Thursday, December 30, 2010

Roadtrip nap

Dessert at Rene's

Another Michelle & Ryan gem in Indy.

Lunch in Indy

Thanks to Michelle and Ryan for the intro to La Piedad!

Paper cranes

in the Collinsville Starbucks. We are on our way to Cincy!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kaldi's light

6:30 am coffee with an old high school photo buddy, and a non-photo buddy. (Where today's image was captured.)

12 pm lunch with former colleagues.

After work errands, the lights at Tilles, and packing.

And I even managed to work today. Little bit.

Off to Cincy tomorrow! A New Year's Eve wedding! With a new lens! After two years of waiting, I finally broke down and bought a Lensbaby Composer.

So much to be excited about this weekend!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shrimp creole and bread

Yum is not strong enough. It's like yum-squared.

Honey stop

Stopped at the Honey House on the way back from lunch today.

Oh yeah.

Sticky sweet happiness in a mason jar from someone's front porch.

I bought the big jar this time.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday/End of Year thoughts

Christmas is done for this year.  Well, almost.  A few things left to do, but they're fun things and not oh-my-gawd-I-don't-have-time-for-this things.  Which is what it's been for what feels like over a month.  Actually, it's been well over a month.

When multiple things go wrong, and they are big things, it's too easy to get caught up in that and think that everything is just awful.  It's too easy to lose sight of the good things.  And there are a lot of good things.

Looking back on 2010, it's been a whirlwind.  I think we may have overcompensated for two years of living underwater.  At least I did.  I changed jobs, which in and of itself is incredibly stressful, but add to it a healthy dose of family discord, hurt feelings, lies and betrayal and it's unbelievably painful.  I went to Chicago (x2), Florida, Kentucky, Rhode Island (x2), Colorado, Dallas.  M went to Denmark (x2), England, India, Kentucky, Rhode Island and I can't remember where else (Vegas?).  He jumped into a fjord, I leaped into new friendships.  We bought The Fun Car.  We buried beloved family members and welcomed new ones (kisses to Emma and Stella!).  I got my brother back, and lost an aunt.

2010 has definitely been a year of change, mostly good.  Even when good, though, change is stressful.  I have learned more during this past year about myself than all the book learnin' of two years of graduate school.  I have learned that I'm capable of a lot more than I thought, but with that capability comes the responsibility (to myself, to my family, to my friends) to learn to say "no."

While the past year has been incredible in so many different ways, I'm not sorry to see it go.  2010 kicked my ass.  I'm tired.  I am looking forward to a calmer 2011, more time to be introspective, more time to ease into the day, and enjoy the moments.  I want to just be present in every moment and not thinking about what I need to do next, where I need to go.

We started tonight.  After getting home and getting Zoe into bed, and straightening the house, we sat on the library floor and played "Don't Break the Ice" and "Don't Spill the Beans."  We needed some mindless entertainment.  And we laughed.  And I realized as I looked at my M, that it has been too long since I've seen that smile.  It's been too long since we've done something goofy like play preschool games together.

And now we're going to sleep.  Tomorrow brings another day with more things to check off the to-do list (it is still 2010 after all), starting with the disaster zone my desk has become (I had to excavate the keyboard from a mountain of paperwork just to post tonight), but we're getting there.  We have a stack of new games from Santa and a little girl who loves to play.

2011 is gonna rock.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

More waiting

Waiting for the car to be done. Again. This time it's a CV boot cover.

I'm really tired of waiting rooms.

This one blasts CNN.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

People Watching


Subtitle: This is What Boredom Looks Like


At Sam's, waiting for my tires to be rotated. This is the third trip here...they don't take appointments. Grrrrr. All the other times they've had a 2.5 hour wait. I'm beginning to see why.

I've checked out all the DVDs, the books, the magazines. I've people-watched. I helped an old lady understand what "BluRay" means. I surfed and checked out Facebook on the phone. Now I've resorted to taking pictures of display tires.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Forgot I took this

Descent into STL. Reminds me that the world ain't such a bad place after all.


Sometimes, when you've just clawed your way up from the bottom, life throws a curve ball and you just gotta take it.  Or, in our case last night, life threw a sinker.  Literally.

After a few months of sheer all-out frenzy with work and home life (for both of us), we finally brought everything to a head this weekend.  Saturday, we ran ourselves nutty by finishing up the Christmas shopping.  We were here, there and everywhere.  Zozer was a real trooper, aided in part by the knowledge that her new little house elf, Henry, was watching (I'll have to post on the genius that is Elf on the Shelf later).  Yesterday we hunkered down and spent a day at home, our first in a long time.  I wrapped presents and M cleaned off his desk and tended to a few other things, and we played with Zoe and had what was a blessedly normal day.  It is impossible for me to stress just how much I was enjoying the day, as we hadn't done that in a long, long time. Too long.  I even had myself a nap - which felt completely luxurious.

We did go out at night, just to 6 o'clock mass (" that the mass where they have the rock song at the end?"  Yes, sweetpea, it is, which is why it's my favorite time to go to mass!).  I said to M, "I'm so excited about having a night off!  We can watch football, veg on the couch, go to bed early.  It'll actually be normal."

Around 9 p.m., I pulled out the iPad to do a bit of surfing.  The battery had only 4% remaining, and the cord doesn't reach to the outlet from the couch.  I said to M, "I'm gonna run downstairs and get an extension right back."

Halfway down the basement stairs I saw the tell-tale sign: a section of the carpet darker than the rest.  F*ck.  Water.  From where?  I squished over the carpet at the bottom of the stairs and tracked the line to the laundry room.  Where I saw a good quarter inch of water sitting at the door.  Holy Mother of God.  "Miiiiichaeeellllllll!"  He came running, hearing the panic in my voice.  Which is when I also heard the little pitter patter of Zoe-feet running, too.  Double shit.  She was up to use the potty and heard the whole thing and became intensely interested in just what, exactly, was transpiring downstairs.

The sink in the laundry room had clogged up from the gunk that ran through the sink in the kitchen right above.  It filled up with nasty water and bits of food, and then overflowed.  Onto the laundry room floor, across it, and into the finished part of the basement.  I cleaned up the mess, sobbing.  M worked on the clog, cursing.  "Our house is evil," I told him.  "It hates us.  It won't even let us have one stinking night to relax!"  He laughed and gave me a bear hug, "It's not evil.  We're okay. We're gonna be fine."  This was extremely reassuring to hear, as the only thing M hates more than painting is plumbing.  If he was keeping his shit together in the face of all this, well, then I could, too.

He's at home today, having dumped caustic fluid down the upstairs drain in an attempt to unclog the downstairs drain.  It's working...slowly.  Fed up with the ineffectiveness and deciding that he doesn't have time for this, he's called a plumber, who will be there between 10 and noon today.  I like the idea of a plumber.  His hourly rate is sure to be lower than M's, and the bonus is that M won't have to work on it.  This usually results in an understandably foul mood as he has to deal with the shoddy work performed on our house by the vendors chosen by the residents before us.  Just one of the many, many reasons we are so looking forward to building our own house.  M will be able to ensure that things are done right, from the beginning.  No more undoing someone else's mess.

Until then, we'll deal with the overflowing sinks and cracking walls and sticking doors.

On the bright side, we now have a nicely humidified basement.  I always like to look for the silver lining.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Annual trip up to NoCo

This guy is even more crazy than M.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

DFW Admiral's Lounge

On the way home. Finally.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brown Ale down

Woooooo hoooooooo!

Beer: Texas style, baby!

Redhead Ale down


Uncle Buck's Light down

Holy shit.

Captain's Choice IPA down

Sportsman's Ale down

Hefe-weizen down

Blonde Ale down

Uh sampler!!!!

What happens in my brain late at night

This is what happens when it's late at night/early in the morning, and you've had a stressful day, and a fun-filled night, and it's late/early, and you wonder if the iPhone camera can focus through the peephole in your hotel room door.

Not too shabby. Huh. Learn something new every day/night. Even while slightly intoxicated.

Gawd, I love photography. In all forms.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shiner Bock: yummy

Business trips are over-rated

Cold meeting rooms.
Burnt coffee.
Bad presenters.

I haven't been outside in 2 days.

I have, however, had bacon two days in a row. Mmmmmm, bacon.

Monday, December 13, 2010


View from my room this morning.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


What can one do after calling home to say goodnight to a sweet 5-year-old and hearing "I want YOU here, Mama!" accompanied by sobs? One can have a glass of Chardonnay, that's what. Or, you know, a bottle. With green olives, of course. One can also make fun iPhone images while schnockered, one can.

M says it doesn't get any easier. God bless all parents who travel.

Leaving STL


We caroled Friday night, but I've been running like mad since then so this is the first chance I've had to post.

Waiting for colleagues at the airport. We're going to grab some lunch before our flight to Dallas.

Every minute scheduled there, so no photography. At least not with the "real" camera. The iPhone will have to do!

More later, hopefully. As I see things that catch my eye or strike my fancy.

Friday, December 10, 2010

More iPhone camera fun

Every day I take a picture of Zozer and send it to her father. This started as a way to include him daily when he's traveling, but now we do it even if he's in town.

Right now, this very second, he's barreling toward Detroit at 471 knots, or 542 mph.

He'll get today's pic when he lands.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

New art

Found a new app that allows creative, quick, digital manipulation of iPhone photos. Sweet! Even better, it was free!

This was shot a couple weeks ago, but I didn't like it until I could run it through the new app. Now I love it. It feels kind of Jackson Pollocky.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Zoe tidbits

Last week, the mom of one of Zoe's classmates came in and taught the kids about Hanukkah. Which is very, very cool. I love that she is exposed to different religions and culture. (Her Catholic grade school will fix that right up in a hurry, won't it?!) After school that day, she ran to me when I came to pick her up in the gym. "Mommy! Are we celebrating Harmonica?" She was pretty upset when I explained to her that we don't, in fact, celebrate Harmonica because we are Catholic. So I said, "But we get Christmas instead!" She perked right up. Crisis averted.

Sunday morning, we were getting ready to go to Cousin Clare and Tony's bridal shower. Well, I was getting ready and Zoe was farting around on the bed. I was doing my hair in the bathroom when I heard my make-up brushes clink against the little juice glass in which they reside on the vanity. "Mommy! I'm putting on make-up!" "Okay, Doodlebug!" Five minutes later she showed up in the bathroom, holding the brush I use for bronzer. Uh oh. She grinned from ear to ear and looked like a little Oompa Loompa. A wet washcloth soon remedied the situation, but I think she was a bit confused as to why I gave a little yelp and then attacked her face with a washcloth.

She's been tormenting the cats lately. Well, Max specifically. She feels sorry for him. "He only has one friend, Mommy, and it's Tachi. I'll be his friend so he's not so lonely." Being his friend consists of camping right next to his little tent, his sanctuary, and talking/singing to him. It's a bonus when she brings her electronic keyboard and plays music for him. The damn thing is loud, but better Max get it than me, so I let it go. I check on them every once in awhile, and remind her to not stick her hand in the tent ("That's his house, honey, his safe place.") and to remove the speaker end of the keyboard from under his head. Can cats get migraines? Max deserves a special place in kitty heaven after what he's gone through in this life.

They're talking about feelings at school.  What they are, appropriate ways to handle them, etc.  Last week, they made "feeling snowflakes," which consist of a piece of paper with a feeling written on it (Angry, Happy, Sad, Scared) and little jagged pieces of paper taped to the edges with all the different situations where the children might have these feelings.  I read through them, and could spot Zoe's immediately even though they weren't labeled with names.  Under sad, Zoe's suggestion was, "When Mommy and Daddy won't give me dessert!"  But of course.  She's also happy when it rains and when she goes to the zoo, and is scared when it's really, really dark.  I read them all, searching for hers, and my heart broke when I read one child's note that he or she is scared "when daddy gets angry."  Holy shit.  That's some pretty heavy stuff there.

Zoe's been cooking for Hootie lately.  She likes to make him dinner. Tonight it was blue chocolate milk, made primarily with dish soap (the other ingredient being one, and only one, drop of water).  Poor Hootie.  Reminds me of when she used to make Mufroom Tea for Daddy.  One day last week, she had to cook up an ice pack for Hootie, as he had hurt his wing.  My mind drifted as her ingredient list ran longer and longer (it lasted most of the way home from the grocery store, and included much of what was riding in grocery bags in our trunk), but I remember that marshmallows were included, and carrots.  She was having such a good time that I didn't have the heart to tell her that ice packs consist of one ingredient only, and that she didn't even need to go to the store to buy it.

I've been teaching her how to use the iPhone.  She can play games and look at pictures/videos.  Last time M was out of town, she learned how to call him, by herself, from any screen.  That was born out of a desire for her to get help if needed (I kept having nightmares that something happened to me and she wasn't able to get help because she's so little).  This week, she learned to use the camera.  She had a blast making photographs.  My new Facebook profile photograph is one she took.  Not too shabby!  Here's one of Hoot that just cracks me up.  I'm not sure if it's his new Facebook profile pic.

Last night, she wanted to help me with laundry.  I fold everything as I pull it out of the dryer, so there we were, standing in the laundry room, folding.  She started with washcloths, then graduated to dish towels and face towels.  Halfway through, she pulled out a shirt.  She fussed with the sleeves for a bit, wadded it up, and threw it back in the dryer.  "I'm going to stick with the squares and rectangles."  Good thinking.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

M = Megatree Maker

The 2010 Grand Lighting was last night.  The boy has outdone himself.  Craziness...sheer craziness.

This video, courtesy of rockstar cousin Dave, tells the story.  It was the second running of the Grand Lighting, given for those folks who arrived late.  The first running included 80+ roman candles firing off the roof of the house from behind the chimney.  Sweet.

Tons of thanks go out to the two special elves who live behind us.  They sacrificed a lot of time and energy, stayed up for many late nights, froze their butts off, and did it all for no pay.

Thanks to Cousin Dave, for streaming the event live for those family and friends who couldn't be with us. just keeps getting better and better.  Dave has already promised to come back next year, and we're setting some achievable metrics to it - because that's how we roll.

And thanks to our wonderful guests, who gamely put on their coats and troop out to our frozen front yard to watch the fruits of my crazy husband's endeavors.  We absolutely love having everyone over each year - it's the perfect way to kick off our holiday season.  What better way to start than being surrounded by love and laughter (and lights!)?

Here's to a very Merry Christmas.