Thursday, August 31, 2006


Ignore the cocoa.
You're supposed to be looking at the clock.
I love my little pink clock. I do, really...
It's cute and it's cheery.
And I just figured out that it is making my life a living hell...

I got this clock earlier this year - maybe as a belated holiday gift to myself? And basically, it was all about love. I saw it and was immediately smitten.
Not only is it totally girly and pink (and being in the only girl in the house, I decided that sometimes I do need something all girlsome just to mark my place in this world...) but it promised to "wake me up to gentle illuminating light" - how can you not love that? It sounded so soothing.
Also, it sounded considerate - I hate hearing someone else's alarm go off, and since I am typically the first person up around here, it seemed like a nice idea not to have to disturb Bubba and Schecky with the sound of my alarm.

Well, it took some time to get used to it. At first, I totally slept through the gentle illuminating light. Which is bad - because after a minute or two of gentle illuminating light, the alarm from hell rings - it sounds like the tardy bell from the elementary school of your nightmares! That bell is loud and harsh...

But, I gradually trained myself to recognize the gentle pulses of light, and soon I was being roused from the land of slumber by flashes of pale pink light. Quite pleasant, actually. And I got really good at it - consistently waking up with the first few flashes, no more Hell's Bells to disturb the rest of the family.

This is a good thing, right? Maybe not.

Lately, I've been having the worst nights I can remember. We've been having a lot of late night thunderstorms - and I've been waking bolt upright at the first clap of thunder. Which is really unusual. I can sleep through anything - it's a joke around here. Hurricane Opal hit here many years ago, nearly brought the house down and I slept through the entire thing*. So why have I been waking up every single night this week in the wee hours?

This morning, as 2 am found me once again wide awake - it hit me. It's not the thunder. It's not even the pouring rain. It's the lightning.
I have gotten so good at waking myself up at the first flash of light that when the first bolt of lightning zigs across the night sky - I am awake.

And then I can't get back to sleep.

Now I have the world's worst headache, and I am cranky as all sin.
Stupid little pink clock.

Oh, who am I kidding. I can't stay mad at you...
Anyone know how to make blackout curtains for the bedroom?

*Later, after hearing everyone else's tales of the storm, I asked Bubba why he didn't wake me up! He replied that he just wanted to see how long I could sleep through it. I missed the whole thing...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Another Most Excellent Mail Day...

Today's daily grind -- the all-too-familiar decluttering, reorganizing etc. -- was pleasantly interrupted by the arrival of the mail man, bearing another package!

Yay, I thought, it's from Autum at CreativeLittleDaisy!

Autum had graciously agreed to swap some knitted goods for one of her beautiful purses.
She asked me what I wanted, and I trust her taste so much that I asked her to please surprise me. I told her a little bit about the colors that I usually wear, the bag that I typically carry, etc. - so I was very excited to see what was in the box!

When I opened up the package, my breath was literally taken away. It was perfect. It was so amazingly spot-on that I was actually speechless (which *never* happens!) What Autum made for me was exactly what I would have made for myself.

No, scratch that. It wasn't. Because for starters, I didn't even know that you could make a back pack! Which is what Autum did - she made the most beautiful backpack I've ever seen. The fabric choices, the workmanship - all of it just amazing. Plus, there is so much thought and consideration that she put into it - the inside is lined with pockets, so that all my things won't go sinking to the bottom. And I love the colors inside! There's also a loop for me to loop my keys to*, and the accessories! Did I mention the clever accessories? And the fabulous tone-on-tone monogram?
I just feel so stylish.

Even the inside is gorgeous!
My pictures don't even begin to do it justice, I am afraid (it was overcast today, and there was no light in the house!) - you'll just have to trust me when I tell you that it is truly, truly lovely and I am just delighted beyond belief. You can click on any picture to see a larger view, and get more detail.

Oh, and you know how I was saying that it's difficult to take a picture of your own head? I learned that it's even more difficult to try to take a picture of your own back. That last picture is included purely for comic relief. And the sad part is that I must have taken 3 dozen attempts - and that was the best of the lot!

Thank you, Autum!

UPDATE: Autum has pictures of her own up! Go see!

* which Bubba is going to be glad to see! I currently just hook my keys to a strap on the outside of my former bag and he was always telling me not to do that, they'd get lost...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Is it kosher to have a Gratitude Monday???

Click the picture for
a larger version with notes!
Or maybe Appreciative Monday would be more apt. Either way, I am both grateful for and appreciative of the lovely, lovely package that I received in the mail not 30 minutes ago from Bekka.

She had some yarn from her stash that she was looking to winnow out, and I had expressed an interest in the Cinema yarn* - which she graciously offered to send me. So, when the postman hand-delivered** a nice big package to me, my first thought was "Wow, she packed that well!" But once I got in the house and began opening it - my jaw just hit the floor!

All the wonderful goodies!

In addition to the yarn (which is gorgeous, and I think I am going to blow everything else off today so I can start playing with it!) she included:
  • Wonderful monogrammed note cards - which I have no idea how she knew this, but I had a desperate need! I used the last of the stationary that I liked last month writing birthday "thank yous" and had yet to get new ones.

  • Cute little soaps that smell so, so good!

  • LIP GLOSS! Yay! I am such a lip gloss whore...

  • and last, but certainly not least, the most gorgeous headbands that she made. You can see the guitar print one in the foreground. And - get this - they are reversible! This one reverses to the cutest cowgirl print. You can't see the other in the picture because I immediately put it on, and I love it and I'm not taking it off because it matches my red shirt. I feel terribly cute in it, too - it has completely solved my bad hair day!

Thank you, thank you, thank you Bekka - I could not have imagined a more generous and thoughtful surprise!!!

It's really hard to take a
picture of your own head...

* In the color "George Bailey", don't you love it?

**This was kind of funny, because he usually doesn't do this. But he did today. And my next door neighbor was outside and saw him ring the bell and wait for me to come to the door. So, my NDN says to the postman "No fair! You've never once hand delivered something to me!" and my sweet, sweet postman said "That's cause she's a lot prettier than you." (My NDN is a man - and he's a good looking one, too, so this didn't hurt his feelings)
What a sweetie! It's enough to make me want to forgive him for giving me a spider phobia... (He once told me that I should never stick my hand down into the mailbox without wearing gloves or some other protection because he'd hate to see me get bit by a spider. Of course, I don't put on gloves to get the mail - but I hold my breath a little everytime I get the mail.)
It was particularly sweet, because I've been at decluttering again and I am way hot and grubby and covered with dust. By no stretch of the imagination does "pretty" apply today!

Lights! Camera! Action!

More excitement on the street again...

A movie crew is here, filming this.
That's the exciting and glamorous sounding news.

The not so glamorous and exciting reality is that they are actually filming this around the corner from our house. My street is blocked off to parking, etc. so that they can plunk down all the big trailery-trucks and things.
That's right, my street has gone from being featured as a lovely small town Mayberry to acting as a glorified parking lot.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen...

Since none of our houses have garages, or off street parking of any kind - it means a nice little walk to and from the car from where we've had to park a good distance away.
Note to self: don't plan on making any big grocery store runs today.

You know, if I got to see Edward Burns wandering around on the sidewalk in front of the house, all the inconvenience would be forgiven. He's a cutie...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

In Praise of the Humble Deviled Egg....

I have been enjoying a recent email correspondence with MéLisa, of Sew Little Thyme. She is the proud owner of about 2 dozen chickens, and I've been very interested in hearing more about that. (You definitely need to check out her chicken themed bathroom, as well.)

As a natural progression from the chicken discussions, we've moved on to eggs and egg recipes. It's been downright Bubba Gump-ish at times; simply substitute "egg" for "shrimp"...
You can make 'em scrambled, or poached, or boiled, or a Denver Omelet, or Eggs Benedict, or.....

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that I've been thinking about deviled eggs. Schecky is simply mad about them, and it's been a while since I made any around here. So tonight was the night...

First, a little history: it is my understanding is that these are called "deviled" to indicate that they are highly seasoned. Other theories attribute it to the fact that they are so good that they're sinful. You can find more detailed explanations here and here and here.

Although there may be some ambiguity about the name, one thing is certain: They. Are. Really. Really. Good.
Here in the South, they are a staple at picnics and potlucks. I have contributed these to a number of both, and I've yet to bring any leftovers home. They always go quickly...

I tend to think of them as a summertime food; however, in Bubba's family they wouldn't think of having a family celebration without them. Birthdays, Church Suppers, Easter - even Christmas Eve dinner and Thanksgiving! To be honest, the latter two seem kind of odd to me, but I'm keeping my mouth shut - I don't want to get them taken off the menu!

a properly boiled egg
with no green line around the yolk
To make a great deviled egg, you've got to start with a properly hard-boiled egg. And that means no icky green line around the yolk! You get that part right, and the rest of the process is pretty forgiving...

I know, I know - the argument can be made that "what does it matter? You're just going to mash it all up!" Yes, exactly - you're going to mash it all up and that icky green stuff makes your egg filling come out dingy and grayish. And none of us want that.
Although, in the interest of fairness and full disclosure, I do feel duty-bound to report that the green stuff won't hurt you, or even change the taste of the egg at all. It's purely cosmetic. However, it sends the message to the world that you either don't know or don't care enough to make a good egg. And again I reiterate, none of us want that, do we?
(I'll get off my MarthaStewart soapbox now....)

So - how do you get that beautiful green-free egg? Glad you asked...
  1. Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan that is large enough to hold them easily.

  2. Cover eggs with at least one inch of water over the tops of the shells.

  3. Place pot on stove, over medium-high heat - it will remain there until water begins to come to a nice boil.

  4. Once that nice rolling boil begins, remove the pot from the heat and cover with a well-fitting lid.

  5. LEAVE IT ALONE for 17 minutes. Leave the lid on - no peeking!

  6. Once the 17 minutes is up, use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the eggs from the hot water, and place them into a bowl of ice water (which you have already prepared and have waiting). The eggs are going to chill for 2 minutes.

  7. While the eggs are chilling, take the original pot, which still has the hot water on it and return to medium-high heat. Hopefully, you can get it to boil again in that amount of time, but if it's not a full boil, don't sweat it.

  8. After two minutes, remove the eggs from the ice water, and place them back into the boiling water for 10 seconds. I usually do only 1 or 2 eggs at a time. This additional boil will make them much easier to peel. Which is a good thing, because peeling eggs is a pretty unpleasant job.

  9. After theadditionall 10 second boil, place the eggs back into the ice water bath - where they can stay until you're ready to use them! Although, if you're not going to eat or use them fairly soon, I might have you go ahead and store them in the fridge. You can either leave them in the water, or go ahead and take 'em out.

And there you have it - the perfect hard boiled egg! Ready for slicing onto a salad, or making egg salad sammiches, or - best of all - devil-ing!

Honestly, you've done the hard work - once you've got the egg cooked right, it is really hard to mess up a deviled egg. Have some fun with it. Essentially, all you are going to do is slice each egg in half lengthwise; remove the yolks; smash them up with mayonnaise and the seasonings of your choice, then place the resulting mixture back into the waiting whites.
There are a million different recipes out there, to suit every taste and preference. In fact, even though I tend to like to have a recipe on hand for most things (although I often deviate from it), I've been making deviled eggs for so long that I pretty much just wing it with what I have on hand.
But for those of you who are just starting out, and would like a little help with the egg-yolk-to-other-stuff ratio, here is a nice recipe to get you started: Very Nice, Basic Deviled Egg Recipe.
Because to me, if it doesn't have the holy trinity of mayonnaise/pickle relish/mustard, it may still be edible, but it's not a real deviled egg! 'Cause, as you know, I have some very definite opinions about Southern food!

Deviled Eggs

The eggs that I made tonight had a mixture of:
  • Miracle Whip/Sour Cream
    because I had them in the fridge, and I was out of mayo
  • Dijon Mustard
    in the mood for a little pizzazz!
  • Pickle Relish
  • Tabasco Sauce
    I often use a drop or two of this, instead of salt. But I like Tabasco. Most stuff can benefit from a dollop of the stuff. Kind of like my thoughts on vanilla in baked goods.
I sprinkle paprika on them, just to give them a little color - because, bless their little eggy hearts, they aren't a pretty food. Sometimes I use cayenne pepper on ones for me and Bubba. Sometimes I sneak a tiny bit of cumin in, or vary the type of mustard - just go with what you like!

If these were for company, I'd maybe put the teeniest sprig of parsley atop each one. Just to show off. If you really want to show off, you can use a pastry bag to pipe the filling back into the whites. I almost never do that because I like the "homemade" look better, and I find that cleaning out the pastry bag is a huge pain.

And, voila!, everything you ever wanted to know about deviled eggs. And then some...

Friday, August 25, 2006

WIP Friday...

And the dishcloth/washcloth frenzy continues unabated...

I started out just loving the sherberty colors - and I still love, love, love the brown/blue combination. But I am surprised at just how much I am liking the acid Shrek green....

Have a great weekend - looks like I'll be spending a chunk of mine blocking and weaving in all the nibbly little bits...

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Well, it seems that the universe is pleased with all the cleaning/purging/organizing/etc. that is getting done around here.

Not only am I completely out of my annoying little pity-party-funk of last week,* and not only is the house starting to look (a tiny bit) appreciatively better,** but we had some good news here at the House o' Crazy yesterday...

Bubba just got a nice promotion. Which was totally unexpected. Which makes it even nicer.
He has asked that I not say too much about it here, as he wants no part of his work life affiliated with BadFortuneCookie, and really can you blame him? At any rate, he's got a new job title (and of course, more responsibilities) and we are all quite pleased for and proud of him!

One of our two cats, Thing Two***, has learned of Bubba's new position, and has requested that we now get him a set of these.
Thanks to the ever-charming Editrixie for pointing me in the direction of that photo!

So - things are looking up around here. Wonder what the MusicGods have to say about that? Should we see???

*Too busy to sulk!

**OK, maybe it's only parts of the house, and maybe only I would notice... but still, better!

***Three guesses what the other cat is named...

Obviously, it's a footnote-y kind of day.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Nest On!*

A quick clarification:

There is no medical reason for my nesting. None whatsoever!
Oh heavens, no.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Unless my native nesting instinct just didn't kick in for 8 years. Which is possible - I am/was a late bloomer. I didn't even get my 12 year molars until I was old enough to vote, or something ridiculous like that...

Anyway, I am sorry if I got anyone's hopes up with talks of nesting! Not pregnant. No babies on the way. Nada.

I am strangely flattered that anyone could even think that I could still bear a child, given that I'm older than dirt, and perfecting my crabby granny impression a little bit more every day! :)

Although, I would have some serious explaining to do, however, given that Bubba is on the road all the time anymore....

But, now that I've got everyone with babies on the mind, go visit Autum at CreativeLittleDaisy - she's got the cutest lil baby picture up that you'll see all day! And Manda at TreeFall has some happy news as well!

And as for me? Well, I've still got Mount Laundry... sigh.

Oh - and I meant it when I asked the other day for tips on how you motivate yourself to do the boring, unpleasant stuff you don't want to do.
Do you act like a grownup and just suck it up and get it done?
Do you bribe yourself, as in "if I fold all this laundry, then I get to...."?
Do you set a timer and make yourself toil for X amount of time?

Inquiring minds want to know....

*That's my new saying. Autumn made it up. I love it....

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Welcome to the Jungle...*

I decided that maybe this was funny enough to be picture-worthy. Or pathetic enough. Take your pick...

Have I mentioned before that we're not big yard people?
Capello asked me recently how we managed to get away with only mowing our grass once or twice a year. I replied that it's easy when you don't mind all your neighbors thinking you're the WT family on the block. **
Just in case you thought I was kidding, Capello, this picture is for you! :)

Anyway, maybe there is something to this whole "babystepping" idea. Because slow as it may be, I am making some progress...

*And how am I getting rid of all the weeds?
Easy - by getting down on my shun n,n,n,n,,n,n,,n,n,n,,n,n,,n knees!
(I crack myself up sometimes. Really, I do....)

**the other part of this is that we keep the miniscule front yard (and by that, I mean it's probably about the size of your dining room table) looking nice. No one really sees the side or the back; and most of my neighbors are guilty of doing the exact same thing!


Isn't that what the littlest Who yells, in order to let the world know "I am here! I am here!"???

Well, I am here.
Maybe not here-on-the-Internets here, but here nonetheless....

Seems like this week I've got too many irons in the fire; bitten off more than I can chew; insert your own cliche here... I've probably started too many things, and I'm probably not doing any of them admirably, but stuff is getting done and I'm feeling pretty good about that.

Unfortunately for you, gentle reader, not much of what I am doing is of much interest. To anyone - myself included. Most of what I've got on tap has more to do with the feeling of accomplishment once it's done, rather than any joy inherent in the actual process itself. Also, it's not cute, or clever, or crafty - so no photos are forthcoming...

Just to let you know what is filling my days, here's a list of what's going on around here. I am:
  • Completely cleaning out the breakfast nook, which is an actual room rather than a true nook. We call it the breakfast nook, because it's attached to the kitchen and we don't really do much else with it. A few years back, I turned this into an area for Schecky - kind of an annex of his room, if you will. It used to be all set up as his Thomas the Tank Engine space, but as Lego has defeated Thomas as the object of my son's obsession, Thomas is being relegated to the basement as part of the cleaning up of this space.

  • Trying to come up with a good system to manage all the information that has already begun coming into the house on a daily basis from Schecky's school. What to keep, what to toss, etc. Trying to stave off the overwhelming amount of paper that school entails...

  • Digging my way out from under Mount Laundry! I got behind, and it's not easy to get back on top again. This morning has been an ironing-fest! Yippee!
    And yes, if you read that "yippee" with a lot of sarcasm, you read it right...

  • Reclaiming the path between my house and my neighbor's. I might have to take a picture of this, because it's just too unbelievable. There used to be a gravel path between our houses. Now, it's an overgrown jungle. For real. The progress on this is kind of slow, because I hate, hate, hate weeding. Basically, I make myself pull 50 weeds everytime I take something to the outdoor trash can. Which, with the reclaiming-of-the-nook task, I'm doing a lot.
    Does anyone else do this - have weird little tricks to motivate or trick themselves into getting a dreaded task done? I'd love to hear them if you do!

I am also rewarding myself with knitting - I fold a load of laundry, I get to knit 10 rows. I clean out a drawer in the nook, I get to read a chapter.
I know that if I could just pick one task, and focus on it exclusively - I'd be getting more done, actually finished. I just find it so difficult when faced with something that I really, really don't want to do. I am trying to convince myself that this "babysteps" method might just be the key....

Oh my God - in going back and re-reading this, it just occurred to me what I am doing! I'm nesting, aren't I?
Holy crud. I don't think I've ever nested before...
I meant to nest when Schecky was still just a bun in the oven. However, I wasted the first trimester because I was so busy being an obnoxious super-high-charged-career-girl-who-can-do-it-all-and-doesn't-need-to-slow-down-just-because-she's-pregnant.

This probably directly led to my second and third trimesters, which were spent on super-strict bed rest. Yes, I spent 19 weeks lying on my left side, and not much else. Then, of course when Schecky was born, I was too busy with things like taking care of a newborn, and trying to learn how to walk again, since your muscles all but disappear when you lie still without moving for over 4 months...

I'm nesting! I'm nesting! That is totally weird....

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It Hasn't Been All Whining Around Here...

Admittedly, it's been largely whining - but I have gotten some productive stuff done in the last week or so.

To witness: a washcloth and dishcloth frenzy! WooHoo! It's been utter, pure cotton madness around here lately...

This set was made for a swap with the lovely and talented Autum, aka: Creative Little Daisy. The dishcloths were made to go in her kitchen, and I ended up really pleased with how cheerily they turned out. It made it a bit difficult to continue to sulk when working with such happy colors. (Oh, don't get me wrong, I still managed to do it. It just wasn't easy....)

These dishcloths; these washcloths - they are an obsession, I tell you! I'm still smitten with both of these projects, and I think I am going to follow Autum's recommendation to open up an etsy storefront. Watch this space for news on this, or send me an email to kingsportgrrrl[AT]yahoo[DOT]com to be notified about this endeavor. I'm out to win over converts, one washcloth at a time...

In other fronts, you know how today was "answer email day"??? Well, I have been, I promise. It's been very mythological or biblical or something. The number of emails to which I need to reply never seems to shrink. I answer one, a new one comes in! It's fabulous - I am really enjoying the inspiration that I get, and the knowledge that I glean from each of you!

If I were the kind of gal that were good about acknowledging what I am grateful for, you all would make the list...

Thank you!


Today, I reply to emails! WooHoo...

While I'm doing that - here are a couple of links to things that have really surprised me...
  • Arrest Made In JonBenet case - Honestly, I did not ever expect to see this happen. I'm just sorry that Patsy, who passed away earlier this summer, did not live to see this day.

  • Kate Hudson/Chris Robinson Separate - OK, not that this compares in any way, shape, size or form with the above item in terms of newsworthiness. However, this really surprised me. I think Kate is simply adorable, and I've always been mildly interested in Chris Robinson, as his first band, Mr Crow's Garden (a jangle pop, cover-type band) was very popular on my campus in my undergrad years.

Seems like there was more stuff that made me go - hmmmm.... but that's all I'm coming up with for now. Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Getting Over Myself...

I do realize just exactly what an utter and complete pill I've been these past few days - and I do appreciate you all not only putting up with it, but offering such nice comments and e-mails of encouraging words.
I'm not sure I understand this nice outpouring, though - I'm already kind of sick of the moping, I can't imagine it's been all that entertaining to read!

I'm really working on that self-administered kick in the behind - because, as stated above, I am already tired of the moping!
I recognize how ludicrous I am - I'm pretty darn lucky; we're all healthy, we're all doing fine; I'm in the enviable position of not having to work* - and here I am whinging on about how I feel adrift. I think I just needed to get it out of my system. Sorry for venting...

I actually took the bull by the horns yesterday, and got a lot of stuff done around here. Nothing exciting, mind you, just a bunch of household-y and errand-y things. However, this domestic ephemera gave me the illusion of having accomplished something.
Hey, maybe I'm onto something: Perhaps the path to self-fulfillment and actualization lies on the road to dropping off the dry-cleaning... Yeah.
Maybe not, but it was a start....

Anyway, I am starting to feel better about things. And I promise that I won't become one of those people who won't leave the house without consulting the iChing, or reading my Tarot cards or something - but I did venture to see if the MusicGods were in agreement that it was time for the wallowing to stop. I think this is a far more optimistic Shuffle , don't you?
  • Justice and Independence 85 - John Mellencamp (Scarecrow - 1985)
  • Rainbow Connection - Kermit the Frog (The Muppet Movie - 1979)
  • Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1 - The Flaming Lips (Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots - 2002)
  • Hole in My Life - The Police (Outlandos d' Amour - 1978)
  • (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone - The Monkees (More of the Monkees - 1967)
  • Can the Circle Be Unbroken - The Carter Family (In the Shadow of Clinch Mountain - 1935)
  • Clap Your Hands - They Might Be Giants (No! - 2002)
  • Don't Cha Stop - The Cars (The Cars - 1978)
  • (Don’t Go Back to) Rockville - R.E.M. (Eponymous - 1988)
  • See How We Are - X (See How We Are - 1988)

Of course, "Hole In My Life" is still a little ominous. And the 11th song that came up was "Awful" by Hole (Celebrity Skin, 1998) - but that doesn't count, because it was 11th. I think everything's going to be OK.

Craftiness and reading to resume shortly.

Oh - and the dragon? Don't you love him? This is an old picture, from one of our trips to Barcelona. I adore Barcelona - and thinking about it always makes me happier. Happy place. Happy drooling dragon.

*(financially, that is**. I may need to work out of some misguided sense of self-worth...)

**I don't say that to be all boastful, and I hope it didn't come out that way! Trust me, our household would be in a much more enviable position if I did work! It's just that the $6,000 a year that I earned teaching (and I wish I were kidding about that) didn't make or break us... It helped with extras, like vacations and eating out, but Bubba's got the main stuff covered, and we live real cheap...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!

OK – this is too, too weird…

Maybe I should explain…

For starters, let me announce that I'm having a difficult time getting back on track. I'm a little out of sorts, and not really for any good reason. Yes, I was sick, sick, sick this weekend – but it seems like I should be bouncing back more quickly than I am.

I suspect that I am in a bit of a funk because school started yesterday. Without me. Those of you who have been reading since the Spring may recall that I was a Preschool teacher. "Was," as in past tense. As in, not going back for the 2006-07 school year. (Long story short – due to politics*, my job was eliminated. In the interest of full disclosure, I was offered a different job at the school, and I opted not to take it. The aforementioned politics of the place was just too much…)

So even though it was (kind of) my choice, I do feel let down, and a little aimless. I know that this feeling will pass in a day or so, but I'm having a difficult time shaking it off today.
(Which is crazy, because I guarantee you that if I had reported to school yesterday, I'd be bemoaning the fact that "summer was too short! Can I have one more week??" )

So, if any of you happen to have a spare "kick in the behind" lying around, I'll take it! I suspect I need it…
I spent all day yesterday aimlessly starting stuff and finishing nothing**. I don't get in funks like this often, and on the occasions when I do; I tend to get even on my own nerves.

However, in the interest of self-motivation (and just in case you all were all too nice to administer the swift kick in the pants) I had an idea. A wonderful, awful idea:

"First of all," I thought, "I'll get out iPod, and I'll listen to some music. That might just give me the motivation that I need to Do Somethin'. And I'll put it on shuffle, and see what the MusicGods*** have in store for me."

"And then, to kill two birds with one stone, maybe I'll write a blog entry about the list. I always love reading people's iPod shuffle lists. Hey, and maybe I'll give it a cute name - like "The iPods of August", and who knows, maybe I'll make it a regular feature on the 15th**** of every month, and… and… and…"

OK, Laura Lancaster, slow down, let's just get out iPod...

So I did. And I eagerly started it up and switched to shuffle mode to see what came up.

The results speak for themselves:

  • Sour Times - Portishead (1994's Dummy)
  • Oh Yeah - Yello (1985's Stella)
  • Black Dog - Led Zeppelin (1971's Led Zeppelin IV)
  • The Breaks - Kurtis Blow (1980's Kurtis Blow)
  • Devil In Disguise - Elvis Presley
  • Ordinary World - Duran Duran (1993's [TheWeddingAlbum])
  • Your Heart Is An Empty Room - Death Cab For Cutie (2005's Plans)
  • All I Want Is You - U2 (1988's Rattle & Hum)
  • Build Me Up, Buttercup - The Foundations (released 1968)
  • Surrender - Cheap Trick (1978's Heaven Tonight)

Am I kidding with this list? I wish I were. I mean, how depressing sounding are the majority of these titles? Do the MusicGods have a message for me today? I think so. I'm going to go back to bed now… with the covers pulled over my head!
I was going to throw some sort of random happy picture in with this post, since it's been so long since I posted a picture, and I much prefer picture posts... But now, I'm just going to try not to alienate the universe any further....

Ay yi yi….
(It's just the titles that I getting me. I really like all these songs....)

*Preschool politics! Have you ever heard of anything so ludicrous???

**There are so many of you to whom I owe email, and to whom I want to email! I'll get it together again, I promise!

***MusicGods = imaginary deities that live in my car radio and my iPod. They play music that I like when the universe is happy, and curse me with sucky music when things aren't as rosy. The MusicGods are frequently cruel, and often kick me when I'm down...

****Get it? IPods? Ides? I know. It's totally lame. Did I mention I'm struggling???

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Stomach Bug...


*Not the way I wanted to spend this weekend - Bubba is finally home (after being gone for pretty much the last two weeks) and Schecky starts school back tomorrow.
I didn't really have big, official plans for this weekend, but I did intend for it to be a pleasant, and family-oriented one. Instead, everyone's giving me an understandably wide berth, since I'm pretty repugnant company.
(And, I'm sad to say, I suspect I'm kind of whiny...)


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Summer Reading List - Week Ten

Looks like this is the penultimate* Summer Reading List. I guess that I could call it the ultimate list, since school starts back Monday - but since this has always been a midweek sort of feature, I suppose that next Thursday's will be the final one.
Ah, Summer Reading List, we hardly knew ye...

Blogging isn't the only thing that has fallen by the wayside this week; so has reading - although a lot of "Operation DeClutter" has involved going through a brazillion old magazines - to see if I could remember why I was saving them - was it for a recipe? a travel article? Lots and lots of old magazine reading, I'll tell you what!

Now for the books....
  • JPod: A Novel - Douglas Coupland
    I don't know what to tell you about this one - I'm not going to recommend it, but I'm not going to not recommend it either. I know, that makes no sense, but I am somewhat conflicted about this book.

    I can't tell if Coupland has changed, or if I have. In many ways, JPod seems a bit too familiar, very much a Microserfs retread. Although, I loved Microserfs, so is that a bad thing??? The parents seemed too familiar, the coworkers seemed too familiar, the girlfriend character, etc. etc. etc. Been there, done that...

    Also, many of Coupland's tricks, which I used to find intriguing, now just seem tiresome and gimmicky: pages and pages of random text snippets?

    Chihuahua Death!!! Nacho Cheesier!!!

    And did I really need 42 pages of text listing out the first one hundred thousand digits of pi? (plus one incorrect digit, can you find it???) It all just seems a little too "ain't-I-cool??" - and frequent readers of the Summer Reading List know how much that bugs me.

    A new trick, but one that, unfortunately, also wears thin quickly, is Coupland inserting himself into the book as something of a deux-ex-machina character. He seems to delight in having other characters refer to him by a particular 7 -letter epithet. (It's one of our president's favorites. It rhymes with "Glass bowl"....)

    However, there are wry observations by the thousands, and the pacing and styling is pure vintage Coupland - so if you like him, don't necessarily write this one off. However, if you're new to Coupland, this book (largely style, little substance) is not where you want to start...

  • Baby Proof - Emily Giffin
    Our protagonist, Claudia, has always known that she has never wanted to have children. Always. So, when she meets Ben, and learns that he has no desire for children either, it seems like a match made in heaven.
    They get married; they have fabulous child-free careers, fabulous child-free vacations, a fabulous child-free life.
    Until one them changes his mind...

    This is a well constructed, thought-provoking, and multi-layered story. Yes, you could dismiss it as "just another chick-lit book", but you'd be doing it (and yourself) a disservice.
    (Plus, I just learned that Giffin is an ATL girl! You go, Emily!)

*I love this word, and you almost never get to work it into everyday conversation...

Previous Summer Reading Lists
I / II / III / IV / V / VI-VIII / IX

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Wishin' and Hopin' and Thinkin' and Prayin'

Are you familiar with that old Dusty Springfield song?
Well, it's been stuck in my head for days now; really quite annoying.

It dawned on me that I have been incommunicado for the last little bit - unintentionally, I assure you. Nothing bad has happened, it is just that I find myself hell-bent on starting to declutter my pit of a home. And it's become kind of all-consuming (I understand that this is what happens when you live with a couple of packrats....)

My own personal Dusty Springfield song would go something like this:
Sortin' and Tossin' and Storin' and Cleanin'...
(with, of course, a little bit of knittin' and readin' tossed in...)

In addition to Operation Get Rid of Stuff We Don't Want/Need - I've also been trying to enjoy the remaining time I have with Schecky - school starts next week. I suspect that we're both ready for him to go back, but I have enjoyed just hanging out with him this summer. Seven-turning-eight is a very good age...

So, to summarize - all is well here, there's just not much to report.
(Although thank you, thank you, thank you for the few "Where are you? Are you OK?" emails I've received...)

Upon re-reading this post, I realize that there is a complete dearth of anything even remotely "blogworthy" here. So I'll leave you with a joke*

Q. How do you make a Kleenex dance?

A. Blow a little boogie into it!

This joke just kills with the preschool set....

*Somewhat random fact - whereas I like to think that I have a sense of humor, and I do like jokes - for some reason there are only three jokes that I can ever remember...
And sadly, this may be the best of the three...

Friday, August 04, 2006

You're My Favorite Waste of Time...

What have I been working on these last few weeks? I've been dodging the question somewhat, because it seems somewhat embarrassing. But the truth is that I have been bitten by the washcloth bug. Hard. And then this has been followed by the dishcloth (I can't quite bring myself to call it a "dish rag") bug... I've got 'em both, bad.

I blame my mother for getting me started - while in Tennessee, she enlisted my help with knitting some washcloths. Of course, I am glad for the opportunity to help out my moms, but I'll be the first to admit I wasn't thrilled by the project.
She introduced me to the washcloth pattern - she found it written on an index card amongst her mother's old things, and thought she'd give it a try. I like working with the cotton, a nice change from all the wool I've been using, particularly in this heat! I like the "fancy" little edge - it really is a fun little project.

However, in addition to being a fun little knit - these are the most awesome washcloths ever! I never dreamed that I would care at all about a thing like a washcloth, but I really do love these. So far, I've made 5 for my mother, and 9 more since returning back home. I've given a few away as gifts (how nice to have a stash on hand for when the occasion arises!), I'm keeping a few to use, and I figure I've now got "stocking stuffers" for all of my female relatives.
I keep thinking I should maybe try to sell these, simply because I am so smitten with them, but I just don't know how to go about it - is anyone besides me going to get that excited about a washcloth?

While the washcloth obsession snuck up on me, and took me completely by surprise - I deliberately introduced the dish cloth. However, the dish cloth was supposed to wean me off washcloths, not become a fullblown compulsion of its own!

I received Mason Dixon Knitting as a gift, and noticed this pattern in it. At the time, I thought that even though I like working with this yarn (v. similar to the washcloths!), that I probably wouldn't be making any of these because they looked a little fussy and old ladyish. I may be well on my way to acting like a cranky lil granny, but it doesn't mean I want to knit like one!

Then GoodToBeGirl showed me that if you update the color palette, these dishcloths are really pretty hip! (Or at least I think so. Please don't shatter my illusions if this is not the case!)
A new obsession is born...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Summer Reading List - Week Nine

As with last week, recommended titles have hyperlinks to you may learn more about the book!

  • Twelve Sharp - Janet Evanovich
    The latest installment in the Stephanie Plum series does not disappoint.

    I'm not claiming that this is any sort of life-changing book; it's not "great literature," nor any kind of "important read." What it is: a heck of a fun romp with America's most loved, least competent bounty hunter.
    I literally devoured this one in sitting, (and honestly, sometimes you need that every bit as much as a life-changing great read....)

  • Heat:An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany - Bill Buford
    This was fascinating!
    Buford has a very clean, very descriptive writing style. He cleverly and humorously chronicles his adventures (and misadventures) serving as an apprentice; first in Mario Batali's kitchen, then at both a pizzeria (where he learned the fine art of pasta making) and butchershop in Italy.

  • Between, Georgia - Joshilyn Jackson
    The story of Nonny Frett, who stands at many crossroads in her life - she is caught in the crossfire between her adoptive and biological families; she is in a state of marital limbo; she is caught between being someone's daughter and someone's mother. In short, Nonny herself is Between...

    This is Jackson's sophomore novel, following gods in Alabama. Although gods was occasionally uneven, I preferred it. It was an emotional story, one in which I found myself getting caught up. Between - while not short on family drama - did not draw me in as much.
    One strength that this book does have, however, is Jackson's ability to really flesh out a character, the more "Southern" and eccentric, the better. She also has an excellent ear for dialogue, and a very clever turn of phrase...
    I don't regret the time I spent on this book, but would recommend gods in Alabama over it.

Previous Summer Reading Lists
I / II / III / IV / V / VI-VIII

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

And Speaking of My House...

Well, what do you know - it appears that my house has used up a few more seconds of its fifteen minutes of fame...

The fine folks at Turner Broadcasting have been filming on my street, and my house has made it into some of the final footage...

Click on this picture of
my house to see a film clip

It seems that the TBS Pathfinders crew shot the bulk of the show's promos here. All of the residential stuff is on my immediate block - I can stand on my front porch, and see each one of these houses. I'm not sure where the basketball court, or the more industrial stuff was done.

Doesn't it look like I live in Mayberry???? (in the idyllic small town sense of the term?)

The still picture above shows one of the most visible shots of my house, but it can also be seen when the kid says he wants to be Bill Gates. And when you see the woman in the purple sweater? That's my monkey grass she's sitting in....

There is a larger size trailer at the TBS Pathfinders site - but it seems to be glitchy, and I can not get it to play all the way through. You can also get additional film clips by clicking on the individual Pathfinder Nominees at the top of the page.

The bulk of the filming was done on my friend Lee's house. And up until earlier this week, her house could have been yours! It was for sale, but they got a contract on it on Monday. I am saddened, because I really liked Lee and her husband, and I am sad to see them move (his work required them to transfer...) The black lab that you may see in many of the film clips is their wonderful dog, Miles.

This is the third time that my house has made it on to television. Right after we bought the house, we were approached by the producers of "I'll Fly Away" and they did a few days of filming in our back yard. During the last election, Mark Taylor - then running for Lt. Governor, now a Gubernatorial candidate - had a commercial filmed in our kitchen. He was not actually in it, though.

What does it say when my house is more famous than I will ever be? Is it kind of sad, in light of the fact that it's "fame" is teeny tiny???

OK, as an aside, I have to say that as I am typing this, I can hear thunder in the distance, and the sky outside my window is yellow. Yes, that's right, yellow. As yellow as Scut Farkus's eyes.

This can't be good....

Why You Really Do Need To Leave the House From Time to Time....

Because you might just find something like this:

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I did not actually find this - although I did leave the house yesterday.
(It was a big day - I went OTP* and hit both Hobby Lobby and WalMart.
Never let it be said that I don't know how to party...)

No, Bubba found this for me in the street in front of his office building. "It was as if someone had flung it to the pavement in disgust after finding it on their windshield," he said.

Do you now see why I love this man? Most men, heck most people even, probably wouldn't even have noticed it. But not my sweetie - he not only noticed it, but read it. And after looking at this written piece of pure malice and road rage, he didn't just walk off and leave it.

Nope - instead he thought, "I bet my wife would love this," and he picked up this little scrap of ire, and brought it home proudly to me.

And he was sooo right - this just made me unaccountably happy. I tee-hee'd over this all night. Nothing like a little scheudenfreude to brighten a girl's day... ( I swear, I think I like the mean little note more than the lovely flowers - what does that say about me??? And the warped little cinder that passes for my heart??)

I have long been a fan of Davy Rothbart's Found - both the books and the website. There is something unaccountably pleasing about stumbling over a little piece of someone else's life. I am always keeping an eye out for "found" objects of my own, but rarely do I ever stumble across anything this good...

*Isn't one of the signs of addiction is that you begin furtively traveling to out-of-the-way neighborhoods in a desperate attempt to fuel your habit???

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Is This How Agoraphobia Starts???

This morning I received an email from the always entertaining 3 to Get Ready - 3 is a fellow Atlantan, and she was asking me how I had been enjoying the lovely weather this past weekend...

That's when it hit me - except to walk three steps out on the front porch yesterday (and then the three steps back in) in order to retrieve the mail - I've not set foot outside the house since about 4 pm Friday Afternoon...

Holy Cheese Whiz - is this even possible??? It's Tuesday now, right?

Yup, it's Tuesday. And I have no idea what the weather was like for the past few days (although, I suspect it was hot) because my slug self couldn't even be bothered to set foot outside...

I must rectify this at once - despite the recent birthday, I suspect that I am a still little too young to begin perfecting my "creepy little old lady who never leaves her house" act* just yet...

* although, I think I'm getting the "reclusive knitting" thing down very nicely...