good? It's got housemade horseradish dressing and comes with a little pasta side salad and a gourmet turtle brownie dessert. I'm salivating just thinking about it.

But for now, I'm going to get my green tea and dump some of my Ann Arbor honey in it (thank you again, Stef!) and eat my bagel and get to work. Did you know that green tea is chock-full of antioxidants, which help fight free radicals? I learned this recently by reading a book by Dr. Murad, one of the world's leading dermatologists (and one of my newest "professional crushes"). I've heard the term "free radicals" bandied about for years, but had no clue what they were or the damage they could do to your body. Hell, for all I knew, free radicals are unimprisoned extremists. Nope, not quite. Turns out they are little bits of cells that float around your body, looking for other cells they can destroy to get their cell bits to make themselves whole again. Nasty little suckers. You want as few free radicals as possible, which is hard given that your own body creates them and you're also being bombarded by them externally, just through crap in our atmosphere. You combat them with antioxidants...hence my green tea.

And that, my friends, is my little tip of the day.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Starter Castles

Well, the game last night was a blow-out. We got shelled. It was horrible. The base-clearing grand slam early on was telling. So we sat there and sweated, and watched our pitching staff flounder, and watched their battery batter us. Ugh. Jimmy tried to re-start morale with his homer, and Albert's double to knock in So was exciting, but that was about it. We left in the 7th, right after everyone sang "Take me out to the ballgame." Figured at 13 to 3, we'd cut our losses and go see The Bug for a few minutes before she went to sleep for the night. I'm glad we left, as it only got worse. How bad is it when their relief pitcher can crank one out of the park?!

Then, stupidly, we stayed up even later to watch Jay Leno (we're total suckers for Headlines) and read, and we didn't get to bed until late. Which means we're both dragging today.

Overall, though, we had a pretty fun time last night. Lots of laughs, which is always good on Date Night. Thanks to Mom and Dad Z for watching Doodle for us. She had a blast!

So the house up the street, which we affectionately call The Strip Mall, is on the market. This place has been half-finished for quite a while now. It's bad enough that it's so monstrous that it's an eyesore, but to leave it half done is just over the top. It's listed for a paltry $3 million, which I suppose is good in that it raises our property value. You gotta wonder about someone who builds a behemoth, overwrought, massive mansion right across the street from a church. Anyway, in case you're in the market for a big ol' house, you can click here to visit the page on, which is one of my most favorite web sites.

Here's the much as I've griped about this house that's a mere four or five lots up from us, I still stick to my belief that when a person buys property, it's his or hers to do with as he or she pleases. We've got a tear-down (or in-fill house, whichever term you choose) being thrown up in our subdivision right now. People are all up in arms because the house is sided on all four sides, not that there is anything wrong with siding, but it doesn't quite fit in with our subdivision. We're a bunch of ranch houses, 90% of which are 4-sided brick, and the remaining 10% are 3-sided brick. We're not cookie-cutter track houses, but we all do flow rather nicely and the similarity creates a lovely community. The new house is a two-story, white, sided plantation-style house complete with a covered porch that runs two of the sides. It looks rather like aliens picked it up somewhere down south and dropped it into the middle of our neighborhood.

We have a subdivision meeting tomorrow night at City Hall (M is totally stoked that it's in the room where The Judge presides), and it's the first one since we moved here over four years ago. One of our neighbors is trying to drum up support against in-fill housing, and we're pretty sure there's not a darn thing any of us could do about it, even if we wanted to. Besides, we also think that new housing only drives our property value up, which is not a bad thing. It'll make us feel that much better when we have to knock down our broken house and build a new one.

The spa hired a gaggle of new estheticians recently, and they've gone through their extensive training and are now doing their rounds of facials on staff before being turned loose to cleanse the general spa population. I had a European Spa Facial by Pacia yesterday afternoon (ah, the sacrifices we have to make for work here at the spa) and my skin feels smoooooth. It's like buttah.

Monday, July 17, 2006

You can't fix stupid

M and I were having one of those insane married-couple arguments the other day, where both of us were right and wrong at the same time, which means you just go around and around in circles with neither of us winning or's insane, and I won't bore you with the details, but I'm sure all of you people in committed relationships know exactly what I'm talking about. It was so idiotic it made my curls curl even tighter. Oh wait, maybe that was the insane humidity of my beloved city.

Anyway, I called my sister, Beans, to vent, because she always talks me off the ledge and makes me laugh, and she, wise woman that she is, gave me a saying that is still making me giggle. "Let it go, Aim," she said, "Because you can't fix stupid."

Wow. That's a startling revelation to me. And it's making my life so much easier. I look at tons of people now with new eyes. Instead of getting pissed, I can now sadly shake my head and say, "Bless her just can't fix stupid."

I learned the "Bless his/her heart" thing from my old boss. She was as politically correct as they come, agonizing over one-line e-mails and fax cover sheets, "Did I state that I have three pages including the cover sheet okay? Am I going to offend anyone? What about the people who don't count cover pages as part of their faxes? Will they think I'm being anal?" Oh my god...send the damn fax already. Despite her Dudley Doright nature, she would sometimes devolve and lapse into stinking humanity with the rest of us and get downright snarky. But she always preceded her rip with the phrase, "Bless her heart..." which made it sound like she was being nice when she was really gutting the person's character. "Bless her heart, she's just dumber than a Ding-Dong."

It's okay to torch someone as long as you throw some religion into the mix. "I've blessed you, so now I can rip you to shreds with a clear conscience." What would Jesus do? Jesus would bless you and then kick your ass for being a moron. I think that's what she was trying to say.

So, my quote for the week, and perhaps the month or even the year, is "You can't fix stupid." Try'll like it.

Sunday Cleaning and Saturday's Movie Marathon

Yesterday was a lovely day cleaning and playing with Zozo. It's easier than I thought to vacuum with a small child on your hip, I found out. The house is clean and smells good (yay lemon Swiffers!) and the yard looks fantastic (yay M!). Zozo's raging diaper rash is under control, finally, so she no longer screams her head off when we lay her down to change her. That alone made for an interesting weekend. I'm sure the woman who was in the restroom with us at Panera yesterday afternoon still has ringing in her ears from Zoe trying to let everyone know I was ripping her arm out of her socket (that's what it sounded like, anyway).

Watched three movies on Saturday, which I believe is a record for me. A personal best. The gold medal of laziness. The Stanley Cup of Sloth. The World Championship trophy of Couch Potatoes. First I watched "Unfaithful" with Richard Gere and Diane Lane. Wow. That'll mess with your brain. So many questions. Why did she give him that stupid snow globe, anyway? Decided that it was way too deep to let linger in my pea brain, so I popped in "Funny Farm" with Chevy Chase. In case you were wondering, "Funny Farm" ain't so funny. Probably why it was bundled in with the other two Chevy Chase movies that actually are funny. After that snoozer I watched "My Cousin Vinny," which is always good for a few chuckles. Hadn't seen it in years, and cracked up simply over the fact that Ralph Macchio used to be the It Boy. And for some reason, Bronx accents just kill me.

Know what else kills me? I just realized that while I was laying on my couch, letting my brain seep out of my head by watching idiotic movies, my best friend was freakin' hiking around Mont Blanc in Europe with all her clothes in a backpack. Couldn't get any further apart, could we? Yeah, but now my house smells like lemon Swiffers and hers doesn't, so ha.

Let's see...what else to report? Nothing much, really. Going to the game tonight, where I fully plan to sweat my tushie off. Am going only for the Date Night value of it. I love the Cardinals, but not enough to be miserably hot for several hours. However, I do love my husband enough to do that. Another event here at the spa tomorrow. This is a small skin-care luncheon we are providing in conjunction with Hammerbodies Personal Fitness. It's a great program and is only an hour long. Limited to 25 or so participants, which is very manageable as far as creating goody bags and such. Decorations are minimal...just a nice little lunch in our Oasis Room. Day after that is our management meeting, then Thursday is lunch with my buddy Ping from Red Cross. I find it very strange that after five-plus years of working there, and creating what I thought were lasting friendships, I hang out with only one person from there now. And really, we're much closer now than we were when I was there. Hmmm. Interesting. All I know is I'm darn glad to count Ping among my friends, because she always makes me laugh and because she's just damn cool.

That's all for me, for now. Oh! Wait! Wanted to give a quick shout-out to Aunt Pheobe, who sent me two of the loveliest e-mails I've ever received. Loved them! And don't worry about misspellings or grammatical errors. I save my Grammar Queen wrath and disdain for people I don't love. When you're writing from the heart, I don't care how you spell it or what your sentence structure is...the love shines through! I'm workin' on your CD...sorry I haven't gotten it burned yet. I was busy watching worthless movies on Saturday and not hiking around Mont Blanc.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Bye Bye Boatie

Yesterday we said good-bye to Grandpa's boat. I know it was hard for Mom Z. to let it go, but she's keeping lots of good memories. And gaining half her garage back.

The tow truck driver had a white flat-top, just like Grandpa, which we thought was appropriate. He also thought the boat was a gem, just like Grandpa.

Zozo and I sat on our back stoop, watching him hook up the boat. Then we watched as he drove down the driveway and up the street, waving good-bye and doing our motor-boat sounds, which we also thought was quite apt.

So, since the boat is now gone, here are some images to remember it by. I also have the standard "record-keeping" shots of the entire boat from all sides, but I've decided today to post the "artsy-fartsy" images I made of Grandpa's boat. So, without further ado, here is the boat, the way I saw it:

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Dress

So excited! Beans and I selected the bridesmaid dresses for her wedding, and they are beautiful! Well, here, take a look for yourself.

Now, keep in mind that I am not as slim as this lovely young woman. However, the dress does look rather nice on me, I think, and I'm quite pleased.

I don't believe we'll be wearing the gloves, but it does come with a beautiful matching wrap (which will be handy given that the wedding is in February).

Yesterday I got some more highlights in my hair, but this fall (partly because of the wedding), I plan to get rid of all the highlights and go darker than my normal color. I'd like a rich chestnut color, which I think will look beautiful with the color of the dress. It's Apple, by the way. The color of the dress. Also the name of Gwyneth Paltrow's child, but that's neither here nor there.

Just talked to Beans and we decided that this photo of the dress really doesn't do it justice. It looks much better in person.

M is going to the ballgame with his dad today, and I plan to just hang out with Zozo in the A/C. This last week was really hectic at work, and I kinda just want to do a whole lot of nuthin'. A nap sounds delicious.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Not much. You?

I've been chastised by my loving sister to "update the damn blog," so here I am. Sorry for no post today. I had the after-event craziness at work to contend with. That craziness is the result of pushing everything that doesn't pertain to the event at hand to the back burner, thereby resulting in lots of scorching of deadlines and burning of projects. Smoke alarms go off, firefighters are's not pretty. The day after the event, which should be spent basking in the glory of the event and gathering commendations and congratulations from adulating coworkers, is instead spent scurrying 'round, trying to catch back up and get the rest of the marketing train back on track from the major derailment. Oh dear me, now I'm mixing metaphors. It's been a long couple of days.

Home alone with Zo tonight. M's at the game with his dad. I donated my ticket to this father-son bonding so I could do a little mother-daughter bonding of my own. Zozo and I played, and then we got fussy, so one of us went down for a nap while the other watched a movie. I made sure it was rated G before I turned in. Just kidding, of course.

I should be reading one of my "career books," but I decided to take an evening off and just have some brain candy. Watched a lovely little romantic comedy called "Serendipity" with Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack. Anything with John Cusack is good, in my humble opinion. The guy is just adorable. Has been ever since his portrayal of Lloyd Dobler in "Say Anything."

Cloyd News: He was released from the hospital today, and Aunt Jo had a mile-wide grin. It'll be great for both of them to get to be in their own home. Rumor has it that he'll start chemo in a couple of weeks. I know that's supposed to be pretty rough going, so everyone keep on praying.

In other news...well, there is no other news. Sorry to be so boring, and to not have much to post. Normally I pride myself in being witty or sarcastic or at least mildly entertaining, but I think I'm doing well just to be able to type at a reasonably fast pace at this point.

Ooooo, thunder. (It just cracked, for those of you without speakers. Just kidding. You couldn't really hear it even if you have speakers. You just had to be here.) I love storms. But I also fear them simply because if we should lose power right now (and we tend to lose power a lot, although it's been better recently for some unknown reason...thank you elves at Ameren) I would lose everything I've typed thus far, and so the day would probably pass with no post at all. And heaven knows I wouldn't be able to recreate this literary masterpiece tomorrow, after I've actually gotten some sleep.

So, rather than tempt the power gods and keep working on-line, I'll close out and go get Zozo and feed her the nite-nite ba-ba and snuggle and smell her beautiful little head and get my "fix." Hope to be able to post some images this weekend, so stay tuned. I promise these posts will get better...they have to!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Gratitude with Attitude

Tonight we have our AirForce Nutrisoda St. Louis media launch here the spa. The room is going to look great (thanks to yours truly), and it just might be a success despite the children who are planning it. It seems the Nutrisoda has decided, as a start-up, to keep costs at a minimum by hiring teenagers (or those who were recently teenagers) to be their "Lifestyle Marketing Managers" out in the field. Bless their hearts, they have all the energy in the world when it comes to standing around and "yapping." That's the one's favorite word: yap. Other than that, they're about as useless as a barnacle.

One was here all day yesterday, seven hours, and managed to get about thirty t-shirts rolled and tied with ribbons (my idea). One was here part of the day and stuffed some goodie bags (which my girls in the booking room could have banged out in an hour while answering the phone and booking appointments). The other got flustered when I gently suggested moving her "display" around so that it flowed better, then took over creating it so it didn't look like Zozo had gotten a hold of it.

I tagged some of their little flyers with fishing line and strung them from the ceiling over where the bar will be, so they whirl and twirl in the A/C breeze, which looks very cool. Then I took some of their nifty silver bags with the cute AirForce logo on them, stuffed them with tissue paper that matches the color of the soda cans, and strung them from the ceiling with fishing wire over where the goodie bags are located.

I instructed them to post people throughout the entrance "process," scheduling one staffer to wave through the parking lot, one to greet at the door, and another on at the entrance to the room. I told them where their signs need to be posted (and that they needed to get signs).

I met the caterer yesterday and worked with him to match the tablecloths to the soda cans, and to set up room arrangements. This was all done while the goody-bag stuffer girl sat there and watched. Seriously. How about you do your job? What a novel concept.

I remember being young and stupid, and not knowing all these little tricks and details. I was fortunate to have a fantastic boss who was as detail-oriented as I am to teach me to think all the way around an event or a project. In exchange for my ignorance, I worked my arse off. If I don't have the experience, I'll wow 'em with attitude and dedication and a boatload of elbow grease.

The people I worked with yesterday obviously don't have that mindset. Hopefully they will learn.

Other than that, I've had fun working on this event. It's not really my event, so I've gotten to have fun being creative without really having the stress of ensuring the event is a success. Does that make sense?

I heard a story on NPR this morning about bad bosses, all due to that new movie, "The Devil Wears Prada." Apparently there are Web sites where you can relate your bad boss story and share with everyone else. Someone posted that his boss wanted to fire up her employees, so at the sales meetings she'd fire a taser behind people's heads. Okay, that's going a bit far. Anyway, it reminded me yet again how much I love my job, and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I have a fantastic husband, a phenomenal baby, and a good job that is more than just a's a career. I have a great house (even though it's broken). I have tons of good friends, and a wonderful best friend. I have a big family who loves me. My Beans is getting married to a great guy in love is in the air! We really need to pick out a bridesmaid's dress...wish me luck. Do they still make girdles? Anyway, even my in-laws rock! How many people can say that?!

Good news on the Cloyd front (if you can call anything related to having cancer good news): he has Hodgkin's, which is very treatable and has a 90% cure rate. He's young, healthy, and the cancer is only stage 2. We're all breathing a collective sigh of relief. Thanks for all the prayers...they must work! Keep 'em coming!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Last night we had Imo's Pizza for dinner (thank you, Mom and Dad Z!). It was quite delicious. It's been a looooooong time since we've had Imo's, and it was very good. We did our usual: a mushroom and pepperoni pizza and split a house salad.

The funny thing about Imo's is that unless you are from STL, you hate it. HATE it. About five years ago I started informally straw-polling "foreigners" about Imo's. "Oh, you didn't grow up here? Have you had Imo's pizza? What did you think?" Invariably, the response was, "Ugh! That isn't pizza! That's cardboard with some weird funky white stuff on it ya'all call cheese. It looks like it was either left in the oven way too long, or like it was run over by a steamroller, or possibly both."

Now, if you ask native St. Louisans, the response is typically, "I love Imo's pizza!" Apparently there is quite a market outside of STL for Imo's, from people who grew up here but were forced to move elsewhere, to ship their pies. For a bazillion dollars you can ship an unbaked Imo's pizza just about anywhere, which is very cool. Having never been really forced to part with my beloved Imo's, I can't tell you if it's worth it or not. But, judging by Stef's reaction, who is a die-hard Imo's lover and who lives in Michigan, it's not quite worth it when you can come in a couple times a year and get it then. Not sure if she'd cave and pay it if she wasn't able to come in. We'll have to ask her, but after she gets back from her fabulous vacation trekking around the base of Mont Blanc.

I feel so very cosmopolitan that I'm able to talk about my friend who goes hiking in Europe. She leaves tomorrow afternoon, and let's all wish her a safe and happy trip. You and Moni have tons of fun, Pookers!

Tomorrow night we have another event here at the spa. We're hosting the St. Louis media launch for AirForce Nutrisoda, which is a new softdrink with all sorts of healthy crap mixed in. Some of them aren't bad, but some of them have an aftertaste that I think resembles the stuff that puddles off my car tires after a hard rain. Not that I've ever tasted that; I'm just using the comparison for literary sake. The tagline for the soda is, "You are what you drink." Which makes me go, "Ewwwww." If I am what I drink, then I'm a freakin' venti decaf mocha, non-fat, no whip. And in the winter I'm extra-hot, thank you.

Stopped by the hospital (I'm so tempted to just write hospital, not "the" hospital, like they do in England, and to start calling vacation "holiday," because I just like that way that sounds: "I'm stopping by to see Cloyd in hospital before my holiday. Tally ho!") and his spirits are high. Of course, that could be due to the little morphine drip button he gets to press every six minutes that keeps him relatively pain-free. Apparently the morphine affects him much like it does everyone else, putting him in an altered state and able to see things that aren't really there. Well, I'm assuming he normally doesn't have a little naked man standing on his pillow showing him how to bathe. Just a guess.

Some dude from St. Louis won the home run derby last night, which is way cool. I forget his name. He's playing in Philadelphia, I think I heard, but he's from the Lou. Ryan somebody. Hold on, lemme google it...Ryan Howard. Congratulations, buddy!

Yes, I can write "google" as a verb now, as it's been officially added to the Merriam Webster dictionary. Inflected forms include googled and googling. That's one of my new favorite words: googling. It's right up there with grommet and rutabega.

Raining here today, and I love it! The grass will be greener, and everything will be cleaner, and rain makes me want to stay inside and work. Makes me thankful that I'm somewhere dry and cozy. M ran out to the yard this morning to make sure his newly-installed downspout drainage thingy was working. It is. He's such a good engineering doobie.

No walk for Zozo today if it keeps raining. She'll just have to stay inside and play with all her toys and Grandma. Have fun, Doodlebug! No motorboat while eating!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Organizing Schmorganizing

M has completed his Arena chair stand prototype. We have four seats from the old Arena that we've had since our old house, that are virtually unusable without stands. They've been hanging out in our ultra-small storage room in the basement, taking up way too much space. They're funky because they're rather large, and bulky, so you can't stack them on anything, or stack anything on them. Constant source of frustration to me, the girl who likes to organize more than just about anything else.

So, now that the seats are out of there, I can get to work. We have a rather large stack of "hangables" that need to go on the walls downstairs. We haven't done anything with them because the whole basement was going to be torn up to pier anyway. Now that we're not piering, we're going to go ahead and drill holes all over the walls. That will clear out some more space.

What's left is mainly Christmas decorations, and a few boxes of keepsakes. I'm missing a book box or two (our books had been stored downstairs until we completed the library), so hopefully I'll find those and my Tom Clancys can join their brethren upstairs. I love the idea of clean, simple living. I love the idea of turning my tiny storage room into a hyper-efficient realm of order and calm. Okay, so maybe that's taking it a bit too far, but I'd love to not have to climb over luggage to get to my laundry hamper.

It's taking me a lot longer to conduct my "crap purge" this time, mainly because I have to keep stopping to play with Zozo (and that's just awful, you know!), but it's coming along. I purchased an over-the-door plastic shoe holder for the linen closet in the hall bathroom, because I read something in Real Simple magazine that showed using one to store all the bathroom stuff you use semi-regularly. I am so excited to stick my band-aids in there, and the extra Chapsticks, and extra toothpaste/toothbrushes, etc. Lots of first aid stuff, so I don't have to haul out the over-stuffed Rubbermaid bin every time. This will clear up quite a bit of shelf space so my towels no longer need to be leaning towers that threaten whoever is brave enough to open the door. Wouldn't you know it...the linen closet door is significantly more narrow than other doors, and so the shoe holder doesn't fit. Grrrrr. M is going to look at modifying it, and I'm going to search on-line for a smaller one.

I have infected M with the "crap purge" disease. He's all ready to tear into that storage area and throw a bunch of stuff out. Ahhh, it's good to have a partner with in my fetishes. Now, if we can just find shelves to store his six bins of train cars...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Agfa B-2 Cadet

Yesterday Papa, Grammy and Beans stopped by. Papa found something when cleaning out Grandma's home that he thought I might like to have: an Agfa B-2 Cadet box camera that was produced in 1937-38. It's pretty darn cool, and will be added to my collection. I found an image of one on the Web:Can't imagine shooting with one of these, but maybe I could try sometime. They still make film that can be used with these types of cameras, and the negative is huge, which is tempting. Although then I'd need to get a film scanner so I could input it into the Mac, and of course it'd need to be a mega film-scanner b/c this isn't 35 mm. That's too much trouble, and too expensive, so I think I'll just stick it up on top of the Digital Darkroom with my other old cameras and admire it for what it is and not what it can make.

Cloyd had surgery yesterday and his doctor confirmed that it is indeed cancer. Yes, I've graduated to actually using the c-word. It is what it is, and denying it doesn't do anyone any good. Peg is flexing her "Connector" muscles (read "The Tipping Point" to learn what a Connector is) and is working to get him into the program at Siteman. I'm all for that, as I believe Siteman is the best place you can be if you have cancer. Won't know the results from his biopsy until Tuesday, so just keep on praying.

Listening to Eiffel 65 right now, which is a funky europop group that I learned about from my friend who is moving to CO. Very cool music, and will always remind me of her.

Not much else going on. Finished "The Tipping Point" and am deciding which book to move on to next from the stack Peg lent me. Or maybe I'll save reading for later and will work on some images. That would be nice, since I haven't posted any images on here for awhile, and am supposed to be. This is supposed to be my forum for posting my work, after all, not just the disparate ramblings of my brain.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The C-Word

Yesterday's great day went to hell in a handbasket shortly after work. We were all waiting to see what the doctors would determine was going on with Uncle Cloyd, hoping and praying.

At around 6 I got the call from Aunt Peg: "It isn't good."

At this very moment, as I type, Cloyd is undergoing surgery to determine exactly what's going on, and what "strain" he has. I'm not going to use the C-word, because that would be admitting he's got it, and I'm just not ready for that yet. I don't know that anyone in the family is ready for that, because I haven't heard any of them say it. Isn't that funny? How you can all be talking about something, the same thing, and yet no one has to use the actual word. Peg used "lymphoma," which means the same thing, but isn't using the actual C-word.

Please, everyone, pray for my Uncle Cloyd and Aunt Joann. And send Cloyd some fightin' energy. It's early stage, he's young and healthy, so I'm confident he can lick this.

Had a lovely dinner last night at Ken and Mary's. Well, at Ken and Mary's "summer home out west." Mary is having her kitchen extensively remodeled, and they're staying at a friend's home while the friend is out of the country. So we all went over to the friend's house, which is a split-level built around 1975, and looks it. It's funky and cool, although the railingless stairs sorta freaked me out.

Anyway, Mary made some fantastic beef and risotto and white asparagus (spare grass, as my grandma called it) and cranberries. Oh, and her famous tomato bisque, which is just incredible. Words do not describe Mary's tomato bisque. Ken played wine steward, as he usually does, and it was a very nice time and a good distraction from the earlier news.

This morning, we're working on our projects while waiting to hear word on Cloyd. M is busy designing and building stands for our Busch Stadium II seats and our Arena seats. I am cleaning up around the house (well, not right this second, obviously, but I thought it important to give ya'all an update on Cloyd). Zozo is down for her morning nap, although every once in awhile I think I hear her playing in there.

Oh yeah, message to Aunt Beans: Zozo's stomach does NOT like juice. Yes, we finally gave her some this morning. She wrinkled up her nose at it, then decided to try some more. And then, an ounce into it, she tossed her cookies. Breakfast went everywhere...all over her, all over M. It wasn't pretty. Got her cleaned up, pushed some more breakfast in her, and finished off with her traditional formula. So back off, juice pusher! She's not ready for it quite yet!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Sunshiny Day

Yesterday was full of running hither and yon at work, doing this and that, and I have to say I am loving it. I love my job. LOVE it. I have fun, but I work hard, and I totally enjoy what I am doing. Having worked in non-profit most of my career, I was really struggling with the transition to for-profit and finding "the mission." What am I doing to help people? At Red Cross, it was easy. First I was helping people who were affected by disaster, and helping people prepare for disaster, and making sure as many people as possible knew the life-saving skills of first aid and CPR and whatnot. Then I was helping people by encouraging everyone who can to donate blood. I still feel very passionately about all those things, by the way, and still adore the American Red Cross as an organization and encourage all of you who can to please continue donating time, money and blood whenever you can.

Anway, so going from that situation to working in a day spa was quite a difference. Many people think that day spas are all about vanity and self-indulgence, and to a certain extent, they are. But, at the same time, I've learned that it's much bigger than that. We encourage healthy living, and using the spa as a tool in your arsenal of resources to make that happen. We all know that stress can have a very negative impact on our health. Bad things happen as a result of stress: acne, tension, muscle aches, and bigger stuff like heart attacks and strokes. At the spa, we can help take care of that stress through massage therapy, body treatments and facials. Manicures and pedicures not only encourage good grooming, but they can positively affect the health of your hands and feet (not to mention reducing stress!). The human touch is a very powerful force. I'm not saying we save lives here, by any stretch, but simply that we can help people achieve a healthy balance in their life, and therefore achieve better quality of life.

Then there's the obvious. We all know about the dangers of the sun. Yes, yes. I've been pale and proud for years, but now it's becoming my mission to save the world from skin cancer. I see people with tans and I think, "Tsk tsk, look at that damage. They need Murad's Essential-C Daily Renewal Complex, which can reduce photodamage by 46% in just four weeks!"

So, yeah, I know that a day spa may sound froo-froo to many of you, but having worked here for a year now, I've firmly bought into the notion that it can be an essential part of life and health.

Last night we went to Grandma Frank's and had a delicious meal prepared by Uncle Marty. Holy cow. He made his special cannelloni and salad and bruschetta, and we all pigged out. Some of us more than others (Uncle Jim had five cannelloni! Five!). We all trooped outside around 9:22 to watch the shuttle/space station fly overhead (they're docked now), which was very cool. It was a great night, as usual, with the family, and I thank you all for being the wonderful people you are (and a special thanks to Marty, Dee, Grandma and Shelly for making that was fantastic!).

Zozo had fun hanging out with all her cousins, and showing off her floozy outfit. Her floozy outfit was given to her by her Great Aunt/Godmother Shelly, and consists of leapard-print material outlined in red tulle. It's quite hysterical, and M has been waiting for just the right time to show it off. He decided last night was it, with a ton of the family all together and all. It was hysterical.

At work this morning we had our monthly staff meeting. Every meeting, I have to stand up and present what's going on in the world of spa marketing. At least what's going on in my world of spa marketing. I hate public speaking. Hate it. I get all nervous and clammy and shaky. My voice quivers and, even though I talk fast anyway, I somehow manage to talk even faster, making my words virtually unintelligible to anyone but me. This is a problem anyway, but we have many employees for whom English is a second language, so for the most part, I've been sounding like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoons when I get up there, only in high-speed.

M and Peg have been coaching me, though, gently guiding me through the steps to become a better public speaker. M says, "Just give it time. The more you do it, the easier it will become for you." Peg says, "You must simply slooooow doooooown."

By gosh, they were both right. This morning's meeting was the first time that I enjoyed giving my presentation. I wasn't nervous before, which almost made me nervous actually, and I didn't shake or get hot. I was able to deliver what I wanted to say clearly and slowly (I think...I haven't gotten feedback yet, but I figure no feedback is better than bad feedback). So, yay for me!

Oh yeah, and I've been at the spa a year now, so I got a lovely bouquet of magenta flowers (I have no idea what kind they are, but they are beautiful). Plus I ate two little powdered sugar doughnuts and how can those not make you happy?

Tonight is dinner with Mary B. Mary B. is a gourmet cook. She's the type of person that when she invites you to dinner, you reschedule the Dalai Lama for. My stomach does a little happy dance when she calls. I have no clue what she's making, and I don't care because I know it will be good.

Plus, it's Friday. What could be better?!

Well, Uncle Cloyd could be better. Keep praying for him and Aunt Jo, please. They're still trying to get to the bottom of what he's got going on. He's in good hands at St. John's, though, which is a blessing. I'll keep ya'all updated as I learn more.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Last night Beano called and told us that if we went outside between 8:57 and 9:05 and looked in the northeastern sky, we'd be able to see the space shuttle Discovery.

So we did.

It gave me chills and goosebumps to watch it. A beautiful star, tracking steadily across the early night sky. I stood there with my husband and my daughter, and marveled at the little point of light that I knew carried people just like us. It reminded me of my Papa waking me up at 3 a.m. to go out in the backyard, shivering, waiting to see Mir, the Russian space station, fly overhead. We were so excited to see it, running from the backyard to the front to keep it in sight as long as we could, that we couldn't go back to sleep long after it was gone. We sat in the kitchen and talked until dawn about spaceflight and what it means and how it impacts us, and what the future held in store. It is one of my fondest memories, and I love that I can continue that tradition with M and Zozo.

Am feeling rather blah this morning. Begged a $20 off M and stopped at Starbucks, and am hoping that this little shot of mocha will give me a boost.

Do you ever feel like you're a bunch of different people all rolled up into one person? Sometimes I feel like that. Especially when I look at houses. There is part of me that thinks it would be fantastic to live in a loft in downtown STL, or a highrise in Chicago or Manhattan. There is part of me that wishes to have a little stone cottage way out in the country somewhere, with no neighbors for miles. Sometimes I look at really old, beautiful houses and I think about how magical it would be to live in a place with so much character and history, and other times I crave a brand spankin' new, built-to-my-personal-specifications starter castle.

Sometimes I just want a box in Colorado, as my M-I-L says. Just one big room. Give me a bed, my photography gear (which includes the digital darkroom of course) and a place to make some food, and I'm set. I don't even need a TV, although a small radio would be nice so I could continue my NPR habit. See, the only problem with this idea is that I'd also want to bring my husband and child along, and they come with a ton of stuff. M alone would need a small building just to hold the Christmas Display, not to mention all his tools and toys. Zozo, just by virtue of being a baby, has a boatload of her own goodies.

Maybe when we retire, and M no longer has the energy to put up the Christmas Display (I do believe it'll take him to well into his nineties to reach that point), and Zozo is out on her own with her own family, we can have a box in Colorado.

Uncle Marty, Aunt Dee and Cousin Demery are in town b/c of the 4th, and tonight we're all getting together. I love it when they come in, because with all the excitement of getting to see them again, they also bring peace. I can't describe it, but their whole family (including Cousin Brie, who couldn't make this trip) radiates peace and love and grace. They are an inspiration to me daily and I just try to soak up as much of their peace as I can when they are in. Plus, Marty is one heck of a cook and he just might be making dinner tonight. Woooo wooooo!

Okay, time to start the prayers again. Uncle Cloyd is in the hospital due to an extremely high fever. His doctors are not quite sure what is going on, so they've poked the poor man too many times to count to draw blood, and CAT-scanned him to heck, and are throwing about all sorts of theories. Aunt Jo, his wife, is still coming into work and putting in full days, and visiting him at St. John's before driving back home to O'Fallon, Missouri, and I'm sure she's pretty darn worried, so pray for her, too. We stopped by the hospital last night at work to visit, and he looked pretty good and said he was feeling better. He's the IT guy here at work, so my diagnosis is that he's got a nasty computer virus that's moving all his files around on his hard drive. He wanted to know if it was possible to re-boot, and we all had a good laugh.

That's about all that's going on here. Sorry for no post last night, but I was in bed by 10 and asleep by 10:30 for a sorely-needed 8 hours of sleep.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy Birthday, America!

Happy birthday to you...
Happy birthday to you...
Happy birthday dear America...
Happy birthday to you!

Sorry for no post yesterday, but we were quite busy celebrating our nation's independence.

M kicked off the day with a round of golf with Papa. Apparently he played quite well, despite the fact that we had to dig his golf clubs out of storage where they've been hiding for well over a year. He won "closest to the pin" and his team won the skins, whatever that means. All I know is he chipped in $6 at the beginning and won $10, which was then automatically kicked into the beer pot, giving him a net of -$6.

Meanwhile, I cared for the Doodle in the morning before loading up the car and heading to Grammy's. I had a choice yesterday morning: post to the blog or call Steffi and catch up. Steffi won. Thanks for the was long overdue!

Beans ran to Sam's for us and picked up diapers (thanks, Beanie!) and then we all met at Grammy's and hung our for awhile, discussing weddin' plans and just BSing. Then Beano put on her Grillmeister hat and grilled hamburgers and brats. When M and Papa got back from golf they changed into their trunks and jumped into the pool to cool off. Papa insisted that Zozo go swimming, so I changed her into her Nemo swim diaper and her adorable swimsuit and handed her to her daddy. She splashed and played in the water for a bit, and then we decided it was time for Zozo to go under.

M dunked her three times, to the tune of "Itsy Bitsy Spider," taking her under with the line "...and washed the spider out!" The first time, she came up with eyes the size of quarters and a look on her face like, "What the hell was that?!" It looked like she was going to cry, so we all cheered and clapped, and she figured out that perhaps dunking was fun. The second two times she was just fine. We're pretty sure we've ruined "Itsy Bitsy Spider" for her from now on, but sometimes you just gotta sacrifice something to move ahead.

Many thanks to Papa for taking M golfing, and to Grammy and GG for sharing their morning/afternoon with us. After swim time, we ate a quick bite with the fam and then packed everything back up again and headed back towards home.

Fourth of July at Grandma and Grandpa Z's is always quite an affair. Lots of people, all of whom I love, and tons of really great food. Grandpa Z always does ribs on the grill with his world-famous barbecue sauce, which happens to be the only barbecue sauce I will eat. Most barbecue sauces have a smoky flavor, which is just disgusting to me. I wrote off Bandana's Barbecue with one look at their tagline, which is "Smell that smoke!" Ugh. Icky. Anyway, we had fun with the cousins, as we always do, and even got in a couple rounds of bocci ball before the rains came.

Always troopers, almost everyone packed up their cars and headed to the polo grounds at St. Louis Country Club for fireworks despite the rain. We lucked out and found that the club had erected a rather large tent for all of us to stand/sit under. Someone related to the head of the pyrotechnics team assured us that the fireworks would indeed go on, even if it was raining, so we hung out and waited.

M was holding Zozo for the first shell, and she started to fuss a little bit. Again, we clapped and said, "Yaaaaay!" and after a few more she was just fine. I held her for the middle of the show and M took her back near the end, and she ended up loving the fireworks. She was tracking the shells as they fired, and then waiting for the burst, smiling and laughing when they went off. She's one helluva little girl, I'll tell ya. She's our little firecracker, and I hope she stays open to trying new things.

That's about it from here. I'm sure I'm leaving out a few important details, but man, I am tired. It feels like we've been on-the-go for several straight weeks now. I sure hope things settle down a bit, but I have a feeling they won't unless we start declining invitations and such. I don't see that happening because we always have so much fun. Maybe I should start drinking Red Bull or something.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Boat Shoot

This morning, before departing for work, I shot a boat.

Not just any boat. A very special boat.

This boat belonged to Zoe's great-grandpa, my grandfather-in-law, M and Steve's grandpa, Carol's daddy, Michael Joseph's father-in-law, Ann's husband. From what I understand, this boat was as loved by Grandpa as he was loved by all the people listed above. He was happy when he was out in the water in his boat, "Livin' it up!"

Zozo hasn't gotten to meet her great-grandpa yet, and hopefully it'll be many years before she does, but when she does, boy is she in for a treat. I only knew him for a relatively short time, and he was a character. You could see that signature white flat-top coming from miles away. M inherited many good traits from him: being able to fix/rig anything, a love for all tools, and a penchant for rip-roaring fires. Grandpa had a little sign in his shop: "Candy is dandy but sex won't rot your teeth." M has it now.

Our little family has heard my "Grandpa Stories" many times, but I'll post 'em here for the rest of ya'all to enjoy.

M and I had been dating a very short time when I was invited to attend a family reunion on his mom's side. We all had nametags, and I was sitting at a picnic table enjoying the company of M's immediate family when I saw Grandpa squinting at my nametag. "Z-I-E... Huh. You'll be moving back in the alphabet." M cringed, turned 40 different shades of red, and said, "Grandpa!" Guess you could say Grandpa knew before anyone else that we'd end up together.

Sometime later, I went with M when he dropped in on his grandparents to visit. We found Grandpa puttering around in his garage, and he was so excited to show M his new "find." "Look! Look what I have here! I got this jack for $30...and I think I can fix it!" I remember thinking, "He paid $30 for a broken jack?!" What I didn't see then was that it was a dandy of a jack, and he could fix it, and he did, therefore making his purchase quite a bargain.

Grandpa was a good man, and I was lucky to know him. It was great to hear more stories about him this morning while making images of his beloved boat.

I'll try to get those images processed quickly so I can get them up here as soon as possible. Now that my house is clean, I just might be able to do that tonight!

P.S. This is the first "art" shoot I've done in ages, and it felt really good to be back in the saddle. Popped off a few of Zozo, too, of course. Wouldn't be a shoot without making photographs of my favorite model!

Sunday, July 02, 2006


I am tired. Cleaning my house kicked my booty. But, the house is spotless, the clutter is busted, and I feel good despite being tired. It was a very productive weekend, to say the least.

Unproductive as far as posting to the blog, but sometimes that's how the cookie crumbles. I absolutely had to clean my house or I'd have gone postal. No offense intended to any postal workers who are reading this, of course. It's just a phrase.

Last night M and I went to the Cards game for Date Night. We were both so beat from the day (he was out in the heat, which I can't imagine since I was sweating my tushie off cleaning in the A/C) that we sat there like zombies. Well, except when my boy Molina hit a home run. Way to go Yadi! There were others, of course, Rolen and Edmonds, but I think it's something special when a catcher hits one.

The bonus of the night was getting to see the fireworks at Fair St. Louis. Our seats are in section 450, way up high but directly behind home plate. They are awesome seats, and so not only did we have a great view of the game (even though we lost), we had a great view of the fireworks. I only had the Nikonette with me, but I popped off a few shots. We'll see what I got later, not tonight. Too dang tired to mess with it.

Today, after M ran around the yard and I ran around the house, we went to Grandpa Ray's and Judy's for a delicious meal and hanging out with the fam. It struck me again how lucky I am that not only do I get to see my family during holidays, but I also get to see them every day when I work with them.

Currently reading a book that Peg loaned me called "The Tipping Point." It's all about epidemics. Social, political, economical, market, etc. Not just the icky virus kinds. It's very, very interesting. I love reading about this stuff. Not only does it help me do a better job as a marketer, it helps me understand people. And I need help with that, because most of the time people just confuse the hell out of me.

Zozo is awesome, just in case you're wondering. She continues to amaze me, and I love just spending time with her. It's cool watching her figure stuff out, watching her learn. I think learning, and learning to learn, is so vitally important to having a full, complete life. I can't imagine not learning. I learn something every day. Chris, whom I work with, called me "a little sponge" last week, because of the way I suck up new information and ideas. I took that as a high compliment. So, I'm taking a page out of Zozo's book, and learning new ways to look at the world from a person who has only been on this earth for 10 short months.

Okay, I've had my reduced fat Oreos (you can't really tell the difference, I swear) and my skim milk, and I'm changing over a load of laundry then hitting the sack. I think M and I will both sleep very well tonight!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Target: Clutter

It's Saturday morning. Zozo is down for her nap. M is out digging in the yard (burying downspouts, not bodies). I am alone in the house, with the Beatles playing. I'm about to open up a can of whup-ass on clutter. Mwaaaaa haaaaa haaaaaaa (evil laugh).