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Archive for the ‘Homefront’ Category

The Tale of Sir Alonzo Bigglesworth of the Saint Paul Bigglesworths

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Six years ago, last week, I got one of those phone calls that falls into the category of dreaded phone calls. It was my parents calling to tell me that my grandfather was dying. As in, his time had come and it would happen any day. Despite that he was 98 years old, it was quite a surprise. He didn’t look like he was 98. He was in good health, and while we finally had to stop him from driving, he still managed to go to mass every day (except Saturday, because there was only evening mass and that was just wrong) and to visit with his friends afterwards. He still called my mother every day to check in, and he still lived on his own. However, one day he wasn’t feeling well, and my uncle took him to the hospital, and things went downhill from there.

So, I told my manager at work that while I was waiting for the call, I would need to go back home for the funeral and thus would need them to plan for me missing a day or two of work, depending. Other than that, we were just going about our business as usual, waiting for the final call. Among our business as usual was running errands. It was a Saturday, and we went to a neighboring suburb for me to pick up some sewing supplies. We were in one of those “lifestyle” sort of shopping centers where most things aren’t actually connected to each other, but walking between places can be treacherous, so you are still expected to move your car periodically and re-park, despite that it’s all one shopping center. Whoever invented these things should be inflicted with some sort of Karmic retribution, as they are terrible. That’s beside the point. The point is, that the fabric store was in close proximity to the pet supply store. A pet supply store that also has pets for adoption on many occasions. We popped in to grab some cat food, and peruse the adorable animals (which can be dangerous, as that’s how we wound up with two of the cats we had at home). Of course, since it was a Saturday, there was an adoption event to take advantage of the influx of weekend shoppers. A local cat shelter/foster had brought in many, many kitties. Some kittens, some adult cats. We checked them out, and while there was nothing wrong with any of them, we could live without them. We would indeed make it out with only cat food!

Then, we saw the flyer. A flyer with a gingery smush face. G and I had conversations over the years that he would like to one day have a Himalayan cat again, and I agreed but said it should be a flame point. This was a red Persian, which was pretty close (I mean, a Himalayan is a *Persian* bred with Siamese). We could even use the name for him we had discussed for said flame point Himalayan. We started to read the flyer, and one of the women from the cat rescue came over to us. Despite the adorable face on the flyer, we weren’t really in the market for another kitty. While we’d lost one within that last year, we were still a three cat household. Really, that is plenty. However, this woman started talking to us about the kitty, whose given name was Farley. His owner lost her vision due to complications from Diabetes, and felt she couldn’t give him the care he needed. With him being a Persian, they were hoping to find him a home with someone who had experience with Persians. We told her that G had a Himalayan when he was younger, and my sister had a Persian for a time that I helped take care of. The next thing we knew, she was taking down the flyer and putting it in our hands. We tried to protest, but it was futile. The petite woman was determined, and in her mind we were calling the cat’s owner up and making arrangements.

An approximation of the photo on the flyer in question.

An approximation of the photo on the flyer in question.

We got out to the car, and since the flyer was no longer posted, we felt a bit like we had to call and at least meet this cat, so maybe the flyer could go back up for someone who was in the market for a cat. We called the number and found out it was for the sister of the cat’s owner. She had been tasked with helping find Farley a new home. She gave us the number for Farley’s owner. So, we called the actual owner of the cat. We could tell immediately that there was an interesting story. When we told her about the flyer, and that we spoke with her sister who put us in touch with her, she said, “Wow. She finally actually did something I asked her to do.” We had some worry that we might be getting in the middle of some family drama, but still arranged to meet the beautiful kitty from the flyer.

We went to the apartment of the owner, which was in a sort of assisted living complex. While she was not elderly, she did have some special needs due to her lack of vision. We went to her door, she let us in, and we saw Farley. We were rendered speechless. He was adorable. Also, beautiful. He was clearly shy, and she had closed the doors to the bedroom and bathroom so he wouldn’t be able to hide and prevent us from seeing him. He tried to make himself small, and was looking for a possible out, but we still were able to take in his beauty. While we admired, the owner gave us his back story.

As a kitten, he wound up with a very elderly woman. Very. Elderly. She was unable to care for him, and thus he was basically neglected for the first nine months of his life. He made his way to the rescue, where it took them three rounds with clippers to get his solidly matted fur off. Due to lack of socialization, he was extremely shy, and he also was not great with being groomed as it was a foreign concept to him. However, he was a young, attractive cat. So, the sister that we spoke to first came to meet him, as she worked with the rescue and was a veterinary tech by trade. She thought he would make the perfect companion for her sister, who lived alone and was legally blind. She called her sister, and told her about the kitty. The potential kitty mama had some concerns, however. Because of her lack of vision, she would have a difficult time caring for him. She definitely couldn’t trim his nails, and brushing him would also be difficult. Also, because she couldn’t drive, she would need help getting him in for check-ups and such. The vet tech sister assured her that she would help take care of everything. She could come by regularly and trim his nails and make sure he stayed brushed. Plus, if homing him with the blind sister didn’t work out, vet tech sister would gladly take him in.

So, at about a year old, he came to live in the apartment we were standing in. Things started off well. Then, as the months went by, vet tech sister was unable to come by as she had originally promised. It proved to be difficult to get her to come by to do the necessary grooming for a Persian kitty with claws. Also, because of his history and shyness, his owner sort of just let him be. She was a bit worried that he might be lonely, since she didn’t make him cuddle and hang out with her. She wanted to get him a kitty friend, but her apartment only allowed her one cat. She felt that he wasn’t in the home he deserved, and that he should be somewhere that he could get the regular grooming and attention that someone sighted could provide. So, his owner called her sister and mentioned this, and also mentioned the agreement that she would take him if the situation wasn’t working out. However (and I don’t remember the exact numbers), vet tech sister had a number of cats and dogs at this point, and couldn’t take in another despite her promise. So, the blind woman told her sister that a suitable home needed to be found, and the sister said she would look into it.

Hence the flyer. Which turned out to be a generic Persian picture, as she had the only two photos of him and they were from when he was still shorn. We were told all about Farley’s life. She kept food and water in dishes on the floor for him, and a small dish of treats on the counter for him to help himself to. He had a special blanket that was made for him by a friend, and a scratching post and basket of toys. She mentioned that he also scratched her chair, and that it was entirely her fault. She never stopped him from the bad scratching, so we would need to keep an eye on him. However, the behavior wasn’t his fault, he didn’t learn differently, and she wanted us to know. She reminded us of his shyness, and that while he would often lay near her, he wasn’t a lap cat. She told us that every night, when they were done watching Paul Douglas on the news, they would go for a walk together down the hallway and back to the apartment before hitting the hay.

Admittedly, we were smitten. G reminded me that it wasn’t a good idea necessarily to bring home another kitty. We already had three, and while that was down from four, we shouldn’t necessarily have four cats. So, we told her we would have to think about it. We mentioned that we would love to take him for a trial for a weekend or even for a week to see if he would even get along with our other cats, since he was used to being the only guy. She was amenable to that. The problem was, that we would have to go out of town at any moment for my grandfather’s funeral. We didn’t want to take him home when we wouldn’t be around to see how things were going, and we definitely didn’t think that his first go with us should be a road trip. So, we agreed that we would think on it, and call her when we knew what the funeral arrangements would be and when we could pick him up. We then left with the image of his crazy adorable smush face, and his stocky, fluffy body slinking around. I was in the “we must bring him home!” camp, and G was in the responsible, “it might not be a good idea” camp.

The next day, my grandfather passed. March 9, 2008. We worked out with my parents when the funeral would be, so G and I could be there. We worked out a potential day to come by and get Farley for a trial with our kitties. So, just over a week after we met him on March 18, 2008, G went to pick him up. He called when he was on his way home, to tell me there was a grumpy kitty on the seat next to him. I asked how long we were going to have him to see how it would go.

Pause.

“Well…here’s the thing.”

It turned out that his owner called her sister to tell her that we wanted to take him for a trial, and the sister contacted the rescue. The rescue told her that since we would be his third owners, if it didn’t work out, they would have to put him down. As though something was wrong with him. Which, it was not at all his fault that it didn’t work out with the current owner. So, his owner told G that she was not going through the rescue to get him to us. She would just give him to us, with all of his things. She told us that if it didn’t work out with us for any reason, to call her and she would find him a new home. We were much more determined to make it work with him, as we didn’t want any risk of killer rescue getting him back! (Not that his owner would let that happen…but still.)

In his first hideout.

In his first hideout.

So, he came into our home. We immediately christened him Alonzo, because of the Dr. Who episode where the doctor really wants to meet someone named Alonzo. (Later, as such a character popped up, we found out they spelled it “Alonso” but it was too late.) He spent the first day or so in the covered litter box that was given to us. Eventually, he felt comfortable enough to come out, and moved to sitting behind the toilet for a few days. Finally, he made his way into the rest of the house, and staked claim on the space under the dining table. He pretty much stayed there unless his hunger forced him to get something to eat, or his bladder necessitated a trip to the litter box. Otherwise, if you wondered where Alonzo was, he was under the table.

Holding court under the dining table

Holding court under the dining table

After a while, he was hanging out and about in our condo. For a long while, whenever anyone came over, he would go back to his safety zone, under the dining table. Eventually, even large gatherings didn’t phase him, and he would hang out on his perch watching the happenings. The first birthday party I had where he was comfortable on his perch, he was seemingly enjoying things. We were playing Rock Band, chatting, eating, etc. Then, my brother-in-law took over the Rock Band drums. Apparently, his drumming style was too much for Alonzo. Alonzo tore down the hall, and a few moments later, a friend told me she came out of the bathroom to see Alonzo there in a panic. Apparently, he wanted to go to his trusty covered litter box in the bathroom, but the door was closed. So, he was at the end of the hall, panicking, with no idea what to do. So, he went into our bedroom for the rest of the evening, safe and sound.

These days, you would not know that he was ever that shy. The only thing that seems to phase him is a fire drill in our apartment building. (We are still trying to work on our boys’ emergency preparedness. It’s slow going.) He will happily allow for guests to admire him, and will even put up with the most strenuous drum players. He is BFF with our Lucifer. In fact, they look like the feline versions of Pinky and the Brain, though their roles are reversed. Lu is long and slender, but he is the plotter. Alonzo, with his large, face, and protruding forehead, just follows along. Lu is great at opening doors for Alonzo to go through. We often find doors that should be closed, open, and Alonzo has hunkered down and made himself at home. When Lu gets the crazies, Alonzo will bound after him to find out what the plan is. We often wonder if the smush faced fluff ball in our apartment is the same one we brought home back then. It’s like he’s a different cat! Though, he still doesn’t like to be brushed, he will put up with it. He also isn’t always keen on when we want to pick him up and give him all the loving, but he does occasionally climb into our laps or onto us while we’re sleeping and purr at the loudest possible volume. While his purrs are loud, his meows are not. We know that if he does meow, the situation must be dire.

The trouble brigade on patrol at the condo.

The trouble brigade on patrol at the condo.

I don’t remember when it was exactly, but we realized he was a British spy, knighted by the queen for his efforts. Hence, he is Sir Alonzo Bigglesworth. With all the Bigglesworths out there of questionable breeding, we must clarify that he is from the very fine, upstanding, Saint Paul Bigglesworths. He has many aliases, because of all of his missions over the years. We are working on getting together passport photos of him in these various disguises.

Even though we weren’t sure if it was a good idea to bring him home back then, we can’t imagine life without our big fluffball. He is mesmerizing in his adorableness, and while we fully expect that one day we will look at him and think, “Yeah, he’s just a regular amount of cute,” it hasn’t happened yet. We still get distracted by his intense level of cuteness, and laugh at just how insanely adorable he is. We regularly get distracted by his looks, and even when he’s naughty, we still love him with all our hearts. It’s hard to believe we’ve had him for six years, and he helped make a sad time in our lives much happier.

squirrely sunday: the squirrel next door

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Our two boys are always in cahoots. It’s funny, because they look like feline versions of Pinky and The Brain. Lucifer being Pinky and Alonzo being The Brain. However, in actuality it’s the other way around. Lucifer is the brains of the operation and Alonzo takes advantage of Lu’s smarts. For example, Lu is really good at opening doors. If he were a superhero, it would be his superpower. On the other hand, Alonzo just can’t work doors. Maybe it’s his smushed face. Maybe it’s his giant feet. Either way, he is desperate to get on the other side of the door but just can’t make it happen for himself. So, Lu opens the doors and Alonzo enters. The two main doors that get opened around here are the closet door and the bathroom cabinet containing our towels. Alonzo loves to nap in the box I keep slip on sandals and slippers or on the clean towels. This is a drag for many reasons. Cat hair on clean clothes and towels is a big drag. Also, hearing Lu’s attempts to get the doors open before he is successful can be really annoying when in a deep sleep on a work night. The closet is the worst for this.

So, we realized we needed to somehow block the door. We had a bocce ball set that was pretty heavy. We put it in front of the closet door, and figured it was Lu proof, at least until we found a more attractive option. OF course, Lu figured out how to get it out of the way and into the closet. We’d been keeping our eyes open for a door stop option.

Enter this guy:
squirrel next door stop

A squirrel! A door stop! Our prayers answered!

Except it was out of stock.

Until it wasn’t. We pulled the trigger straight away. It arrived in an adorable box, which I opened and ran into the bedroom to put it into place.

Alas, our doors are too high from the floor for this cutie. So, he is still sitting in front of our closet, though he isn’t preventing much right now. I am hanging onto him, since he is cute and fitting for my squirrel collection. Besides, we won’t live here forever and he might hold open other doors in the future.

Until then, we need a door stop.

squirrely sunday

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

So, I think Sunday will be my squirrel day. A little something to brighten up folks’ weekends or, for those who only check the ‘net at work, a little Monday morning pick-me-up. I did almost all of my to-do list (ran out of time on the dye project, and got as far as I could with the two projects-have to see how one looks in the morning, and need one more thing for the other), so here’s an adorable reward. I got this from my cousin, who took it in her new backyard. Love that this guy is having a wee midwinter picnic!!!
black squirrel picnicking.jpg

weekend: to do

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Here I am, my two sweet days off. I tend to get overly lazy on weekends. I have a pretty exhausting job, and a lot of the things I do at work are the things I need to do at home (patch and paint, manage cords, occasional sewing, organizing, setting up zones), so when I get home, I am totally over it. Heck, I am even over doing things like folding laundry and cleaning the bathroom. Unfortunately, I married someone who doesn’t much care if those things get done. So, he can blissfully ignore those things, while they drive me insane.
What a pickle.
So, I am putting the things that I must do this weekend here, in print. I figure if you can all see what I am supposed to do, and I don’t want to disappoint, I will be more likely to accomplish them. I’ll come by and cross things off as necessary.
finish two projects to ship
dye skirt
clean bathroom (including that one pesky cupboard I’ve been ignoring)
put away fabric
finish bedroom (furniture got all moved, now it needs to be tidied)
I could heap on more, but then I would just be sad when I didn’t get every. single. thing. done.
Yeah, I know this is totally boring and lame. However, we will start with brunch. That’s exciting, right?

starving artist

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

At some point in my minds creation of brilliant (to me) ideas, I thought it would be genius to start an art collection. Not just any art collection. A terrible art collection. The goal is to have a representation of all the classic categories of terrible art. A black velvet painting. A hobo clown. Animals playing cards and/or billiards. Thomas Kinkade. Wildlife on a saw. I think you get the idea.
Now, you have probably seen or heard of the Starving Artists. I don’t mean the kind that were starving in their lifetime, but now hang in museums worldwide. Nor do I mean those (some of whom I am friends with) who sacrifice to make their only living through their art. I mean the sales that have ads akin to those for monster truck rallies, only classier. Or so they seem.
These ads proclaim paintings, real, original oil paintings will be for sale for insanely low prices! They show an array of large, framed paintings of landscapes, famous cities, still lifes, all of the bland, non-offensive art categories guaranteed to match your sofa. Currently they shout that sofa sized paintings start at $19! The paintings in general start at seven dollars!! No painting is over $69! It’s madness! These are original oil paintings, people!
I’ve been watching these ads since I was a child. At first, it seemed romantic. Hard up artists just trying to eke by, selling their beloved paintings at these sales. I was clued in early. It was just the name of the company. Much more romantic sounding than “Mass-produced in a factory” art sale. Don’t get me wrong. These paintings are painted by people. They are original to someone. However, it’s not a guy with a pencil mustache in a beret and a smock, his palette resting on his arm., easel in front of him, letting the muse flow through and onto the canvas. It’s a random assortment of people, usually working on rolls of canvas. In some cases, everyone is assigned an element of the painting and an amount of time to paint that element. One will be in charge of the grass below the horizon. One will be in charge of clouds. One has to paint that happy little tree. So on and so on. Say in five minutes. So, the row of folks will each paint their item, and the canvas will scroll through at the appointed time and someone at the end gets to cut the finished works off and eventually they get stapled to frames and packed up to make their rounds in hotel ballrooms. In other cases, each person has a painting type and an allotted time to crank one out. They paint as many of their painting as they can. Their seascape with the lone light house. Their jazz saxophone player with the preternaturally long fingers. Their Eiffel tower. Over and over, canvas getting cut and assembled and shipped, just like the others. If they went to art school, they are surely questioning their life choices. If they didn’t, well, there are worse things. I suppose. I just don’t know what they are.
So, all these paintings showed up in hotel ballrooms in my area this weekend! This was my chance to officially begin my terrible art collection. Preferably with one of those seven dollar paintings. I figured it would be approximately the size of a three cent postage stamp, but surely it would be tacky. I spent the week building my excitement. Every time an ad came on, I would tell my husband we would soon be the owners of some starving art! Every time, he would take a deep breath and shake his head. I still can’t understand why he wasn’t excited. Maybe he didn’t hear the part about them being ORIGINAL OIL PAINTINGS! Or maybe that NO PAINTING OVER $69! I mean, at least if he heard the last part, he would have at least giggled, right??
The day was Sunday. Eleven in the morning to four in the afternoon. I wanted to get there early. I didn’t want the good stuff to be swiped up by a shady motel owner or subdivision builder. So, alarms were set. Breakfast plans made. This was happening. Now, there were a couple of hitches to the plan. The getting going was a little slow, and our chosen breakfast spot was more popular than we expected. Though, we were there, so of course it was happening! Visions of terrible art at rock bottom prices were dancing in my head. I could hardly eat! Okay, so I could eat, but my breakfast was so huge that it looked like I hardly ate. We were rested, we were fed, we were in an art buying mood. In fact, the hubs was sighing and shaking his head a little less, and I think his eyes stopped rolling by the time we were in the hotel parking lot. We were definitely in the right place. People were walking out of that hotel with armloads of art. There was a family of four, dad with his sofa sized painting, mom with her stack of smaller-than-sofa-sized paintings. I couldn’t see the stack, but dad’s painting was, um, special. We got out of the car and saw a young couple with a floral painting that was substantially hideous. “That’s a good one,” I said to G. He wasn’t done with the sighing and shaking his head just yet.
We entered the side door where people with art were heading out. We quickly saw the 8 1/2 x 11 copies pointing to the art sale and followed them to the ballroom. Aisles had been set up, formed with tables. On and in front of the tables were chairs facing out, acting as easels. Sad, sad easels. Just stretched canvases arranged by size, stacked and propped on chairs. There were some immediately bad things that stood out, but we made our way to the far side of the room to work our way back. I didn’t want to miss anything. Empty frames were arranged much like the paintings. Here’s the first place they get you. Those prices in the ads? They do not include the frames shown. The frames are about the same price as the paintings. All of them are wide and gaudy. If you are looking for something tasteful, the best you can hope for is an elaborately carved frame that’s been painted black. I process that to do this thing right, we’ll be shelling out for a frame and a painting. Fine. I should have suspected as much. It’s like the first painting sold by Dali to the folks that wound up starting the Dali Museum in Florida. The gallery sold the painting. Dali’s wife, Gala, didn’t think the price was high enough. So, Gala sent the couple an invoice for the price for the painting. She then added for the lovely frame the painting was shown in. I suspect the people running this ballroom art show didn’t know that story, however. They were probably hip to the masses looking for art that matches their sofa, and that these people would think they were getting a steal. Clearly they were right. There were scads of sane-looking people with armfuls of art, snapping up frames like they were free. Clearly, G and I were the only ones in on the joke.
We spotted a black and white paintings of Dolphins with some coral that looked akin to something I might see on a Dala horse. It was definitely sofa sized. What would the odds be that it was one of the “starting at $19” paintings? I looked at the back. $69. Really? Really. It was then we saw the 8 1/2 x 11 copies posted with the price list. They were a flat price by size, as are the frames. If we wanted a seven dollar painting, it would be 8×10 and on a board. Those $19 paintings? Those would be the 8 x 10s on canvas. I quickly ruled out anything larger than 8×10. It was too bad, because there was some seriously, seriously bad art up in there. The black and white Dala Dolphins were just the tip of the tacky iceberg. We maneuvered around the art lovers and their paintings to find the rock bottom priced paintings. There was a decent assortment of canvas, but for the really sweet deal, I wanted one of those board paintings. Passing by some ladies oohing and aahing over some trees with technicolor leaves, we found the board paintings. All two of them. That’s right. Two. They were disappointing. A canvas it would be. This is an investment, after all. There was another dolphin painting, this time in color. A definite maybe. Some technicolor trees with texture. Perhaps. Then, we saw what I can only describe as a moonscape. As painted from the moon, in the future when it is colonized. Black and white. We debated. But, the moonscape won out. Then, we had to choose a frame. I learned that when you have a tacky painting, you can try to put the least tacky frame on it. It won’t work. While the frame is tacky by any standard, it just doesn’t meet the height of the painting. We had to go gilded. We took our gilded frame and moonscape (painted by Craig) to one of the tables for framing. Normally I wouldn’t be the sucker buying the frame from the tacky painting sale, but let’s look at the options. I could get it framed at a shop. Shyeah, right. That shit’s expensive. Especially if you want something hideous. I could bide my time and check the local thrift store circuit for an ideal frame awaiting separation from it’s current painting. That would be an investment of time that I just don’t have. So, I was the sucker buying the frame from the tacky painting sale. We approached, and there were lines at each table. People really thinking about their art and frame choices. G and I just stared at each other, wide-eyed. These people could not be for real. No one could possibly be taking this seriously, right? I placed our painting and frame on the table, where a worker with a “Hello my name is” tag carefully clipped it into place. I thought for sure she was judging my choices. However, a quick look around assured me that our choice was the least disturbing one being made today.
We then went to the check out to wait in another line. At that point, what the hell? Sure I’ll take your hanging kit for a dollar. May as well go balls out. Our painting, frame, and hanging kit (which even included the nail!) were added up. $39.62. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. We spent near $40 for a terrible painting in a crappy frame. As we were about to hit the door, a real gem jumped out at us. It was in the $69 category, and if we had the funds, we would have been required to purchase it. It was a street scene. Like a Parisian street cafe. As envisioned by a drunk with poor literacy skills. The side of one building read “BESTAU RANT.” Yup. Two words. On two separate lines. Next to that was something called, “LARAPIER.” Yes. All one word. We opened and closed our mouths like fish. There were no words.
Our painting is still wrapped. I want the hubs to be home with me so we can hang it together and admire our foray into the bad art world. Now that he’s on board with this, I can surely start my taxidermied squirrel chess set.
starving art.jpg

grillin’

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

I am not outdoorsy. Some of you know that, the rest are shocked, I’m sure. Whether or not I had a place to do it, I wouldn’t grill. I will happily eat food others grill for me, but I am not firing up the ol’ BBQ anytime soon. I do, however, have a Foreman. A decent sized one. I could cook up FOUR meaty hamburgers if I wanted to. Which I don’t. I do like it for grilling fish (the only meat I can eat, though I feel guilty as hell about it) because I am lazy and not crazy about cooking. All that is to say that I had a flash of genius tonight. My fish was cooking, and I started to prep my veggies and I realized I could GRILL them. You know, like people who GRILL do. So, I am counting this as my first BBQ of the season.

you don’t gnome me

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Here’s a confession. I love gnomes. Have since I was wee. I blame my grandmother’s garden gnomes for my gnome affections. Hers lived on the deck rather than in a garden, but were adorable and charming all the same. The picture of those wee gnomes is firmly embedded in my memory. I’ve tried to find gnomes that fit that memory, but have been unable. I’ve found some cuties, though. They lived in the garden at our old place. Since we have no garden these days, they shall live on our windowsills, and hang out in corners ready to make mischief. I am always on the lookout for more gnomes to join the family. A few years ago, G’s aunt gave me a copy of this book, which I checked out of the library countless times as a kid, studying up about gnomes in case I encountered one in the wild. It was out of print at the time, so it was an especially thrilling gift! I have long been lusting after this guy and his friends. However, I am saving up my nickels for the designers ghost chair first.
One of my other, not-so-secret loves is a good cocktail. Particularly, a dry martini. This is not to be confused with those things that pass for martinis these days, all vodka and olives and cocktail shakers. Bombay Sapphire with a whisper of vermouth. Carefully stirred fifty times, and strained into a chilled martini glass. The martini glass must have a stem as to not mar the taste with the heat from one’s hand. However, I love a good old timey cocktail. The kind that folks made at old-timey cocktail parties where the hostess would wear a cocktail apron and serve hors d’oeuvres from the Betty Crocker cookbook. The kind that tastes best with freshly squeezed juices of lemons and limes. The kind of fresh squeezed juice that tastes just fine when squeezed from any old juicer, but would taste even better from the perfect juicer. The perfect juicer for which I have been hunting. I have been keeping my eyes peeled for a preferably vintage piece, hip but nostalgic at the same time. I keep coming up empty. Until today.
I casually read through my favorite blogs, getting to the decorating blogs last. I hit Apartment Therapy. I scrolled through. I saw gnomes. I saw the stool. I saw the book. I saw several other adorable-yet-run-of-the-mill gnome knick knacks. I saw this. Perfect for all my juicing (and jewelry??) needs.
If you were wondering, I have a birthday coming up. I love gnomes, and I love cocktails. Maybe in that order.

tricky relationship

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

I remember the day G told me he wanted a new microwave. He told me of his affair with the microwave in his office breakroom. How it had a magical popcorn sensor. How, with just the push of a single button, one would extract a perfectly popped bag of popcorn from the machine. I audibly rolled my eyes. I mean, couldn’t he just program the microwave for the time recommended on the popcorn packaging and listen for those last kernels like the rest of the world? He insisted that this microwave was so much better than that. This magical popcorn sensor would pop nearly all of the corn leaving nary a stray kernel in the bag. I was not convinced. What I was convinced of, however, was that he was smitten with a new toy. He told me I just needed to see it to believe it. He was sure he could make me a believer. Yeah, him and every late night infomercial host.
Thus, he brought the new microwave home. The old microwave came to rest in my apartment, which I was perfectly fine with, having no microwave at all. I didn’t need this fancy sensor cook technology. Unfortunately, the first time I attempted to use the old microwave, it gave off a horrible smell and promptly died. I was again without microwave. G paid little mind, as his shiny new toy sat upon his counter, white and gleaming against the dingy flat white paint and faux butcher block countertops. He eagerly put the popcorn in and pushed the button. True to his word, the little machine popped a perfect bag of popcorn. I was sure this was a fluke. However, night after night she proceeded to do her trick without fail. Harumph. Perhaps I was wrong. I examined all of the other sensor buttons, testing them on various foodstuffs. She heated my tea to a perfect steeping temperature. Browning meat was hardly a feat she couldn’t handle. Leftovers were reheated and vegetables steamed with hardly a thought on my part.
She needed little coaxing. One push and she was off. No complicated combinations of buttons. No adjusting power or wondering if I would get food poisoning. If the food contained within needed a little special attention, she would tell me exactly what to do. Stir and recover, I was all over it. Let stand, covered. I could do that! No guessing games. No trying and failing to see what she needed. I had to admit I was smitten.
A couple of years ago, we suffered our first falling out. We were in the midst of remodeling our kitchen, and I was removing our upper cabinets. I got to the last two, those just over our beloved microwave. I uhscrewed the first from the wall, carefully holding onto it so it didn’t plummet when loosened. I didn’t budge. I thought perhaps its neighbor was holding it in place, so I repeated the maneuver, ready for both cabinets to come loose. They stayed put. I wriggled, shook, pulled, and crowbarred to no avail. I called the hubs to see if he had any advice. He ahd all the same thoughts I did. When he came home we took a look at it, but they weren’t coming down. So, we went on our merry way for the evening. We came home to find one cabinet perched atop the counter, the other atop the microwave. Oh no! We removed the cabinets and checked our beloved cube of magic. She had a ding, but continued to work just fine. We loved her despite the cosmetic flaws.
She continued to chug along. I admit, I had begun to take her for granted. I casually pushed the appropriate button with hardly a glance these days. Our exchanges were minimal. Door open, door close, push button, repeat. We were settled into our routine, it seemed to suit the three of us just fine. We were, dare I say, content.
Then it happened. She, apparently fed up with our arrangement, went on strike! Her motor would hum, her turntable would spin, but the corn would remain unpopped. The water would remain tepid. My heating pad would stay room temperature, which was of absolutely no help to me! Every few tries, she would half heartedly attempt to heat the item, but would just give up. We tried unplugging her, and plugging her back in. She would pop a bag of corn then return to her newfound sullen state. We tried to talk to her, push some extra buttons to no avail. It was clear. It was over. She had moved on, and made it apparent that we should to.
We were unprepared. We didn’t know what to do. We aren’t the kind of people who just buy a microwave willy-nilly. We wanted to get to know the microwave. See how the sensors worked. We were unsure of how to proceed. I mean, we had been off the market for ten years!
So, G started where most good relationships do, the internets. It seemed that finding exactly what we had was not meant to be. We apparently are no longer good enough for the kind of microwave that offered magical popcorn buttons. He did find one that had a popcorn button, though we could not verify the level of magic that came with it. She was shiny, though, and would match our other appliances perfectly, not that looks mattered if the popcorn button would pop every kernel without burning one. I was apprehensive, but was willing to meet the microwave in person. I had to admit she was pretty. Roomy interior. Her buttons gleaming under the fluorescent lights. We did a round of microwave speed dating to check out the other available candidates. However, we came back to the sparkly stainless steel we started with.
We brought her home, and placed her on the counter. Our former microwave was obviously jealous, and refused to go without a fight. Or at least without a crisp twenty from our wallet. I could understand the reticence, I mean, we did have a good run. However, we both knew we were no good for each other. None of us was happy with the arrangement, so it was best to move on. Quick like a band-aid and all of that.
Unfortunately, we found out too late that the new popcorn button was not all that magical. You have to watch her every second, and even then the corn is probably burned. We are pretty sure we can grow to love the new microwave. I mean she’s good looking, and after all we like her. I suppose if things go sour, she can keep house with the rest of the appliances and try to charm the next residents of our condo. Until then, we will just have to carefully listen for the pops to slow down and hope for the best.

onward and upward!!

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Since I never got around to sharing my birthday goals, and it is the traditional time for sharing one’s aspirations for the new year, and since everything I have been reading/seeing has been pointing me toward getting off my ass and getting my life in gear…here are the things I am going to accomplish this year (in no particular order)
1) Enter CONvergence masquerade 2009 (this includes building at least two costumes for the entry I have planned)
2) Construct amazing Goth Prom dress
3) Get Etsy store up and running
4) Participate in at least one local craft show
5) Finish installing paver walk in the backyard
6) Redo porch pavers and screen in front porch
7) Have enough dollars in my savings account to redo both bathrooms (Main bath will be a a complete demo and remodel–including new studs, the other is mostly cosmetic)
8) Clean out the garage and make into a funtional parking and workspace
9) Run Disney Princess Half Marathon
10) After completion of HM, run 15-20 miles per week
11) Hit goal weight and lower body fat percentage to 18%
12) Take a ballet class (which reminds me, I really should tell the story of ballet class as a child)
13) Take a tap class
14) Do Flickr’s 365 days
15) Make at least one post a week in Wardrobe Remix
16) Post at least once a week in each of my blogs
17) Go out dancing at least once a month, preferably twice (Event nights, such as Rubberball or Goth Prom don’t count toward this total)
18) Host three non-birthday gatherings at our home
19) Get my three tattoos
20) Have a big honking garage sale to purge all the unnecessary stuff we’ve accumulated and have whatever didn’t sell loaded onto a truck and hauled to charity immediately
There it is…I may add to this later, but those are the main things I need to happen this year. I can do it, because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!

a great start to my birthday week!

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

What a busy day! On one hand, I did get many things done today. On the other, I was the queen of procrastination. I managed to keep putting off my run until it was nearly bedtime and it could wait no more. I did this in part, because I was trying to get a number of other things done. Let’s recap, shall we?
Now, about a month-and-a-half ago, we were at PetSmart, looking at kitties, picking up food for our kitties…the usual. When looking at the wee furries, G spotted Robo Dwarf Hamsters (robo being short for Roborovski, the dude who discovered them, not for robot). From that moment on, they became an obsession. So, for our anniversary, before we left for our trip I gave him a card, and a hamster transport pod. I promised that I would buy him his hamsters, bedding, food, and a habitat. Today was that day.
We started at the local costume shop, to get a necessity for G’s costume. Then off to Red Robin, as I had a free burger coming my way for my birthday. I got a fish burger, and it was delish. We then hit up Michael’s so I could pick up a couple of tee-shirts they had on sale and fabric paint to make a cheesey New Kids on the Block tee shirt for their concert I am attending on Tuesday (another swell part of B-day week) and to peruse their wares and see if they had anything useful for the creation of our Halloween costumes. Then it was off to JoAnn fabrics. I purchased most of what we needed. I will have to hit up others this week, as the one thing I am missing, a pattern, they only had in boys sizes, not men’s. Then, it was Robo Dwarf time.
We wanted two, and they only had three left. I felt bad leaving just the one in there, but not all of them get adopted in pairs. But, if you only get one, you can’t add one later. Otherwise, you will still wind up with one…hence our wanting to start with two. So, we picked the fat one, and the little one. They are girls. We got their food, bedding, house, some treats, and a mineral disc. I held their little transport pod on the way home, and we marveled at their cuteness. They managed to poo a lot, so mission one was getting them set up in their new digs. Mission two was cleaning their pod.
The little one is named Rhymenoceros, and the fat one is Hiphopopotamus, after the Flight of the Conchords episode where Brett and Jemaine had rap names. Rhymenoceros mostly likes checking out the new place, and Hip-hop loves running in the wheel. They finally wore themselves out a bit and did some napping. It will be a task to make sure the cats know they are NOT food, but we have them in our room where we can close the door when we aren’t able to watch closely. Their habitat is fully enclosed, so the cats can’t get in, but we are worried they will scare the tiny furries.
Then, I did much cleaning. So much cleaning. I kept trying to get one more thing done…then one more. Finally, I had to run, or it wouldn’t happen, and my training schedule would be totally screwed up! I think part of why I wasn’t wanting to run, was because it was my first real day of doing the run/walking. Five miles. I was mostly dreading having to break up my running with walks. I mean, it feels like starting over back when I started C25K. However, once I got going, it was actually pretty great. My running was actually faster than usual, because I knew I had a walk break coming. I wound up doing 5.1 miles in 56:16. Considering I was running three minutes, walking one…not bad. Once again I am reminded to trust the training plan. People far wiser than I have put it together…I should not question. However, I will be honest. There came a point when each interval got just a little harder, and I had to push a little more. Then, in that last half mile, I really dug deep and pushed myself that little bit more. I really wanted to book to the end of the block and clock in under the 56 minute mark.,..but it was not to be.
Tuesday and Thursday I am up to 43 minute runs. If I can get in an even four miles in that time, I will be happy. Those runs are all about getting my endurance up right now.
On the bright side, as I near the end of another decade, I can honestly say I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in. Sure, my metabolism isn’t what it used to be, and I have more dimples than I’d like, but I can kick butt at the gym, and I can run. Pretty exciting stuff. Mostly because I said I was going to do it, I lazed about and put it off, and now, I am doing it for real. W00T!