10 or so things about me

A while ago I was tagged on facebook to fill out a 16-factoid about-me.  I filed it under 'to do' and then the holidays happened and I spent a week in a car and my brain melted.  But now, it is back to business.  

1. In the US, there are 2 main kinds of knitting styles - where you work the yarn with your left, and with your right.  I started out working with the right - which is MUCH more common - but I switched, and now I can knit much faster.

2. My now-husband and I knew each other for years before we really ever had our own friendship.  He was dating the girl who stole my first boyfriend, and it took me a while to get past that.

3. When I decided to purchase a pet, I wanted either an Italian greyhound or a papillon.  I picked papillon because that breeder was located about half an hour closer than the Iggy's.  That's how I ended up with Eli.

4. One of my papillon owner friends thinks that Eli is not a purebred papillon, that he is part chihuahua.  I think she might be right, and for some reason this bothers me a whole heck of a lot, even though being a mix might be better than his health.

5. I recently filed a lawsuit against, and reached a settlement with, my alma mater's most hated rival school.

6. My credit rating is near 800.

7. I have been to 30+ countries, and not as many states.

8. I've watched the ball drop in NYC on tv every year for as long as I can remember - except for one.  A couple of years ago, I accidentally watched the Meatwad drop, on Cartoon Network.  I thought it was a joke and almost cried when I realized it was the real thing.

9. I received my first kiss shortly after midnight on 01-01-00.  I wish I knew what that said in binary.  (also: Brian is a much better kisser.  And I think that guy is getting married soon,so  congrats to him!)

10. When I was young - second grade - I broke both of my arms within 2 weeks of each other, in the exact same spot, a couple of inches below the shoulder.  The first break was never detected - they thought it was a sprain.  It wasn't until I broke the second one that I had x-rays done and we learned that they had both been broken.  I almost DIDN'T get the x-rays, because my shoulders were both 'funny-looking' in the same ways, because the breaks were identical.  As a result of all this fun, both of my arms are rotated away from my body about 60 degrees.  This poses a physical challenge occasionally.

11. I steal things in White Elephant games.  Always.

12. The hair on the nose side of my left eyebrow grows straight up.  On my right, it grows outward like normal.

13. Brian and I were married less than a year after we started dating.  

14. When I was younger, my left foot was almost a half size smaller than my right.  They've evened out mostly, but the right side is still bigger.

15. I prefer analog to digital in almost all media.

16. I am a direct descendent of Sir Walter Raleigh's half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert.


fun with the new fisheye

So one of the swell gifts my husband gave me this Christmas was a fisheye lens (makes things round) with a detachable micro filter (makes small things very big).  These are some of the early results - straight off the card, just goofing around.


Merry Christmas

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

Luke 2:11-14



I remember very few things from high school.  High school wasn't an especially great time for me, and I've tried to retain only the best stuff.  You know, stories about the crazy English teacher who had a cleft palate and who danced around the room singing a poem about necrophilia. And the creepy chemistry teacher who once got mugged in New York or some other big city (this was Charlotte, y'all) and he offered the guys his wallet, his watch, and everything else if they would just let him keep his UNC class ring (can't blame him!! Go Heels!!).  And the Spanish teacher who made us do all kinds of skits and plays.   And the history teacher who played the Stones and the Spoonfuls and other glories of the 60s during our tests....we never did figure out his political affiliation - we all just suspected that it is not exactly mainstream.  I was in IB, which meant that I had approx. 18 classmates for most of high school, and I'm sure every single one of them could figure out the folks I've named.

There are some lesser-known or lesser-remembered things, though.  Like, for example, my high school boyfriend, who kissed like a fish.  And the creepy guy who was a friend-of-a-friend who hovered behind me making threatening sexual comments while I was walking down the hall (he was expelled shortly thereafter, because he was smart enough to do this to a couple of girls, and within earshot of a male teacher).   And the girl who died in a car wreck at the end of senior year, resulting in the implosion of the first real network of friends that I'd been able to develop in my four years there.  Having a meltdown in the middle of Calc II at the whisper of "Sarah Lawrence" when no one else in the room even knew her was not my shining moment.  Oh, or the time freshman year when I turned in my 6-page SINGLE spaced paper.  In my defense, nowhere in the directions did it say 'double spaced' and I had not been in the public school system long enough to assume double spacing in a writing assignment.

One of my fondest memories from high school was our 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Hagler.  She called us all her cherubs and she was the sweetest thing.   That 6-page paper?  Yup, first major writing assignment for her.  One of the things she taught us was that there are 2 kinds of students - those who know what to do with a door, and those who don't.  What I mean is this:  she was giving us an open-ended assignment.  And then she explained that some of us could take it and run.  She could say to these students, "there's a door," and they would know exactly what to do.  There were others of us, though, who would hear the words "there's a door," and would be stumped.  We would need instruction.  

I am firmly implanted in the camp of the latter, in case you were wondering.

One of the other things Mrs. Hagler gave me was the Desiderata.  I'd never seen or heard of it before, but she had it on a giant poster in her classroom and I read it all the time.  At one point, I had it memorized, just because I'd read it so much.  I was reminded of the Desiderata not long ago, so I thought I would share it with all of you.  

Merry Christmas.


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

--- Max Ehrmann, 1927-


Manic Monday #147

If you were at a friend’s house for a holiday dinner and you found a dead cockroach in your salad, what would you do?

Cry.  Probably wail, in fact.  Then run to the kitchen, or some other room, wait for the hostess to dig me out of the corner I was cowering in, and then try to get the words out without having a stroke, all the while feeling extremely guilty that I couldn't just keep it to myself.

If you could put anyone you know on Prozac, who would you choose?

Not sure about this one.  Maybe my brother's dog.

How do you feel about public displays of affection?

Holding hands is ok....otherwise, get a room!  Unless it's your freaking wedding day, nobody wants to see you making out.


Christmas at our place

I thought I'd share a few pictures of the way I've been able to 'do up' the place.  We're on a tight budget, as usual, so there isn't anything fancy going on, but it does feel like Christmas, none-the-less.  At least, it does in one room...

We don't have a fireplace or a mantle, but we do have book shelves!  One got the stockings - don't ask me why we have 5 stockings for 2 people and a dog.  We got the NOEL blocks last year on a post-holiday clearance.

Behind the E is an old-fashioned Hershey's candy jar.  I don't know if it itself is an antique, though.  It came from my grandpa's house, in Hershey, PA - I think he gave it to me because he was tired of looking at it.

Next door to the stocking bookcase is the rest of the Christmas stuff that most people put on doors or on top of their mantles or somewhere else.  For us, these include Christmas cards, a tree topper that doesn't top very well but is still awesome, my "Dr. Seuss" Christmas tree hailing back to my single-gal post-grad days that I did up with neon pink disco balls, and our new Advent calendar.  Next year we hope to add an Advent wreath.

We are North Carolina people, which means we are Real Tree people.  There is a family-operated garden/lawn shop in our neighborhood that sells North Carolina fraser firs every year.  We splurged on a real tree as broke newlyweds last year, and this year we returned, less broke but just as enthusiastic.

These are some of our favorite ornaments.  I got the idea for the 'zooming' toaster photo from this blog.  It felt good to do something new for a change, and get to know the camera a little bit better.


christmas "break"

There is a lot going around in the blogs I frequent about having a simple, scaled-back holiday.  This is a notion that I love, and must do because we don't have much funding for anything blown out, but I think I'm still missing out on something - the part where relaxation happens.  The time when you sit back as a family and enjoy each others' company.

When you come from a divorced home, and your parents have lives in separate places, navigating the holidays can be somewhat tricky.  When I was on my own, it was pretty easy - Christmas at one place, Thanksgiving somewhere else.  I as based in NC so most of my holidays were spent there.  Sometimes I'd go to PA for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  But it was relatively easy and there wasn't a ton of trouble in the planning.

Now I've got 2 more families, and another set of feelings, to consider.  Brian's parents live a couple of hours south of my mom.  And then there's the whole, 'oh yeah I'm married now, I guess we need some time together' thing.  Two more families.  And I am all about making "Brian+Me" have top billing - to the extent that it's possible, anyway.

Back when we were in school, Christmas break (or winter break, for the more PC of us) was a real break.  No school, no tests, no papers, no work - just a couple of weeks of nothing to do except attempt to live with our parents while avoiding as much conflict as possible.  Some folks would sit around and mope, some would reconnect with all the home-town friends, some would go places.

I spent my first two winters after school working AT a school, so for as long as the university was shut down, me no worky.  It was awesome.  It was like 'easing' into being a real-life grown up, in a way.  Some of my friends were in grad school, others worked for places that gave them a couple of days off, but they did have to report to work sometime between Christmas day and New Years Eve.  Pretty standard stuff.

Last year, my third post-school Christmas, I was unemployed, so I had like 6 weeks off for winter break.  Not so relaxing, because I spent the whole time being anxious about money and finding work and whatnot, but having the down-time was good because Brian wasn't in school either, and we didn't take a honeymoon until later. ___

This year, I'm working at a Christian nonprofit, and we are off from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 (with the possibility of having Jan. 2 off, giving us another whole weekend).  Also a score of a deal, but here's my thing:

this year, the nice break will not end up being a break for me at all.  Or at least not much.  Because we have 3 families to visit, and they are spread across the Eastern seaboard, and we have about 6 days to see them all.

Granted, Christmas in Hershey PA will be pretty special, and I'll see relatives I haven't seen in a long time, and Brian will get to meet some cousins and whatnot who he hasn't met yet, which is also cool, and my little brother will get to hang out with his new brother-in-law who, by the way, is WAY cooler than me in a 13 year old boy's eyes, and whatnot.  But I am feeling bogged down by the sheer amount of travel and activity we are cramming into these days.  Big Christmas Eve party with the whole family in PA, 4 hours north.  Christmas dinner with another family in Chapel Hill NC, 7 hours south.  The next day, my brother goes to South Africa for a while.  The day after that, we are going to a wedding in Davidson, NC (2 more hours south), and the day after THAT, Brian is preaching in Charlotte (another hour south), and then the day after that, we are driving the 6 hours back home so that I can collapse and have barely enough time to recover before reporting back to the office. 

I keep getting a pit in my stomach, though.  Christmas isn't supposed to be some manic driving-spree that keeps you away from your own home so that you can traverse the interstates and get all your bases covered.  Family is supposed to be enjoyed all year round, and we do try to see each of our families as often as possible, so why is there so much pressure at this particular time of year to make an appearance?  Pinning everything on one holiday is too much pressure - especially on the newlyweds who are still figuring this thing out.


Manic Monday #146

Have you ever returned an item to a store for a refund after having used it?

Not unless it was defunct....

You are going out for the evening. If your partner objects to what you are wearing, would you change your clothing?

Probably - I'm not too attached to what I wear, most days, so if he doesn't like it, then it's no biggie for me to go change.  I won't change if I like what I wear, though.

What item that you don’t currently possess would you most like to have in your home?

Wall-to-wall built-in book shelves.  For sure, most definitely.

Although a little less of everything and a little bit more of some good old-fashioned order would be nice... :)


Booking Through Thursday

Questions from the booking through thursday website:

1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?

(I’m guessing #1 is an easy question for everyone?)

This is kind of a weird question for me.  I get almost as much time as I'd like to read.  Which isn't a whole lot.  My desire for reading right now has gone way down, because i just don't have the energy to devote.  I wish I wanted to read more, and feel the tension between reading enough and not reading enough, but I just don't right now.  Sad day!  I think I'm storing it up for our holiday travel coming up. Maybe I should ask Santa for some reading mojo, just in case.

2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism?

I'd like to read a novel.  Anything too educational is also too heady.  


flaky white stuff

I think of three things when I hear the phrase 'flaky white stuff,' and in the following order:

1. Snow.  Incidentally, it snowed here on Saturday and that made me extremely happy.  Now will somebody please tell me what to do with this 70+ degree weather?

2. That deodorant commercial (Right Guard?) with some NBA star (Charles Barkley?) poking around some ruins (Pyramids of Egypt?) and talking about how important it is to him that his deodorant go on clear so that he can get it on with the hot explorer chick in the crypt. In this commercial, he bellows enthusiastically about this product leaving 'NO flaky white stuff.'

Incidentally, ever since that commercial, I have been obsessed with noticing people's underarms and their FWS status.

3. Dandruff. This is related to #1.

When I was younger, I had a really bad scalp. Actually, I had really bad everything. Hair, earwax, scalp, teeth, you name it. I had a bridge of freckles across my nose, tho, so it was all good. But my mom spent hours trying to improve all my issues, or at least contain them. Loads of goopy q-tips to solve the ear problems (this was back before q-tips were bad) and countless hours sitting on the floor with a fine-tooth comb trying to dig up all the crap off my scalp. Seriously. No seven-year-old wants to sit still for that long. I hated those times, and they were frequent. Mom would try to ameliorate the situation by showing me some of the giant clumps, but it didn't really help.

At some point, I grew up. Or at least I grew out of the bad scalp and hair issues. (The ears are under control too, by the way. No comment on the teeth thing, it's been shamefully long since I've been to a dentist.) I haven't thought about flaky scalps in years.

Until recently.

When the weather turned cold, I noticed all the moisture was sucked out of my face and hands pretty much immediately. Hand lotion came back in the primetime spotlight. This is the first year, though, that I've had a super-itchy scalp. I was sitting at work the other day and my whole head was itchy, itchy, itchy. And there's no easy way to scratch your head when you're on the phone with church ladies taking down notes about the church hierarchy without them knowing. Even on the phone, they know.

In one particularly agonizing moment, my hairline went crazy. And that's when I noticed.

Heavy, thick showers of flaky white stuff, falling right before my eyes.

I flew to the bathroom to check out the damage, and sure enough, my whole head was covered in specks of dead skin. I wanted to barf. I still kinda do.

It looks like the dry skin fairies hit me extra hard this year. I have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep the dandruff at bay, but there's not a whole lot I can do about the sense of dread I feel every time I think about my problem. My mind takes me straight back to the house I grew up in, with me sitting on the floor watching tv sideways, my mom scraping my scalp until I couldn't take it any longer.

Do you have any childhood experiences that still affect your feelings about something today, even though those situations are far removed from today's reality?


Manic Monday

What is the most expensive meal you've ever eaten?

Probably something at The Melting Pot!  That place is pricey!  But sooooooo yummy.

What is the fastest speed you've ever traveled in a car?

Around 90, that I know of.  I wasn't driving.  I didn't like it.

What is the highest building you've ever been to the top floor of?

The Space Needle in Seattle.  Yeah, I'm that cool.  Actually, come to think of it, THAT might have been the most expensive meal I ate...in the restaurant I mean.  I didn't eat the Space Needle.  Clearly.

You can play along here!


Tis the season for a jolly weekend recount!

An armadillo with a santa hat.  A pickle.  A gold leaf.  Six blue glass birds.  A glittery Waterford Santa.  Four gold bells and 2 silver bells.  A light blue miniature disco ball.  A firey Superman emblem.  Six rudolph-character jingle bells.  Gold stars.  White snowflakes.  A toaster.  The Star Ship Enterprise.  Six glass-blown dogs.  Lots of blue, white, silver and navy balls.

I love our Christmas tree!

We started decorating this weekend.  I have been somewhat lacking in the "Christmas Spirit" this year, what with being bogged down with worries and pains and no functioning bathtub and all.  So it was high time!  I managed to be done with work at precisely 5pm, so I could scuttle off with Brian to our favorite lawn-and-garden-shop-turned-Christmas-tree-lot before they closed at 5:30.  They're our favorites because they're close to us, they're a local family-operated business, they are SUPER friendly, and perhaps most importantly, they sell our beloved North Carolina fraser firs.  We picked up a real looker and set it up to stand naked in the house until this afternoon when I would have time to decorate.  Friday night ended up nice and quiet, just like we needed.

Saturday morning came and I had to go to work on some stuff.  A couple of nice high school volunteers came and rocked out a Cans for Habitat project with me, which was awesome.  Cans for Habitat benefits the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate here in Richmond.  They collect your empty aluminum cans and recycle them to raise funds.  Learn more here.  After all that finished up, I had to work on a bunch of stuff at the office.  After being there for a couple of hours, I got the inspiration to cut my hair, as it's been about 8 months since my last hair cut, I didn't (and still don't) have a functioning shower, and Saturday night was Calvin Ball so I wanted to have a fighting chance at looking decent in the hair department.

Calvin Ball was great.  I was expecting it to be another semi-lame seminary event where I got to sit on the outskirts and feel excluded, but it was actually a lot of fun.  Folks were in good, cheery, happy moods, and the DJ was more than half decent.  We had a great time.  And I had yet another chance to wear my bangin' cocktail dress.

Sunday was low-key.  We visited a small church not to far from here - we may end up teaching the youth sunday school class.  It was their Christmas Cantata, and everyone was so nice.  Then we came home and the tub got caulked, which means it will be in working order tomorrow.  Our friend Jessica came over to snag some books and hang out.  I got Christmas down from the attic and started distributing it across the house.  I didn't put up all our ornaments on the tree - I didn't feel the need to go all out this year.  And is it weird that we've only been married a year but we already have a few 'clutter' ornaments - ones that we don't like or want?  And what do you do with these?  Any opinions?


I got the blues

Do you ever go through periods of time where you find yourself avoiding any activity that requires you to admit to the terrible reality that has become your daily life?  Well, that's me, right now.  You may have noted a distinct lack of 'what's going on with me' posts in the past while.  This is because there is a giant elephant in the room that I don't think I could avoid in any kind of real discourse regarding my current daily life.

What do you do when there is something going on in your life that taints everything else?  My 'thing' is shifting the scales.  Things that normally would make me happy seem small in light of the great big UNhappy thing.  Even though some things - a lot of things, actually - are going well, motivation to muscle through the yuck and move on is severely lacking.  

As a result, my immediate circumstances are going downhill.  I'm behind on the laundry, the shopping, cleaning the dishes (from when we manage to cook), and I'm sleeping less, fighting off (and succumbing to) a long-term cold, dealing with an unhappy digestive system with a shifting appetite, not drinking enough water, and (surprise) gaining weight.  My knitting has dropped off, I'm tired of reading light, mindless stuff but anything of substance feels overbearing, I've dropped the ball on tracking the family finances (thank God for online billpay).  The car is a mess, not to mention somewhat duct-taped together.  The dog is neurotic from all the boxes and whatnot all over the house.  My to-do lists at home and at work are getting longer, never shorter, almost to the point of being overwhelming.

I am stuck in a big fat hairy RUT, and it sucks, and there's not much I can do about it right now, and that sucks too.  I feel like an underdog, but without an awesome quarterback or a slingshot or anything else useful like a deadline.  

I don't know why I keep finding my way into a bog.  I'm so worn.  I'm so ready to be content and get out from under the dark cloud that won't seem to turn me loose.  I have so much to enjoy around me - so much to be thankful for and to revel in, every day, and I know I'm missing out on all of it.  This makes me crazy. The end of my wits is nigh.

What do YOU do to rescue yourself from an awful rut?  Or, what do you do to avoid getting into ruts in the first place?

booking through thursday

From the Booking Through Thursday website:

1. Do you have a favorite author?

My favorite author is probably Anne Lamott.  She's one of the few authors who have inspired me to read their entire body of work.

2. Have you read everything he or she has written?

Not yet, still working on that.  I've read maybe half?  Maybe a little less than half...

3. Did you LIKE everything?

NO.  I HATED Plan B.  I thought it was obnoxious and whiney and self-important, if I do say so myself.  But that's part of why I love Anne Lamott - she can get away with it.

4. How about a least favorite author?

I don't think I have a least favorite - I don't really avoid anybody's work because I didn't like a previous one.  I think a lot of those political books are not so much up my alley, though, and I don't have any interest in reading them.

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t?

William P. Young.  I recently read The Shack, and as much as I wanted to like it, I didn't.  At all.  I didn't think it was ready to be printed - it needed more work.  The dialogue was really disappointing.  In my opinion, anyway.


I'm kinda gloating in this post.

Check it, peeps.  Feels like I'm back in high school!

Plus, at the Chevron down the street, the one that offers a 5 cent discount when you pay cash, had the same price, which means that if you paid cash there, it'd be $1.44.  FOR A WHOLE GALLON!

Manic Monday #144

It's "Cyber Monday" today, the ceremonial kick-off of the holiday online shopping season in the United States. Do you do much online shopping, holiday or otherwise?

I don't do much shopping at all.  I do a little bit of online shopping - I used to do a LOT more.  I've cut way back on all fronts, though.  Nothing against it.

Are you a Mac or a PC user? Why?

After a few good PC years in college, I made the switch back to Mac.  I couldn't have been happier.  I've always been a mac user at heart - mostly because my mom was Apple Computers Employee #715, back in the early 80s.  I sometimes wonder what computer I'd be using now, if this hadn't been the case.  I have a first generation MacBook that I love - but I do covet every new model.

What website do you spend more time on than you care to admit?

The Bold and the Beautiful online videos. I've watched on and off since I was in HS.  At first it was a mother-daughter thing, and now....maybe I shouldn't post about it.  


what a long, strange trip it's been

Here's to first anniversaries.  Drafty windows, Carolina, hateful clocks, yummy squozens, an ornery dog, semi-working furnaces, surprise road trips, hard knocks, bright smiles, and maybe a little too much pizza.

Wedded bliss does exist.  I'm glad I found it with you.