prepared for takeoff

Surprise!  Another blogging hiatus!  I thought about pre-dating some entries, but then I decided to focus on the task at hand.  Oops.

If all goes according to plan, the hubs and I will be taking off shortly for our honeymoon!  Slightly delayed, yes, but still significantly awesome!

I'm not telling you where we're going, because we do NOT want visitors.

Anyone else take a late honeymoon?  Would you have preferred to have it immediately after the wedding, or did you like the wait?  YOU!  Comment!


google reader goodness

My Google Reader currently has 117 items (non Apartment Therapy - I get like 100 of thoose each week day).  I just trimmed down a handful.  For me, this is a lot of unread material.

Do you have a blog aggregator?  If so, what's the biggest you've let your unread totals get to?


no, seriously

It wasn't a joke.  I seriously would like some hott suggestions.

Inner housewife.  Any era.  What's the cutest name you can come up with?

esmerelda won't work

I'm thinking about naming my inner housewife. I don't have any nicknames that aren't derivations of my name, and my name wasn't very common in the decades before I was born. Any cute suggestions?


shouldn't i be impressed?

One of the (many) things I adore about my husband is that he's an Eagle Scout, and he's awesome about it. He's introduced a lot of good boy-scouty things into my life - things like the giant first aid kit in the closet and a penchant for trying to be on time. A lot of his scout learnings and habits line up well with my inner 1950s Housewife. Plus, I think the housewife kinda has a crush on the grown up boy scout.

While you and I may have a pretty good impression of what a boy scout 'is,' I'm learning that there are different kinds of scouts. Ultimately, boy scouts are BOYS, so I try to discern between 'scouts being boys' and 'boys pretending to be scouts.' Brian is definitely 100% boy and also 100% scout. He's conscientious (help the old lady across the street kind of thing) without being a brown-noser. He's really good with ropes and even bungee cords - he can rig up anything needing rigged...and when I asked him to show me some things, he made a lasso and started roping me around the room. He shows up places early just to help out, he takes an interest in his community, he has lots of ideas for how to improve things. He can actually NAME the stuff in our toolbox!

My husband is a great example of a Scout. He designed his big project to be helpful and make a real difference to his church - he fixed/improved a sidewalk pathway area from one building to another, made it more accessible and visible, etc. That's, to me, what being an Eagle Scout is all about - living your life in such a way that you can and do contribute to those around you.  You know, scouty stuff like that.

I've earned even more respect for my husband, a good scout, through work. Part of my job description will sometimes cause me to become involved in collaboration with boy scouts. I've met some great kids in doing this, and I've also met some duds. Some real duds. Boys pretending to be scouts. I have had particularly bad experiences with this one fellow. NOT impressive. He was working on a project to benefit one of my programs as his Eagle project, but he didn't want to do TOO much work. He didn't want to meet with me until I demanded to see him in person. He communicated with me through his parents, who while being very fine and gracious people were NOT the Eagle-Scout-to-be, so this particularly annoyed me. He wasn't interested in keeping open lines of communication, never sent the updates I requested, and was unhappy when I told him that I wouldn't be able to provide him the materials he needed - as is my workplace's policy. And then, when we found a way for me to provide them after all, he lost all the hardware.

I am not impressed. I didn't want to sign off on this project. I'm disheartened that there's no built-in mechanism for me to review him - I just sign some forms and then I never hear from him again. He did basically everything I asked for, initially, but he did it with his door closed and his feet dragging. He's disrespectful to his parents, too, and right in front of me. This makes me really crazy. While I have nothing against him personally and I'm entirely sure he is capable of success, he is, in my opinion, less than what an Eagle Scout should be, in my mind.

What would YOU do in this situation?  Sign the forms and just move on?  Say something to somebody when it's basically too late to do anything else?  Tell him/her how disappointed you are and sign it anyway?  (what good would that do?)


Main Street Station

I've seen this painting up close, hanging for sale in the General Assembly Building, and I decided that I would very much like to have it.  I don't have it, and I'm sure that by the time I can drop triple-digit amounts on artwork it will be too late.  But still, it makes me happy just knowing it exists.  There's something about this painting that I love.  An art critic I am not, but the textures, the colors, something about her work makes me think good things about her.  A print just wouldn't be the same.

You can see her site here, including a number of her pieces.  My favorites all have buildings and red.


free stuff!

I prepped this post and took the photos and everything on Saturday, but am just now posting it.  I blame the Olympics.

I got a bunch of free stuff in the mail last week!  Awesome.

First, some samples:
- Pledge wipes
- "Girl stuff" that needs no explanation

- Stickers!  These are doggies
- A check, for $3, from one of the research panels I'm on.  I get these somewhat regularly, and these checks combined with my sales on half.com, pay for my shipping costs related to PaperBackSwap.

A couple of books, thanks to PaperBackSwap:
- First Things First, by Stephen Covey
- The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri

Also, some store-brand magic erasers.  These didn't come in the mail, but they were still free, so I decided to be generous and let them make the post.

Awesome.  Who wouldn't like a tv-tray's worth of free stuff that will actually be used?


olympic-sized love

I've loved the Olympics since 1992, when they were in Barcelona and my 9-year-old self was flat-out AWED by the opening ceremonies.  I still remember scenes from them...and wow.  We took a weeklong vacation during the 96 games, and spent all kinds of hours watching the amazing women's gymnastics dream teams come head to head.  I also developed a HUGE crush on Alexei Niemov...but who didn't?

Now, I love it all.  Except for boxing - I never got into that one.  But seriously - volleyball, crew, swimming, gymnastics, all those amazing track and field events...

I can't believe we're halfway done!!  That's typical me, though --  being sad about something before it happens!



I must say, I really have outdone myself.  There are green things on my porch - green things I WANT to be there.  Dare I suggest that perhaps I have outgrown my black thumb?

Yesterday I got really frustrated at my watermelon plant, and I informed it that after months of nurturing and babying and luxurious watering every day, that I expected to see a melon, daggone it, because it's been months and I've put in my due.  And what do you know, the thing listened!

The vines have been sprawling around the porch, threatening to take over the entire entryway to the house, for many weeks now, but no fruit appeared until today.  And wouldn't you know, after many careful attempts to reposition all these sprawling tendrils so as to allow convenient passage in and out of my house, the little bugger stuck its long arm out this morning and started growing a thumb right smack in the middle of the stairway.  All of a sudden.  I am still amazed, and a little proud of my snarky little watermelony offspring.  Makes me wonder if this is how I can expect any and all subsequent offspring to behave, plant or otherwise.

And from Sad News Desk, I bring you today's sad news:  My lens protector, which has been with me for nearly a decade, will soon be retired and replaced.  
I'm hoping I can score a deal before our big trip next weekend.  

Any pointers?


squawkfox says...

I was totally wiped out last evening, so I decided to spend the fine time between 8 and 10pm watching the Olympics (perhaps I am obsessed?) and catching up on the 200+ unread items in my Google Reader.  And then I read an entry from Squawkfox - a blog I generally find useful and a worthwhile read - and I got to thinking.

This particular post is entitled 'cars are the new smoking.'  The Fox opens the post with a couple of sentences devoted to her loathing of smokers and SUV drivers.  I tried not to take offense at her hyperventilation (I have a hard time taking hyperventilating liberals seriously) and get through the argument.  She presents a list of similarities between smokers and SUV drivers.  It made me a little mad.  Anything so hugely critical that makes a mass blanket statement about ANY group really gets my goat.

Yes, the popularity that gas guzzlers gained in recent years is appalling.  No, my car is not the best vehicle out there for the environment.  But not ALL SUV drivers are deserving of such vitriol.  

Take me, for example.  I drive a 2001 Toyota Highlander.  It's roomy, it's played the part of truck many times, and it's not hybrid.  Unfortunately, it doesn't have a sunroof, but that's the only complaint I have.

The Fox reminded me of the frequency with which I feel all kinds of eco-guilt heaped on my shoulders because of my SUV.  I handle it, though, because while I do drive an SUV, I'm racking up more eco-points than much of my cohort.  We aren't ALL over-compensating pricks.  Seriously.

Here's how I beat the eco-guilt blues:
- I've had the Highlander for more than 7 years.  The very first command from the save-the-earth triumvirate has always been to reduce consumption.  And stretching one car for 7 years (and then many more!) is certainly more than most people go without trading in and/or up.
- It gets pretty good gas mileage "for an SUV."  Rarely do we dip below 20mpg for consumption, and generally we hover around 22.  Not mind-blowing, but not cringe-worthy either.
- It's the only car we have.  And public transportation around here is...not ideal...so that's saying something.
- It's driven fewer than 10 miles a day - I'd say, fewer than 50 miles a week.  I haven't gotten around to tracking this stat yet, but maybe I will do it next week!  We pay out the nose to be able to live in a location that provides nearly all of our necessities within biking distance, from the mechanic to the drug store to the library to the vet, not to mention Brian's school and my workplace.  A grocery store is the only thing out of reach unfortunately.  Farmers market, though - we've got that one totally covered.  (Incidentally, we considered me biking to work, but the roads I would have to take are not conducive to biker safety and we decided not to risk it.)
- Also, and I haven't figured out how this is beneficial beyond personal financial, my car is completely paid off (thanks Mom!).  I guess it's a sub-factor in the 'reduce' category.

While ideally I'd love to be able to be car-free, it's not quite practical for us right now.  But I take offense at the assertion that I am who is killing the earth without batting an eye.

As a woman, and as a Christian, as a non-liberal, and as a white person, I am bombarded with excuses for why I should feel guilty, and also why I should feel enraged - depending on which spokesperson is speaking to which trait. I don't buy into a lot of the perpetuated guilt going on today.  

I do my best and that's all I can do. I don't take too kindly to being accused.

So with that, I conclude by saying this:  some of us SUV drivers DO have a brain and a conscience, and DON'T suffer from delusions that we are the most important people on earth.  It would do all the hyperventilators some good to quit being so radically close-minded.  Go put THAT in your paper bag and get your fingers out of my face.


How I rank as a 1930s housewife

I have long acknowledged the presence of my inner housewife.  So when I saw this test over at Cristina's blog, of course I embarked enthusiastically.

I scored a 76, which is ranked 'superior' but is still a little disappointing.  I think the fact that I don't have kids somehow worked against me.  I guess this is to be expected, though - housewives have kids!

Brian's 1930s housewife score was 54.  Let's be proud...he certainly is.

Check it out for yourself here, if you'd like.  Amusement and mirth!

loving the games

We are taking a break from our regularly scheduled blogging, because this year's Olympics are so hot they're melting my brain.



cute puppy!

Am I the only dog owner out there who refers to her adult dog, and really any other dog, as 'cute puppy'?  'Sweet Baby,' 'Mr. Eli' and 'hey doggie' are also names he gets.  I've also been known to call him Eli-beeli, bibi, and Eli-pants.  Because 'Eli' is now synonymous with 'cutie.'

His name is Eli as in 'Eli Stone' or 'Eli Whitney' - NOT pronounced the girl way, 'Ellie,' or the last name Ely, which can be said different ways.  EEE-lye (as in lye soap).  Please and thanks.


skeleton staff

Last Monday began a stretch of time during which my office will be dramatically understaffed.  For an office that normally holds 10 people, we will not be back up to par until Sept. 2 at the earliest.  There won't be more than 6 people at work any time until then.  Part of this is due to vacations - one week of which is mine - and part is due to staff turnover - not on my part.

When you work in an office as small as mine, losing ONE staffer is a big deal.  But losing nearly half?  Ouch.

I will be insane, promptly.

Dear Lord: please send me a new boss, and soon, and maybe make it someone I can work with easily.  Thank you and Amen.


i got tagged

Kim tagged me for this meme.  She's sweet and adorable and stood up for me at my wedding, so I am thrilled to oblige.  Plus, I like these!  

Here goes:

Places I've lived:
- Tega Cay, SC
- Charlotte, NC
- Chapel Hill, NC
- Richmond, VA

Shows I watch:
- House, MD
- Project Runway
- Clean House
- Guiding Light

Jobs I've had:
- childcare assistant
- restaurant hostess (wow I sucked at that)
- staff assistant (AKA database manager, etc.)
- program coordinator

Places I've visited:
- St. Petersburg, Russia
- Panama Canal
- Fiji (mostly Suva, but also time in Nadi and Sigatoka)
- Liechtenstein
(and many more...)

Blogs I read regularly:
- The Simple Dollar
- MoneySavingMom
- Dress A Day / Dictionary Evangelist
- Chez Larsson
(and MANY more!)

Favorite foods:
- home-made pasta
- biscuits from scratch
- fresh berries

Places I would rather be:
- Lucerne, Switzerland
- Co. Kerry, Ireland
- anywhere in New Zealand
- cabin in the mountains

Things I am looking forward to this year:
- honeymoon!
- anniversary!
- Brian's 25th birthday!
- having a new boss, rather than a vacant hole in the office down the hall!

Things I do in my spare time:
- knit
- write
- spend time with the hubs, usually biking or movies
- play with the dog

Favorite things to do with kids/family:
- eat ice cream.  kids are hilarious with ice cream
- give 'The Look'
- do you remember playing with those giant parachutes in elementary school?
- act a durn fool

TAG, you're it!  I think I'm supposed to tag a certain number of people, but whatever, I want ALL my friends to do this!  Ready, set, GO!


the new 'frugality'

I was reading an article this morning over from MSN's Smart Spending blog, entitled 'How long will the 'new frugality' last?'  

The first part of article reflects back to the energy crisis in the mid-70's, and how folks learned how to stretch their dollars and rely on gasoline less.  And then, as we all know, things got back to 'normal' just a few years later.  

Nowadays you can't go anywhere without hearing about the painful cost of gas and food prices, and how to be more 'frugal' in light of them.  

I have been in search of ideas for more frugal living for a while now, out of necessity.  My husband isn't working right now because of academic rigors, and my current income puts my two-person family right around 60% AMI (area median income).  To put it in perspective, we meet the income qualifications for a Habitat for Humanity home.

This whole frugal living thing isn't new for me, though.  It's come somewhat naturally for me.  My mom has a degree in economics as well as a very sound understanding of personal finances, and she did her darnedest to teach my brother and me how to have a good outlook on money.

As a result of her training, a lot of today's most-touted suggestions are second nature to me.  For example, I keep reading about how a good way to save money is to combine errands.  Umm... that's not about frugality, it's about efficiency.  Was my family the only one to have an errand day?

I guess I'm more surprised and frustrated than anything else.  How can people be so mindless about their income and outgo?  Is wastefulness (because really, that's what a big part of the issue is) so second-nature that anything otherwise must be taught?  When I read about how many families are doing things like combining errands as a measure to handle the crunch, I am filled with some unidentified emotion - disgust?  incredulity?  surprise?  

How can a nation full of otherwise-capable people be so incompetent

Maybe I'm being too harsh.  Or am I?


angry book 'review'

I just finished reading a novel that has been well embraced by the knitting community, of which I am a part.  The Friday Night Knitting Club, by Kate Jacobs, is about the owner of a yarn shop, and the hodge-podge group of friends who begin an informal meeting every Friday night.

The dialogue was stilted in places - someone ought to teach Ms. Jacobs about the subtle difference between important details and cumbersome verbiage.  The character development, though, was great.  I ended up liking the people.  I actually wished that the book was a true story, and I could go visit there sometime.  

Glowing review, right?  Right.  Until the last 10 pages or so.  SPOILER ALERT: the main character dies.  SHE DIES.  For no particular reason, other than to 'move' the reader and 'propel' this story from 'good to great.'

I HATE this literary device.  People these days seem to think that you can only appreciate something if it moves you, and it seems that the only way you can be moved is if you are grieving.  NOT TRUE.  

Developing a truly likable, admirable, respectable character is wonderful.  Can't we just celebrate her?  There are so many real people out there who have stories like hers - women who think they're with 'the one' only to discover that they're pregnant and the guy has exited the picture, women who are then forced to make something of their lives - and they DO.  Georgia Walker feels like a real character, because she reflects reality.  Her success story is particularly moving because it can really happen - it DOES really happen.  And it's a wonderful, truly remarkable thing.

Do all the women who have risen above difficult circumstances and kept themselves and their children in-tact have to DIE to be celebrated?  Is the only way for their stories to truly move through their untimely DEATH?  NO!!  Not in my opinion, anyway.

So why did Ms. Jacobs choose to kill Georgia Walker?  I don't know, but it doesn't settle with me.  Perhaps it's a reflection of our postmodern times - or maybe our post-postmodern times.  We must be grieved to be truly moved, and anything less than grief is trifle.  Maybe I should blame the culture.  I don't, though.  Not in this case.  Georgia Walker's death feels like a cheap imitation of literature - an overwrung plot device that the author selected in an overzealous attempt to 'wrench our hearts' and create an 'emotional experience' upon reading her novel.  Truly good authors, though, can bring about these feelings throughout the entirety of their writing, and not solely in the final ten pages.

Of my favorite books, the ones in which I was truly moved because of the entire work and not by a simple plot twist, only one involves the death of a main character, and that particular story revolves around the circumstances of her death rather than playing her death as the culmination of the novel.  Think about the books (and movies) that have moved YOU and see if what gripped you was that death in the final pages, or if there was something else, something magical, present throughout the entire work, that captured you.

In other words, do you have to grieve the loss of a protagonist to feel truly moved by the work?


my favorite celebrity couple

My favorite celebrity couple used to be Tom and Rita.  They reigned supreme for a lonnng time.  But they've been dethroned.

I started watching E! News years ago, on and off.  It was called something else back then, I think, and at that time Giuliana DePandi was co-anchor with some dude whose name I don't remember but whose face I might probably recognize.  She had lonnng blonde hair back then, and I liked their show because it was a lot less cheesy than the big network shows.

In 05, I loved E News when she was solo anchor.  I totally don't get this woman - she's brilliant, she's beautiful, and she has this hollywood news job where she has to 'celebrate' all these retarted people.  She does a spectacular job, though.  Incidentally, I was not so much happy when Seacrest came on board.  I love seeing him kiss up to her, and see her not take him seriously.  

You probably could have guessed by now that she is one half of my favorite celebrity couple.  The other half makes me chuckle.  Because she's Giuliana Rancic now.  Rancic, as in Bill Rancic, as in the very first Apprentice from the Donald Trump reality show, which I ate up like it was the last candy bar in the box and I hadn't had chocolate in days.  That is to say, voraciously.

Personally, I had nothing against Bill, but I was pulling for Kwame.  How could you not root for the nice guy who went to the same high school and college as you?  The first season was definitely the best.

They met when she was interviewing him for a news bit.  And they are so ridiculously cute and they seem to be relatively normal, as far as you can be when you are busy executives operating in different parts of the country and making $$$$$.  Love them.  Seriously.

Aaaaand...Brangelina, step aside...the Rancic babies will be the prettiest in the world.  After my babies, of course.