Saturday, October 30, 2010

Leaf Pile

Why is it that children love piles of leaves?  I remember jumping in huge piles of leaves when I was a kid, and now I laugh as I watch my daughter do it.  I was inside cleaning the house last weekend while M was out cleaning up the yard.  It was gorgeous, and Zoe would much rather be outside than in, so she was there with him, "helping."  I glanced up from my work to see my child race past the family room window with a huge smile on her face.  The second time I saw her do it, I had to find out what was up.

M had created an enormous pile and she was having a blast.  Running and jumping into the pile, and then rolling around in the leaves.  M buried her up to her neck.  I grabbed the camera and headed outside.

Being a rational adult, all I could think of was how leaves aren't really that comfortable, especially when they're brown and scratchy.  I don't think it matters to kids, though.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Patchwork Quilt

A few years ago, I purchased some interesting gourds when we took Zoe to the pumpkin patch.  Then they sat around for a month while I didn't have time to shoot them.  Then they started looking a little funky so I had to shoot them.  And while they were fun, I got bored pretty quickly and that was that.  I was glad I had spent only $1.50.

This year, I saw all the gourds and thought about buying some again.  And then I figured that if I shot them on the spot, I wouldn't have to buy them, lug them home, wait til they get funky, shoot them, and throw them away.  And I'd also get a wider variety.  So that's what I did.

After post-processing the images, I liked 'em, but not enough as separate images.  I stuck 'em all together and made a pumpkin patchwork quilt, so to speak.  My favorites are the bumpy, knobby ones in the lower left corner.  But ever since I learned the names of the ones in the top right corner, I love them, too.  They're called Turkish Hats.  How fun is that?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Estes Park & Rocky Mountain National Park

Turns out I have a boatload of images from Colorado.  I definitely like what I was able to pull from that trip better than the take from Newport.  Of course, I had five days to shoot in Estes, versus a couple hours in Newport.  Anyway, I have way too much to post here. I had way too much to post on Facebook, too, but I did it anyway.  Here, though, I tried to be a bit more selective and just pull my absolute favorites.

I did get to work on some new images tonight, but I wanted to get these posted first.  I have this strange chronological-order thing going in my brain, even though these are over a month old.

M and I used to muse about retiring to Colorado.  It was a nice dream.  It's not a dream anymore. It's a mission.

Sleep needed. And more hours in the day.

I'm tired.  Just flat-out pooped.  So much going on at work...there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day.  It's a good job, though, and I am enjoying what I'm doing (while running about like my hair is on fire).  And, thankfully, I work with great folks. I know just how bad a bad job can be, and I'm about as far from that as a girl can get.

Still.  I'm tired.

I have rocked the last two nights, though, hanging out in the darkroom with M and plowing through my backlog of images.  I finished up the Colorado pix last night, and posted them to my Facebook page.  It was only later, in the middle of the night, that I woke up and thought, "Well, shit.  I didn't put any on the blog."  Should get to that tonight.

And there's a whole new batch still in the camera that I need to look at.  That's on the agenda for tonight, too.

If I can keep my eyes open long enough.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Colorado: 1 of XX?

Turns out that when you've shot a bajillion images in Colorado, it takes more than one night to edit and process them.  Been at this all night since Zozer went to bed, and I'm nowhere near done.  So I'm calling it quits and throwing a bone out before I go to bed.

The aspens were turning, which was lovely, but the trunks and the bark intrigue me.  I did capture plenty of the vibrant yellow...that'll come another day.

Work sucks this week, only because there's a shitload to do and no time to do it.  M's taking over transportation duties for the Bug tomorrow so I can get an early start and stay late in order to meet my deadline.  I'm likely to stumble in half-dead just in time for dinner.  Needless to say, don't expect a post tomorrow.  I'll try to get to it, but if I spend all day in front of my work computer I doubt I'll want any time at night in front of the beloved Mac.  Sigh.  The complaints of a workin' girl.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tuna kicker balls

Or something like that. Spicy! Anniversary dinner appetizer. Up next: sushi! Yum!

13 Years

Happy anniversary, my sweet M!  13 years of wedded bliss.  Okay, not always blissful, but always, always worth it.  Everything we've been through has made us who we are today, and I wouldn't change a single thing.  (Okay, I might change the emergency appendectomy timing so it didn't coincide with Zozo's baptism...maybe put it off a week or so, and I'd probably insist you do the torn labrum surgery before we had a child, but, you know, that's about it.)

When we were first married, you used to tell me, "Hey, we're in this together."  It took me a long time to believe that.  There are countless reasons why I love you, but that's one of the biggies, right there.

This it that we're in together...this crazy, unpredictable, messy world, this busy life full of love and family and work and trials and tribulations, this ever-changing path of parenthood...I can't imagine being in it with anyone else.

We've made it through so much: health issues, infertility, career derailments, family problems, even grad school.  (If a couple can make it through grad school, not only going back to school at the same time, but taking the same classes while working full-time and raising a kid, well, we can make it through damn near anything.)  I know there will be more we'll have to fight through - life isn't easy and it shouldn't be - but as long as I've got you in my corner I feel like I stand a fighting chance of always coming out on top.

Thank you for being you.  For always surprising me.  For making me laugh.  For laughing with me, and for holding me all the times I can't laugh.

Thank you for sharing the same weirdo obsession with submarine movies, and your love of a certain all-American sports car.  Thank you for putting up with my stupid, furry, barfing cats.  Thank you for not only indulging but actually encouraging my Nikon Acquisition Syndrome, and for introducing me to sushi and rare ahi tuna and country music and Star Trek.

Thank you for everything else I can't list here because it's too personal.  You know, though.  Because best friends always know without having to say it.

Happy anniversary, my sweet, sweet M.  You're it for me, hubby.  I love you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Newport Pix

So, I'm not sure if I'm just cranky, or tired.  Or cranky and tired.  But I sat down tonight and thought I'd go through the Newport shots and see what I could get.

Turns out what I could get was nada.  Zip.  Zero.  Big goose egg.

I found some themes.  Gates.  Carts.  Doors.  The well ran dry, though.  Creativity has flown the coop.

There are a couple I like.  Very few.  Which is sad because Newport is a target-rich environment.  Damn.

Something fun to share

Wow.  This is about the coolest damn thing I've seen in a long, long time.  I've never embedded someone else's video before, so let's see if I can get this to work.

My favorite football player

When my sister e-mailed my nephew's football schedule out a couple months ago, I entered every game into my calendar.  I've only been able to make it to three, 'cause I was out of town for the first few.  I love going to his games.  Zoe went to the last two with me, and M the last one.  We have so much fun, and I don't think I could be more proud of Joey.  Last game I remembered to dig out my Mizzou alum pom poms, little black and gold ones.  He's a South County Tiger, so the colors were appropriate and Zo got a kick out of waving them around.

The first game I attended, I lugged along the big camera with the 70-300mm lens.  I don't get to use it much because it's slow as crap and therefore can only be brought out on bright, sunny days.  The game was perfect.  I'd have done much better with a monopod and better field access, but I think I got some decent shots.  I sent all the standard color ones to his mom, and played around with my favorites for me.  Black and white, bizarre cropping, including the insanely close one of his face.  It gets noisy, but I like it.  He just seems so grown up there...but I still remember the tiny boy I held almost 9 years ago.  The boy who, for the first time in my life, made me want to have a child of my own.

Anyway, I finally got around to processing these images.  They're from a few weeks ago.

We love you, #79!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Michael Richard Amy Margaret Hootie Jefferson

For some reason last night, Zoe decided it would be hilarious to call us by our first and middle names.  She did this while talking to M on the phone, over and over again.  We were laughing so hard we couldn't talk, which I'm sure just encouraged her.

In other news, Hootie has a new middle name.  He used to be Hootie Grace, but apparently two days ago he changed it.  We were informed last night, during the phone call.  He is now Hootie Jefferson, which I at first thought sounded very distinguished.  It’s nice to be named after one of our founding fathers, after all, and if you’re gonna pick one, Thomas Jefferson is as good as any.

However, before I could go any further down that line of thought, the theme song from The Jeffersons television show popped into my head, and I started singing, “Movin’ on up…to the east side…to a deeeee-luxe apartment…in the skyyyyyy.”

I have no idea where Zoe got “Jefferson” as a middle name for Hoot.  Maybe he chose it himself.  Maybe he likes mid-70s to mid-80s sitcoms.  Maybe he has an owl girlfriend named “Weezie.”

Nah, I’ll go with the founding fathers reference.  Hootie is, after all, a wise owl.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beware of Signs

On the way to pick up Zo from school, I got a text message from Carrie, the mother of Zoe's best friend.  It said:

So our daughters made a plan to go to the park after school.  I had actually told K this morning that we would go but she thinks Zoe is coming and we can't leave until she gets here.  Were u aware of their plans???

I cracked up laughing.  I was not at all aware of their plans, especially since I hadn't gotten Zozer yet.  As soon as I walked into the gym, I was accosted.  "The park!  The park!  The park!  Let's go to the park!  We're all going to the park!"

Seeing as how we had no other plans and it was nice out, we went to the park.  On the way, Zoe filled me in on the conspiracy.  "We're all going to go to the park.  All of us. All the Bear Room friends. And some girl from another room but I don't know her name.  And we're going to have a big party, and we're all going to wear our pajamas, and Sophie is bringing food.  I don't know what kind of food she's bringing, but she's bringing food..."

I interrupted her to say that first of all, no one is wearing their pajamas to the park, and second, I wouldn't count on Sophie bringing food.  Then I had to explain all the reasons why these two things were not going to happen.

When we arrived and parked, I noticed a sign near the car.

The way this reads, if one speaks English and has half a brain, is that we parkers should beware of the foul ball area.  Not foul balls themselves.  I mean, really?  I laughed and whipped out the phone, and then had to have a conversation with Zoe about why on earth I was taking a picture of a sign.

I saw a news story once about a village in England wanting to erect a sign stating that large trucks weren't allowed on a certain roadway.  The townspeople thought it would be good to have the sign not only in English but also in Welsh, as all official road signs in Wales are bilingual.  Someone sent an e-mail asking for translation from English to Welsh and received a prompt reply.  The reply, in Welsh of course, was then transcribed onto the new sign under the English statement.  I'm not sure how long it took for someone to notice the Welsh portion of the sign actually read, "I'm currently out of the office and will return next Tuesday.  If you need immediate assistance, contact Stan."  Or something along those lines.

Awhile back, M and I watched the local news.  (We don't watch it often, and this is just one reason why.)  One of the main stories covered some new signage being created for our very own St. Louis Lambert International Airport, otherwise known as the suckiest airport in the U.S.  The anchor talked about how the current signage is confusing (it is) and how new signs are needed not just for visitors but also for native St. Louisans (duh...I've been going there for years and I still get lost half the time).  As the anchor spoke, before and after photographs were shown - graphics released by the airport authorities showing how much better the new signs would be.  One "before" image showed a series of three signs over five lanes of traffic, and the signs read, "Passenger drop-off: Left Lane," "Passenger pick-up: Middle lane" and "Short-term parking: Right Lane." Or something like that.  Then the "after" image was displayed.  All three signs were replaced by a giant billboard that read, simply, "Welcome to St. Louis Lambert International Airport!"  Yeah, 'cause that's gonna clear up a lot of confusion.

My point is this: signs are important.  People rely on signs.  Therefore, I think it would behoove all of us if someone with actual, functioning brain cells was responsible for signs.  Then again, I'm kinda picky, grammatically speaking.

I know you're wondering, so I won't leave you hanging: yes, the Zoemobile is fine.  Not one bit of damage incurred from the foul ball area last night.

Monday, October 18, 2010

18 years

18 years ago today, I went out with a boy.  Not just any boy.  This boy was It.  The One.  Not that I had any inkling then.  Back then, he was Rebound Boy.  I had just dumped Loser Dude and was in desperate need to find someone who could restore my faith in men.  Someone who wouldn't go to a party with me only to leave with another girl.  I had thought this new boy was pretty cute and very sweet, but considered him off-limits as my best friend was totally crushing on him.  You don't crush on your best friend's crush.  It's an unspoken rule.  So when we met I duly noted he was hot (and had the best shoulders I had ever seen...OMG) and then promptly wrote him off.  Later, my best friend crushed on someone else.  Still later, she noticed that this boy quite possibly might be interested in me.  We talked about it, and then schemed up a test to tell if there was something there.

He had invited both of us to a movie night at his dorm, and we went.  "We'll see where he sits," we said.  "That'll tell us."  When it was time for the movie to start and everyone was comfortably seated around the common room, my friend and I gave each other knowing looks and then took seats at opposite ends of the remaining couch.  He turned from the VCR, sized up the situation, and squeezed himself between my friend and her end of the couch.  "Right, then," I thought.  "Well, that sums that up."  I gave him one more shot later, after the movie, and tried flirting, but it was about as useful as flirting with a tree trunk so I gave up and went home.

My friend arrived hours later, breathless and drunk.  "So I asked him, 'cause I've been drinking and I do things like this when I'm drinking, I just came right out and asked him if he likes you.  He turned 40 different shades of red and said, '  Yes!  No!  Are you going to tell her?'  That was a dumb question.  Of course I have to tell you!"  I was unconvinced, "Well, he's sure got a funny way of showing it!"

A day or two later I went to a sorority dance and took Just Friends Guy.  Since I had just broken up with Loser Dude and didn't know whether the new guy really liked me (who says "" in response to a simple question?), I took someone we were all friends with.  All I could think about, though, was this new boy.  I feigned a headache and asked Just Friends Guy to take me home.  He did.  I sat at my desk and looked at the new boy's name and phone number written on a post-it and stuck above my desk.  My friend had given it to me months before when she went over to his room to study.  I looked at the note for a long time.  I looked at the clock.  It was after 10.  I can't call him this late.  He's probably sleeping.  On a Saturday night.  In college.  Okay, so probably not.

I took a deep breath, picked up the phone, and dialed his number.  He answered quickly, and it was quiet in his room.  "Whatcha doin?"  "Studying."  I believed it.  This guy was completely dedicated.  The first time I met him, he was studying.  If he wasn't playing, coaching or reffing volleyball, he was studying.  I tried to sound casual.  "Oh.  That's nice.  Want to take me for a ride in your new car?"  He had just gotten a Saturn and was very proud of it.  "I'll be there in 10 minutes."  I danced around my room for 8 minutes and then tried to walk downstairs and out the door without my knees wobbling.

We drove around the country outside of town and talked.  It was peaceful and relaxed.  Everything was just casual and easy.  We liked the same music...always a good sign.  When he dropped me back off, he asked me out for the next night.  I accepted.  The next day, October 18, 1992, M and I went to watch a soccer game, and then saw a free movie on campus.  Cape Fear, of all flicks.  Talk about creepy.  Hey, it was free, and at that point in our careers we would have been lucky to scrape together the change from under the seats on our cars to get a value meal at Taco Bell.  He took me home, and, ever the gentleman, asked if he could kiss me.  I accepted.  Then I got out of the car and barely managed to keep it together until I got in the front door, where I completely swooned.

It's unbelievable for me to think back to that night, and remember everything that has happened since then.  I mean, 18 years.  Really?  That's just under half my life.  The thing is, we still like the same music, and I still like it when he takes me for a ride in his new car, and I still swoon when he kisses me.  I wouldn't change one bit about the last 18 years, not even the rough times.

Happy 1st Date Anniversary, M.  Who knew my Rebound Boy would last this long?

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Spent a large part of the day sleeping. Woke up feeling like this house looks. Sore, scratchy throat. Dog tired. Sleep is the only thing that helps, so sleep is what I did. I finally crawled out from hibernation around four, sick of being prone and, well, sick. Few loads of laundry, kitchen clean-up, mail sort. A fraction of what I wanted to accomplish today. Something about a willing mind and a body that had other ideas. This happens when I've been going too hard for too long. My body goes on strike and a forced shut-down occurs. Work tomorrow is a toss-up. We'll see what the morning brings.

Friday, October 15, 2010


M came home late last night.  I was so tired that I instructed him to not call when he landed (that's been a requirement since we got married and he started traveling for work) as I was going to sleep.  Just come home and climb into bed and snuggle with me.  I don't remember him coming in at all. I got up sometime in the night to pee and stumbled back to bed, realizing only as I climbed back in that there was a blanket-covered lump on his side.  I grinned in the dark, and whispered, "You're home!"  He didn't budge, being conked out as I had been.

Early this morning, I awoke to the glow of his Blackberry.  He was laying in bed, clicking away like mad.  The boy is nothing if not dedicated to his job.  I think he's gotten in this habit of checking e-mail as soon as he runs out of sleep because he's working with a lot of folks overseas, and he's barely catching them at the end of their day just as his is beginning.  I smiled again to hear the familiar clicking, and scrunched down in the covers to fall back asleep for a few minutes.

Which is when my right calf muscle decided that it was high time I got up.  It seized up in one of the worst cramps I have ever gotten.  Which is saying a lot because I am the queen of cramps.  Actually, I'm technically the princess of cramps as my mother is the reigning queen.  I inherited them from her (thanks, Ma!  You couldn't give me the slim body, but instead passed down the muscle cramps?!  What is that, payback for being breech?!)

Holy mother of god, the one this morning was bad.  I bolted upright in bed and started screaming, "Ow ow ow ow leg cramp leg cramp leg cramp ow ow ow" followed by a string of expletives.  M pitched the Blackberry down and, in between my yells, started his own chant, "Where?  Where?  Where?" while frantically pushing on my leg in different areas (none of which was the actual cramp, of course).  I pounded on my leg, and when that didn't work, I pounded on the bed, still screaming curses like a drunken sailor.  It finally unclenched, but left a lingering ache that I knew immediately would follow me all day.  I laid back down and whimpered, while M searched for the Blackberry and its case, lost in the cramp confusion.

Later, when I finally dragged myself from bed to get in the shower, I couldn't bear weight on that leg.  I looked like an idiot, half hopping on my left leg and leaning on all the furniture to get myself to the bathroom.  Zoe looked at me anxiously.  "Mommy?  What is wrong with you?"  Well, honey, the list is long but for today we'll just go with an aching calf muscle.

While the shower helped and I can now walk using both legs, the ache lingers and the slightest move of my leg causes me to grimace.  This is so ridiculous.  If I'm gonna gimp around, I should at least have a good story to back it up.  Like breaking my foot in two places dancing at a wedding reception.  Someone here at work recommended I drink a lot of water.  I'll get right on that, just as soon as I finish my mocha.
Reading a great book: How To Be An American Housewife.  No, it's not an instruction manual (although how funny would that be in today's world?).  It's a novel, the freshman release of author Margaret Dilloway.  Fanfrickintastic.  Can't loan it to you, though, as it's on the Kindle.  I suggest you buy it, check it out from the library, or download it yourself.  Good, good stuff.  It totally rocks to have a friend who works at a bookstore and can recommend awesome books.  Since I'm lucky enough to have her, I'll pass her suggestions along to you.
Currently listening to Peter Gabriel's So, thanks to another friend's blog and the heartwarming post I read this morning from her.  She made me cry and forget my aching leg for awhile.
The weekend actually looks pretty open, which is a lovely change from the last few months.  We have a few things on the agenda, and M is in full-swing with Christmas Construction, but for the most part we don't have a whole lot going on.  Lemme look at the calendar on my phone.  Swim lesson, birthday party, possible football game, community fall festival, visiting my Gran, cleaning the house, weekly shopping.  Okay, maybe we have more than a few things on the agenda.  Sigh.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


One of the many, many things Zoe is learning about at school these days is the compliment.  She's learning what a compliment is.  She's mastering it, although many times she still feels the need to give the compliment and then inform the complimentee that what she just said was, indeed, a compliment.  I, in turn, am learning the power of a compliment.  Not in receiving giving them.

The other day I left work all full of piss and vinegar.  It's not that my job is bad or stressful (it's not, at all, especially given where I came from), but because of things that happened with several projects that were beyond my control.  And we all know how much I love a lack of control.  Plus, I had to fill my boss in on these things that were of the "oh, shit!" variety and less of the "way cool!" kind.  I don't mind doing that; it's part of business.  But when you have three or four things like that in one day, and you get to e-mail your boss about it b/c he's out of town (at budget meetings, no less, which means he's already in a special kind of hell), well, that can start to get a girl down.  Don't get me boss is great.  My angst was entirely self-afflicted.  But angst it was and I stalked out of work ready to pull a tree out of the ground with my bare hands.

I drove to pick up Zoe, lecturing myself to snap out of it already as she deserves a calm, happy mommy who is easily willing to listen to the harmonica for hours on end.  I looked at the fall leaves on the trees, which usually makes me happy.  I cranked up the radio.  I willed myself to be happy, dammit.  No dice.  Nothing was working.  But then I started thinking about what Zozer is learning in school, and I wondered if making someone else's day would just maybe make mine a little brighter.  It was worth a try, and so I began my little experiment.

When I parked the car at Zoe's school and got out, I beamed a huge grin at the first person I saw (despite the fact that I didn't feel like smiling one bit, thankyouverymuch).  She was harried, and dragging her child across the lot by one arm, the other arm loaded down with papers and artwork and a purse and a jacket...the usual mommy burden.  Despite the exasperated expression on her face, she was immaculately put together.  Flawless.  And she had great shoes.  So that's what I went with.  "Wow, those shoes are fantastic!"

Her expression completely changed, just like that.  She grinned back, loosened the grip on her child, and said, "Thanks!  They're my favorite pair!"  And just like that, we both felt better.  How easy was that?

So I'm on a mission to give out compliments like the Easter Bunny gives out candy.  Compliments are free, you get just as much out of it as if you had received one yourself, and the whole energy around you improves.  I haven't found one person who didn't appreciate a compliment.  I told the cashier at McDonald's yesterday (where I went to get a sweet tea after running an errand for work) that I loved her purple hair.  I told a colleague that I adored her commitment to obsessively tracking all packages shipped by our company.  I told a vendor she was doing a great job on a campaign we just launched.  All of these people, who looked and sounded dour and disgusted just a minute before, immediately brightened.

I dare you to try this.  I dare you to look for the positive in people, and then share with them what you see.  And then I dare you to not feel wonderful about it.
M is home tonight.  Yay!
ZoeMobile did indeed need a new battery.  Boo!
But it's back to being its solid, reliable self.  Yay!
Which means I don't have an excuse to take The Fun Car.  Boo!
Got to see old friends last night. And laugh, and love, and share.  Yay!

Special shout-out to my FIL, who once again, for the second time in a little over three years, followed me and my gimpy car up to Sam's for a new battery.  And then sat at my house while I spent time catching up with my friends.  I need to get him a superhero cape or something for Christmas.  Thanks, Dad!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Attitude adjustment

Some days just start out awful.  You wake up late (7:31, to be precise, which is normally the time I'm saying good-bye to Zozer at her school) and things devolve from there.  Waking up that late means that you can no longer get your child to school in time for breakfast, which means you need to feed her, which naturally means that you will run even later.  (Thank gawd Zozer was on this morning, and proudly picked out her clothes, dressed herself, brushed her teeth and ate her breakfast with little to no assistance.)

We went flying out the door and piled into the ZoeMobile, where it took waaaaay too long to start.  Uh oh.  Freakin' battery.  I got her to school and from there went by FedEx to ship out M's visa application (the boy gets to go to India - how cool is that?!  So jealous, and proud of him.).  Each time I start the car, it heaves a huge sigh and says, "Oh, jeez, I have to run now?"  It sounds like I feel.

I debate in my head.  "Do I take it up to Sam's now?  How long would that be?  How would I get from there to work?  How do I get back to Sam's to pick up the car?  How long will it take me to find the paperwork showing I got the battery at Sam's, and when?"  I look at the clock.  Shit.  Already almost an hour late.  Split second decision: go home and get The Fun Car.  Sweet.  An actual reason to drive it.

I fly home and punch the garage door opener, and before it's all the way up I see that M has virtually ensconced the car in mid-assembled Christmas decorations.  Dammit.  I throw my stuff in the front seat and work to remove the car from the snares of light strands.  (He claims he did not do this to discourage me from driving the car...I think he's just being extra-wily.)(Or trying to figure out a way to incorporate his beloved into the display itself.)

As much as I love to drive The Fun Car, I realize halfway to work that there will be no Starbucks for me today, this day that I could really, really use it.  I'm too scared I'd tip the thing over in the car, and, well, I don't want to see the ramifications of that.

So I get to work and I'm all grouchy and bitchy and whiny.  And a little time goes by and I take a little break and check out MSNBC to see what's going on in the world.

Which is when it hits me.  My "problems" are nothing compared to what's going on in the world.  I read the story of the Chilean miners, tears welling up in my eyes.  Holy attitude adjustment.  I'm blown away on so many different levels.  The lives that have been put on hold while this has unfolded.  The doubt and uncertainty.  The danger.  Then, the inherent risks with pulling these men out, one by one.  The psychological impact piled on top of the physical impact.

Today, I am full of hope for humanity.  That doesn't happen often.  But today is a day of hope and of a brighter future and promises kept.  Way to go, Chile!

Thursday, October 07, 2010


M decided over the weekend that it was time to switch out the Hoots.  As most of you long-time readers know, we have multiple Hoot owls.  Hoot is Zoe's most beloved possession, most cherished friend.  He's in virtually every photograph of her from the past four years, and we go nowhere without him.  When she draws pictures of our family, Hoot is always included.  Given the importance of Hoot, we have back-ups that we've rotated in and out according to degrees of wear.  There are a couple we can't use (too new, too thin), and the original Hoot still looks so sad that we've kept him in semi-retirement for awhile now.  That pretty much leaves us with two in the rotation: Hoot 2 and Hoot 3.

She's had Hoot 3 for awhile now.  He's lookin' pretty dinged up.  M's grown progressively more worried about him and has really been leaning on me to switch him out with Hoot 2.  I have been reluctant, as our daughter has super-human powers of observation that are only growing stronger with age, and will easily know the difference.  Finally, this past weekend, I relented.

As M got Zoe dressed for bed, I took Hoot 3 into the Hoot Depository and compared him to Hoot 2.  "Sorry, buddy," I said to Hoot 2.  "Break's over."  I looked at them both and sighed.  There were too many differences. She'd know immediately.  Oh well.  I placed Hoot 3 back amongst his Hoot comrades, and gamely took Hoot 2 into Zoe's room, whispering, "Good luck, buddy" under my breath.

M had just gotten her into bed, and the only light was her little nightstand lamp.  We made a fuss over tucking her in and I thrust Hoot under the covers, next to her body.  "Okay, g'night!  See you in the morning!  Sweet dreams!  Love you!"  We turned off the light and bolted.

Once in the hallway, M turned to me with a grin.  "Hey, that wasn't so bad!"  "Yeah," I replied, "Because she hasn't seen him yet!  Wait 'til tomorrow!"

Tomorrow came, bright and early.  Half asleep, I heard the latch of her bedroom doorknob click, and then I heard ours.  I felt her weight as she climbed up onto our bed and wiggled under the covers.  "Mommy?" she said softly.  I opened my eyes, "What's up, Zo?"

"Why is Hoot's eye small?  And what's wrong with his beak?  And his back feels softer..."  I winced as the boy on the other side of the bed started shaking with silent laughter.

We caught her throughout that day, holding Hoot out in front of her face and eying him warily.  She set him down once and went to retrieve her computer to practice writing her letters, and M feverishly worked to smooth away the "fur" around the small eye to try to make it look larger.  I smashed on his beak trying to get it to lie down.  I cursed Ty once again for not having a quality control process by which Beanie Babies are rendered uniform.

The questions really lasted only a day and a half, and she's stopped looking at him with curiosity.  He has become, as he should be, just good ol' Hoot, reliable and consistent.

I'm not sure how many more of these switches we can make.  M seems to think it's fine.  I think we're doing permanent psychological damage.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A typical M vs. A discussion

I am not feeling very witty today.  Well, not blogger-witty.  I've been plenty witty in various e-mails to friends, but I'm not feelin' it here.  It's not coming.  It's just around the bend.  My talent is out there, lurking, laughing and me and saying, "Yeah, not so clever now, beyotch!"

I'm wishing I had remembered to scan the latest drawing produced by Zoe, wherein she's portrayed our family in great detail.  There are four humanoid objects that are said to resemble me, M, Zozer, and Hoot (apparently he's more human than avian).  But she's also taken to adding the cats to the family portrait, and that's what's funny.  They are generally circular in nature, with faces that resemble ours, but then four legs and a tail (I'm assuming it's a tail and not a fifth leg) shoot out from the bottom of each one.  I showed M last night after he got home -  Zozo was in bed - and he practically guffawed when he saw them.  "WTF are those?"  Ummm, the cats?  We laughed for awhile.  They look rather like lopsided spiders or jellyfish.

If I had remembered to scan them, I could post that here and you, too, could share our delight.

But no.  Instead, here I am, flailing away, trying to, as M so eloquently puts it, barf all over the page and be entertaining or, at the very least, share some insight to our world.

Ooooo.  Some insight just came to me.

Last night, I showed M (for the second time), a new iPhone skin that I'd like to get.  It makes the phone look like a Leica, which is a really, really, super-duper expensive fancy-schmancy camera that I will most likely never own.  Not that I necessarily want a's just one of those things photographers drool over.  It's the Lamborghini of cameras, whereas my D300 is a good, solid, reliable Honda Accord.  Well, maybe it's a bit higher than that...maybe it's an Acura.  Anyway, Leica-holics swear that photographs produced by a Leica (pronounced "Like-uh") have a certain ethereal glow that no other camera can capture.  Whatever.  I call bullshit on that.  It's a light-tight box with a shutter that opens and closes just like every other camera body.  The lenses are good, but so are the Nikkors in my arsenal.  To me, it's more about the person behind the camera and less about the camera.  But I digress.

So the Leica iPhone skin is totally cracking me up, because it's just fun and ridiculous.  Kinda like putting the Lamborghini logo on my Accord.  To me, it's worth the 13 bucks plus shipping just to be tickled every time I see it.

To M, it's a complete and total waste of money.  "What do you need it for?  We just bought you a case when you got the phone.  What's wrong with the case you have?  You don't need a new case!"  Sometimes he's a major buzz killer.  Although I try to remind him that, unlike other women, I don't like shopping and I typically don't buy a lot for myself, he fails to see just how lucky he is in this regard.

I told him that if he was gonna go all cranky about it, I would use some of the money left over from his folks for my birthday.  A big chunk went to buy an awesome new camera bag purse that I adore.  Since I didn't blow my wad all at once, and I thought about getting the Leica skin and maybe one of these totally cute camera strap covers that allows you to customize your strap and not have you look like one of the legions of Nikonistas that have boring old black and gold straps that scream "NIKON DIGITAL" and "D300" and "HEY MUGGER, RIP THIS OFF MY NECK."

M scowled.  He rolled his eyes.  He huffed and puffed (although he did not blow our house down).

I asked, "What do you want me to do with my birthday money?"

He replied, "Simple. Take it to the bottom line."

Wow.  That's great.  "Hey, whadja get for your birfday?"  "A healthy bottom line!"  Just what every girl wants and dreams about.  Jewelry from Tiffany?  Pah.  I got me a bottom line, baby.

I quit arguing with him, got up from the computer, and walked away.  Not 30 minutes later, he's calling me into the family room to look at the Excel spreadsheet he created to track his Christmas projects.  Every strand is entered, every amp counted.  (Calm down, girls...he's mine!)  He ran through his plans for this Christmas.  "I gotta get this finalized.  I gotta place this order."  I saw my chance, and I took it.  I coolly asked him, "Sooooo, how much is all that gonna cost, anyway?"  Without batting an eye, without missing a beat, without seeing one bit of the giant anvil of irony crashing down on his head, he told me.

Let's just say it's considerably more than the 38 bucks I had just proposed spending on myself, using money given to me for that purpose.  Let's just say that the cost of my entire purchase would maybe cover the tax on his.  Maybe.  (He'll argue that since he's ordering his materials on-line, there is no tax.  I'll argue that for the sake of argument, let's just go with it, and that's a literary tool to prove that his bonehead order is WAY BIGGER than mine, and says it much more elegantly.) (And besides, it's not about that.  It's about the complete inequity perpetrated in our house, where my expenses are deemed irrational and unnecessary whilst his are always perfectly legitimate.)

When I try to point out to him the obvious imbalance in this scenario, he responds with his stock answer that is so full of crap that it almost makes me want to gag.

"But I don't build the Christmas display for me.  This isn't about me.  It's about the children."

OMG.  And he says I barf all over the page?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Miner issues

I should not listen to NPR when I'm distracted and thinking about other things (namely, work) on the way to work.  This morning I heard the reporter say something about new legislation aimed at restricting the sale of videos with violent content to miners.  My mind took a leap and I actually wondered for half a second why on earth we should be concerned about what type of videos coal miners watch.  And then my brain engaged (hello, first gear) and I realized she was talking about minors, not miners.  Duh.

Great weekend, if jam-packed (as usual) and tempered by Gran's broken leg.  In the span of two and a quarter days (if you count Friday night as a quarter), we managed to drive to Chicago and back, visit with Steve (who introduced us to an amazing place called Prasino), see the awesome work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Lewis Baltz, show off the Corvette to a guy driving a really nice Audi (he wanted to hear the roar of all four pipes open, so M obliged), visit Gran in the hospital, knock out our grocery shopping, decorate the house for Halloween, clean the house, and make a giant pot of potato soup while watching the Rams whup up on the Seahawks.  M got to watch it live, entertaining a colleague visiting from Denmark.  I watched it while making the potato soup.

I'm quite pleased with myself on the potato soup.  First, because it's something I made myself.  Second, it's actually cooking.  Not just heating something up. Which is big for me.  Third, because I planned ahead and ensured that Zozer and I would have yummy, home-made and relatively healthy food for this week as M is entertaining the Denmark dude through Wednesday.  We went to the roast beef dinner at a local church last night - an annual event for which we start salivating as soon as the signs go up in front of the church - so my soup was made entirely in anticipation of a different day's meal.  Tonight's, in fact.  And while grocery shopping I gathered all the ingredients necessary to make Forgotten Roast.  That's Wednesday's dinner.  Yum!

I was trying to figure out why I've been so domestically inclined the last few weeks.  I think it stems from a couple reasons.  Being gone for almost two weeks makes me want to be a homebody for awhile.  And the cooler weather means I'd much rather be inside than out.  It's the perfect time to create a cozy (clean!) home that's filled with the comfort scents of good, hearty food.  Finally, I learned something while visiting my friend Chris in Colorado.  Although she and her husband are retired and therefore seemingly have more free time than those of us still gainfully employed, they stay extremely busy and active through volunteer work, entertaining, and Chris's little part-time job for mad money.  Despite all this, they make incredible meals every night.  I learned that it doesn't have to be hard to do this...just a little forethought and planning.  And the rescue of the steamer from the garage sale/donate pile.

Yes, yes.  I admit it.  After staring at the steamer in the garage sale for half a day, I relented and pulled it out of the donate stack.  We had never used it before.  I took it out of the box, washed it, and steamed some broccoli last week.  Holy deliciousness.  And easy!  I am, admittedly, a steamer convert.

And so we start another work week.  My schedule is just as packed as it usually is, but I'm embracing it and learning to love the fact that my life is extremely full and imperfect.  I think it'd be rather depressing and uninteresting if it was empty and perfect.

Saturday, October 02, 2010


Leaving Chicago

Great breakfast with Steve.
Awesome Cartier-Bresson exhibit.
Discovered new photographer (to me): Lewis Baltz.
Heading home.
Prayers for my Gran, please, and her broken leg.

Rain on the lid

Our view from inside the car this morning. We're headed to breakfast with Steve and then on to the Cartier-Bresson exhibit.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Traffic. Grrrrr.

Stupid highway reconstruction.


(No, this isn't the current Hoot on Duty. I imagine he's currently smashed under a sleeping child. We just broke one of his brethren out for a relaxing getaway.)

The Corvette prevails!

Yippeeee! We're on our way!

Off to Chicago!

Heading up to Chi-Town this weekend to see a photography exhibit.  Just one more example of M's unending support of my love of old photographer dudes.  Good man, M.

I want to take The Fun Car on our road trip.  After all, the car was made for road trips and it's one of the reasons we bought it.  I thought.

M checked the weather.  "Nope.  Not taking it.  40% chance of rain both tonight and tomorrow."

Oh, for the love of Pete.  The car has been in the rain before.  It will eventually be in the rain again.

I have a feeling his desire to not take The Fun Car is more due to the necessity of leaving it in Millennium Park Garage while we visit the exhibit, and less weather-related.  However, we do not speak of such ghastly occurrences as door dings, scratches or (gasp!) theft.  To speak of them would be to acknowledge their possibility.

And so, we shall take the ZoeMobile, which used to be my road-trip car of preference and is no longer.

a.) it's not as comfortable.  (It used to be comfortable, just like the RSX used to be fast and zippy.  Now both cars are relegated to "not Corvette" status.  Which ranks them considerably lower than before in all categories.)

b.) it doesn't have a nav system.  (Which leads to my Yahoo mapping our route and giving verbal instructions to M as he drives, and our getting lost, and then the inevitable argument.  This explains my absolute and undying adoration for the Corvette's nav system, cleverly named HAL after the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.  HAL has never let us down and even if it did, no way would M ever yell at The Fun Car.)  (And, to give credit where credit is due, HAL somehow seems to know how to read directions that make sense, unlike myself, who is so directionally challenged that, even when it's laid out clearly and easily in front of me, I still manage to go the wrong way.) (All the time.) (Dammit.)

c.) it doesn't have a satellite radio, which means we get to channel surf as soon as we get outside of St. Louis.  And we all know that channel surfing is so 2009.  For us, anyway.  We are late-comers to the satellite radio party.

Eh, whatever car we take, I know we'll have a good time.  I get to see Henri Cartier-Bresson and my BIL in the same trip (bonus!), and I get to spend quality one-on-one time with my hubby.  And we're only gone one overnight, so I'm not missing too much Zozer time.

Wish me luck with the navigation.  Seriously.  I need all the help I can get.

"Good evening, Michael.  Where would you like to drive?"  (Said in my best creepy HAL voice.)