Thursday, May 31, 2007

Stupid. S-T-O-O-P-I-D Stupid.

We watched the National Spelling Bee finals tonight, where tiny people with giant brains collectively work to make us feel dumb as posts.

We did this to ourselves with the Geography Bee last year, and the same result happened.

I became eerily unsettled that there is way too much that I don't know.

What killed me was that during the commercial breaks, we saw previews for a show that caters to mediocrity, idiocy, and talentlessness. It's the Bingo Show. I have no idea what the real title is, but essentially "The Bingo Show" sums it up. One person plays bingo in front of a studio audience, who are also playing, and home viewers who, you guessed it, can play along too. This takes about as much talent as the show where you just keep pickin' metal briefcases, hopin' for the best.

What has television come to? Granted, we don't watch much anymore so all I'm judging it on is what we witnessed tonight. It's never on as "background noise," as we'd much rather listen to our favorite music. When Zozo was born we made a decision to relegate television to the back burner, and there it's pretty much stayed. Plus, I'm of the firm opinion that there will never be a finer show than The West Wing, which we already own in its entirety on DVD, hence no need to ever hunt for another show. And when I need my girly fix, I pop in Sex and The City and feast on Manolos and Choos.

After Zozo went down tonight, and while waiting for me to finish washing my face, M turned on the television just for kicks. That's how he found the Bee. It was good, wholesome, quality entertainment that was topped off when the boy who won admitted at the end that even though he won he still doesn't really care for spelling bees, much preferring math and music. I get that kind of entertainment. It was intriguing, compelling, competitive and educational. At the end there it got downright hilarious.

But I can't wrap my noodle around the whole bingo-on-television thing. They've done it up right, from what we can tell, complete with an unknown but attractive emcee (and his Aussie accent), flashing lights, hyper people who think they're really gonna win a million dollars and all their troubles will be solved, and the biggest bingo balls in the world. And don't forget the unknown supermodel-like woman who picks the balls out of the cage and announces the numbers. As if that wasn't enough, there is some creepy little Asian dude who, after every ball is called, asks the audience if there are any bingos, and upon receiving a negative, states, "There are no bingos. Game still on!"

I guess that's the great thing about American television. You can take your pick: child geniuses (is that the plural of genius? Hell, I don't know. I was out of my grade school spelling bee with "cheese." I kid you not. In my nervousness all I could picture was the Cheez Whiz can in our fridge. Guess how it came out.) or bingo on crack. Take your pick. Either way I feel like a dumbass watching it.

La Traviata

It's official: I love the opera.

La Traviata was magnificent. Beautiful. Gorgeous. From the sets to the costumes to the singing...I loved it all.

I wasn't so sure during the first act. I was having trouble getting into it, and it was sort of bothering me that they were singing opera-style in English. Sounds ridiculous until you get used to it. Second act: cried my eyes out. Third act: cried everything else out.

If you go see it, and I recommend you do, take a box of tissues. Or four.

M, not so much. He yawned a couple times, asked again if there was going to be beer and brats, and said his standard, "It's okay. It wouldn't be my first choice for entertainment." Roughly translated: "If it doesn't involve a baseball, football, hockey puck or volleyball, beer, or go-carts...we ain't goin' back."

He's such a good husband, though, I know he'll go back just for me.

I'm still floating from the experience. I can't even come up with the words to describe it. The St. Louis Opera Theater is also showing The Mikado and Anna Karinina this season, and now I'm dying to go.

It's pretty powerful stuff.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

La la la laaaaaa

We're going to the opera tonight. I'm very excited about this, as I've never been to the opera before. I've learned that we need to get there on time, preferably early, because if you're late you have to wait in the lobby until the first intermission. I wish they would apply this rule at sporting events, as I'm tired of having to stand up in the middle of a play because people don't realize that we're there to actually watch the game and instead decide to go in and out of our row willy nilly.

I've also learned that, like at the ballgame, attire runs the gamut. Sounds like if we dress for church we'll be squarely in the middle and just fine.

We're seeing La Traviata, which supposedly is an excellent piece on which to cut one's operatic teeth.

Unfortunately, I cannot get Adam Sandler's "Opera Man" character out of my head. Just when I think I'm going to introduce a little culture into my life...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Velcro Baby

It seems Zozo has hit a new phase in her life. Our Parents as Teachers parent educator summed it up succinctly: The Velcro Phase.

This means that Zozo prefers to velcro herself to me most of the time, venturing out every once in awhile but continually circling back to me, or at the very least, looking back to ensure I'm still there.

This, of course, makes getting housework and yardwork done a near impossibility. At least with any sort of efficiency or quality.

But I must admit that part of me (a huge part) absolutely loves this phase. I love being her "mama," and being able to provide that security for her. I love that I'm the person she wants to be closest to in the whole world. I love feeling her little arms encircle my neck, and her little hands grip my arms or my shirt. I love that I'm the person who can make her owies feel better, and can stop (or at least somewhat abate) the flow of tears.

What I do not love is having to leave her, and listening to her cry and whimper "Mama! Mama!" It just tears my heart right out. And it takes an unbelievable amount of willpower to let her go. She's fine five minutes later, and I'm still wallowing in a puddle of tears.

I guess that's a small price to pay to get all the good stuff.

I'm sure the day will come when M will be the favorite, and I'll be the Mean Mommy for some injustice I've bestowed, or maybe the Embarrassing Mommy for wearing Chuck Taylors in my old age, so for right now I'm soaking it up. Velcro away, Zozo. Mama will always be here for you.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Oh, that's where they are

Well, several mysteries were solved tonight.

I was in the midst of a load of laundry when it happened. My beloved relatively new front-loader malfunctioned. There was beeping, and the numbers that normally show how much time is left in the cycle started flashing "F-02."

F-02? What the F does that mean?

I shrugged it off and cleared the cycle, and told it to rinse and drain. It did. Whew. Crisis averted.

Until it did it again on the next load. Uh oh. Better call in the heavy hitter.

M was not too pleased to be brought in on this particular project, because it involved two things he doesn't like to work on: plumbing, and relatively new appliances. I won't lie...there were some expletives involved, and a fair amount of griping.

We got out the manual. F-02 means that the washer isn't draining properly. Well, duh. There's a boatload of water in there, swishing around with our clothes, and it's not leaving when it ought.

So he checked the drain pipe coming off the back of the washer (per the owner's manual instructions). Nothin'. Okay. Hunh. Well, let's try clearing the cycle and running it again, like I had done the first time. Nope. Not workin'.

At this point we're both tired, and frustrated, and becoming increasing pissed off at the possibility we might have to call our good buddies at Sears.

We pull the sopping wet clothes out, and I start rinsing them manually in the sink. That's a load of fun on Memorial Day evening, let me tell you. M began inspecting the washer more closely, this time inside the drum.

He pulled out a little sticker. Looks shiny. Yep, it's an official MLB sticker from a Cardinals shirt we had recently washed. WTF? Damn MLB. Like the fifteen tags I cut off the sucker weren't enough, they gotta go and stick something on. Only problem is, there were two of those shirts. Where is the other sticker? Great, now we gotta tear into the whole washer to find the other one, because we're betting that's what caused the drain malfunction. It's stuck somewhere and blocking the flow of water.

M showed me where he found it in the drum, and gestured towards the rubber gasket at the front of the drum that seals the door during wash cycles. I don't remember what he said, but for grins I tugged at the gasket and peeked inside.

Oh. My. God.

There were no less than 9 of Zoe's socks stuck in there. And by the looks of 'em, for awhile. A few were from when she was a newborn. There was also one of her weensy wash cloths, and a couple of my peds. Oh yeah, and one of M's Chapsticks. The socks that had been in there for awhile are beyond hope. They're pretty darn disgusting. I can salvage the peds and some of the new refugees, though. The Chapstick was a total loss.

So, this evening's experience was enlightening on several levels.

1. It feels fantastic when one can fix one's own appliance, without paying through the nose and dealing with incompetent boobs from Sears.

2. We now have an answer to "where do socks disappear to?"

3. I had to admit that M is right when he can't find something and proclaims, "This house eats things!" Well, it doesn't actually eat things so much as chew on them for awhile. Like, months. Or a year even.

4. The F-02 code means, "Check the F-ing gasket, you Flipping moron."

Washer is performing perfectly again (we're keeping our fingers crossed), and we're going to sleep soundly. For those of you with front loaders, I suggest you check that front gasket every once in awhile. Who knows what you'll find. Would have been better to find some cash in there, you know, like when you pull out your winter coat for the first time of the season and discover a fiver in the pocket (yeah! free mocha money!), but at this point I'll settle for clean clothes and a happy husband.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

No hammock today

It's raining. Again. Which means I can't use my hammock. :-(


Sometimes I make images of things because I just like how they look. I like patterns and contrasts. Maybe you can't even tell what it is, but I think that doesn't matter. I look at it, and it pleases me. And maybe it'll please someone else, too.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Angst-free art

I've been thinking a lot lately about art, and being an artist, and what it all means, and I keep going back to the same old question that has plagued me for years:

Does one need to have angst to be an artist?

You know what I mean, even if you haven't thought about it.

When you think of "artist," you think of either dead people, who typically had tragic lives that ended in tragic deaths, or at least some pretty hefty quirks (Van Gogh's ear issue, for instance), or alive people who are currently living their tragic life. They don't have much money (hence the whole "starving artist" term) and are quirky. They live in attics, and do things like sacrifice eating in order to paint.

They are not typically middle-class white girls who live in the suburbs with their husbands, two-year-olds, and two cats.

At least, that's what I feel like some times.

I guess the real issue is this: I don't feel as though I can be taken seriously as an "artist" because I have a pretty good life that isn't necessarily artsy.

I mean, I like to think I have a fair amount of my own angst to cart around (broken house, wish I made more money, am I a good mom, M's bum shoulder, body issues, etc.), but you know, all in all, my life is pretty damn good. There's no hiding from that.

I don't starve, and I love my day job. Which makes me incredibly lucky that the thing I do (work) to do the thing I love (photography), I happen to love, too. But it doesn't exactly make for a very traditionally romantic "starving artist" story, you know?

Then I go back to the label of "artist" and I wonder why it's so important for me to have that label, to have that title. It doesn't pay me anything, it's not how I make my living. No one who loves me cares whether I'm really an artist. So why do I want so much to be recognized as an artist? And who, really, am I hoping will say, "Hey, you're an artist!"?

I don't want the angst, the tortured soul, the just-scraping-by lifestyle. I likes my comforts, and my treats, and getting to see new places and have new experiences, and the finer things of life.

I read photographer biographies, searching, I suppose, for the key: what do I have to do to be an artist?

Edward Weston, my favorite photographer, sacrificed darn near everything for his art. He lived simply, and at one point even left his four boys to go to Mexico for awhile. I could never, ever leave Zozo, so that's out (although I must admit the living simply thing is quite appealing to me).

Ansel Adams was a nature freak, and spent scads of time climbing in the mountains and camping. Um, no. So not for me.

Edward Stieglitz was a spoiled snot with family money and an amount of self-esteem that makes Donald Trump look humble.

I just realized that never once, in these biographies, have I read about the days those great photographers had that have to be like some of my days. The days they spent going through bills and paperwork, just trying to get to their art (in their case, freeing up time to work, in my case, a more literal sense in that our computer cabinet that houses my computer and photo printer is also our family's home office). Did they, like me, wonder, "Do I have what it takes to wear the title "artist?"

I'm sitting here at my computer, and there are bills piled up on my printer, and a cracked Tupperware container that's supposed to remind me to print the instructions off the internet on how to send it back to get it replaced, and I think, "this isn't very artsy."

And then I look harder, and I listen. I hear the rain falling outside the window I just opened right next to me (I get hot sitting here, and as much as M hates it - "I refuse to air condition the world" - after he goes to bed I frequently open my window to feel the breeze and hear the outside...shhh...don't tell him), and watch Max try to inhale everything he can through the screen. I see a stack of memory cards from shots I recently downloaded to the Mac, sitting near the empty box of Altoids that's waiting to be refilled because I have to have Altoids stashed everywhere. I see an extra ink cartridge (magenta!) stuck to the bulletin board behind my screen, and three different kinds of photo paper stored on the shelf above. I see the found little bits of inspiration I've tacked up, and the post-it note crammed with scribbled one-hit wonders I'm waiting (for no good reason, really) to buy off iTunes. I see pictures of Zozo, and of Joey (my nephew), including one of the drafts of Zoe's first birthday invite, the one with all the little pictures of her face, that is all jacked up because my ink nozzles were clogged when I first started printing, so she looks like a devil baby and it cracks me up to no end. I see the image my friend Kevin made of me and our friend Ryan in high school that is one of my most cherished possessions, and I see my most favorite mat-cutting ruler ever.

I see these things, and they make me happy, and they make me feel creative.

And I think, yeah, maybe, just maybe, I'm an artist after all, even without the angst.

Friday, May 25, 2007

From this morning

Leaves on Copper


My new pal Nicole pointed out to me this evening that I had posted that I wasn't going to write any more tributes, and then went and spewed on about why I love David Eckstein.

She must know my hatred of inconsistency.

So, after thinking about it for awhile (I gave her some smartass response earlier, in complete self-defense and with little thought behind it), I've figured out why I did that.

I should have clarified in my original post that by "tribute," I meant as it relates to people whom I personally know. Like friends and family. And English majors who offer constructive criticism. That's what I meant when I wrote that it's sort of expected of me at this point, and anyone who knows me knows that I abhor things being expected of me. I like to set the expectation bar pretty low and then wow when I actually do deliver.

I started writing little tributes to people I loved on their special days, because I wanted to, because showing love through writing is easy for me, and meaningful, and fun. But then it got to be expected, to where I was actually worrying about it in advance, which means it's no longer easy, or fun for that matter. I started this blog to write about whatever pops into my pea brain every day, whether that's trucksticles or how pissed I am at Josh Hancock's family or the latest thing Zozo is doing.

Because writing "for" others isn't why I started this, nor what I want to do, I declared a moratorium on tributes.

However, I'm pretty sure David Eckstein's teammates aren't going to be calling me, going, "My turn! My turn! Write about me next!" Which is kinda what I was getting from people I do know. "You wrote XXX about that person...wonder what you're going to write about me." Someone's even been known to count paragraphs, which meant I actually had to ensure that I wrote the same number or more about someone else. (You know who you are!)

So, yeah, that's my reason behind saying I wasn't going to write tributes anymore, and then promptly posting about my love of David Eckstein. Or his sense of humor anyway.

By the way, David's back at the top of the order, and is using Number One Spot as his at-bat song again. All is right in the world again.

Manna for gear junkies

Funny conversation with M last night:

M: "You've had 400 posts to your blog?!"
A: "Yep."
M: "In what amount of time?"
A: "A year, dork. Aren't you reading the blog right now?"
M: "Yeah, but I think your average is wrong."
A: "I used a calculator!"
M: {as he mumbles a bunch of numbers and crunches the equation in his head} "Oh, yeah, I guess that's right."

It's always good to have a math genius in the family. Keeps you on your toes, you know.

After taking Zozo over to Grandma's this morning, we walked back across the yard and I spotted some fallen leaves (it was windy yesterday afternoon!) that had some raindrops on them. Pretty pretty. M left for work and I grabbed the Nikon. Love being able to shoot first thing in the morning. Made me a few minutes late for work, but it was worth it.

Funny how just holding a camera for a few minutes in the morning, and hearing that shutter click, can start your whole day off right.

In other news, I read in my PDN this morning that Hasselblad has released a $32,000 camera, the H3D-39. Wow. I better be able to drive the thing for that price. Can you imagine? Now, don't get me wrong, I'd love to have a Hassy. They are beautiful. Gorgeous. Fantastic images. The film versions are great because your negative is huge in comparison to 35 mm. They're a little fussy; one of my photography instructors had one and the shutter was constantly jamming. Back then I thought they were rather expensive. I could have purchased a body for $400. Looking back, I should have done it, although that would have led to additional costs for lenses and film, since my Nikkors obviously won't fit a Hassy body. Still, it'd be nice to fart around with one some day.

But $32,000 for a camera? Now that's just a bit much. Oh yeah, and that $32,000 gets you the body lenses. Nice, eh? You're essentially shelling out 32 G's for a paperweight, since that's all you can do with it without lenses.

The gearheads are salivating, though, because that little "39" designation in the name? Yeah, that's for 39 megapixels. For comparison, my D100 has 6.1. Most of the other DSLRs out right now have around 12. This puppy has a full-frame sensor and 39 megapixels.

Maybe $32,000 isn't so bad for a camera body.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Just when I thought people couldn't get any more STUPID

I learned that Josh Hancock's father has filed a lawsuit against Mike Shannon's, the tow truck company, the tow truck driver, and the driver of the stalled car.

You have got to be kidding me.

I firmly believe that this is quite possibly the most bone-headed thing in the world right now.

Let's see.

He was
  • drunk
  • speeding
  • on his cell phone
  • not wearing a seatbelt
  • in possession of an illegal substance
But it wasn't his fault.

Hello? Hello? HELLO?

I posted earlier that I thought the family was wrong for allowing his funeral, the funeral of a drunk driver, to become a media circus.

Boy, that was just the beginning.

Those people ought to be ashamed of themselves. I sit here and shake my head, and feel sorry for the tow truck driver and the stalled car driver and send them all my best wishes, and fume over the sheer idiocy of the Hancock family and its lawyers.

What sent me over the edge was their claim that Hancock became involuntarily intoxicated. Are you out of your ever-loving mind?


Why are Americans, who are so damn proud of our independence and "pull myself up by my bootstraps" attitude, so quick to point the finger at someone else. Anyone else. When did it become okay to assume the "victim" role every time?

Why stop at suing those people? Why not sue: the maker of the rental car, the driver of the truck who struck his car a few days before (because perhaps had he been driving his own car the accident wouldn't have happened), the maker of the tires on the rental car, the rental car company, the cell phone company, the girl he was talking to on the phone, the pot dealer who sold him the drugs, the beer/alcohol company whose beverages he "involuntarily" consumed, MODOT for that dangerous stretch of road, the driver who cut off the stalled car, the police for not getting to the first accident quickly enough, the Cardinals who were sitting at Cafe Napoli waiting for him (for enticing him to drive), the other patrons at Mike Shannon's for creating a festive atmosphere that encouraged "involuntary" consumption of alcohol...

You get my point.

Damn, if I could blame every stupid thing I did on someone else, life would sure be a helluva lot easier.

Involuntary intoxication. I can die now. I've heard it all.

I didn't think I could ever reach the point of feeling sorry for Josh Hancock. He made his bed, and he laid in it. But now, I do. I feel sorry for him because his moronic tragic death is being taken to epic proportions and what little good will was left towards his memory is being sullied.

Shame on you, Mr. Hancock. Shame on you and your greedy lawyers. Cardinal Nation mourned for your loss, but that's all over now. Don't think so? Check out the Talk Forum on

Snapshots vs. Art

A friend told me recently that her daughter won a stock photography contract with a Swiss company. That's great news. "Oh," I said, "I would love to see your daughter's work." She promptly gave me the Web address and I went on my way.

I just checked out the site.

It really, really, truly, honestly, undeniably, totally sucks. It sucks in a major way. And it sucks so bad that now I'm going, "Awwwwwww, what on earth am I going to say to my friend when she asks me what I thought?" Because I'm not one of those people who can feign enthusiasm for shit.

I thought about not posting this here, because I sound like a photo snob and I don't want to be snippy. So let me clarify that I do not judge other photography from the standpoint of thinking that I'm a great photographer myself. I consider myself mediocre at best, and possibly with a flair for editing. In other words, I know to throw out the junk and not show it to anyone. I like to think I have an eye and, when looking at the work of others, can say, "That's phenomenal" versus "That looks like a ordinary snapshot taken with a circa 1986 Kodak Disc camera."

And it's not that I think snapshots are bad. Snapshots are fantastic. The snapshot holds a very important place in the friend and family history genre. It's vital and necessary and invaluable. The world would suck rocks if there were no snapshots.

It's just that snapshots generally aren't interesting to many people other than those who are in them, or those who love (or at least like) those who are in them. Think about it. I'm sure your coworker who you think is named Ned but you're not sure, who you smile at and say, "How ya doin?" when you pass in the hall, not even slowing down to get a real answer, has a big ol' photo album at home full of images that are priceless to him but don't mean diddly squat to you.

Really good photography, though, the kind that hits you in the solar plexus and makes you inhale (or exhale) quickly, or makes you angry or happy or uncomfortable, means something to most everyone. That's the kind of thing that should win one a stock photography account, not grab shots from cousin Chip's wedding.

I should learn to never, ever say, "Oh, I would love to see your/his/her work."

Can I go back to bed?

Have you ever woken up in the morning and, from the instant your eyes opened, you knew it was gonna be a bad day?

I'm so freakin' tired today. I had my business dinner last night, which sounded great in the planning stages but which in reality turned out to extend my work day quite a bit. To 12 hours, to be exact. And it was on the same day as a management meeting which by itself is mentally draining. Ugh.

The dinner was good, and fun, but went to 9:30, which considering it started at 6 was waaaaay tooooooo looooooong. And we couldn't get out. Our host, bless his little heart, kept finding one more thing he just had to share with us. We all walked out together, and the only thing that kept me from sprinting to the car was the fact that I was wearing heels. By the time I got home, my kid was asleep, my husband was asleep, and even the cats looked at me like I was disrupting their evening of doing absolutely nothing. Read for a bit and went to bed, and the alarm went off about 10 seconds after I closed my eyes. That's what it felt like, anyway.

So this morning I feel all draggy and grouchy and pissy. Came in to an e-mail from a potential client asking if a particular coupon is good at just one of our locations, or at all three. Um, yeah, it says right on the coupon itself that it's good only at the one. Right there. RIGHT THERE. That's why I put it on there. You know, to answer that question that people might have. So, this particular client has reinforced my view, for today anyway, that people are stupid.

While I'm typing her response (without my grouchiness attached to it, and with the open-ended offer to answer any other questions she might have that I just know I'm going to live to regret), I hear a BAM behind me. I didn't even need to turn around. Stupid bird.

I did turn around, though, and saw a beautiful little brown bird laying on the sidewalk below my window, breathing its very last breath. There's just something about watching another living creature die and being powerless to stop it that kinda wrecks your whole day. Damn.

I found a plastic bag and went out, picked it up (it was lighter than I thought it'd be) and unceremoniously deposited it into the dumpster. Not exactly a burial befitting one of God's creatures, but again, I'm in heels and I have work to do, so it was the best I could come up with. Perhaps I should have hummed Taps or something.

What a crummy day. And it's not even 10:30 yet.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs

Went to the Cardinals game last night and had a blast. Sat next to a very sneezy M, so I'm not sure how much he enjoyed, but I thought it was a great night. Winning didn't hurt, that's for sure, and seeing Dunc smack one out of the park was a highlight. We had a big ol' drunk guy sitting in front of us who was annoying at first, but then I figured out he was pretty harmless and that my night would be considerably more enjoyable if I laughed at him instead of being annoyed by him. Let's call him Jim Bob, shall we?
For starters, Jim Bob was wearing a t-shirt that said, "Drunk women: FREE Breathalyzer Test. Blow Here" with an arrow pointing down. Now that's Klassy. He had David Crosby's hair from the 70s, you know, that scraggly shit that hangs down the back with the balding top. Didn't stop him from sporting the Goody comb in his back pocket (I kid you not). Maybe he used it on his overgrown fu manchu beard, who knows. He was a good ol' boy, that's for sure, and we bet he was pretty plowed before he ever even walked into the stadium. Jim Bob entertained the crowd by regaling us with the lyrics from "Signs," the old Tesla classic.

What was hilarious was that he honestly thought he was singing along to the music that was playing over the stadium's PA system. I don't know what it was, but it wasn't "Signs."

He left before the 7th, hollering, "Good bye, all you beautiful people!" and we cheered him. It was considerably quieter after he left, and far less entertaining. I must admit, I missed Jim Bob. Sniff sniff. It's times like that when I think to myself, "Damn, you really ought to carry the camera with you at all times."

Today we have a management meeting here at the spa, and if it gets to dragging on too long I'm gonna pull a Jim Bob and belt out "Signs" with no warning. That ought to break things up.

Tonight is our church picnic, and I can't go as I've got a business dinner. I'm torn. I'm really looking forward to the dinner because it's with great people at a really good restaurant that I haven't been to yet, but I'm also peeved that I'm missing the church picnic. Especially since I won't be there to watch M make himself sick on the Rock-O-Plane (see last year's post concerning M and amusement rides). Hopefully the ride will take his mind off his new head cold that he received from yours truly, according to him. I blame The Daughter, but he won't budge.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Blast from the past

This morning, as I was getting ready for work, I received a phone call from a former employer. I won't reveal the name, but family and close friends will remember it was the video and conference technology place. So, yeah, my boss there (whom I left because he was lacking in the ethics department) didn't call, which is probably a good thing because I still spit when I say his name, but rather had one of my old colleagues call.

She was a receptionist when I left, helping with sales, and is now something like Operations Director. Good for her! She was a lovely girl, very much fun to work with, but blind as a bat when it came to John. Would've followed him anywhere, and in fact, had followed him from their last job.

So anyways, she gives me a call and says, "We're looking for a Marketing Director and didn't know if you were by any chance looking..." Apparently John had told her to "find" me and give me a call, since now they've grown enough that they need "a real marketing director."

I'm quite pleased with myself for being gracious and charming, and not saying, "Tell him pigs will fly over a frozen hell before I would ever even consider working for him again." I must have grown as a person since I left there.

Still, it's nice to be in demand.

On a different note...

Happy Blogiversary to me!!! Yes, one year ago today I started Latent Images. I had no idea whether I'd really keep up with it, and am quite pleased that I have. Today is also my 400th post, which means I've averaged 1.0958904 posts per day in the last year. Impressive! Or "very commendable" as my Papa would say. I can't say for sure if readership has grown or fallen off, but I do know that I have a few very loyal viewers who are quite vocal when I miss a day. Which is quite silly since they are the same folks who can't seem to update their own blogs or MySpace pages with any regularity whatsoever. Anyway, thanks to everyone still reading. Feel free to drop me a line so I know if you're still out there!

Monday, May 21, 2007

More from the weekend

It's so much fun to shoot in natural light again. I love love love the results of my KAF (that would be Kick-Ass Flash), but dang, that thing gets heavy. The D100 ain't no feather, by itself, but when you slap the KAF on there, sheesh. I think I should be lifting weights to build my upper body strength.

If you can look past Ms. Hollywood there, you can see our new patio set in the background. Yay!

Yes, this is a picture of The First Owie. Hey, National Geographic hasn't hired me yet, so I have to make do with documenting the local issues.


This hammock was a Mother's Day gift. Ahem.

M improves and Zozo gets an owie

Terrific news today!!!! M announced this morning, "The pain is gone in my arm!"

We're not sure if it will last, but damn, it's good to hear that. Poor boy has been in agony since February 13. His shoulder surgery led to pain up and down his arm which led to tendonitis in his forearm and hand which led to what they think is maybe an ulcer (from all the meds). Ugh. Not sure if he'd have signed up for the surgery so willingly had he known all this was going to happen.

Looks like we're on the downside of it all now, though.

Zozo got her first skinned knee this weekend. She tripped on the sidewalk behind the house and went down. You can see it in the second image of the post below. She was a trooper though, and was finished crying in less than two minutes. She keeps pointing to it, and I keep saying, "Yes, that's your owie." Sometimes I use "booboo." I suppose I should figure out which to call it so as not to confuse her.

I spent most of the weekend recuperating from my head cold, which wasn't bad but was enough to sideline me and give me something to gripe about. I woke up today feeling better than I have in a week, though, and am now in that frantic "I must catch up!" mode. Ran around this morning and did all kinds of things to feel useful and to make up for the uselessness I was this weekend.

M was on a tear, though, all weekend. Methinks he tries to work through the pain since his stomach was pretty jacked up. It's like the worse he feels, the more he accomplishes. Besides the usual stuff of regular home maintenance, he also tore out the compost heap. It was left over from Bee, the previous owner, and basically just looked like a giant weed pit. Good soil, though, which went along one end of the house and into what will be our veggie garden.

I have more pics from yesterday, including some artsy stuff I shot around the house just for kicks. Spent last night folding mounds of laundry, though, and didn't make it back on the Mac. Perhaps tonight.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Outside studio

Gorgeous weather = playing outside = new images of Zozo:

Friday, May 18, 2007

Why I love David Eckstein

We all know the guy is great. I mean, he's a fine ballplayer who works his butt off. He runs to first on a walk, for Pete's sake. He's got that can-do attitude we Americans love. He gives 110% every day, and he's just a good guy. He won MVP in the World Series last year, which earned him a new Corvette ZO6, and he gave it to his brother and continued to drive his Camry (or whatever run-of-the-mill car he owns). His family has been through hell and back with organ transplants, and he does lots of awareness campaigns on the issue of organ donation. You can practically see the guy's halo glinting out there on the field.

But the real reason I love David Eckstein is his sense of humor. As you all are probably aware, he hasn't been hitting well lately. La Russa, apparently in an effort to kickstart his hitting, moved him from the one hole to number 8 in the lineup. Holy cow, is that a drop. Sheesh, even Molina is batting before him (I loves me my Molina, and he's worked hard on his slugging, but he pretty much owns the eight hole). So there's ol' Eckstein, battin' away eighth instead of his usual lead-off spot. Most guys would probably take this pretty hard, but I think David's going to be fine. How do I know this? Well, he changed his at-bat song from Number One Spot by Ludacris to Blaze of Glory by Bon Jovi (lyrics are "I'm goin' doooooown, in a blaze of glooooory..."). It's hilarious.

You gotta love a guy who can laugh when he's in a slump.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Book Report

Just finished Anderson Cooper's Dispatches From the Edge, and I have mixed feelings about it. No question, the man has seen horrors and tragedies around the world, including in our own backyard (NOLA). I'm sure that jacks up your head pretty bad. Add to that the fact that his father died unexpectedly when he was very young, and his brother committed suicide a few years later. Mix in a healthy dose of famous mother (Gloria Vanderbilt...yes, the Gloria Vanderbilt) and you've got a trust fund baby with an adrenaline addiction.

The stories he tells are touching, and powerful. The way he tells them is confusing (he jumps around from this time to that, rather abruptly) and self-aggrandizing. He's the Paris Hilton of broadcast news. "I'm hot, and I know it." The cover and many of the inside pictures feature him with a very studious, serious expression on his face, befitting all the intense situations he's run to trying to escape his inner pain.

Is he a good reporter? Probably. We don't have cable and therefore never watch CNN. He broadcast quite a bit from NOLA right after Katrina, but we were in new-baby haze what with Zoe being born the day after the storm surge and all. We watched non-stop CNN coverage the entire time we were in the hospital, but I can't remember Mr. Cooper standing out in my mind. I'm sure he's a decent reporter, and I admire his efforts to get to where the story really is, and to tell all of us in middle America what's really going on.

I just don't think he needed yet another outlet to cleanse his soul, to tell the world of his personal angst (and make a pretty penny at the same time, no doubt).

For such a deep subject (humanitarian crises the world over mixed with personal suffering), it was a shallow read, alternating between "poor me" and "I know I'm great, and I'd like to make sure you know it, too." It seems hastily written, and meant to serve only one purpose, whatever Mr. Cooper needed to do for himself.

I give it one bookmark out of five.

How ya like them apples?

Watched Good Will Hunting last night. What a great movie. All the way around. Little bit of romance, the whole overcoming-adversity thing, some Bawston accents (where do you pawk yer caw?) and one of the best lines in all of moviedom: Minnie Driver (Skylar) says to Matt Damon (Will), "Men are shameless. If you're not thinking with your wiener then you're acting directly on its behalf."

Nothing real exciting to report. In the middle of a head cold, which was far worse yesterday when I had a sore throat. I'm a giant baby when it comes to sore throats. I can deal with the sniffles and the congestion okay, but a sore throat can sideline me faster than Britney Spears' downward spiral. Mainly because there's not a whole lot you can do about it, aside from becoming a Ricola junkie for a day or two. M made me some chicken noodle soup last night, and I got a decent night's sleep, so I'm feeling mainly back to normal today. "Normal" being whatever you make of it.

An acquaintance of mine is having issues with her Sears refrigerator, strikingly similar to the cluster we experienced with our washing machine. Let this be a reminder to all of you out there in blogland: Do not purchase anything from Sears! Their "business practices" and "ethics" are suspect at best, and their customer service is non-existent. This is all just my humble opinion, of course.

Got free tix to go see The Lion King on June 22. I've never seen it, but I guess I'm at least somewhat excited about it. You see, I'm suspicious of all things Disney. The company owns just about everything in the world now, and it's all so glibly marketed that it just reeks of commercialism. I have a mental image of all the Disney princesses sitting in the Magical Kingdom castle rolling in dough and laughing at all us working saps who keep shelling out money for Ariel lunchboxes and Belle underwear. I'm not much of a fan of anything that's ubiquitous, except for Starbucks, of course, but they give me free stuff.

So, you know, like way back in the day (I'm going to reveal my age with this), I had a girly crush on Patrick Swayze. He was on a made-for-TV miniseries called North and South, and I thought he was cute as a bug in a rug. Then Dirty Dancing came out, and everyone in the world had a crush on ol' Patrick. That's when I quit likin' him. I mean, I'm sure he's a nice dude and all, but he became so...well...ubiquitous.

Anyway, so going to see The Lion King is not real high on my list of priorities, but hey, I'll go anywhere if we've got free tickets. Except to an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical. Those I just do not like, and you couldn't pay me to go. I must be the only person in the world who hasn't seen Phantom, or at least the only person in the world who doesn't want to see Phantom.

Wow, this post is just all over the place. Sorry 'bout that. I'm feeling a bit discombobulated today, I guess. To summarize,

Things we like:
Good Will Hunting
Chicken Noodle Soup
Free tickets

Things we don't like:
Sore throats
Britney Spears
Disney marketing
Andrew Lloyd Weber

Things we simply don't care about anymore:
Patrick Swayze

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Run the Bases Day

In Zozo's case, it's more like Toddle the Basepaths Day. Daddy took her out, and quickly realized that it was better for everyone on the field if Zozo, at her significantly slower pace, stayed out of the way of the faster runners. So she toddled around, staying well within the basepaths like any good ballplayer worth her salt, and finished up with a triumphant toddle across home plate and a celebratory pic with Daddy. She won't remember this day, but her daddy will forever.

Easter Pix

Yikes. I didn't realize I was so behind schedule with posting images. Here is the take from Easter. I have more, of course, but these are my favorite. Especially the last one. That's my girl!

The Great TP Party

Here are the images from the fateful day when Zoe discovered the wonders of the toilet paper roll. I have some wicked shadows on some these, the result of grabbing the Big Dog Nikon and running back to the bathroom and not bothering to affix the Big Dog Flash. Let that be a lesson to me!

Monday, May 14, 2007


I laid in bed tonight, not able to sleep at all, tossing and turning and getting more and more frustrated as the minutes ticked by, and then I realized...

I forgot to blog today!

Actually, I haven't blogged in like four days, which is strange for me.

Friday I was at our Chesterfield location, where we're so incredibly short-staffed that it behooved the company to send its Marketing Director to serve as Spa Coordinator since it was two days before Mother's Day and all. Then Friday night was Saara's happy hour, which was absolutely fantastic. Felt good to sit with the peeps and laugh again, over stupid crap. You know you've found a soul-mate friend when you can say something like, "Is it a bird yurt?" and the girl sitting next to you totally cracks up laughing.

Saturday Zozo and I went to the park first thing in the morning, which is the best time to go because there isn't hardly anyone else there, child-wise anyway, so you not only don't have to wait for a bucket swing, but you get to hog it for like 20 minutes straight because no one else is waiting for a bucket swing. We met Isaac and his dad, and Bennie and his dad, and just hung out. (Where the hell are all the moms at 7:45 on a Saturday morning?!) Then Saara came over and we got to talk. And talk and talk and talk. After awhile we left and tried to go eat bait at our favorite sushi joint, but it was closed (that's what happens when you don't call ahead to check...doh!) and so we ended up at Dewey's Pizza in U. City, where we talked some more. I think we honestly could have talked for days, but alas, Saara had to catch her flight back to CO and The Lair, and so we'll have to resume talking again some other time.

Having a few hours on my own with no obligations (which doesn't happen often enough), I went to the Art Museum and wandered through the Nicholas Nixon exhibit one last time. It was blissful. I took as much time as I wanted, drifting through and stopping before every print to linger and soak it all in. Gorgeous work. Beautiful, soft, amazing light. Detail beyond belief. I can only dream of shooting like that one day. I can't ever figure out if seeing work like that inspires me to keep trying, or makes me think I should just give up now.

Mother's Day was perfectly lovely. I was going to write a big ol' long composition on the importance of mothers, but what can you say, really? I saw something written somewhere that said, "We all have a mother," and that's a pretty powerful statement, if you think about it. No matter what goes on in the world, no matter who is what color or has what beliefs or fights what war...we all have a mother. Some of us are luckier than others in that we got mothers who gave us creativity and wit and spunk (thanks, Mama), but we all got mothers. It changes how you view the world when you start seeing everyone as someone's child.

When we were trying to get pregnant, and struggling, and I was going to a weekly support group to cope with the feelings and the pain, I learned something that blew my mind (and still does, really). I learned that, technically, each woman was actually in the body of her grandmother, not just her mother. Think about it. Baby girls are born with all the eggs they'll ever have in their ovaries. My sister and I were eggs in our mother when she was a baby in her mother, just like my daughter was an egg in me when I was a baby in my mother. How wild is that? That bond, that tie between the generations, is awesome.

So, yeah, that's about all I'm gonna write about mothers for Mother's Day. I also think I'm going to take a hiatus on all the tribute stuff altogether. I'm getting to the point where I feel it's expected for me to write special things about special people on special days, and quite frankly, homie don't play that. I started this damn thing for me, dammit, and that's what it's gonna be. I can be selfish like that, you know, because it's mine. You want tributes, write your own blog.

Today I took a half day off work to spend time with my Stefster, in town for Mother's Day and because she got a kick-ass fare on Southwest (ding!). We talked, and talked, and talked some more, and went and got coffee and talked some more. I got to see her pictures from Peru and think that she's one of the most amazing people in the whole world for doing stuff like that. How many of us would go, alone, on a trip to Peru and hike through the mountains to see Machu Picchu? She's an inspiration to me daily and I can only hope to grow and become more like her. (Okay, so that was a little tributey, but she's cool, man, she's cool.)

So, I had a girly girl weekend in that I got to spend lots of time with women who are very important to me, including my Zozo, which only reaffirmed that I'm becoming exactly the kind of woman I want to be, which is not only a mom and wife and daughter and granddaughter and daughter-in-law and marketing director and friend, but me. Completely and wholly me. Just me.

And on that note, I'm gonna quit typing and work on some images, which I haven't done in a long time and which is probably the reason that, at 12:21 a.m., I feel frustrated and unable to sleep.

P.S. I started reading Salinger's Catcher in the Rye again this weekend, dammit, so there's liable to be lots of damn cursing in my damn blog for awhile, dammit. Just a lousy damn warning. M asked, "What are you reading?" and, when I told him, laughed. I asked what the laugh was about and he responded, "Well, you know, that's not something I'd ever just pick up and read on my own just for fun. I prefer this." and he hoisted up the six-inch Grainger catalog. What can I say? He makes me laugh.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Busy busy busy

It's been a crazy busy day, on so many levels. I just now realized, "Oh, crap! I haven't updated the &*%$#@ blog!"

It's budget time, which means we're all busily trying to justify our existence, and those of our programs. "You need me because..."

It's the one place where the answer, "...I'm cute and adorable and spunky!" doesn't cut it. Damn.

I painted my ducks last night. Nothing says summer like sitting outside in shorts and a t-shirt running a brush over a concrete duck's behind. We also put the fire pit out on the patio, and will be picking up his cousins, Mrs. Table and her four little matching chairs, from Home Depot this evening. I called them last night just to get the dimensions of the boxes, to ensure we could fit them in the car, and somehow the lines of communication wound up in a spaghetti-like mess to where we were told that they didn't have the table and chairs, and no Home Depot in the area has the table and chairs, and feel free to order it on-line (complete with a $75 shipping fee, natch).


So out I ran today, over lunch, to another Home Depot, where, lo and behold, I discovered the very table and chairs we want sitting there, gleaming, just waiting to be purchased. They've been tucked behind the service desk with my name on 'em, so we're all set.

It cracks me up how difficult I manage to make our lives. One call to find out the dimensions of a box sent us into phone call hell from which it took half a day to recover, along with the scare that we were too late to purchase something we really want.

It's the Z Way. That is, the way of our family. Along with "if it can go wrong, it will," "every project requires at least 5 trips to Home Depot," and "even if you dig through the pile of destroyed boxes and find the one good box to purchase, it'll be the one containing broken or missing pieces."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Open season on screech owls

M and I went to the baseball game last night and had a blast. Especially because the Cardinals won, thanks in no small part to Scott Spiezio's phenomenal pinch hitting. Go Spiez! The weather was gorgeous, we were both in a great mood...good Date Night.

I am one of those people who can easily be annoyed by idiots sitting around me. M admonishes me, "Just don't listen! Focus on the game!" I cannot do that. I can only focus on Jim Bob next to me, who is drinking enough beer to get the entire naval fleet wasted and is commenting on every single pitch and how he'd call the game.

But last night, we had something worse. Jim Bob would have been welcome in comparison. Jim Bob and all his drunken cousins/in-laws would have been better than what we had.

We had the Invasion of the 13-Year-Old Girls.


Dogs within 14 miles of the stadium were howling with every screech. Jenny, who was sitting next to me, developed a headache by the 7th inning stretch. My ears started bleeding somewhere around the 8th. Even the huge bald guy in front of me started plugging his ears when they'd start up.

Their mother, who was sitting next to them, told them several times early on to stop annoying the people around them, but then apparently went deaf herself and quit trying to shut them up.

I knew it was bad when M leaned over and asked if I happened to have a stun gun in my kicky little Cardinals purse. Okay, he didn't really ask that, but he made a reference to the girls and it wasn't pretty. Had an expletive or two sprinkled in, that sort of thing. The stun gun (or tranquilizer darts, either will work) was my idea.

It would have been okay if, say, they screeched when Spiezio knocked in two runs. That's fine. We were all hollering at that point.

But they screeched for:
Pop flies
Foul balls
Kennedy coming up to bat
Ludwick coming up to bat
Pujols coming up to bat
Duncan coming up to bat (you get my point)
Seeing friends in the stands
Seeing strangers in the stands
Seeing the Arch
Seeing each other

M and I vowed that we will never, ever allow Zoe to be that annoying to strangers. Please, all of you out there, if we become those parents, just shoot us.


"I would rather trust a woman's instinct than a man's reason."
-Stanley Baldwin

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

No, really, you do it YOURSELF

I attended my local Home Depot's Do It Herself Clinic last night. It was supposed to be about building a relaxing retreat in your backyard.

It was actually about Andy from the Garden Department explaining that he found out 20 minutes before we were to start that he had to do this. He wasn't able to access the Home Depot web site to find out how many of us were coming (we had all registered on-line) and therefore didn't have enough materials. We also received an "explanation" that lots of times they set up for these clinics and then no one shows up. "We're just standing at a table with all our stuff, putting together papers, and no one comes."

Andy's solution? "Next time, show up about 45 minutes early and let them know you're here, so then we know that there are people and we can get set up."

Um. Yeah. So not ever going to happen. I'm pretty sure that, as the customer, it's not my responsibility to show up 45 minutes early so you know you have to get ready. Can you see us pulling that here at the spa? "We don't like to prepare for our pedicures until we know for sure you're coming. So, you're appointment is at 5:30, can you get here around 4:45 or so? And then wait for us to get ready?"

Due to his lack of preparation, Andy said he'd have to basically just go through our information packets with us, you know, he learns as we learn. That doesn't do much to instill confidence in the audience, I must say. He kicked everything off with, "So, what do you guys want? Are there any specific questions you have? What do you want to talk about? I thought we could share ideas and that would get us started."

That drew blank stares from pretty much all of us, as we were all expecting to learn from him how to build a relaxing retreat in our backyards. Someone tentatively offered up, "Walkways?" Yes! Andy jumped all over it! He can talk about walkways! Paths! (I'm pretty sure the woman threw out "walkways" because that was one of the things listed on the description for the clinic.)

Turns out that the Do It Herself workshops are really just a big ol' advertisement for purchasing Home Depot's Pavestone brand of walkway materials. Andy even had props for his sales pitch: two pavestones, a bag of sand, and a bag of pea pebbles. Wow.

You know, it's a free clinic, so I expect a certain amount of selling to be involved. It's only natural. They're not paying Andy to give free advice all day long. I get it. I'm in marketing, for Pete's sake. I'm pickin' up what yer puttin' down.

But crikey, have some finesse when you do it.

Last fall we purchased some shrubs from Sherwood's Forest Nursery. We found a guy there who probably wasn't much older than Andy, if at all, but he was light years ahead of him as far as sales go. He positioned himself as an expert on plants and shrubs and landscaping and hardscaping. He asked us specific questions (without being patronizing), the answers to which guided his recommendations for which plants to purchase. He even got measurements of the front landscape bed from M and sketched out what we should plant, where. It was like hiring a professional landscape architect, only we didn't have to pay a cent. As a result, we purchased all our shrubs from him. And we'll purchase more from him. (Sherwood's Forest has only one downfall: they're only open until 5 every day, which makes it hard for the workin' girl to get there during the week.)

My point is, you don't have to plunk a 5 lb. bag of sand on the table in front of me to drive home the point that I need to set my pavers on a sand bed to avoid sinkage. I'm not a complete idiot.

So, I do not recommend the Do It Herself Clinics at Home Depot. At least not at my Home Depot. There is one little benefit, though. If you sit through all the drivel, Andy will give you a coupon for 10% off just about anything at the end. Now that's just good marketing.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Ride 'em cowgirl!

Funny story from this weekend...

M and I were making dinner in the kitchen (where we usually make dinner, it's so convenient and all) and Zozo was doing her usual thing of playing all around the house, wandering here and there, doing this and that. She'd reappear every once in awhile holding something new (her favorite strand of green plastic pearls, Hoot the Owl, the hat from her baby doll, one of the cat toys), show us, and then wander off.

One time she left, though, and didn't come back. Repeated calls to her elicited no response. Uh oh. When she's gone and quiet, it's usually not a good thing.

M and I looked at each other, and he said, "I'll go." He headed back towards her bedroom after a quick glance told him she wasn't in the dining room or library.

Out he came, shaking his head and holding a very satisfied-looking Zozo.

Apparently she had climbed up on her rocking ottoman and was, in M's words, "Riding it like a bucking bronto."

She got pretty peeved when we wouldn't let her do that any more, and downright pissed when I pulled her off for the last time. I was putting away a small stack of clothes and she took the opportunity to scramble up and go for another ride. Pulling her off was a major endeavor, as she knew what was coming and clamped down on the sides like a tick on a hound dog.

M and I frequently look at each other and say, "Do you remember when we'd stick her in the bouncy seat and she'd just sit there?!"

How about a bunny hug

from someone soft and sweet,
with silky ears, a fuzzy tail
and great big bumpy feet!

Alas, while at Target this weekend we discovered that Zozo's Learning Bunny has been recalled. It seems his cute little pompom nose can come off, creating a choking hazard. M contacted Mattel and they've e-mailed us a shipping label and we're to send Mr. Bunny back, preferably within 14 days. Then they send us a voucher and we go get a new toy.

This is rather unfortunate, as Learning Bunny is one of Zozo's most favorite friends. She loves to hug him, and head-butt his tummy, making him sing the above song. The recall says that only bunnies with three-dimensional noses pose a risk (there have been no reported injuries, and the recall is voluntary) so maybe we can find a flat-nosed bunny. I've got half a mind to not send it back, as a firm tug on Bunny's nose yesterday proved that it's not coming off any time soon. Sigh. We'll be responsible parents and do the right thing, though. Grumble.

Weekend was fantastic, in that I got to play in the dirt for much of yesterday. We now have two lovely planters done on the patio with all kinds of purty flowers, and four herb pots. I had flowers left over from the planters, so I used them in two of the front beds as well. Had gorgeous weather to work, and M graciously played House Husband to allow me maximum time outside. It was a complete role reversal from our typical Fall season, which entails one of us working diligently outside to put up the Christmas display while the other tends the house and cares for Zozo.

The yard was very, very mucky on Saturday from last week's rain, and as M was cutting it he came to the old evergreen stump that's been in the yard forever. I don't know how long ago it died, but the trunk was left up to tie off M's volleyball net. This weekend, with all the muckiness, M pushed on it (whether intentional or accidental I don't know) and it leaned way over. We decided it was time for it to go, and so he pushed it to about 45 degrees and then headed into the garage to get the ax. "Oh, crap," was my immediate thought, and then, "Don't tell him he can't swing with his right arm...he knows..." I had figured the thing was so rotten that it would just come right out, but there were some stubborn roots holding on. I stayed in my flower bed pulling weeds, and prayed that he wouldn't do something to further mess up his arm and shoulder.

I looked up just in time to see him take a single half-ass swing using only his left arm. Thunk. And the entire tree toppled over. The look on his face was comical. In all the years he's done landscaping for us, that was the easiest tree to fell. We both cracked up laughing on the spot, and then he did a Tiger Woodsesque arm pump and I lost it all over again. It was probably one of those things where you had to be there, but damn, it was funny.

I have a bit of soreness today from the yardwork, but complete satisfaction upon looking over my new flowers and nice beds. There is still much more to do, but at least I've gotten a start!

Tonight I'm attending a Do-It-Herself workshop at my local Home Depot about creating backyard sanctuaries. At this, M groans and clutches his wallet. I'm hoping to learn how to keep the rabbits away from my newly planted flowers, short of shipping them back with their cousin, defective Learning Bunny.

Friday, May 04, 2007

It makes me SADD, and now really MADD

What is a hero?

A hero is a firefighter who charges up smoky steps in a burning high rise office tower on 9/11.
A hero is a soldier who defends her country.
A hero is a police officer who goes the extra mile and notices that the beat-up white Nisson truck looks like the one described in a child-abduction case, and a hero is the boy who noticed every detail of that truck and gave a statement to police.

Hell, a hero is even a type of sandwich.

A hero is most definitely not a baseball player who gets drunk (and possibly stoned), speeds and kills himself when he smashes into the back of a tow truck that has flashing red and yellow lights.

I realize that the death of a loved one/dear friend/teammate is hard to bear. I understand that those he left behind are in pain and will grieve for a long time, if not forever.

What I do not want to do is sugarcoat what he did.

Was he a great guy? I'm sure he was. Fun, a prankster, caring, loving. All that stuff and more.

Was he also a drunk driver who imperiled everyone on the road that night, and given the evidence, on probably many other nights? You bet your bippy.

I was a staunch member of Students Against Drunk Driving in high school, and the feelings I had then about drunk drivers hasn't diminished, but instead has only increased as I've grown older and become more and more aware of the fragility of life.

The stupidity of the act astounds me. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has alternatives to drinking and driving. The easiest one being, OMG it's such a novel concept, don't drink at all when you know you have to drive. Really, are a few beers worth your life? Is alcohol that important to you, that you'd risk your life (and other's) for it? If so, then you've got even bigger issues.

I'm one of those people who has no tolerance for drunk drivers. I still haven't quite forgiven Tony LaRussa for doing it, and I sure as hell won't stand and cheer for Leonard Little, no matter how many sacks he has in a game. What message are we sending to our children? "Drinking and driving is bad. Don't do it. Unless, of course, you're a big sports star. Then it's okay. Just be careful. But even if you kill someone, no biggie, you can still have your big fancy sports career and make tons of money and stuff. You'll just wind up in the papers a lot more."

Little was found driving under the influence a few years after he killed a woman in downtown St. Louis. Anything happen? Nope. Not a damn thing. I'm outraged for the woman's family, because they not only had to lose her, they have to see him placed on the almighty pedestal of sports and revered by Rams fans here in their own town. And allowed to do exactly what he did when he killed her. I think I'd have to move away.

So, yeah, the death of Josh Hancock is a horrible tragedy, and my heart goes out to his family, friends and teammates. I thank God that he didn't kill anyone else when he killed himself. But I damn sure will not place him on a pedestal and consider him a hero or an idol. His service yesterday was a media circus and it should not have been. If one of my family members had done that, I'd be carrying a heavy load of embarrassment along with my grief. What does it say about our society when we revere people who drink, drive and kill themselves?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Operator Assistance

Our voicemail here at work isn't working. It looks like it's working, but it's not. I can see that I have a message, because the little red light on my handset is on, and the little envelope flashes next to my name on the screen. Plus, because our voicemail is tied into our e-mail network, I have a message in my in-box that shows up as a voicemail. I could access it through my e-mail, but I really don't like listening to my voicemail through my computer speakers, especially since I share an office with others. The speakers aren't that great, which means I'd have to turn the volume way up to get it all, and really I don't need to be blasting my officemates out of their chairs with my voicemail.

So, I sit here surrounded by reminders that I have voicemail that I can't access. This bugs me. It bugs me to have unfinished business, loose ends, something just on the verge of being complete or finished, but yet not.

It's that anal retentive control freak thing I have going for me. Ugh.

The computer dude came in and looked around, and decided that the voicemail server is ill enough that it required disconnection from the network and immediate transport back to his office, return date unknown.

Which makes me wonder...where, exactly, is my voicemail residing right now? Is it on the server that he took with him? And if so, why do I still have all these indicators telling me I have voicemail when it's gone? Is the voicemail sitting in my phone, and I just don't have the tool to access it? Is it in my computer? Is it on another server in the server room? Is it out on the 'net somewhere?

Where, o where, has my voicemail gone?

I've always worked in the days of voicemail. People leave me messages and I access them myself and write them down myself and call them back myself. Traditional secretaries who answer your phone and prioritize your messages and return calls to people to whom you don't care to speak are a product of another era, and are most likely close to extinction. Given the tremendous amount of "busy work" currently sitting on my desk, and my now AWOL voicemail, I think I might start pushing for the return of the secretary. Oooo, can I get him to do my laundry and run my errands, too?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I can bring home the bacon

M and I attended a Parents as Teachers meeting last night about "Securing Your Family's Financial Future For A Dollar A Day." It wasn't anything earth shattering, but it was good to get yet another (objective) opinion that we ain't doing half bad. Usual stuff: throw your change into a big jar and empty it once a year or so, teach your kids good financial habits with allowances and such, install a timer on your thermostat so you're not heating or cooling your house when you're not home, use CFLs, start saving for your kid's college now, and retirement, too. That sort of thing.

This Saturday, at long last, I will attend my first play group. Parents as Teachers facilitates tons of play groups and fun activities, all scheduled Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 and 5. Grrrr. After receiving the gajillionth e-mail inviting me to participate in something I will never be able to attend due to work, I shot back what in hindsight was probably a snippy e-mail asking if they couldn't see fit to schedule something during the evenings or weekends for us working mothers. I know we're the bane of all that's good and holy about motherhood, but some of us not only have to work, but we like to work.

I never received a response back from PAT, and figured that maybe there just wasn't anything that could be done. It's sort of like how I'll never be able to be a member of the Salvation Army's Women's Auxiliary or my church's Women's Club simply because I choose to earn a paycheck and am therefore not available to meet for tea and crumpets at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays.

The last time we met with our parent educator, I mentioned something to her about PAT never scheduling things around working mom schedules. (Something about this whole thing just irks's like yet another admonishment to me that I go to work every day and leave my child with someone else and - gasp! - share household duties with my husband.) Our parent educator said, "You know, there's another working mom who has been saying the same thing. She's offered to try to start a play group for working moms. If you're interested, I'll throw your hat into the ring." Abso-frickin'-lutely. So, our first meeting is this Saturday at 11 a.m. at my brand new friend's house. She's in the marketing department at Purina. I love her already.

Disclaimer: I have nothing against stay-at-home moms. I think being a SAHM is one of the toughest jobs on earth, and it takes a special person to do it. I am not one of those women. I would be doing a disservice to both myself and to my daughter if I tried, because I would fail miserably. What I don't understand is why it has to be so acrimonious between the two groups.

From my viewpoint (that of a working mom, of course), it's a matter of defense. I do not like it when a SAHM, fully aware that I work full time, says to me, "I just feel like I'm so fortunate that I'm able to stay at home with Junior and give him the love and attention he truly deserves from his mother. No one else can do that." Yes, I've actually had someone say that to me. I wanted to chuck my basket of fries at her head.

I'm pretty sure Zozo has a great life and is enjoying it so far. I, too, enjoy my life and think that we all get along well enough. Isn't it enough that she knows she's loved and that she brings great joy to my life, and that I cherish every second I get to spend with her? Must I stay home and repeat that over and over, or can I keep my job, contribute to our family's welfare, feel like a contributing member to society and serve as a motivated role model for my daughter?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lint, dust and dirt

I'm wearing black today, which is very slimming (so I am told) but also very linty. I hate lint. I have tape rollers stashed everywhere to combat lint, and for M to combat cat hair.

We get into discussions, M and I, about lint vs. cat hair. He lumps everything that sticks to his dark clothing, whether or not it came from a furry creature, into the "cat hair" genre. Granted, our kitties do shed an excessive amount of fur, especially right now when they're practically molting to get rid of their winter coats, but not everything that sticks to our clothes is fur.

Today, for instance, I am incredibly linty but not at all furry.

Dear Lord, please stop me before I write an entire post about lint.

Funny thing this morning...we are doing new employee orienation here at the spa, and I've been asked to present my marketing goodies. As a favor, my staff development person brought me the "Current Marketing and Promotions" binder from the employee breakroom to use as a prop.

I had to clean the 1/8" of dust off the cover before I could use it.

So much for improving the line of communication between marketing and the staff, eh? Let it be known that it was not my idea to create a "Current Marketing and Promotions" binder for the employee lounge, as I quite accurately predicted that the binder would serve but one purpose: to collect dust on top the employee refrigerator. I prefer the method of communication known as personal presentation at the staff meeting, then tacking it up on the bulletin board. That seems to work best.

Really, could this post be any more boring? I think not.

Last night consisted of shoving food into Zozo and then making a family trip to Home Depot to get paint for the duckies and look at flowers and pots for the patio. We completely forgot about the paint, but did find some pretty cool pots. Flowers and herbs will probably come sometime in the next week...maybe even this weekend. Need to buy potting soil and the "secret family recipe" for ensuring enormous, healthy plants. Mom told me about it last night. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. It's that secret. It's the key to having the best looking landscaping in all the land. GG taught her, and now she's teaching me. Maybe I'll grow a green thumb after all.