Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ahead of schedule

The weekend was spent in a last-minute flurry of getting the display ready (M) and getting our train board and tree up (A). All is on schedule (dare I say, actually a bit ahead of schedule), and we're even ahead on classwork so all is good.

Unfortunately, we're still all battling head colds, as evidenced by our daughter declaring every 30 seconds or so, "Mommy, I have a boogie coming out!" We've become experts at blowing our noses here in the Z household, which isn't optimal for the youngest member but beats the alternative of using the dreaded aspirator. M still sounds like a foghorn when he blows, but at least he leaves the room now, which beats the alternative of Zozer bursting into tears because she doesn't like the loud noise.

We even started our Christmas shopping this weekend. We didn't get far. I estimate we're about .5% done. But at least it's begun.

M has just used velcro to attach some Light-o-Rama hardware to his laptop. He says it's "our" laptop, but he's the person who primarily uses it, and now that it's got the Easy Light Linker stuck to the top, it's for darn sure his. What is the Easy Light Linker, you ask? I think he's now able to remotely control his lights, which makes him grunt with glee and grin like a kid in a candy store. The Easy Light Linker has a big ol' Light-o-Rama logo printed on it, and has a little antenna. I've assured him that while it adds to the nerd factor, he's been granted "hot nerd" status by several women I know, so it's okay.

Anyway, he keeps asking me what I think, so I guess I better stop typing and tell him how incredibly impressed I am by his laptop-mounted Easy Light Linker system. This way, when I'm rambling on and on about how great my new Nikon D300 is on Christmas morning, he'll return the favor.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Last night at dinner Zozer started acting funny. She wouldn't eat, and just wanted to be held. After dinner we bundled her up, strapped her in the car and drove home. She fussed a bit on the way, and was just generally not herself. Upon arrival, we got her coat, hat and gloves off her, and when I picked her up to carry her to her room, she felt like a little furnace. Uh oh.

We got down the hall only as far as the bathroom door when lunch (or what was left of it) came back up. And then down. Sweater, pants, etc. all in the descending path. She managed to keep herself almost perfectly clean, but Mommy was a stinky mess. (Question for other parents out there: why is it that children will inevitably wait until you're wearing your one and only pair of dry-clean-only pants to hurl all over you? Just curious.)

M, being the concerned father he is, and also knowing his limitations (i.e. if he sees/smells/thinks about someone else's vomit, he's likely to create his own contribution), immediately took care of dabbing the few spots that hit Hoot's head. Good man, M. I, meanwhile, got Zozer in the bathroom and stripped both of us down.

She responded as she always has after upchucking: "I feel much better now." Which is so her father's mode of operation when it comes to tossing his cookies. He's known both for his "clean hurls" and his ability to "blow & go." Granted, his recovery time between blow and go is lengthening with each passing year, but he's still a relatively spritely vomit recoverer.

After removing all traces of pukey clothing, I settled M and Zoe in The Big Purple Rocking Chair while I went out to clean up the mess. Blech. The entire time I cleaned I thought, "This is why men can't get pregnant." The mess would have more than doubled had M been forced to contend with it.

I got everything mopped up (and by everything I mean floor (both kitchen and hall), baseboards, walls, threshold between kitchen and hall, kitchen trashcan...apparently the child has not only inherited her father's "good puking" skills, but also her mother's world-record projectile vomiting ability) and headed back to relieve M of his comforting duties. Seriously, how is it that when she pukes, I have to clean it up while he gets to snuggle with her? So. Not. Fair.

We got her to bed and then M came back down the hallway and immediately commented on the smell that was left. Yeah, dude. Try cleaning it up. Anyway, due to his inability to ignore highly offensive odors (wuss), I had to go downstairs and dig out the giant jar-candle that makes the house smell like a Christmas tree lot. As if he were paying homage to hurl, he lit the candle and placed it right in the center of what moments before had been barf central. It burned there for hours, and was actually quite effective. Good call on the candle...I'll give him that.

Later, I was in the bathroom washing my face and brushing my teeth (or, rather, brushing my face and washing my teeth, as Daddy and I used to say) when he appeared in the door with a sheepish look on his face.

"Um. Yeah. I, uh, forgot the candle was in the hall..."

At this point I turned around and started shooting daggers with my eyes, as my mouth was full of foaming toothpaste.

"And I kicked it...and now the hall is sorta covered in green candle wax..."

This reminds me of the time he built a sturdy platform over the stairwell in our first home so I could paint the columns, and then within moments ran himself into it. He knocked himself silly and won a trip to the ER in the back of an ambulance with that, though, so the candle wax thing is much less serious. Relatively speaking.

With toothbrush in mouth, I managed to say, "You put the damn candle there yourself. And it gives off light. How could you not see it?" This was not said with a small amount of agitation, and I'm sure the image was only enhanced by the fact that I really was foaming at the mouth.

His response was that the kitchen light was on, which is really bright, and therefore obliviates the light produced by the lowly jar candle on the floor.

Yeah, I didn't buy it either.

So, for the second time in one night, I found myself on my hands and knees cleaning up the same damn patch of floor.

Silver lining: the original wood floor in the hall now has a lovely sheen to it, and is slick as ice, which makes slipper skating easy and fun. And it still smells like Christmas trees. 'Tis the season.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Better late than never

Since we've called her Doodlebug for years (before she was born, actually), Zozer was a Doodle Bug for Halloween...costume courtesy of Grammy (who rocks with a sewing machine more than anyone else I know).

Many apologies for taking so long to get this posted. Too much to do...not enough time!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Yes, that's her handprint. Yes, it appears she has only three fingers and a thumb. Judging from the other turkeys I saw, the pinky was supposed to be brown. Maybe she didn't like brown. Maybe she was being proper and had her pinky raised. Maybe she knows the aesthetic rule that odd numbers are more visually pleasing than even, so she decided her turkey would have only three feathers instead of four.

Most likely she didn't like her hands covered with paint and they were lucky to get this much out of her.

Regardless, here's her (and our) Thanksgiving wishes for everyone. Gobble gobble!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

And now you know

Zoe informed me today, with a very serious demeanor, that her big toes are toes, while all the other ones are piggies.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Not out of my gourd(s) yet

Shot some gourds today. Way back before Halloween, when we took Zozer to the pumpkin patch, I purchased four interesting gourds to photograph. They've pulled double duty by serving as fall decorations on our buffet in the dining room, and finally today they migrated to the darkroom.

I'm digging this idea of disposable (and photographable) decorations. They were a quarter each, so for two bucks I got over a month's worth of cool things to look at while we eat, and an hour's worth of fun in the studio. I'd have probably shot more of them, but I was in single parent mode today with M out working on the display. Since Zozer has decided to go through her Terrible Twos at the age of three and a half, keeping up with her by one's self is a full-time job. Anyway, the gourds are still relatively fresh and look cool, and when they're past their prime off they'll go as biodegradable garbage. I'm going to try to shoot them again tomorrow, perhaps when ZoeMonster is down for her nap.

We're hanging out tonight in front of the TV, a rarity since we started taking classes. I know, I know, I said I wasn't going to post any more about school, but after four and a half hours on the midterm last night (into this morning, actually), I feel it's deserving of at least a little mention. Anyway, so here we are in front of the TV, watching college football, and it actually feels like a normal night. M is dismantalling the electronic component of a store-bought Christmas display addition and rewiring it to suit our purposes and I'm surfing my favorite photography sites. Except for the fact that my ottoman looks like a miniature Gateway Electronics, life is pretty good.

Was just reminded by a commercial for Charle Brown's Thanksgiving Special that Thanksgiving is indeed next week. Not sure where the year has gone...except possibly into the ethernet that is our connection to school. I'm thankful for a lot this year (as I am every year; I'm generally a pretty thankful person), but one of the things I'm most thankful about is that our first year of grad school is almost over. Only one and a quarter (or so) to go!

Must get back to surfing now before going to bed early. Need a few minutes to read yet another "Is film dead?" thread. People always say the same things in these threads, but we photographers apparently like to beat a stupid topic to death.

I just like to say the word "gourd." Too bad it's seasonal.

Friday, November 21, 2008

All together now, "Awwwww!"

So as I was not drifting to sleep last night (I seem to be battling insomnia again these days), I was thinking about the blog and what I've posted lately, and I've decided I've become one of the most boring bloggers on the planet, due mainly to our having started grad school.

Like, really, how many times do ya'all need to hear how much time we're spending on studying and tests and things. Bo-ring. Like watching paint dry. Over and over again.

So, I'm going to try to do better. Because I don't want to be boring, or bore anyone, least of all, myself. And that's what I'm doing.

After having resolved to be less boring and not post so much about grad school, the inevitable question popped out of my brain and floated aimlessly in the dark above me.

"So, what exactly are you going to post?"

Since I've started this, I've mainly been posting on the goings on of my life, and that of my family's. We're usually pretty fun, sociable people. Grad school, though, is apparently designed to suck all the good parts of life out of students, which happens to be doubly so when both spouses are studying. However, I've realized that it's also sucking the life out of what used to be a very lively blog.

Here's my first attempt at posting something unrelated to school.

At Michelle and Ryan's wedding this past weekend, we all waited with baited breath to hear what Michelle's dad, Jim, was going to say. This is a man known for his one-liners and hilarious stories. He's direct, blunt, and fabulous, mostly because, above all, he's genuine. He asks the questions everyone wants to ask but doesn't have the guts to. I once walked into a room filled with family members who were all chatting, and was greeted by Jim with, "Well, here she is. Let's just ask her. Aim, are you gonna have any more babies?" Love that. Jim's also the guy who readily admits that he doesn't really enjoy attending mass, but goes "just in case it counts." He's got a spot in heaven not just because the scorecard proves he's been to church every Sunday, but also just to keep everyone there in stitches. (I firmly believe that God has a great sense of humor. Just look at the platypus, for Pete's sake.)

We've all known for quite some time that Jim was probably going to have a hard time giving away his darling daughter, but that he'd handle it with typical aplomb and humor. True to form, his toast was filled with fun and heartfelt wishes for the new couple. But what got me was a story he related later during the reception, when he was going from table to table to visit all the guests. He told me this:

"As Michelle and I got halfway down the aisle, all these images of her growing up were flashing through my mind. Memories and moments from her childhood. I was overwhelmed with feeling, and all I could do was look at her right there, in the middle of the aisle, and say, 'Thank you.'"

I bawled my eyes out. In fact, typing this right now, I want to bawl my eyes out. I won't though, because I'm at work and I already look ridiculous because I'm sitting at my desk with a shower cap on my head and a hair cape clipped around my neck (a color touch-up...don't ask). Crying would only compound the image.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that story because I think it's really special, and probably perfectly captures what most fathers feel when they walk their daughters down the aisle on their wedding days.

Except for my Daddy, who shook hands with M and said, "Good luck, buddy."

(Just kidding, Daddy. I could tell by the tears in your eyes how you were feeling.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One down, one to go


Part 1 of the mid-term is over! Typed, checked, edited and submitted. The prof warned us that we were likely to do well on this part, and find it relatively easy. He wasn't kidding.

He also warned us that the second part was apt to make our stomachs turn and be incredibly disheartening, to say the least. Always lovely when that's conveyed. Given that he's been right so far in his predictions, I've already started developing my ulcer for the second section. We're taking that tomorrow night, just in time to ruin the weekend.

Meanwhile, my head cold is making a valiant effort to return to full force. It went into remission for Michelle and Ryan's wedding, for which I'm eternally grateful, but it's back now, rearing it's snotty, sneezy, itchy head. It's hard to steadily type your mid-term essay answers when you've got to keep stopping to mop up your nose. Or sneeze for the bazillionth time. M finally gave up on the "bless you's."

I think it's harder to beat a head cold when you've got a little snotball in your care whom you love to hold and kiss on. My dad recently developed a head cold of his own, and he attributes it fully to "too many smoochies." Smoochies is what Zozer calls kisses.

It's only 10 p.m. now, which leaves me some time to relax and do some photo stuff (which, at this point, given how tired I am, will amount only to surfing on before turning in for the night. At this point, I'll take photography in any form.

Anybody else notice how freakin' cold it got today? Brrrrr. Extra blankets for the bed, which is callin' my name as I type. G'night!

P.S. To Margaret...I love love love your hair! Where'd you get it done?! ;-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm spiraring down into mid-term hell

We had a conference call tonight with our professor, where we were put at ease over several homework problems and the pending mid-term. I must say that I'm damn tired of shelling out hundreds of dollars for graduate level text books and finding errors in them. "Oh, they forgot to update the answer key when they updated the edition. So sorry. Hey, look at that! Turns out you did it right after all. Wish you had some hair left. Tough luck, eh?" Um, yeah. How the hell am I supposed to learn when it appears that the authors are pulling numbers out of thin air for the answers?

He also assured us that the class gets much easier after the mid-term, to which I say "thank gawd," given that the mid-term is two parts of 6 hours each. A 12-hour mid-term? Really? He did say that the six hours each is just to ensure we'll have enough time to complete each part, since it's timed and all. The first part should take only (only) a couple hours, but for the second we should allot a good four hours.

Sigh. There are so many other (fun)(photography-related) things I could be doing during that time. I knew grad school was going to be tough, but I greatly misunderestimated the time commitment. Live and learn, eh? At the close of this term our first year will be over!

After finishing up some studying, we hit the darkroom for some r&r before bed. M is working on programming for Christmas, and I'm surfing. I'm looking around "my" room and I see M and his few items (laptop, Management Accounting book...wait...WTF is that doing in here?! Only creative things allowed!) and then I see Zozer's deposits.

She's really taken a liking to this room. Maybe it's the granite-gray walls, maybe it's the artsy vibe, or maybe it's that we've created great memories already in this one room. Anyway, she's definitely established a presence here: easel, drawing table, coloring books, three different kinds of crayons, colored pencils, a string of "pearls" she likes to wear, and a few items from her kitchen. Oh, and her Pooh-mobile has been parked for a few days next to my desk.

She's got a stack of drawings on her table that are adorable. She's been focusing on "spirars," or spirals. Some are single-handed, most are double-fisted. Some are monochrome, most aren't. She once watched me take a single sheet of paper from the printer feeder tray and that's all it took for her to know where to go. After that stack was gone, she asked me for more. Unfortunately, I didn't learn my lesson the first time and let her see the giant stack of copy paper stored on a shelf under the printer, so now she just helps herself. It's okay...I'm not one to stand in the way of artistic endeavor.

I'm tired and it's time for bed. Tomorrow is another day!

*Special props to those who spotted the Bushism in this post. Whatever shall we do with a literate president the next four years?!

Feed me

I am so hungry. Starving, really. This despite having a nice bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, a few cups of coffee, and a "breakfast cookie" made by my aunt.

It's 9:30, and I could chew my own arm off.

And what the hell is a "breakfast cookie," anyway? I'm pretty sure it's just a cookie, with some wheat germ-stuff or oats or whatever thrown in to make it more granola-like. You can't just tack an adjective on the front of something to make it okay to eat cookies for breakfast. As a parent, I know this. But since my kid isn't here, I'm making exceptions.

She brought them in for the whole office and said, "It'd be healthy if it weren't for the butter, sugar and brown sugar."

I snarfled mine. It was good. And healthy because of the fiber. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

So here I am, working away while my brain is chanting, "I'm hungry, I'm hungry, I'm hungry." Which is ridiculous, really, given that I've already eaten a perfectly lovely breakfast and dessert.

And yet, a bagel from Bread Co. or even a giant egg McMuffin from McDonald's sounds so, so good.

It's gonna be a long day if I'm already craving junk food. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Really? This is what you choose to focus on?

Today I had the singular pleasure of participating in an e-mail exchange with a client who has, apparently, no concept of what is really important in the world.

She had sent a general e-mail inquiry in through the Web site, attaching an article from an industry publication from three years ago and asking if we were going to start carrying mineral make-up. After checking with our purchaser, I responded that, as a matter of fact, we had just started carrying mineral foundation in our house brand.

She immediately replied, wanting to know why we haven't bothered to promote this to her, and asking about our house brand, "What is that? A generic brand? I'll just stick with the name brand I know and trust.").

Ever the ambassador for our business, I kindly replied with an apology for not promoting it sooner (in the midst of promoting the other 496 things we have going on, because, apparently, I should know what's important to this one particular client and focus only on that) and explaining our house brand, which is most definitely not generic, thankyouverymuch. I also threw in a nice statement about how glad I was that she had found make-up that really works for her, as it can be so difficult to find something you like.

She actually wrote back again to say, "I guess you didn't read the article I attached. I just feel that your spa is missing the boat."

That's when I gave up, because had I written back, it wouldn't have been nice.

"I mean, seriously? This is what you're going to spend your day e-mailing about? The economy is in shambles, people are losing jobs left and right, and you're upset that you can't get the make-up brand you like at the day spa you frequent? You're shelling out forty bucks for a tube of mascara and you have such worries in life. Get some priorities, woman!"

I guess we should revisit our entire product lineup and revamp everything we've worked so hard to promote, because we need to make life more convenient for this one particular client.

And I started today in such a good mood...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Two more reasons to love photography

This is my husband (on the left) and my brother-in-law (on the right) and their neighbor's dog (in the middle) many, many moons ago. Aren't they cute?

They're adorable in this photograph, too, but I especially love the plaid pants. Wow. Those are stylin', boys.
By the way, this may be my last blog post ever, as I'm certain my adorably-plaid-pantsed husband will want to ensure I'm never able to post again after giving these images to the world.
I'm going to reassure him that women's hairstyles are much more volatile than men's trousers, and that I already have years of embarrassing images under my belt (although none as bad as my little sister's George Washington hairstyle in the mid-eighties). He'll just need to start his own blog (and heavily sedate me) should he ever want those to see the light of day.


The weekend was a whirlwind of activity, namely, the wedding of my cousin Michelle. Zozer was the flower girl, and did a phenomenal job of refusing to walk down the aisle (to the point of planting her behind firmly on the floor) and was therefore carried by her father. Who looked quite handsome as usual in his black suit. The big joke was that his name wasn't in the program.

Got to see tons of family in from out of town, which is always fun fun fun. Cousins Paul and Alison brought twin babies Joe and Mark to stay with us, and we got a peek into what life would be like with more kids. Joe and Mark were perfect little angels...Zozer melted down. She told me later, "Those babies make noises. I don't like noises. They scare me." The noises the babies made were typical baby noises, cooing and gurgling. They hardly even wimpered at all, but apparently the cooing was enough to shake Zoe's world.

She decided to try a plethora of new things to deal with the change, including locking herself in her room, using her rocking bug to climb up on her desk and reach the highest shelves (where, up to now, we've been stashing things she didn't need to have...obviously that's going to have to change), and digging through and emptying her closet. We're still missing a few stuffed animals from the rampage, and fear Armadildo may be lost forever.

Anyway, the wedding was absolutely beautiful, and M and I had a ton of fun. Getting to see the cousins, aunts and uncles is always such a treat for us. The best gift in the entire world is being surrounded by family. Who could ask for more? Michelle and Ryan left early the next morning on their honeymoon...we all envy them their warm weather and sandy beaches. M and I wish them a lifetime of love, happiness and fun, and look forward to watching their marriage grow and strengthen.

Me Mum and Papa left early Saturday morning for Jamaica. Again with the envy of the sun and sand. Their vacation is long overdue and much needed, and I hope they come back warm and relaxed and reconnected.

We went to my aunt's in O'Fallon last night for dinner and to see off my cousin, who was passing through on his way to Toronto. He and he family recently moved from Dallas, and he had finished up business in Dallas and was driving the family car up. We didn't get to spend a lot of time with him, but enough to give bear hugs and wishes for a bright Canadian future.

So, the weekend was full of family, and full of changes. The future will definitely be exciting!

This week is our mid-term exam, which I've been dreading for three weeks now. Our plan is to study tonight and tomorrow night, and possibly Wednesday (we'll see how it goes), and bang it out before the weekend. The boy has got to get those lights up!

No photographs from the weekend on my end...too busy being Mother of the Flower Girl, and then Party Bus Party Girl. I did, however, get the opportunity to use several other people's point 'n shoots during the party bus ride. I like the fact that, despite several beers and no knowledge of these cameras, I can still work the menus to at least turn flashes on and off, and get some decent shots. Too bad I'll never see them!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I heart Daniel Craig

M and I, we're not what you'd call Movie People. We don't typically see the need to blow a bunch of money to watch a movie when we can rent one for a buck and pause for potty breaks and the like. Plus, my couch is way more comfortable than a movie theater seat.

We've seen a handful of movies in the theater in our married life, scattered across the genres. We've seen a Star Trek flick or two, some Harrison Ford thriller for which we had free passes, a Sarah Jessica Parker chick-flick on a double-date night that was pretty trite and predictable but had a few laughs, and most recently Sex and the City, to which I dragged M on a date night because we had some time off and by the grace of God it was still in a theater close to home and I really, really wanted to see it.

Given our daily schedule of Zozer, work, Zozer, homework, sleep (with food tossed in a few times a day for fun), we don't watch much TV any more and I couldn't even tell you what's playing or who's starring. We recently drove by a theater and I didn't recognize a single movie listed on the marquee.


I've heard rumblings on the 'net that the new Bond flick, Quantum of Solace, is out tomorrow. I scan the news a few times a day for my "smoke breaks" and there it was. A picture of my newest crush. Craig. Daniel Craig. (swoon)

A few months back (who knows how long ago...I've lost all track of time since we started school, so this story could actually date back to last year some time), one of M's work buddies and his wife came over for pizza and a movie. He, a huge Bond fan, brought Casino Royale (then the latest installment) with The New Bond, as I called him then because I couldn't be bothered with learning his name.

Now, I'm what you'd call a watered-down Bond fan. I love the movies, and if I had a spare few hundred bucks laying around I'd like to own them all. On Blu-Ray DVD, no less, since we now have the kick-ass set-up. Do I know all the titles and who starred in which? Not really. I mean, I know most of the titles (Goldfinger, Moonraker, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, etc.). I know a lot of the theme songs (Duran Duran's View To a Kill being my favorite, of course, mainly due to a decades-long crush on frontman Simon Lebon). I know that Connery was a better Bond than Moore, but Moore was no slacker, either. I know a lot of the female leads' names (what's not to love about Pussy Galore and Honey Ryder, Domino Derval and Octopussy?), and I know that I'd dig driving an Aston Martin but only if it could be tricked out Q-style so I could get rid of the idiot drivers on Manchester during rush hour.

For years, though, there was no argument about who was the best Bond. Sean Connery was It. He was The Man. Rugged, snarky, athletic, smooth. While others could play Bond well (Moore, Dalton, Brosnan) no one quite got it like Connery.

Anyway, when M's buddy brought over the new Bond movie with this Daniel Craig dude, I was nonplussed. Little to no expectations because, in my mind, there would never be another Bond as good as Connery. Besides, this wanker was blond, for Pete's sake. I don't even like blonds. Not my gig, baby.

Yeah. He had me halfway through the first chase scene.

I now stand corrected, and I think (gasp!) that Daniel Craig could be "the" Bond even more than Connery.

So, here's my dilemma. With our not being Movie People, how do I convince M that we should go see Quantum of Solace in the theater? Oh, nevermind. He's a guy, and all guys totally love Bond (he's manly man, after all, no matter who plays him), and besides, there'll be some girl for him to oogle. (Jinx had him when she came out of the water in a white bikini. Pussy Galore had him as soon as he heard her name.)

See? It's truly a win-win for everyone!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Artwork of the Day

This is:
1. Mommy before she's had her morning coffee.
2. Daddy when something goes wrong with the Christmas display.
3. Zoe's latest artwork from school, based on the book her class has been reading, "Go Away, Big Green Monster!"
If you guessed number 3, you're correct! This is an equal-opportunity blog, after all, and all art is welcome. Granted, it has to be approved by me, of course, but I'm pretty open-minded. Unlike M, who likes to look at art (especially 3-D mixed media) and say, "That's crap! I could do that!" To which I respond, "Yes, but you didn't."
Anyway, I'm going to try to get Zozer's artwork scanned and posted when I can, because I think it's really quite good, and cute as hell, and it's a way to share it with everyone. It's so nice to have another arteest in the family!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This isn't in my job description

Generally, working in a day spa is pretty relaxing. There are lovely colors on the walls, a water fountain or two, soothing music, wonderful smells. Coming from the Red Cross, too, I now know what constitutes a true disaster, and what, in the grand scheme of things, is pretty inconsequential. Let's just say that most things that happen in the spa aren't on the disaster end of the spectrum.

I ran home today for lunch, since M was working from home and I'm so close. As I was walking out the door to return to work, my aunt called my cell. I cracked a joke, "Oh, must be a marketing emergency!" as I answered. She warned me that we had a client who was "visibly impaired" and walking/driving erratically. She was due to return to the spa at one, about the time I'd be getting back. Auntie had called the police, but didn't know if they'd come. Okaaaaay. I sorta chuckled and rolled my eyes at M, because it almost sounded like a crank call.

I returned cautiously to work, on the lookout for the white Cadillac Escalade. No signs, and I arrived safely, parked, and came in. Dad and I (yes, I work with my whole fam damily) were unloading some boxes from his trunk when he spotted her going the wrong way down the parking aisle (of course) and then trying to park. I kept watch on her (mainly to see that she didn't take out three cars in her 23-point-turn) while Dad ran to get Auntie. She was already behind the front desk, waiting for her, having been alerted by our staff that she was back. I watched the client practically fall out of her car, then stumble erratically as she lurched towards the front door of the spa. When she reached the curb, she stopped, sized up the step for a moment (it's about six inches) and gingerly lifted one foot well over the curb to step up. Having done this myself while inebriated, I knew she was plastered. I checked the other cars in the parking lot for damage and re-entered the building.

Auntie and our customer service manager had taken her to an office, where they had her wait while a cab was called. Of course, she soon tired of waiting and stumbled back out to the lobby, wailing that no man was gonna control her, and that she was leaving. Now, I don't really care what drunk people do, except that I know for damn sure I'll do whatever it takes to keep one from getting behind the wheel of a car.

She wobbled out to her car with three staff members in tow, each pleading with her to hand over her keys. "We called the cab! The cab is almost here! Please, Holly. Please!" I called 911. The dispatcher asked if this was in reference to the call before. I said yes, it was, but that the woman was getting in her car as we spoke and if they didn't get some officers here now, she was going to drive away and kill someone. She said, "They're on their way."

I hung up and bolted out to the car, where my three colleagues were still unsucessfully pleading with her as she sat in the driver's seat. At one point, she said she was calling her ex-husband, and then proceeded to pull several alcohol bottles (some full, some empty) out of her purse while looking for her cell phone. "I'm going to drink tonight!" she announced. She thought she may have left her phone in the spa, and one of my coworkers tried to bargain. "Holly, I'll give you your phone in exchange for your keys." No deal. She was leaving with or without her phone.

They finally talked her out of the car since the cab had arrived and she could see it. I didn't want to run the risk of her coming right back and leaving in her car anyway, so I stepped up to her and gently placed my hand on her arm. "Holly, sweetie, can I borrow your keys so I can straighten your car out in the parking spot?" "Sure. Thanks." She handed me the keys and I walked away, heart pounding and thanking God that they weren't in her hands any more.

Within thirty seconds two police officers pulled up and I walked up to the first one and handed him the keys through the open window. "She cannot drive. I have her keys. I do not want them, so I'm giving them to you."

What breaks my heart is that between her first visit to the spa and her second, she had picked up one of her children from school and taken him home.

Zoe is getting extra hugs and kisses tonight, and I wish there was someone to give Holly's kids hugs and kisses, too. Please whisper a prayer tonight, as you fall asleep, for Holly and her family, and thank God you are not her.

Monday, November 10, 2008


You know, it's really hard to write a snappy blog post when all you've done is clean and run errands all weekend.

This is the third time I've started writing this, and it's just boring, boring, boring. Blah. Pretty sure you all don't want to read a laundry list of all the stuff we did this weekend (although the amount we accomplished is indeed pretty impressive, including, of all things on the laundry list, actual laundry).

I don't even have any good Zozer stories to share.

Work is good. House is clean. School is caught up (or ahead, actually). Ready for weekend guests and weekend wedding fun.

Oh, wait, I do have a good Zozer story to share.

Yesterday morning, the three of us were lounging in bed, talking about what we were going to do all day. As usual, this conversation became more of a Mommy/Daddy conversation while Zozer sang songs or jabbered or came up with questions to ask ("Mommy, why is it 7:52?") while playing with Hoot. Somehow in our talking, M figured out that we had forgotten to pick up something during our errand run the evening before. Without thinking, he muttered, "Crap!" You can guess what happened next.

Instantly, a little voice chirped, "CRAP!"

I can't figure out what was best, her saying it or M's eyes flying wide open and the look of shock/disbelief/chagrin on his face. Both sent me into fits of laughter, and I immediately pronounced the moment blog-worthy.

All in all, good weekend. And it promises to be a great week, too!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Student of the Month

Congratulations to my nephew Joey on achieving Student of the Month! You're a pretty special kid, and it's way cool that your school knows it! Way to go, Jojobean!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I'm a cookster!

When two people wed, they each bring a wide variety of personal belongings to the marriage. If they get married young, as M and I did (and "young" is relative, I realize, but I considered us young at 24 and 23, respectively), there's much less to consider than people who get married later, when they've built a career, their own homes, etc.

From what little we had, M and I brought some of the same types of items to our marriage, namely, a shitload of music CDs. Thankfully we had only a few dupes, so we each benefitted from the music merge. I thank him to this day for my appreciation for country music, although I'm pretty sure he's still iffy on my hip-hop and rap.

M had been out of school a year longer than I, and had moved to a different state (two, actually) and multiple apartments, and therefore had a good jump start on accumulating various household items. And Christmas decorations. The boy brought more Christmas decorations than I had seen in my life, which should have been a clue about the future external illumination plans he had in mind. But I digress.

We each brought different things that have served us well over the years. I brought books, he brought tools. I brought the ice tea maker, he brought the mini-donut machine. (Really? A mini-donut machine? Yep. You can tell he was a single dude living on his own for awhile.) That sort of thing.

One of the things he brought was the Toastmaster Snackster sandwich machine. WTF is that? I've only recently developed a fondness for hot samiches, so the Snackster has remained crammed in a cabinet with about 400 muffin tins (again, WTF? We've made muffins like a dozen times in 11 years of marriage...who needs that many muffin tins?), a bagel slicer, the plastic two-liter bottle holder for our fridge, cake pans (which really should be called brownie pans, because that's all they're ever used for), the George Foreman grill, a juicer, a steamer, a Toastmaster Chopster (apparently the Toastmaster company feels the need to add "ster" on the end of every single one of their products) and a handheld blender, among other things. In other words, it resides in the deepest pit of The Cabinet That Holds Rarely Used Kitchen Stuff, or TCTHRUKS.

Thanks in part to Stef and her colleages at the world's finest nationwide bakery-cafe, I've learned that I really, really like hot samiches (also called paninis, if you want to be all fancy-like). And sometime in the past week or so I remembered that we have a samich maker machine thingy somewhere in the pit of TCTHRUKS (I pronounce that like Blues player Keith Tkachuk's name is pronounced, with an R thrown in the middle somewhere). Tonight, it was time to dive in there and retrieve the Snackster from its lonely, unused existence. Why? Because I'm all about the whole make-it-myself-and-save-a-few-bucks thing. Some people call it stingy, some people call it frugal, I call it "road to a D300." And I've kicked the Starbucks habit, by the way. Or rather, replaced it with a CoffeeMate habit. Just as tasty, but a helluva lot cheaper.

Anyway, I honestly can't remember ever using the Snackster while we've been married, so it was fun to pull it out, plug it in and realize that I had no earthly idea how to operate it. A quick call to M in Atlanta and I learned that within three minutes I could have us a nice toasty little meal, and that while the "real" directions recommend using butter on the bread, M assured me that it wasn't necessary. (He was right, by the way.)

I also cooked some soup on the stove, and by "cooked" I mean I dumped it in the pot and set the pot on a hot burner and stirred every once in awhile, and kept it from overflowing which is actually more than I can say for the regular cook around here who feels that a meal isn't complete unless he's overflowed a pot or two.

So, despite the fact that I never really cook, Zoe and I had a delicious meal as opposed to my nuking leftovers that M makes sure to stock the fridge with before he goes out of town. I was quite pleased with myself, and highly recommend the Snackster. I also highly recommend not storing it in your own TCTHRUKS because it can be quite dangerous. I nearly sustained a massive appendage injury when the mandolin slicer fell out during my foray into the cabinet. Okay, not really, but it did crash to the floor and make me jump.

By the way, in searching for images of the Snackster (because why shoot my own Snackster when the wonderful world of Google provides free images with just a few clicks) I realized that although our Snackster is over a dozen years old, it still looks pretty much the same as today's Snackster. Why mess with perfection?!

Shoes, bras and sandy diapers

Yesterday was flat-out exhausting, and I think it's carrying over to today.

We had a video shoot for a local TV station here at the spa, and yours truly got to be the spokeswoman. Again. Which I hate. So anyway, that morning I was figuring out what to wear and decided on a brown sweater. Well, that brown sweater only looks good with a certain pair of brown pants. The brown pants are long, and therefore require a certain pair of brown shoes with heels. Which were so not the right shoes to wear on a day when I'm running around staging four spa rooms for a video shoot, going to vote, etc. Also, the brown sweater looks good only with a certain bra, which happens to be not the most comfortable bra in the world.

So, the decision to wear one simple shirt resulted in aching feet and overall misery by the end of the day. I know, I know. It's hard to be a woman. I should really just get rid of that shirt, but damn, it looks good!

We did the shoot, and immediately after wrapping I grabbed my keys and went to vote. Figured I should go during a predicted slow time instead of chancing it by waiting til after work and having to drag a very mobile child with me. With M out of town and unable to serve as backup, the idea of keeping tabs on a jumping child while trying to vote was not appealing. I figured right on the time, as I got right in and right out.

The rest of the day was spent running here and there, doing this and that, to the point where all I wanted to do was get home and take off the shoes and the bra that were causing me so much angst.

The bra and shoe issue was all put into perspective when I realized that my discomfort was nothing to what Zoe must have felt most of the day Monday. When I was changing her diaper after we got home from school, a little pile of sand spilled out. Now that, my friend, has to be uncomfortable at best. "Mommy, I have a rash." "Well, yeah, no shit!"

Anyway, so I deluded myself into thinking that I could do homework while watching the election returns roll in. Finally, around 9:45, I decided that it was pointless to keep trying to return to the laptop in the dining room, so I shut it down and parked my butt on the couch for the evening. I did manage to get the first homework problem done, and the spreadsheets set up for all the rest, so I'm pleased that I was at least a tiny bit productive.

I stayed up too late to watch the concession speech and the victory speech, although I do feel it was worth it. Not often you get to watch a big moment in history in the making. (Even if you're Republican, you gotta admit that electing the first African American POTUS is a big damn deal - even if he's only half-black.)

So I'm tired today, and right now all I want to do is go pick up my kid, take her home, and dump sand out of her diaper.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Post-Halloween question

What the hell is nougat, anyway? No one has ever been able to answer that succinctly or clearly.

Creatures, caves and cleanin'

M and I decided that although we hadn't really sat down all weekend, it was worth it. Friday night was trick or treating around the Lou, stopping at Grammy's before heading home with a still-sniffly Doodlebug to visit the other g'parents. That's what she was this Halloween: a Doodlebug. Grammy made her a great costume, and I hope to get some images up here before too much time passes. It seems to fly by, doesn't it?!

Saturday morning found me on the road to Leasburg, Missouri, home of Onandaga Cave in Onandaga State Park. They offered a photographer's tour for the normal price of the cave tour - $10. A typical cave tour takes about an hour, maybe a little less, and you don't have time to set up shots or whathaveyou. This one let have three hours down there, with tripods. There were about 10 of us in our group, and only three or four of us had 'pods, so we didn't trip over each other too much. Basically, our guide led us down through the cave, flipped on some trail lights and said, "Go." It was amazing. I worked steadily for three hours straight, right through the noon hour, without feeling even a hint of hunger (which is amazing in and of itself). The only grouch I had were the people who popped flashes when I was using only natural light. Which wasn't really natural, come to think of it, since it was created by man, so I should really call it "available light."

Anyway, it took me 1.5 hours to get down there, plus the 3-hour tour (sing that Gilligan style, if you please), plus 1.5 hours to get back, so that was the bulk of my day. Filled up 3 and a quarter CF cards and blew through an entire battery, plus got me and my 'pod all was a good day.

On the way back I saw billboards for an adult novelty store. I didn't pay much mind until I saw this line on one of them:

(up to size 6X!)

Yikes. [Shudder.]

My size would probably be XL, and I'm not comfortable walkin' around in something like that. Self-image issues be damned, there are just some things that shouldn't be made in certain sizes. That's all I'm sayin'.

Anyway, that night was Girls' Night, as M was off at a Blues game/bachelor party (where there wasn't lingerie of any size, I think). Zozer and I hung out and had a blast, and then once she went down I worked on bills/filing/closing out the month in our budget. I found an error from when I closed the budget last month, and it was in my favor, so the night just kept getting better. Love it when we're not as poor as I thought we were!

Yesterday, after Mass, M got to work on the display and Zozer and I went for a walk up to the bookstore. After 30 minutes of browsing (okay, I browsed, while Zoe ran around in circles...she goes crazy in bookstores...just loves 'em) we left with four books: Everyone Poops, The Gas We Pass, A Potty for Me!, and The Potty Book for Girls. I am amazed at the literature that captivates my attention these days. Zozer was excited, though, insisting on carrying The Potty Book for Girls all the way home as she sat in her stroller.

After we got home we played in the yard a bit and took advantage of the awesome weather, and watched Daddy and Grandpa work on the Christmas display. It's coming along well, and I'm getting so excited for the holidays. Usually I hate the holidays. Have for years. Too many unfulfillable expectations, and when they don't get fulfilled (surprise!) then loads of guilt trips follow. I'm not sure if it's 15 years of M working hard to make my holidays good or the absolute 100% dedication I have to making sure my daughter doesn't wind up hating the holidays, too, but something is different this year and I'm already feeling some Christmas spirit.

I'm sure it will be beaten out of me in no time.

Anyway, after Zoe went down for her nap I ran around the house with the vacuum and the mop, and put things away (how on earth does it happen, through the course of an average week, that every single thing we own ends up on the kitchen counter?). It's so good to start a Monday morning with a place for everything and everything in its place.

I have veritable shitloads of new images in the Mac now (although the cave photographs haven't been transferred yet, actually), and hope to get to them soon so I can post some here. Probably won't happen tomorrow night, though, as this political junkie will have her ass firmly planted on the couch watching the election returns roll in.

FYI for those who check Zozer's school page: they are updating the Web site software and her teacher doesn't have access today, so, no pictures. Check back Wednesday!