Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I almost never buy stuff for myself. But I really wanted this t-shirt. Since it's a NON (now-or-never), I wanted to make sure I got it. Because it's the awesomest thing that ever happened on Sesame Street.

I've got my eye on Pants as well, but that one has no deadline.

Also, it is snowing like crazy today; winter has returned after a 2-week hiatus. It's making me really not want to go to the gym - when it's snowing, I just want to go home and curl up in a ball on the couch. But I will go to the gym anyway.

Man, I am really boring today. Hm. I could do a virtual tap dance. There, wasn't that awesome? You're all thoroughly entertained, I can tell.

Last night, we watched The Departed. I decided afterward that if I had to pick either Matt Damon or Leonardo DiCaprio to sleep with (ie, death was not an option), I would pick Leo, but only because the way Matt Damon looks like Hillary Swank kind of creeps me out. Then I tried to get Hulk to make the same choice, but he said he didn't care. Because secretly, he wants them both. I just know it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Midwest bound

Here is the extent of my experience in the midwest:

1. Spent a week in western Michigan, with a side trip down to Sandusky, OH and an overnight stay in Toledo. Western Michigan: Pretty, green, muggy (August). UP of Michigan: Tree-y. Creepy guy at the karaoke place. Ohio: flat, ugly.

2. Spent 4 days in Chicago where I met EEK for the first time at an internet get-together. I got to see some cool stuff, meet a bunch of people I'd been interacting with for over a year, etc. It was November and cold, but I liked the city.

3. Spent 4 days in Indianapolis last fall for a work conference. Wasn't as bad as I expected it to be, but not a place I'd choose to spend vacation time.

And that's it. I guess one might consider Toronto to be midwest, but Canada's a whole different country, and Toronto is about as cosmopolitan as a city as you're going to find in North America. Totally not midwestern at all.

Today, I had my out-of-state travel request approved, and I'm going to Minneapolis on my birthday and will be there for a couple of days to do onsite conference planning for this year's work-related conference. I don't think I'll have a lot of time to do anything on my own or sightsee, but at least I'll get to see a bit of the city, since the hotel is downtown. I get in on Wednesday the 14th in the late afternoon, and the official meeting-type stuff doesn't start until the next morning, so it looks like I might have one evening on my own to explore. Any suggestions?

I'm quite bummed that I have to travel and be away from home on my birthday, but I guess maybe we'll just put off official birthday stuff until the weekend when I get home. This birthday will officially be The Beginning of Decrepitude, ie my late 20s (ugh), so maybe we'll pretend it didn't happen and I'll celebrate the 1st anniversary of my 27th birthday. Heh.

Monday, February 26, 2007


To the parents I spoke to last Friday in the course of visiting a school district: Just because you are of higher average income does not mean your kid is more likely to be gifted than the poor kid 10 miles down the road, nor does it mean your kid is entitled to eat up more than his or her fair share of the relatively meager resources the school district has and must stretch to educate every kid in the district. I realize every child is perfect and should get special privleges, but come on, people, your kid is not necessarily gifted just because you own a million dollar home.

* * * * * *

I didn't get to watch the Oscars because we were being big nerds at Toph and Amber's house, they of the fall wedding that we're in, and I'm sure glad my mom is not like Amber's mom because she is driving them nuts about wedding stuff. Anyhow, they don't have a tv that is useful for anything besides watching movies, so Hulk pulled up IMDB and we kept refreshing the winner's list every so often, and when they announced my dad's cousin had won again for sound mixing (Dreamgirls) I wooted a little bit but that was the extent of it. I've met this guy before at family reunions - he's a nice guy, has good kids, you know, just a normal guy who happens to get nominated for a lot of awards and has four Oscars now. But he's never acted anything but like a normal, everyday guy who happens to work on movies for a living. Anyhow, congrats to you, Bob.

* * * * * *

While we were at Toph and Amber's, I perused some of the bridal porn Amber's mom had foisted upon her. The bridal magazine, which was relatively thin and had more actual content than ads (so at least it had something going for it) was a specific publication for Colorado, and they had a somewhat useful list of event locations with details about each place, potentially saving people a lot of research time. That was pretty much the only useful thing about the magazine, though; the rest of it was suggestions for $15 apiece invitations and what colors your $100+ guest bags should be to match your fancy evening soiree in an art gallery. Of course, everything needs to match, you should spend thousands on a horse-drawn carriage ride to take you 100 feet, and it's totally appropriate to expect your guests to give you lavish gifts to make up for the thousands you're spending on the party where they get to eat rubber chicken and dry, fondant-covered cake and watch you be the center of attention for several hours.

I think that is the last piece of bridal porn I peruse. I've got a hard enough time with celebrity trash and fitness magazines at the gym giving me body complexes - I can't afford for the Wedding Industrial Complex to convince me to spend obscene amounts of money on a dress I'll wear for a few hours or to freak out if my monogrammed napkins match the color of the custom-dyed and printed rose petals. Ugh.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The voice of Stevie Nicks totally came out of the mouth of that swarthy gay man. It was impressive!

It all started because of the crackheads.

No, not really. It all started when I went outside on Saturday to shake out a rug and discovered a random, strange person sitting at our little patio table, smoking a cigarette.

Of course, the first thing I thought of (despite the freezing temps of this winter) was that she was a crackhead. Because we had so many problems with crackheads this past summer, and of course I am primed to see any stranger in the yard as someone dealing or consuming illegal drugs.

However, most crackheads don't greet me with a jolly "Hallo!" and a big smile.

After I got over my initial shock, she introduced herself as the new, temporary neighbor living in the basement apartment of the house next door. There's no fence to divide the property between that on which we live and that of the houses to either side, so I didn't blame her for assuming the houses shared the backyard.

"The landlord doesn't let me smoke in the basement, so I come out here," she told me in her beautifully cute London/cockney accent. It was hard to determine her age; she was obviously just awake and still in last night's makeup, a light-skinned black English girl bundled up in a parka. "I know your neighbors!" she told me. "I used to live in the big building up the block." We started to talk, and then we talked some more, and I invited her in despite the becoming clean state of our apartment because she wanted to see my ring. "I'm just going through a divorce," she told me, sadly yet matter-of-factly. Hence the move to the dingy, no-windows next door basement. "It's only temporary," she announced. "I have a new place and I'm moving in a week."

Then she asked me if I'd like to go clogging at a gay bar with her on Tuesday. "Sure!" I told her. I've never been to a gay bar in Denver, and I've never been clogging, and somehow it's only a block and a half away and I didn't even know it existed because I've never walked on that street. "I'll knock on your door Tuesday evening," she told me.

I found out later she is my age, has lived in the States for the last 7 years married to an American, and spent most of her time in Key West teaching dance classes. Now she's working two jobs bartending and serving at some local dives, and being the incredibly social person she seems to be, making friends wherever she goes. Last night, she knocked on the door and we went out to take our clogging lesson.

Now, I used to dance ballet. I also did some jazz and a little bit of tap. I've never clogged before, and wasn't even quite sure what it was, but when we walked into that fabulously swishy bar last night and saw a floor full of men in jeans and tank tops clogging away to disco hits of the early 80s, I knew I'd made the right choice. Unfortunately, she'd had the time wrong and we'd missed the lesson (the boys clogging when we got there were advanced and practicing set routines). Six-thirty! we were told. Next Tuesday at six-thirty! So we vowed to return, and at the bar my neighbor saw a friend and immediately started dishing on his life, her life, their mutual romantic woes. He bought us shots and we watched the dancers. She spent a good twenty minutes trying to work another friend up to speak to a cute guy across the room, and we even had to give up our first-bestowed Mardi Gras beads to convince him. Yes, even gay men make you show your boobs for beads.

Later, the line dancing began, and we (re)learned the Boot Scoot. (I learned it 11 years ago at church camp.) "I've never line danced before!" she exclaimed. "It's like I'm actually an American!" My neighbor and I boogied and laughed and had a great time, surrounded by guys who were perfectly friendly yet had no interest in trying to get in our pants. It was the first time I'd ever been in an environment like that - and it was kind of nice, in a strange way, to not feel the social pressure of the attraction/flirtation/hookup/avoidance dance that the boys around us were performing along with their clogging and line dancing.

The other side of the bar had karaoke, so we moved over there to see a guy singing Frank Sinatra. He actually did pretty well. And then the couple got up there and started to sing "Leather and Lace" and I swear to Jeebus, the one guy sounded EXACTLY like Stevie Nicks. At first, I thought it was a recording, until he started really opening up with the vocal stylings. I couldn't believe it. Who knew Stevie Nicks' voice lived inside a gay man in Denver?

After the duet, we congratulated the two of them, and it turns out the guy has a normal, regular man voice. Weird.

It was time to stroll the block and a half home, each wearing beads and blinky light things. I invited her in to have some King's cake with us - and despite its ugly exterior, it turned out to taste pretty good. "Next Tuesday," we told each other as she walked out the door. And I'm going to try to find my tap shoes, because if I'm going to clog I want to hear the sounds made by my feet, to make sure they align with the rhythm of those fabulous men.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Culinary adventures

Yesterday, I had Presidents Day off work. Before he left for school, Hulk made me promise that I would do something fun and wouldn't just spend the day cleaning or organizing the one room in the house that didn't get scrubbed this weekend (the Spare Oom.)I assured him that I would indeed do something just for myself. I had been kicking around the idea of making a King's cake in honor of Fat Tuesday, courtesy QIR. So on Monday afternoon, I went to the grocery store and got a few things to ensure I had what I needed for the recipe she posted. I've never made a brioche-type pastry, but I have made bread, so I thought it woudn't be too terribly difficult. I also decide to keep a photographic record so I could share it with you, my loyal readers.

The first thing I had to do was proof the yeast. While it was unusually warm outside(over 50 degrees!), Hulk has had a bitch of a time getting pizza dough to rise this winter and so I knew I had to figure out some way to keep the yeast (and, later, dough) warm enough to rise twice. Making a trip around the house, I determined the warmest spot, once I turned the heater on (it's climate-controlled to be 60F during the day when we're out of the house, but noplace in the house was warm enough for rising dough without some heat).

The warmest spot turned out to be the bathroom.

I even wrapped the bowl in a towel after I took the picture, to ensure maximum warmth.

After the yeast had gotten all nice and bubbly, I returned the bowl to the kitchen and brought my laptop with the recipe all uploaded. You can see it here balanced on our rice canisters, with the gingerbread from Sunday night peeking out, and a nice dusting of flour on the laptop.

I mixed the dough and kneaded it for a few minutes as called for in the recipe. I didn't halve the nutmeg called for in the recipe.

(You can also see the lime left over from making rum and coke for Hulk's dad on Sunday night.)

After I put the ball in a greased bowl and set it in the bathroom to rise for an hour and a half, I read a book for a while and took a nap. Loki also took a nap. He had a very stressful day of napping, actually.

Awaking in kind of a panic (since I'd forgotten to set an alarm), I saw a slightly over-risen dough and punched it into submission. I twisted and twisted it like QIR had said to do, and stuck it back in the bathroom covered in a towel to rise for another 45 minutes. (I didn't have a lemon to zest, but I did have an orange, so I used that instead - hence the orangey stripes in the risen dough.)

As with most baked goods in Colorado, I stuck it in the oven and set the timer for 5 minutes shorter than the shortest time called for, and when I checked it was beautifully browned.

I had to wait until today to finish the cake, since I was also planning a Chinese New Year meal and had to stop cake-making to start prepping the stir fry. (It turned out really good, btw.) Today, I took the cake out of its protestive plastic (the dry air here is murder on both skin and baked goods) and iced it.

The recipe said to sprinkle with colored sugar immediately after icing, so I had to color the sugar first thing. The green was OK, but I was missing yellow food coloring so I made do with raw sugar for the "yellow." Also, for some reason, I could not get the purple sugar to turn purple. It turned out to be a sort of a sickly ugly red. But I tried really hard.

Then, I made the icing with powdered sugar, lemonade, lemon juice, and a skosh of water. It looked like jizz.

And here's the final product. QIR, I bet it's far uglier than any king's cake you've made, but at least I tried, right?

Tomorrow: the story of the surprising new neighbor and how we went out clog dancing with gay boys tonight.

Alphabet adventure

Last spring, Hulk had an assignment for one of his art classes that took some explaining. As we were walking to the grocery store one day, he described this project as his teacher had described it to his class: a found alphabet. Meaning, he and his classmates were required to find all 26 letters of the alphabet in the outdoor world without actually taking pictures of lettering (like, on a sign or whatever). Though I'm not especially artistically inclined, I found myself getting really excited about this project, and since his teacher had told them about the thing before spring break, Hulk had a chance to take all his photos when we went to the Bay Area.

We spent several days walking around San Francisco and Berkeley, and my eye began to be attracted to letter shapes. We found letters on buildings, on sidewalks, in decorative details and occuring naturally in plants. Sometimes unexpected objects resembled letters from a different perspective. We spent time with several people during the trip, and told everyone about the letter project so people wouldn't think we were freaks when Hulk pulled out a camera and took a picture of a bench or a wet ring left on a table in the Indian fast-food place. We ended up finding several versions of each letter - sometimes in lower case, sometimes in upper - and Hulk had quite a few to choose from when putting together his final alphabet.

Here is the final project (photo-wise, anyhow; his actual project involved a book he made out of the photographs, and it's really cool). The letter you see above is my favorite photograph.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gory details

We've been talking for a long time about wedding stuff, particularly since Christmas, because of some family/friend-related stuff (my sister got engaged last fall, so we have to work around her wedding, tentatively planned for spring of 08; we're in a wedding this fall for some of our best friends, etc.) So we'd pretty much already settled on a time (Fall of 08, but possibly spring - long story) but I had no idea he was planning to propose soon (he told me "within the next year").

We've also been looking at (and talking about) rings and stones for over a year.

On Monday, I came home from work to find a box with a suspicious return address on the back porch. I didn't investigate too closely, not wanting to ruin any surprise that I knew he wanted to do. So when he got home from school that night I told him "there's a box on your dresser" and he said "o rly?" and then he disappeared into the bedroom for a while and came back out with a big smile on his face.

So I was a little suspicious. We had decided a few weeks ago to go out to dinner on February 15 (Valentine's day is for amateurs; he's been a server for a long time and knows how tough VDay can be for a restaurant, and it's a lot easier to get a reservation and good service the day after). So I decided to surprise him on Wednesday, and I made him a really nice dinner and dessert that we ate when he got home from class that night. After dessert he said "Do you want your present now?" and I said "I thought you were giving it to me tomorrow." He said "You might want it for tomorrow," and went into the bedroom and came out with a pretty box. Inside were peridot earrings and a pendant and I squeed a little. So pretty! And obviously, that's what must have been in the mysterious box.

So I totally was not expecting anything but a nice dinner Thursday night, and he surprised me by taking me to a REALLY nice restaurant. We had wine and dinner and he insisted on ordering dessert. In between dinner and dessert, he took the silver claddagh ring I've been wearing for 5 years (on my right hand of course) and did a magic trick with it (he's been doing slight-of-hand type tricks since he was a kid, but usually with cards and coins). Anyhow, this was a trick with a napkin, and as he told me the story of unscrupulous fortune tellers during the renaissance era, he took my silver ring and turned it into the white gold with sapphire you see above and asked me to marry him! WHEEEEE!!! I was totally shocked and didn't even realize what was happening until he opened the napkin with the pretty new ring. It was totally HIM to propose that way, and I was thrilled, and surprised, and I keep looking and my hand and doing little happy dances.

The ring is exactly what I wanted and he had a co-conspirator who's one of my best friends and totally knows my style, so I guess she knew all about it beforehand. Some other friends knew. Also, my mom knew and you, the internets. He'd promised me that everyone would know before I did, and he delivered.

The restaurant gave us the dessert (and some champagne) for free. I bet the server got a nice tip.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Oh my gawd. I'm such a GIRL.

Ok, this is getting a little ridiculous. I can't work. I couldn't sleep last night. (I kept pulling my hand out from under the covers and saying, "There's a ring on my finger!") I called everybody I knew who was still awake last night at 10:30 PM MST. I called my oldest friend this morning. I posted on the blog last night and on tribe, Straight Dope, and even frickin' MYSPACE today!

All I can do is keep squeeing internally, staring at my pretty, shiny, sparkly ring, and force myself to stay in my chair when all I want to do is dance a jig!

I never thought I would be like that, you know, Those Girls who are so focused on The Ring and The Proposal. Surely, I will be more sensible, I told myself. Sure, call mom, call my sisters, call my closest friends - but I found out that I wanted to tell the whole world.

So, world, (and there appear to be people all over the world who read this blog - who's in Brisbane, BTW? please comment!) this is it. After 1.5 years of 1000 mile plane trips, 6 months of weekend visits, and over three and a half years living together in blissful sin with our kitties, a question was asked and answered. And I couldn't have asked for anything better, or more, or different. It was perfect.

Yes, I will tell the story of the proposal - but here's the story the Hulk told the world before I even knew about it. Makes me tear up every time I read it - and I've read it at least 6 times since last night!

OK, I've got to keep to my routine. I'm going to the gym in a bit, and then I'll go home, and we'll have a great weekend calling everyone else who hasn't yet heard. This is it. It's real. I'm totally going to marry this guy!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Somebody's getting married, part 3

And this time it's me! *happy dance of joy*

How to make a Hulk happy: a step-by-step guide

1. Decide that you are going to surprise him by making a really nice dinner, unlike your usual thrown-together, last minute and cop-out dinners on the nights he has class.

2. Consider what might make a nice dinner. Hulk likes steak, but you don't. Also, you have no idea how to cook steak. Remember that there are chicken boobs in the freezer (they were buy one get one free) and think to yourself that you haven't had chicken parmagiana in a while. Mentally check through list of ingredients you need for said recipe, and decide you have everything. Before you leave for work, take chicken boobs out of the freezer and put them in the fridge, since you're a little paranoid about salmonella.

3. Due to an offhand comment by Yank in Texas, decide to also make one of Hulk's favorite desserts, chocolate mousse.

4. Look up a recipe for mousse. Realize you DON'T have everything you need for that, so plan a trip to the store after you get home from work. It will be 12 F and snowing.

5. When you get home, double check your ingredient list for main dish and salad and decide to also buy mushrooms. Remove work clothing. Pet cats. Extract claws of large male cat from your lap when you are done voiding your bladder. Put on appropriate going out in snow and 12F weather clothing.

6. Walk to overpriced market that is closer to your house, since you only need 3 things. Buy mushrooms, heavy whipping cream, and fancy chocolate chips.

7. On your way home, pass an upscale, overpriced restaurant and weave your way through the crowd of couples that has developed on the sidewalk, waiting for the restaurant to open. Silently give thanks that your going out plans are for tomorrow night and you don't have to eat dinner at 5:30 PM. Squint eyes aginst snow blowing in them, sideways, coldly.

8. Get home. Remove coat, scarf, hat, gloves, boots. Pull fancy goblets and nice dishes down from really, really high cabinet by using stepladder, standing on counter, and stretching. Boot up work laptop and follow mousse recipe, substituting whiskey for water. Beat heavy cream. Finish mousse, putting it in fancy goblets and tucking it into the fridge. Lick one of the beaters just a little bit.

9. Realize that chicken is not yet defrosted. Hand-defrost under cold running water until your hands turn kind of blue. Give up, put chicken in bowl of water on counter.

10. Wash all the dishes that will fit in the stupid over-sink dishrack. Manage to get most of them washed so you have dishes to use to cook with. Preheat oven to 375.

11. Pull down stale bread from top of refrigerator. Pull down food processor. Make bread into powder. Add herbs, pour onto plate.

12. Stick each chicken boob, one at a time, into plastic bag and pound with rolling pin until at least somewhat flatter. Realize this would work much easier with fully-defrosted chicken.

13. Use leftover egg white and mix with milk, brush on chicken boobs, roll boobs in bread/herb powder. Heat up a bunch of oil in the bottom of a skillet. Put each boob in the skillet for 30 seconds per side until the bread powder is sufficiently stuck. Do your best to drain as much of the oil as possible from the boobs, then realize this is kind of futile. Slice some mozarella cheese and put cheese slices on boobs, on cookie sheet, and slide sheet into oven.

14. Chop up some veggies and make salads. Stick in fridge.

15. Start water for whole-wheat linguine.

16. Decide to have a bottle of REALLY nice wine. Pull it out from wine rack. Drool a little.

17. Pull your dining table into the living room from the front room/curent refrigerator (no heat in there). Realize your table is really heavy, and the cats are not making things any easier by each getting under your feet and the table about 8 times as you pull it up the step from the front room. Groan. Set table with nice plates, wine glasses, unmatching flatware (because you can't reach the silver, also in the really high cabinets).

18. Check temperature of chicken. Not hot enough.

19. Add pasta to boiling water. Chop and sautee mushrooms. Pour some pasta sauce in a pan and heat it up.

20. Hulk comes home, removes his winter clothing, expresses excitement at dinner prospect. Give him the task of opening the REALLY good wine. Drool some more just thinking about it.

21. Chicken is done; turn off oven. Pasta is finally done. Sauce is hot. Assemble elements of dish, adding sauteed mushrooms and grating fresh parmesan cheese on the top. Put salads, dinner plates on table. Add classy plastic bottle of salad dressing.

22. Eat! Drink wine! Get tipsy!

23. Go into kitchen, add whipping cream to top of mousse in fancy goblets, grab nonmatching spoons, bring in mousse and watch Hulk's face. Drink more wine.

and vie ohla, that's how you make Hulk happy.

(I won't mention steps 24-30, as nobody needs to read about THOSE parts. Heh.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I just blogged to say I love you

In keeping with today's lovey-dovey theme, here's my valentine for all my real-life internet peeps:

I love Hulk because this morning, he told me I don't smell as funny as I normally do.
I love Monkey because she totally put up with my desire for egg tarts in SF, even though we never managed to find them.
I love EEK for driving to Indiana (ugh) to hang out for one night last fall.
I love the Holla for being such a good sport about the German foot-long sausages in a jar that mysteriously appeared in his giftmas stocking.
I love QIR for not only finding me the same fairy earrings I had in high school and had lost one of, but for replacing them when I turned around and immediately lost one (again).
I love Cil because she invited us to the White Stripes concert a few years ago, and it was probably the best concert I ever saw.
I love Leah and Simon for introducing us to the joys of honey martinis and fezzes.
I love Yank in Texas for totally rocking her big-ass Texas Truck.

And I love all the rest of the internets for keeping me entertained, making me think, and helping me feel connected to the world despite my dark basement cube on a daily basis.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Schmalentine's Day

Neither Hulk nor I has ever been big on the whole Valentine's Day Hallmark Mandated Presents with Dog and Pony show. The first VDay we were together I was visiting him in CO and he had the stomach flu, so we spent the whole long weekend watching the North and South miniseries and I made him smoothies that he tried to keep down for a few hours. Some years he's had to work or I've been out of town for work, so if we do any celebrating it's not usually on The Day. And personally, I don't feel much need to celebrate love and togetherness one day a year, since we do little things for each other every day. I've never been the kind of girl who feels the need to be given STUFF, whether it be a card or flowers or candy or a teddy bear that plays a really cheesy song if you punch it in the gut. If Hulk makes me something, or draws me something, or makes me a nice meal or tells me I don't smell as funny as I usually do, that's sufficient for me.

It is fun to get dressed up and go out once in a while, or make each other really elaborate meals complete with candles and mood music. Today I went out and bought some stuff that will help me get all purty for our date on Thursday, and I've had a lot of fun thinking for the past few days about what I'll wear and how I'll ablute to make myself gawgis. I don't get the opportunity to do it very often, so when I do it's a lot of fun (I love to play dress-up!). I still have no idea where we're going, other than I assume it's a restaurant, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's warmer than 14F, the current temperature according to my yahoo weather thingy. If not, we'll have to bundle up like the kid brother in A Christmas Story and just won't put our arms down 'til we get there.

(Heart maker courtesy QIR)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Reports of my death are unfounded

Dell still hasn't sent the new LCD for my laptop, so it's still at work (I can use it just fine with the flatscreen monitor, but the screen on the laptop is bwoken). The parts and technician were supposed to arrive on Thursday (or Friday, at the latest, I was assured), and since I was out at an awesome all-day meeting both Thursday and Friday, I figured it was a good time - since I wouldn't even be there. Then the parts and tech were supposed to be there today. And today, I have come home from work and am typing this on Hulk's fiancee. I'm not holding my breath or keeping any appendages crossed for tomorrow.

So yes, Thursday and Friday I had to put on makeup and nicer clothes (I still dress biz casual every day but Friday at work when I allow myself to wear jeans) and jewelry and go schmooze and sit in a dark room with a hundred some-odd people and knit on my coworker's baby blanket, counting stitches to keep me awake. At least they feed us really well. Then, on Friday afternoon, I had to leave the first meeting and go do this other meeting that I'd worked myself up about, but it turned out OK and I was out of there in 20 minutes. I'd gotten a state car to get myself to said second meeting, and I was already in the neighborhood, so I drove over to the mall shaped like a race track and went shoe shopping at one of my favorite shoe stores, Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse. At this store I found a super-cute pair of sneakers that have VELCRO and laces that don't tie and are Rocket Dogs, one of my favorite brands. I also got to hold some random stranger's baby, the first time I've held a baby in a couple of years at least. He was five months old and enormous and very flirty, looking up at me from the floor with spit bubbles and toothless grins and big blue eyes, and I had to stop and chat with his mom just a little. Maybe I'm finally admitting to myself that I do want to procreate, and perhaps thinking about it more concretely than I've ever done before. I tell ya, it's weird to all of a sudden have a biological clock and this random urge to look at babies and starting to think about maybe having one in a more-than-hypothetical sense.

He really was a charmer, but I had a time limit (was picking Hulk up after class) so I continued on my way and thanked the mom for letting some random stranger hold her kid for a minute or two. And then I found the sneakers, and I found a bunch of other shoes that I kind of wanted but not enough to actually buy. And then I drove over to Auraria and picked up the Hulk.

We did all our usual errands that we try to fit in whenever I have a state car over a weekend: Sunflower market, Target, other various and sundry shopping. We also bought a chair off craigslist that seems as though it's going to work out very well in its spot in the living room - it's a medium-sized blue wingback and quite comfy. It even fit in the backseat of the periwinkle Prius with just a minimum of contorting and seats shoved forward for a few minutes.

We also drove down to Stepford Springs to visit with our friends who are getting married this fall and went with them to see their weekend wedding extravaganza location (in the mountains outside of Stepford). They signed the contracts and paid deposits; we wandered around and poked our head into random places. They're getting a big lodge and 3 cabins and use of the land for 3 days, and they're getting a really good deal, but I can't imagine doing the kind of event they seem to be planning. Oh, and after seeing some sort of lecture at the local university, they've suddenly decided to become vegan (!) Since they're both meat-and-dairy loving folks, it's going to take some real effort to make the switch, I think. And I don't think they've thought things entirely through, but that's another post entirely.

After a night of extraordinarily rare insomnia for me (damn you, Diet Coke with lime consumed at 9 PM!) we drove back to Denver and completed our errands. I took a much-needed nap and got to test drive my new memory foam pillow that I have been wanting for months and not buying, but I got my Christmas money from Aunt Edy and bought the thing at Target on Friday night. I also found a new purse (technically, Hulk found it for me) that has a long-enough strap, outside pockets, and a zipper close rather than a stupid flap with velcro that catches on everything. Hooray!

The weekend was entirely too short and without adequate sleep, and I'm guessing we'll spend a good part of this coming weekend cleaning and organizing since we wanted to do stuff with the car while we had it this weekend. Also, the weather appears to be turning back to winter, now that the snow is down to a few inches in some places rather than the good foot+ that's been in our yard for the past two months. I hope it isn't too bad on Thursday, because we're having ourselves a genuine dress-up date (Thursday rather than Wednesday to avoid the crowds; plus, Wednesday Hulk is in class until nearly 7 PM) and we will be walking to wherever said date will occur. I've been charged to dress nicely and not ask questions, so that's what I'll do.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Things that I want

I want to wear a green dress, or maybe a white dress that has a lot of green on or in it.

I want there to be music and fun and dancing. Maybe some games. Maybe some silly dress up and polaroids.

I want all the people that we care about and hardly ever get to see to be in the same place at the same time so we can party together.

I want there to be peonies, because they are so pretty. Even if it's just one for my hair. Even if it has to be fake because peonies are out of season.

I want food that tastes good, and I want to be able to eat it. I want everyone to have a good time.

I want there to be wine and beer (for the beer drinkers, not for me silly!) and maybe lemonade.

I want to run barefoot through the grass or maybe just dance around on a lawn.

I want to hold hands.

I want lots of hugs and kisses.

I want some of the symbols and to disregard the rest.

I want pretty underwear.

I want everyone to be happy, and happy for us.

And no, this isn't a pronouncement, or an announcement. I'll shout it to the moon when it's official. Just a list of things I want, things I was thinking about today.

Monday, February 05, 2007


I flew to Texas on Wednesday afternoon. Yank in Texas picked me up; we drove to my aunt's house, stopping for barely passable "Mexican" food along the way (we figured it was a step up from Crapplebees). She met my mom and then left. I was up until nearly 2 talking to my mom and then unable to sleep until 3.

Thursday: up at 9 after restless, cold sleep. I spent the day wrapping my grandmother's paintings (she was an artist) in brown paper and packing them up in a ginormous box to be shipped to my mom's house. I also got to look through some things and pick what I wanted to bring home with me, including a Bouguereau print that I knew I would get and the old Irish wedding lithograph on silk that I thought my mom would take. I also ended up bringing home some glass serving bowls and platters, a gorgeous old wooden salad bowl and small bowls to go with, several books that belonged to my great great aunt May (most of which are pre-1920), and two beer steins from when Edy and Bill lived in Germany.

We also managed to get Edy out of the house to go for a walk on Thursday. She walked two blocks and then wanted to turn around and go home.

I was up late again Thursday night, unable to sleep again until at least 2 AM. The stolen wireless connection I found wasn't very reliable, so my plans to blog during the trip didn't end up coming to fruition.

Friday: up early, prepping the house and packing things for Edy's month-long visit at her son's house (staying with her granddaughter and ex-DIL). The spot in the assisted living place wasn't open yet. We'll be going back in a month to move her into the permanent place.

My mom and I brought the Huge Box O Paintings down to UPS, where they told us the insurance wasn't valid since they hadn't packed the box themselves. (Saturday morning we brought the remainder of the paintings and figurines to be packed by UPS and mailed and it cost nearly twice as much for half as many paintings. Go figure.)

This is a portrait of my mom as a child, done by her mother.

Edy was showering every day, and taking some pain meds for what we think is bursitis. But she wouldn't remember if she'd taken a pill, or if she'd eaten, but she'd take the pill or eat if my mom put it in front of her. She's moving a little more slowly than I remember, and she definitely has some dementia (though I don't think it's Alzheimers). I spent over 30 minutes on hold Friday afternoon trying to get her phone service shut off, and got transferred to the Spanish language line twice - luckily, my Spanish wasn't so rusty that I couldn't understand the touchtone phone options, and each time when a live person answered I asked nicely in my five-year-old Spanish to please speak to a representative in English. "Necesito hablar con una persona en Engles, por favor" got the CSRs to tell me that they spoke English, but hey, at least I tried, right?

My mom was trying to determine the value of a set of Haviland china (12 place settings, several serving pieces) that had belonged to a great great great aunt and uncle. It turned out that Ebay was the best way to view pictures of Haviland china (who knew there were so many collectors?) but we also determined, after a couple of hours of pouring over Ebay photos, that the china was so old that it was never given a pattern name - and therefore, probably irreplaceble. Mom decided that UPS wasn't trusty enough to pack and ship the Haviland, so she found some company that specializes in that sort of thing to do it for us instead. My guess is that it's worth several thousand, but priceless to the family.

Friday evening Edy's granddaughter and ex-DIL drove over from College Station and visited for the evening. Her granddaughter is a year younger than my middle sister, a senior in college, and has always been very quiet around me, but this time we stayed up after the grownups went to bed and bonded a bit. Her older brother, my exact age, wasn't there, but that was OK - it was nice to get to know her as a person without siblings to be in the way. Of course, we were up until 2 or 3 and up at 8. I got a kick out of finding Edy's liquor cabinet and a bottle of coffee liqueur that might have been 30 years old.

Saturday was the big day - getting Edy's things into the car, last-minute packing, another trip to UPS, and me trying to figure out how to pack everything into my duffel bag with the broken zipper, the other one, my backpack (with laptop), and still have a free hand for the two framed pieces of artwork. I also helped my mom wrap the fantastically old family bible (circa 1840s) in an old quilt and decide how to get that home. I think Edy finally understood when we were about to leave that she was really leaving her home of 35 years and wouldn't be living there again. It's a sad thing to dismantle a person's life in front of her, scavenging her things like a pair of vultures circling, waiting for the right moment to strike.

Edy's long-term memory is fine, and everything in the house has a story. I heard my favorite new Edy story during this trip. Here it is:

Edy and Bill were stationed somewhere in the midwest (Ohio?) and were assigned to base housing. Their large backyard backed up to the backyard of the general's house, whom Edy hadn't yet met. Soon after they moved in, Edy surveyed the yard and realized that someone who had inhabited their house before had prepared a section of the yard to be a vegetable garden, tilled and amended soil and edged the area. Edy thought it would be a shame to waste someone's hard work, so she planted tomatoes and other veggies and went out to talk to them every day.

One day, she was out in the yard, giving the tomatoes a piece of her mind. "Now look here," she told them. "I expect you to do much better than this. Someone went to all this work to make the ground nice and prepared for you, so the least you can do is to grow better. You'd better shape up!"

Behind her, she heard a booming voice, asking her, "Is that how you go about growing vegetables? Learn something new every day." And that was her introduction to the general.

My flight on Saturday was uneventful, and Hulk was able to pick me up in a friend's car. But I was plum wore out, and having Sunday to recover wasn't long enough. I was wore out all day today, too, and struggled to stay awake during this morning's staff meeting. The worst part, of course, is that I had to check my laptop in the backpack on the flight home, because I had too many fragile things that I had to carry on. And some bag thrower did their best to fuck up my laptop (protected in padded internal laptop sleeve), because when I pulled it out on Saturday night it had a nasty scratch on the front, and when I opened it up the LCD screen was totally fuckered up. At work today, I tried to find out what I needed to do, but nobody called me back. Something I'll have to deal with tomorrow, I guess.