Monday, February 08, 2010

Disaster does gourmet (no knitting)

It's been one of those weeks (months? years?) at work when I just can't seem to get out of my own way.  Which makes getting things done difficult.  No one else seems to want to get out of my way either, so that complicates things a bit more.  While "because I said so" worked about 75% of the time for my mother, it really, really doesn't work at work.

To make me feel better, we went out to eat at a quiet little local bistro-ey, tavern-ey place.  The building is brick, the wood floors creak comfortingly, the lighting is just right, and the staff are friendly.  I had flank steak with chopped green olives, roast fingerling potatoes with blue cheese and shallots, and roasted tomato.  I don't know what they put into the chopped olives, but I could have eaten a plate of just the olives, they were so good.  As it was, they went wonderfully with the steak and the tomato.  The potatoes? They're a starch, and starch and I have a lifetime relationship of dependency (entirely on my side).  The food was great, the serving size was reasonable, the beer was good.  A panacea, the atmosphere and my meal worked wonders.   Thank you Monty's!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Packing our...

stuff. I looked it up in a dictionary - and discovered that some definitions resonate more than others. We're buying a home at the end of the month, which means packing up eight years of apartment living. Very small apartment living. Which does not stop you from gathering stuff. And stuffing your stuff.
These definitions are so apt:

-material of some unspecified kind
-worthless things or matter
-inward character, qualities, or capabilities (made of strong stuff)
-slang. any kind of drug, esp. an illicit one*

-to fill (a receptacle), esp. by packing the contents closely together; cram full
-to fill (an aperture, cavity, etc.) by forcing something into it**
-to clutter or fill (the mind) with facts, details, etc***

*I never really thought of creative supplies, books and bundt pans as "illicit", but after contemplating our box to stuff ratio, I'm willing to admit that we may very well have a "stuff" problem in some areas. Especially books. Which I need to breathe. Apparently.

**Forcing matter into aperatures. Take everything you own and pretend it's a jigsaw puzzle. With multiple possible solutions. Attempting to solve it leads you to the conclusion that booze (as matter) also fits into your face (cavity). Which may or may not help with packing, but certainly helps with creativity.

***As far as a cluttered and filled mind - we're there. Without a doubt. Seldom in your day-to-day will you find your life and that of complete strangers mashed together into a legal goulash. But buying a house opens new vistas. Their financial issues suddenly become my financial issues, and we have to work it out together. I find I am suddenly much more organized than I want to be (this is strictly panic driven), and I believe I have used every scrap of good manners my parents ever tried to impart to me (they'd be so proud). Together, the Better Half and I have become some kind of lingo translating, paper work resolving machine. Which means our heads are full of the comedy of errors that is our current housing market and its components. We have become quite skilled at hurrying up to wait. And following up phone calls with clarifying emails or vice versa. And signing our names on some seriously grown up paperwork (while trying not to look at the total dollar amount and think about how long 30 years is).

It's a cute house. It's also warm and dry and light. And, for the first time in years, we will have room to host a lot of people we love in amongst our stuff. So taking the field against our own collected belongings (a little like arguing with yourself in the mirror), will definitely have some casualties, but will ultimately be well worth it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lies my siblings never believed

"They call him the Boogey Man because if you pick your nose, he comes and gets you in your sleep. You'd better hope you snore - he hates that. It may be the only thing that saves you."

"You fell out of the sled. To you, it may have looked like I slid down the hill backwards and ran over you (my baby sister, who I was supposed to be watching for this very reason), but you're crying over your split lip. Which is clearly impairing not only your judgment, but your entire memory of the last 60 seconds. Of course, as the oldest, I know what really happened." (You can confuse a traumatized baby sister with this, but not her tattle tale brother, aka the middle child. He actually let me lie to my mother, and then ratted me out... leaving me just enough rope to hang myself on that one.)

"I'm going to tell Mom, and she's gonna be sooo mad... You know she hates it when you throw your underwear and it gets hung on the doorbell chimes. It'll probably get ugly. Nice knowing you." (Mom did not care where the underwear ended up - she had other things to worry about, and if you wanted to humiliate yourself, go to it!)

"You're not allowed in my room. I don't go in your room, do I?!" (Said the girl who knew where all the Christmas presents were hidden)

"Because I said so."

"Quit turning the lights off on me! Every time you do that Mom and Dad have to pay 7 cents! You already owe them almost a quarter!" (The two siblings learned their 7 times tables quickly that year)

"Naw, seriously, black jelly beans are the best ones. I'll give you mine, and take those yucky red ones off your hands." (Substitute "yucky red ones" for any of the good Halloween candy.)

"I would never cheat at a board game! You're four years younger than me, I'm not that insecure!" (My six year old brother beat me at Clue shortly after I said that. This particular story is a family treasure - at least to my parents.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Aldena McCain Rayl
January 24, 1924
November 18, 2009

Monday, November 09, 2009

How much is too much?

I'd really rather not, but for some reason, I've been thinking a lot about what it means that I write and post to this blog. It gets complicated by so many factors. Personal space, privacy, having a voice...

Since becoming a blogger, my digestion of other blogs has grown exponentially. I study the ones I enjoy, and I do sometimes revisit blogs I don't like, to study those too. I lurk, and read comments, and chew on someone's writing style... all the while fully realizing how absolutely subjective this interaction is. And then I ponder subjectivity.

Sounding-board style communication, validation, a chance to give your opinions and experiences a moment in the sun, blogs serve many purposes. After reading a particularly wince-worthy blog post some months ago, I began to wonder... When does my purpose, my need to have a voice become a privacy issue, maybe a personal ethics issue? Blogs are a fascinating adventure in principles and conscience, whether we're reading them or writing them.

For some reason, personal life issues presented lightly and salted with humor and sarcasm usually sit well with me. ("Really?" you say... "I would never have guessed that after reading this blog!") The moment squishy introspection and deeply personal emotion starts, I navigate away. Far away. Things like hostile family drama (who doesn't have that?),topics like unrequited love, and blatant cries for validation make me wary. Partially for personal reasons... but mostly because they're on the web. World wide internet. Googleable. If you post it, people will find it.

Oh sure, I pour my little heart out from time to time in a completely open, naive and selfish fashion. But I do it on paper. The internet not only gives us the ability to write about ourselves (or others), but to find out if other people are writing about us. And if they are? Well, I know how I feel about that.

With my own writing, I have this horror that someone will assume I was writing about them (either correctly or incorrectly). I think it's human nature (and my own personal tendency) to exaggerate from time to time for the sake of a good story, and I would want the earth to swallow me up if I ever wrote something that crossed that magic ethical line I've drawn for myself. My rule is, if it's someone's real life... tread carefully. I often remind myself that stories are by their very nature biased by the teller, and that there is always more to a story than a narrator is capable of representing. Even in the wildest work of fiction, you must choose angles to represent. In fiction, you're setting the scene as you'd like it - in real life, it can come across as judgmental and narrow.

This is my personal squeamishness, mind you. I'm picky about autobiography. There's a thin line for me between telling a personal story, and invading other people's privacy. An example - there is an author I just can not bring myself to read because her fiction smacks of badly disguised personal life. Additionally, her non-fiction spells out quite clearly her issues with the people in her life, and that rubs me the wrong way. Aren't I doing the same thing here? Perhaps. I can't quite tell you why it's different.

This has all been at the back of my mind since I started posting here. I stumbled across a blog recently that fanned the coals of these questions into flames, so I did some web research. It's a can of worms, for sure. In addition to the privacy issues I had in mind, the discussions about a Blogger's Code of Ethics adds journalistic values and advertising ethics to the mix.

These just skim the surface of a more academic discussion, but here are some interesting food-for-thought links on privacy issues:

Blog Survey: Expectations of Privacy and Accountability
This 2004 survey has some interesting stats on bloggers' disclosure about themselves and others.
Blogging Down Privacy Rights
A brief discussion of legal issues in regards to ethics and privacy in the blogosphere, and the "do unto others" school of thought.
A Tale of Two Bloggers
A great comparison of how two blogs with similar topics can impinge on people's privacy in very different ways.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Bathroom?! Seriously?

Things found in the bathroom of my office building that should not be there:

Drink containers. Left perched on the TP dispenser. Straw and all. Blech. Please tell me you don't come back to get these.

A toy poodle. Apparently the leash was looped over the hook inside the stall door - the dog was almost hung when the owner opened the door without removing the leash first. This owner talked with the dog while in the stall. Very unsettling. Even more unsettling was the lack of even a flicker of response from the poodle. Probably too morose about being tied up in the lav yet again.

Your cell phone conversation. I am the person next to you who flushes the toilet three times. I do it because I'm incredibly annoyed that you are so unable to function without your celly buddies that you must take them to the loo with you. I know that those flushes echo in that cavernous bathroom, and I do it just to make sure the person you're talking to knows exactly where you've taken them. I know YOU won't notice, but I always hope they will, and that they'll mind enough to hang up on you.

A list of "who is hot" on the stall door. Please, there are a million "James" and "Bills", with nary a last name listed. "Professor D" is not very revealing either. Way to live on the wild side with the bathroom graffiti. Protecting the innocent perhaps? I'm not sure how to feel about the person who wrote "Me", but I'll admit it made me laugh.

Paper problems. What difficulties could you possibly have with toilet paper that would cause you to strew a million shredded pieces of it all over the floor like some nesting hamster? Or pull a Hansel and Gretel and trail miles of it around the bathroom? Also, with the trash can right beside you... why is your sodden mass of paper towel balled up in the drain of the sink?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween creeps on little crow feet...

If your mind is turning to pumpkins and spooks these days, browse my better half's Halloween blog.
For years we had very creative friends living nearby who enthusiastically decorated their yard and home each year. Together, we created quite a tradition and I love that Steve decided to pass it along. There's a nice collection of projects and ideas in his blog.

Our friends moved halfway across the country a few years ago... but guess where we're going for Halloween this year?!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Look What I Did!

I dyed yarn!
I decided to give hand-dyeing a try on my vacation last week and I'm so chuffed with the results that I had to share. Mark paid them a wonderful compliment by saying, "They look like yarn you would buy." It was not terribly difficult, and it was a lot of fun. I may have found a new fiber obsession!