Sunday, December 31, 2006

Superhero and supervillain

Your results:
You are Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman
The Flash
Iron Man
Green Lantern
You are a beautiful princess
with great strength of character.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Your results:
You are Mystique

Poison Ivy
Dr. Doom
Mr. Freeze
Lex Luthor
The Joker
Dark Phoenix
Green Goblin
Sometimes motherly, sometimes a beautiful companion, but most of the time a deceiving vixen.

Click here to take the "Which Super Villain am I?" quiz...

A really big ornament

While Hulk has already documented the cats' favorite activity at his parents' house, here are some pictures of Loki's second-favorite activity (at least, this time of year): climbing and hanging out in their Christmas tree.

The living room of the house has a very high ceiling, and they have a tall (fake) tree - at least 8 or 9 feet. Loki would climb about halfway up and just hang out, all 14 long lean pounds of him. Once or twice, he climbed even higher and then the tree wobbled and shook, not built to withstand that much cat. I had to pull him out a few times because while his tree-climbing instincts are still there, his tree-descending instincts leave something to be desired. It was OK for him to hurl hhimself out of the tree from 4 feet up but I got a little nervous when he was peeking out and trying to figure out how to jump out from 6 feet.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

End-of-year meme, courtesy Linda of All and Sundry

From here:

1. What did you do in 2006 that you’d never done before?
I shoveled a crapton of snow after our blizzard last week. I took Amtrak from Colorado to California and back for Thanksgiving. Got in my first car accident (was rearended by a 16 y/o at a stoplight.) We got to have our very own garden for the first time with tomatoes and peppers and herbs, because we moved to the new place.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Didn't make any, other than to look fabulous for my 10-year reunion. And I think I did. I think I'll stick with staying in good shape for 2007.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Two cousins, neither of which are particularly close, but I did knit the babies some blankets.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
None. We went to China at the end of 2005 but didn't make it out of the country this year.
6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?
A car
7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 10 (HS Reunion), July 3 (5th anniversary with boyfriend), December 20 (blizzard)
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Helping to organize a great national conference.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I failed to convince the people at my job that I'm worth more money for the amount of responsibility I have.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A few colds, maybe. I was actually quite healthy in 2006. Must have been all the working out and eating super-healthy I did.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Absolute Sandman for the Hulk for Giftmas.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My crappy old supervisor retired. I celebrated then. Also, Benji won "So you think you can dance," and that was pretty good, too.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Can I say the entire current political administration? I'm going with that.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Assuming aside from things like rent, food, utilities, probably travel to CA.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The reunion. And meeting internet people.
16. What song will always remind you of 2006?
"My Humps" was pretty ubiquitous. I hardly ever listen to the radio, but I heard that song all the time.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? 
b) thinner or fatter? 
c) richer or poorer?
maybe happier, marginally thinner (though a lot stronger and in better shape), marginally richer (at least, more debt is paid off and I have more in my retirement account.)
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Travel out of the US, or maybe just travel in general. I also wish we'd had the chance to go see more live music.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Been frustrated by Hulk's difficulty in gaining employment
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Spent Giftmas with Hulkrents, HulkBro, Hulksisinlaw, HulkGrandma. But I did talk to my family a couple of times.
21. Did you fall in love in 2006?
I fall in love with the Hulk over and over again. And a girl named Spike.
22. How many one-night stands?
None in my whole life.
23. What was your favorite TV program?
Watching Battlestar Galactica and Lost on DVD.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don't think I hate anybody.
25. What was the best book you read?
Temeraire (3 book series) by Naomi Novak.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I'm so out of the loop regarding music; I really have no idea. I like music.
27. What did you want and get?
To meet my friend Monkey after knowing her for 5 years on the internets.
28. What did you want and not get?
A car
29. What was your favorite film of this year?
I'm not sure - maybe Wordplay.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 27 on March 14. I went to work and my mom's students sung to me over the phone. Hulk made me a delicious birthday dinner and red velvet cake.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Probably if I'd taken any sort of a class to help exercise my brain.
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?
I wasn't concerned with fashion so much as fitting into smaller clothing, which I did manage to do for a few months (July, August, September). I did find some cool new stuff to wear. I love my new jeans with the dragon on them that I got in Indianapolis. Oh, and I got to shop at H&M several times both in Indy and in CA, so that was good.
33. What kept you sane?
Knowing I was going to be able to travel for work and get out of my cube this fall. After that, it's been looking forward to the holidays. Now, it's knowing that soon we will have a toilet that won't run all the time.
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I always drool over Ewan MacGregor and Ed Norton. I drooled over Christian Bale in The Prestige.
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Probably the election in general. I was so glad things turned out the way they did. A particular piece of legislation was drafted to counteract a part of the President's proposed 2007 budget that would have directly affected the program I run, so that was probably the closest-to-home issue.
36. Who did you miss?
Family and friends. I missed Hulk and the kitties when I was traveling a lot for work.
37. Who was the best new person you met?
New, as in didn't know at all before 2006? Leah and Simon of A Girl and a Boy.
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006.
Go to the chiropractor ASAP after you get rear-ended.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right."

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Giftmas, internet

Made it up through the snow to HulkRents' house
Been to the gym twice
drank waaaay too much
ate waaaaay too much
surprised and touched by the lovely presents from Hulk & co
kitties are all settled in and don't even mind the little doggie
hot tub under the stars when it's 20F out: lovely
Loki has climbed the Christmas tree at least 5 times. He lurves it.
found all the necessary presents
successfully deposited large jar of suggestive German sausages into the Holla stocking. (yummy!)
One more day of HulkFamily togetherness and then we'll make a trek to the still somewhat dysfunctional Denver airport, do some Denver errands, and head back up north for some winter cabin time. I'm bringing a bunch of knitting and we might rent snowshoes.

faithfully keeping the internets informed,
merry Giftmas and whatever other holidays y'all celebrate,

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Blizzard: today's pictures

9 AM today, looking out our front window. That car parked there about 3 PM yesterday and I bet it'll be a while before the car can move. I would guesstimate the snow is at least 20-24 inches deep (obviously, no little fence visible). You can see where the sidewalk would be, since someone walked through there not too long before I took the picture. The snow is still falling.

Corner, 9 AM. Notice the huge drift in front of the red fence, and the truck by the stop sign is almost invisible because it's covered in snow.

Out our front door - several inches of buildup. (Petra tried to stick her head outside and then thought better of it)

View out the back window - the grill looks like a big boob on the table, and the chairs are completely covered in snow. Note - no rose bush visible, so the snow there is at least 24 inches deep.

Hulk just bundled up and pushed through this to get to the shed where the snow shovel is kept. I don't know how he managed it.

And the snow hadn't stopped falling yet...

See, I asked for a white Christmas, not a blizzard.

So it really isn't my fault, I swears.

Here are some pictures I took yesterday around 1 PM and then this morning at 9 AM (needless to say, pretty much EVERYTHING is closed, including all state offices. I cheered when it tickered across the bottom of the TV screen last night.)(So today we are having another snow day, and I'm going to build a snowman in my backyard because I've never in my life been able to do that before.)

Anyhow, pictures.

View out front window. You can see the tops of the fencing of our front bed. The snow was falling pretty hard.

View of backyard. Note the little bbq grill on the table and the top of the rose bush against the lovely privacy fence. Several inches of snow buildup on the chairs.

Corner of our block, 1 PM. Notice the small blue truck already somewhat buried to the right of the stop sign. The reddish fence is behind where we had our tomatoes and peppers this summer. Also, notice that there are still brave souls out there driving!

Corner of our block, with small beetle bravely making its half-buried way up the street. I would guess the snow is about 10-12 inches deep at this point.

Blogger won't let me put in more pictures, so I will have to do a post#2.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Snow day!

From what I have been told by those in the know, the state NEVER closes buildings, even for terrible, terrible weather. That's definitely been the case since I've worked here, but there are rumors going around today that our big honkin' winter storm is going to force the closure of the state buildings at noon today.

Walking to work this morning was an interesting task. I had to get all bundled up in layers, hiding my wet braided hair under my Emily the Strange hat (with kitty ears!), wrapping my long green scarf around and around my neck and lower face, putting on my heavy wool pea coat. Today I knew the conditions would be bad-ish, so I wore jeans and knee high socks and my clompy snow-going zipup boots. The snow was stinging cold powder blowing straight into my face the whole way to work, and every minute or so I brushed off my coat, purse, and mittens, unable to reach my backpack and the layers of snow that piled up. Few people had been out on the sidewalks, or enough snow had fallen that the footprints of those who had walked before me were obscured, so my footprints fell deeply into the inch or two of snow on the sidewalks, announcing to the world for at least a few minutes which way I had gone.

The girl walking ahead of me wore a bright red coat, fuzzy hat, and mittens. I love brightly colored coats, both for the visibility factor and for the contrast between the whiteout conditions and the vibrant color. My peacoat is at least 30 years old (maybe more like 35) and a hand-me-down from my mom. It's warm and fits me, so though it's black I'm sure I'll be wearing it for years.

Cars drove by much more slowly than usual, as the snowplows either hadn't been out yet or hadn't been by in a while. It was cold enough outside to keep the snow in the road from melting much, but everyone is careful when driving in these conditions, at least the smart ones are. I was glad I didn't have to drive. In the interim breaks between waves of cars, the still snow silence roared in my ears along with the wind blowing gritty powder into my eyes.

As I got to work, one of my coworkers approached from the building across the street, huddled under an umbrella. I felt like kicking myself; the umbrella would have been a wikkid smaht idea. Maybe I'll remember next time.

Inside the building, I roasted immediately and began peeling off layers, shedding my winter skin like a snake. Off come the hat and mittens, and I stamp the snow off my boots and clomp carefully down the stairs to the basement. In my cube, I unwrap my scarf, shake off my hat, mittens, coat, scarf, backpack and purse as I remove each item. Even my sweater has a bit of snow accumulation around the collar. Everything gets hung up to maybe dry a little before I venture out into the world again.

It's official; the building is closing at 2 PM. I think I'll leave at 1 and go to the gym. I don't want to break my exercise streak (been going 5 days a week for the last 4 weeks to negate the 2 months of traveling and eating out I had to do for work this fall). It remains to be seen whether we'll be told to stay home tomorrow. If we aren't, I may be one of the only ones who can get in to work, since my legs work much better in the snow than vehicles stuck behind the huge drifts in some of the suburbs caused by plows. Maybe my wish to see a white Christmas will come true for the first time in my life. There will probably sill be some of this snow around this weekend, if nothing else.

People around here moan and groan about snow in the winter - at least, my coworkers do. I'm sure it gets old after living here for years and years, and I can understand why someone might want to flee for more temparate climes. But for me, snow is still magical, and a small, childish part of me has always wanted to see snow at Christmas. I'm sure for Wheels in Winterpeg or for Leah who grew up in SLC, snow is more of a hassle than anything else, but when it comes to snow I feel like I did anticipating Santa before I figured out he didn't exist. Snow is magic and special and I'm going to stomp my clompy boots and insist on that for at least another winter here in Colorado.

Update: It's 11:30 and we've been given the OK to leave. Maybe I'll just do a pilates DVD at home, because I don't know what the weather will be like in an hour after I might be done at the gym.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Girl's Best Friend

One of my coworkers has possession of nearly $14,000 worth of diamonds this weekend. She's been carrying them in her coat pocket all day today.

Backstory? Her son is planning a Christmas surprise proposal to his girlfriend. Their family is friends with a diamond wholesaler out of state, who mailed 3 diamonds to my coworker's house. Coworker's son came by the office to pick the one of the 3 he wants to buy and have set into a presentation setting for his surprise proposal. Coworker had planned to FedEx the other two back to the wholesaler today but was told to wait until Monday.

Coworker's son left, and I got to take a peek at 3 princess-cut diamonds all worth around $4500. Sparkly! Shiny! Square! And also, rocks.

Man, I don't know if I can think of anything that makes me more nervous than carrying around something really valuable. I don't think I've ever carted around anything worth more than a few hundred dollars at any given time (including cash), so the thought of walking around with many thousands-worth of precious gems makes my stomach kind of droppy. I think this is one of the reasons that I don't want a diamond ring for my own self - that, added to the whole DeBeers thing, the overvalued thing, the conflict diamond thing, and the fact that I prefer colored stones. I honestly don't think I would like walking around with a piece of jewelry on my hand worth more than the total value of my other posessions, having to worry about what happens if it falls out or gets stolen or whatever.

I must admit, they were pretty and sparkly. But sheesh, talk about pressure, carrying them things around and having them at home for days! I wouldn't want that kind of stress.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Swim Irish Psycho

It suddenly occurs to me that I forgot to mention the non-dinner-prep/eating portions of the Cloverhole leg of our trip to CA in November. I can pretty much always count running into someone I know, knew, and/or haven't seen in ages and dayson when making a trip to the grocery store or Long's drugs.

This trip was no exception. First, at the fish counter in the market was my first swim coach from junior high - still with the same long blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, maybe a few more pounds and wrinkles, but the same mannerisms and voice. She didn't see me during the salmon-ordering process but we later ran into one another in the canned veggie section and started talking - she even remembered me, lo these many years later. Her oldest kid, whom I remember being a wee bump in her belly, is a teenager, and she's got two others. We chitchatted a bit until one of my friends from high school/college (he was best friends with College Boyfriend's brother), who I haven't seen in over a year, passed down the same aisle with his mom. I said farewell and good luck to Swim Coach and gave The Irish German an enormous hug. He was also in town for family obligations, and since neither of us were going to stay more than a day or so, we were unable to make our schedules align to spend any time together. But I got his number, and heard updates on College Boyfriend (his roommate and coowner of the house they're renovating in Oakland), College Boyfriend's onagain/offagain relationship of *counts fingers* over six years (latest update: on again), and tales of our other friends from college.

I call him the Irish German because he's about the most Aryan looking guy you'll ever meet, tall and blond and blue-eyed, fair skin, and his last name leaves no doubt about his heritage. But he spent over four years living and working in Dublin after college, coming home once a year at Christmas and always managing to come over to a party and/or hang out when he was back in the states. He's been back for nearly 2 years now, but he's still got a bit of the Irish lilt he seems to have picked up, and I hope it never goes away.

So he and his mom had to run, and I met back up with my mom and sister and we got out of dodge. Then I remembered I needed something in Longs, so I ran in quickly, asked the manager for directions to the item in question (cheesecloth), and got in the shortest line. And waited for a few minutes trying to place the cashier. She looked so familiar, but not familiar enough for me to remember her name. But when I saw her name tag, I realized who it was - the psycho hose beast ex girlfriend of Joey! Holy caca! I'd previously only met her a few times, one of which was a party a few years ago at Joey's house, after she'd gotten multiple tattoos, been in the military and discharged, and been married with kid and then divorced. To say this girl has issues is an understatement. Anyhow, the reason it was so difficult to recognize her was that she's gained at least 50 pounds since I saw her at the party, making me feel kind of sorry for her. Man, that couple of minutes of conversation while she rang up my cheesecloth was kind of awkward, after we'd each established who the other was.

Going back to Cloverhole is weird. In a way, it's kind of cool to run into and see people I never see - but in a way, it's also kind of sad. One of the drawbacks to being from a small town is that you're intimately more involved with the lives of people in town than you might be in a big city, and while you've moved away or moved on, they're in the same place doing the same things. For some people, I'm sure that's happiness, but I know I would have been miserable.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hold me closer, Tony Danza

I took my first ballet class when I was three years old.

I remember the butterflies in my belly, walking up to the studio (an old grange hall) wearing my pink half sleeved leotard and tights and my pretty pink shoes. My mom had put my long hair up in a bun, and several of my friends from preschool were going to be in the class. I can still remember "practicing" beforehand, telling myself that if I could balance on the knuckles of my toes or twirl around that I'd be recognized as an instant prodigy.

My first ballet teacher's name was Lori, and she taught the little ones. Ballet for very small children consists primarily of tumbling and movement and not much in the way of technique, because children that small and young don't yet have the necessary coordination. I remember my first barre exercises, learning even then that I have short achilles tendons and so my heels pop up after a very shallow plie. (I came to curse that shortcoming of my anatomy later on, when the lady who started the studio, old and white haired, would slap my ankles with her cane when my heels popped up too early. This also meant that my already genetically-blessed large calves were far larger than they might have been otherwise.)

For my first recital, I was a baby swan, and wore a white sparkly costume with a tutu and feathered headpiece. It was a beautiful cosutme and I loved every minute of being on the stage.

After a few years, most of my preschool (and later, elementary school) friends stopped taking ballet classes; either they lost interest, found things they liked better, or realized they'd never be very good. I, on the other hand, loved my classes, pushed myself as hard as I could, and realized when I got skipped up a level that I *was* quite good. Watching other girls in my class dance, some of whom were two or three years older than I was, made me feel good - because I could recognize who was really good, who had good technique, and who would never make it. The worst girl in the class was named Katherine, and she kept on for years longer than she should have; most girls in that studio were put en pointe (got to use toe shoes) around age 12 or 13, but Katherine wasn't good enough at that point. I even felt kind of sorry for her.

Our recitals were so much fun; the practicing for hours after school got out in June, our moms sewing our costumes, the music and the excitement and the photos. I was an oompa loompa (striped jumper, side ponytails, little caps)(Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), a court child and daughter of the air (Little Mermaid), Little Miss Muffett (Babes in Toyland), a flower in the garden (Alice in Wonderland). Every year I looked forward to reading the program after the show, idolizing the older girls who got to do the solos.

I was put en pointe when I was 11 years old. That's pretty early as far as those things go, but my turnout was good, my extension was good, my arches were fantastic, and I had the drive. My feet were women's size six and after I got my first pair of pointe shoes they stopped growing for over a year. I found that not only was I good at ballet in general, I was very good en pointe - unlike most people, my wide foot and narrow heel meant that my foot was suspended in the toe box and my toes didn't actually touch the ground. While I got blisters occasionally, and my toes got all warped from being smashed together and holding all my weight, it was never a painful experience for me like it was for so many of my classmates. The next year I was told I'd have to start taking classes four times a week (the town was 15 miles away) and once a week to another town even farther away in order to step up my game. I'd started middle school at this point and was totally exhausted, burnt out. I had also started my growing sideways before I grew taller phase, and by looking at my parents and relatives I could tell I'd never have the body necessary to dance professionally - too muscular, too curvy, feet and hands too big.

So I quit. My feet grew two sizes in six months. I did well in school and desperately missed ballet. I checked out the local school when I made a friend in the new town we'd moved to who also danced - but this was a much more laid-back, dance-for-fun sort of place, and the most advanced class was still not dancing en pointe. So I waited, pulling out my too-small shoes and practicing in my tiny bedroom, doing my barre exercises and watching my form in my mirrored closet doors.

Six months later they all got their shoes, and I started up with the local studio. There were no bigger, older girls to look up to - we were the bigger and older girls. My class was the first, since the studio was so young, to have ever danced en pointe. And I couldn't just take ballet - I had to take jazz, which I was never very comfortable with. I continued with ballet, experiencing increasing pain in my hips that had started when I was 9 or 10, sometimes miserable all day from the pain. My teacher didn't know what it was, but recommended I take things easier, not emphasize my turnout quite so much. But I couldn't dance half-assed, I had to do things the RIGHT way, even though it hurt so much. My hips started popping in and out of their sockets, and sometimes when I was standing still in place I could pop them just using my hip flexors. It didn't matter; I loved dancing, loved performing, could not imagine stopping.

I graduated high school, went to college, and took a ballet class there. My hips got progressively worse, and, after waking up 3 times in one night in tears, went to a university doctor in the spring. He took some x-rays, listened to my story, and told me, "Either quit ballet now or get new hips by the time you're 30. You don't have any cartiledge left, and nothing will get better until you quit." I left the health clinic in tears, miserable, not wanting to imagine what life would be like without dancing.

That summer I moved home and worked two jobs and helped out at the dance studio, where my teacher choreographed my final hurrah for the June recital and sent me home with a tutu to starch. I knew it would be the last time I ever danced, and I was right. There's a picture of me somewhere, holding flowers, with my makeup a little runny from the stage lights and hot dressing rooms, with an enormous grin on my face. I didn't start crying until we got home.

While dancing was such an enormous part of my life for so long, I've mostly managed to move on and find other things I enjoy doing. I am so grateful to my parents for driving me to and from lessons for years, for volunteering at the studios to pay for lessons, to the dance teacher I had in high school for giving me a scholarship so my parents didn't have to pay for three sets of lessons. Some of my life's best memories took place in that studio. No thanks to that lady for hitting my ankles, to that first studio for pushing me so hard ("Oh, you can turn out so well! Here, try to go farther. And let's put you on toe shoes when your feet are still growing."), or to my genetic predisposition to that hip thing. My sisters both took ballet as well, and they both ended up with it, though neither had it as bad as I did.

I look at ballet as such a positive influence on my life. It taught me hard work, discipline, memorization skills, rhythm, how to feel centered in myself. It allowed me to work out the frustrations of life on the dance floor, letting my aggression, anger, sadness, to flow out of the tips of my fingers and the ends of my toes. I learned to work through pain, to appreciate that things that were worth doing took a lot of dedication, practice, and missteps along the way. I learned how to fall (I used to fall a lot in class, but it was OK because I knew how to do it without hurting myself. My teacher would always praise me, because it meant I'd pushed the envelope; I'd taken a risk rather than played it safe. Sometimes it worked and sometimes I fell).

Every once in a while, I try to do the splits again, and I make it most but not all of the way. Hulk has surprised me with ballet tickets on more than one occasion, and I no longer get teary with longing watching other people dance (even though I will admit that my toes still move in my shoes along with the music). I can never dance again, at least, not ballet, jazz, or modern - nothing that requires turnout because my hips just can't take it. I could maybe try tap, and I can do a variety of ballroom dances. But I'll never dance ballet again, and now, nearly 10 years later, I've finally made peace with that. If I ever have a daughter (or son!) who wants to take ballet, I'll do what my mom did - give her (or him!) the opportunity and then make her/his own choices with how far to take things. Despite the hip thing, there were so many good things I learned from taking ballet for 15 years that I can't imagine not allowing a child to experience the same.

Friday, December 08, 2006


How bizarre; my father has assets for the first time in his life - my mother's money.

I got an email from him today asking for a variety of information so he can put my name (along with those of my sisters) as a beneficiary on a CD he just opened. He's going out of the country for a week in January, and "if anything happened" nobody could touch the money unless they were listed as beneficiaries.

Words cannot express how angry I am at how my father has acted through these last four years of separation and divorce procedings. But in California, he's entitled to half of everything from the marriage, and the financial settlement was finally reached a month or so ago. Despite the fact that my mom supported the entire family for the last 15 years of it; despite the fact that my father lost money for the family rather than contributed for the last 10 - he gets half. My mom probably won't be able to retire until she's 75, but my dad won't have to work for at least a couple of years, living off that money. He didn't say how much of it was in the CD, but I'm willing to bet less than half.

At this point I'd rather my interactions with him be as minimal as possible, but I'd also rather to be able to recover my mom's money if anything should "happen" to my dad.

* * * * * * * * * *

I was having a conversation with a coworker today - her mother is in failing health and in a long-term care facility. This coworker does all of the financial legwork - applying for Medicaid, making sure her mother's benefits are all in order, and everything else that comes with paying for a facility that costs $8,000 a month. "My mother never saved a dime, but because she had no assets, she qualified for Medicaid," she told me. "How ironic is that - never have a thought for the future, and live off public benefits at the end."

* * * * * * *

I think about how unfair life can be - how many people benefit from being assholes, or being drains on their families, who take advantage of the system because they didn't plan ahead. Not that I'm begrudging my coworker's mother her care being paid for - that's why it's there, so people don't have to suffer when they're old and sick. But I do begrudge my father for taking advantage of the system, taking that money that would have gone to pay for weddings and trips to visit grandchildren and all those other things my mom was looking forward to being able to spend money on. It's not like he couldn't hold down a job or make money - he just didn't want to put forth the effort, and rather than being too proud to take that money, he fought for every penny. And why not? The law says he can have it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Buy stuff for me!

Is it just me, or is it difficult to give gift suggestions for oneself?

I spent the last hour and a half trying to think of gift suggestions for my mom/sisters as requested yearly. I thought of a lot of things Hulk might like but just couldn't think of much for myself - the things I would really like are either way too expensive (like a car or a computer), inappropriate (like underwear, I mean who wants to buy their 27 y/o daughter underwear?), or useless (like an MP3 player, because I don't have a computer with which to load it up). Most years I don't have too hard a time coming up with a few good suggestions, but this year has been difficult. I spend most of the time not even thinking about material goods, since I can't afford to buy them for myself, so when it comes time to tell my mom what to buy me I'm at a loss.

One of my sisters never gives any suggestions ("Oh, I don't need anything") so I usually make stuff for her and give her combined presents with her fiance, and the other sister is always direct (this year, she's saving for a trip to Ireland in the spring, so she wants CASH.) I usually think of good things for my mom and never have a hard time buying stuff for Hulk. But if someone gave me a chunk of money and said, buy whatever you want for yourself? I don't know what I would do. I'd probably add it to the savings for the next trip. Or spend it on someone else.

I guess I just have a hard time telling people to buy me stuff. My list ended up being: socks (they need continual replacement due to Lokification), tights, gift cards, a black cardigan. How exciting.

So tell me, internets. What do I want for giftmas?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Pilgrimage: A photo tour

One of the places I always try to go when in the Bay Area is the much beloved (by some), much hated (by others), but incredible market known as Berkeley Bowl.

Once upon a time, Berkeley Bowl was a hippie market mostly devoted to produce and hippie products. It was located in an old bowling alley, and when I was the Kitchen Manager for my co-op I had to go there a few times to pick up specialty items. In 1999, the store moved to an old Safeway building, a space twice as big as the old one. According to their website, over 8000 square feet of the place is devoted to produce - the first time you go there, it's a little overwhelming, because I guarantee you have never seen a produce department in a supermarket like this before.

The Bowl definitely has its drawbacks. No matter what time of the day or what day of the week, it is ALWAYS miserably overcrowded. It's virtually impossible to get a parking space and likewise to get out of the store in under 30 minutes even if you're only buying one item - unlike some stores, they do always have every line open, but every line is also 10 people/carts deep. To call it a madhouse at certain times would not be an overstatement. But there's something about the place that I miss desperately here in landlocked Colorado, something about the ability to choose from 87 kinds of avocados and 934 kinds of apples that just warms the cockles of my occasionally shrivelled heart.

I have always intended to take pictures when I'm in the Bowl, and on this trip I actually remembered to bring the camera inside. Here are a few of my favorites.
(we figured out how to get the pics onto my work computer and burned them to a disk so Hulk will upload them to flickr eventually from school. For now they're sitting on my hard drive in all their photoy glory)(yes, all the pics from the train ride and the rest of the trip are here, too, but I need fodder for later dates).


The prices on red bell peppers make me weep. Here's a selection of their more interesting peppers.

I was only slightly exaggerating about the avocado selection.

Buddha's Hands

This is why Hulk is a lefty.

Friday, December 01, 2006


In case you hadn't noticed (or missed the button in my sidebar), I participated in NaBloPoMo and managed to post every single day in November. On one day, I posted twice! And most of my posts had actual content, contrary to what I expected. It seemed as though the more I posted, the more I had to say. I even have a few topics left in these old fingers of mine to pull out at a later date.

So did I learn anything? I learned that I still work best with a deadline or rules or something telling me when and how I need to do something. Having that "Post or die!" slogan staring at me every time I looked at my blog was definitely motivational, and despite being stuck on a train for four days this month I managed to figure out a way to post every single day. The closest I came to not making it was when we got back from California on Sunday, and we got home at about 10 minutes to midnight. At that point I was so worried about missing a post! But why? Who was I trying to impress, to please, to appease? Or was it just that I didn't want to renege on a commitment once I'd made it?

The NaBloPoMo randomizer, courtesy Pink Elephants, made the experience more enjoyable as well - in addition to the blogs I normally read that participated, I got to read and find a lot more blogs that I would never otherwise have seen. I'm guessing that if people found my blog through the randomizer, they didn't stick around - I don't post enough pictures and I have one of the standard blogger templates. But this thing is for me, and for the people I know who read it, friends near and far - I've never and will never aspire to be one of the big dogs in the blogosphere. I have nothing to offer - I'm not particularly funny, I don't post many pictures, and I don't have agorgeous baby or any sort of theme to set me apart from all the other "personal" bloggers. But I did rediscover how much I enjoy writing on a regular basis, and since so much of my daily entertainment comes from reading other people's blogs, I figure it's only courteous to return the favor by posting more frequently in mine.

If you are reading this and you don't actually know me in person (or your blog isn't in my sidebar), will you please comment to let me know you read this thing? Most of the time I feel like I'm shouting into the ether, with about 5 people who might happen to hear. On most of the popular blogs I'm just another voice in the teeming masses, so I usually only comment on blogs where a) I know the person, or b) you don't have 349049572 people already telling you the same things I might have said.

Most of the time, I feel like there aren't many opportunities in my daily life to be creative. I think I used to be a good writer, sometime back in the 20th century, and I'm almost starting to feel like that ability is coming back to me, thanks to this enforced schedule I've been following. My day-to-day life isn't nearly as interesting as those of other people whose blogs I read, so when I write in here it tends to be a story about my past or something I'm thinking about, rather than a witty post about my adventures. They say that nobody cares what you had for lunch, and also, nobody cares what cute thing your cat did or that one guy who does that one thing was at the gym again. In order to keep myself (as well as my tiny readership) interested, I've started trying to look at the world a little differently, much as I do when I'm taking a picture of something. I can't pretend to be good at photography or writing, but I do try because I enjoy those things.

Someday, we will not only have our own internet access but also our own computer with photo uploading capabilities at home, and at that point I think this place will get a lot more interesting. (For those who don't know, I bring my work laptop home and we steal internets from other people, and my computer is state property and has all kinds of crazy firewalls on it, so no uploading of images or downloading of software in order to upload images). Hulk has all sorts of projects in mind for his blog, and I've had some ideas for mine, but for now, we're in a holding pattern.

Anyhow, I think the whole Blopping thing was a good idea for me, and good exercise of a different sort than the elliptical hamstering I do daily. I will always admire those who have the ability to delight their readers with good prose, witty repartee, and/or beautiful photos. For now, I'm content to switch this blog back to posting only on some weekdays, delighting my own tiny corner of the internets.