Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Totally Random Tuesday: Sparkle Party

I have mentioned this before, so don't act all shocked...

I really liked the Twilight books.

I know, I know, they're full of histrionics and angst and glittering, fang-less vampires, but they're also fun and light and really addictive, like a box of candy that you know will rot your teeth, but that you eat one-by-one anyway.

I also agree that they don't exactly send a... well... *progressive* message to teen girls (one of which I personally have in my very own home), however I can tell you that the vast majority of those girls really don't see these as words to live by, but rather see them for the fluff they are. They're like Gothic Mormon Bodice-Rippers!

Naturally, being contained of as much angst as they are, they're also really mock-able. For example, for every "Mrs. Cullen" tshirt, there have been two faux motivational posters, and for every Forks, WA tour (although good for them... why shouldn't they cash in a little?) there have been 3 skewerings online.

One of my favorites (click!) is not only hilarious (Bjork as Alice and Sparkle-Vision... what's not to love?) but also interesting in that it draws parallels between Stephenie Meyers' faith as a Mormon and the books. I don't know much about Mormonism so I can't vouch for the absolute truth of what the author of the piece says, but he does seem to have grown up LDS himself and doesn't seem to have the best opinion of its mythology.

I would imagine that most writers work their personal belief systems (faith-based or otherwise) into their writing, so it's not shocking that Meyers would subconsciously work her Mormon faith into her writing, and similarly it's not surprising that the author of this would work his disdain for the same thing into his, and maybe even be more sensitive to the parallels than someone with no history with Mormonism might be. We saw that with the Dan Brown books/movies and the Catholic Church... outsiders just found his mythology interesting, whereas the Church was having kittens.

Anyway, if you've read the books and aren't a "Twihard" (seriously), you'll appreciate it, and if you haven't then breakdowns like this (and this) will save you the trouble.

I, for one, will probably read them again just because they make my daily ride to nowhere on my exercise bike go that much faster!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend Catchup: I See London

The local Girl Scout day camp, at which The Child and friends had been helping this last week, had their week-ending camp-out Friday night. It poured buckets at about 3:30 PM, followed closely by blinding sunlight at about 3:45 (ah, Colorado... so fickle), but that bit of rain really put the girls off their excitement about sleeping outside on a mountain.

So The Girl and her friend called me saying they'd maybe changed their minds and could they sleep at our house instead?

Did I rush up to rescue them? Not even. I made them stay, with the promise that if it rained *again* I'd come up... I mean, what kind of Girl Scouts are they anyway?

Doesn't that sound all "tough love" and stuff? "Wow!" you're saying. "She's *such* a good parent, getting her kid to stick with her plans! Her daughter will absolutely thank her for this as an adult!"

I hate to derail the train, but I had dinner plans I didn't want to break. Is that wrong?

(Just so you don't think me a total monster, I had looked at the weather and it was predicted to be totally clear and gorgeous. I imparted this knowledge to the girls so they wouldn't worry...and I would've gotten them if it had started up again. Whaddaya take me for?!)

Dinner was great. I used a gift certificate and went to Tortuga here in Longmont with Melissa to have my favorite Mojo-style chicken and a Mojito. I am nothing if not a creature of habit...I get a version of this pretty much every time I go there, which isn't often so I want to be sure I get something I like, right? Right?

What do you mean by "rut", exactly?

After dinner, Melissa & I played Rock Band at her pad. Spurred by our earlier pogo-ing (well, bouncing on our toes - we're not young anymore!) before dinner to the Ramones Greatest Hits, we decided on a 5-song "punk" set. I use quotes there because it was not so much "punk" as it was just loud, but I don't hold a grudge. It was fun playing "Bad Reputation" (the one actualy punk song in the set), especially since it was quickly followed by "Alive", a song not really known for it's speedy jams... I sort of felt like I was on Quaaludes after having killed on the Joan Jett number seconds before, but that just added to the fun!

Then we watched this. My advice is that unless you're looking for something bizarre to watch just because, you know, you like watching strange movies with songs about evisceration that have nothing to do with life in general (and love Anthony Steward Head, like I do), and/or gore makes you queasy, avoid this one.

If, however, you have a burning desire to see Carmen the girl-child from the Spy Kids series bald and gothy and Paris Hilton's face slide right off at one point, check it out!

Saturday was a bit of a long day; I spent the morning and early afternoon helping Colorado Alterna-Dad move his ailing wife from one facility to another. Thankfully, she is (hopefully) unaware of her surroundings and pretty much sleeps 22 hours a day, because the indignities of her sickness are staggering. The place isn't bad or anything, but I have to tell you that "Please God quick and in my sleep" was flowing from my mind in a whisper pretty much the whole time we were there. I never want my daughter to see me like that, or be a burden on my family in any way.

Wow, I sure know how to start Monday off with the joy and happy don't I?!

The rest of the afternoon was much more calm (and really, that's all we can do with situations like these... keep moving and try to find a little joy).

I grabbed The Kid and we headed up to Greeley to see Nova & Family. Nova & I headed to her favorite nail place for pedicures (thanks Nov, I owe you). Her pedicurist was hysterical, Vietnamese by way of South Bend, IN, and had a biting wit that kept us laughing the whole time. We had lovely barbeque again and were going to go for a cider, but The Kid was tired and grossed out by her night away from home and really just wanted her own bed. Can't say I blame her.

Sunday we didn't actually move from the house until Melissa showed up to take us to Dairy Queen... she surprised us, in the best way of course, but it was lucky it was she who The Kid let in the house while I was in the shortest nightie ever, and not some girlfriend of hers! Sheesh.

And that of course brings us to today's title... not only did I get caught standing with my undies showing in my kitchen by a friend, I also made my own.

This was such a fun project! I deconstructed a pair that I didn't want (obviously - I wasn't going to sew them back together!) to make a pattern, then used an old nightgown to make a mock-up. I think I need to make them a little higher up the waist, but all in all this was pretty easy to do once I worked the kinks out of the pattern. All I need to do is add elastic to the legs and waist.

Once I make a proper pair, I'll post a picture...well not like *that* obviously! This is a family show! Besides, there are only a select few who get to see me in my knickers.

I also had fun yesterday with an old, ugly sweater... it's now a bag. That I *will* post a photo of (as soon as the straps are done) because it came out wonderfully, although it left many many bits of itself all over the house. (Note to self: Don't use fair isle sweaters for this anymore, unless you have a giant sticky roller on hand!)

Lastly, I'm getting started on a new project with Craft Hope tonight - baby blankets that will go to India! Awesome! If you have time to whip up a couple of blankets or some booties and beanies, they could use them. You just have to get them to Atlanta by July 25; let me know if you'd like the info, or visit them by clicking the purty picture.

Craft Hope Spreading seeds of hope one stitch at a time

Friday, June 26, 2009

Family Friday: The Roaring Sixties (Also Panic! On A Thursday)

This group knew how to party, you just know it.

Pictured are my grandmother (bottom left) and her various siblings and their various spouses, plus my grandmother's dad and step-mother Elsie... most are gone now, but none are forgotten.

So yesterday, I just have to share... I had a terrible panic attack. I get them sometimes, they're horrible and debilitating and painful and make me think I'm going to die, to to the point where I start writing wills and goodbyes and letting key members of my friends and family know that just in case... Terrible!

When I first started getting them I actually went to the hospital a few times, sure I was having a heart attack, but nothing at all was wrong with me...just an adrenaline rush, which brings on hyperventilation (not as dramatic as you'd think), and finally over-oxygenation of the blood which causes you to think you're about to buy it.

They are thankfully rare for me, and I've learned how to control my breathing and mentally calm myself, but man I could really do without them.

I'm not sure what brought this one on, I don't have anything in particular on my mind (you'd know, because I love sharing!) but I seem to be okay today; no caffeine for me though I desperately want coffee and I took a vow to avoid decaf long ago... it just seems like cheating. I was also going to call Verizon today and bitch some more about their stupid policy, but I think I'll give my poor bod a rest from stressing until next week, because clearly I was overloaded this week.

I plan on this weekend being full of sewing and crochet and movies and riding my exercise bike and reading. Maybe I'll give myself a pedicure.

I definitely won't be watching regular TV, at least not news shows, because frankly Michael Jackson, at least the one I loved and admired, has been gone a long time now - I mourned him years ago. I hope he's found some peace at last.

Special thanks to TR for unwittingly talking me down last night...calm is a good thing and he's got it by the truck-load.

Usually I do too, and can usually use it on myself, but sometimes I need to outsource.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thrilling Thursday: Badass

Because hell yes... Nerd President! Click to see the speech given at the Radio and TV Correspondents Dinner last week. It's priceless. (The President's speech - see it here: Part 1 Part 2. I just love him so very very much.)

In other news, I did watch the rest of the The Big Lebowski, which was almost as thrilling as Super-O up there.

It was a pretty good story; made me laugh to beat the band! Parts, anyway.

I just have one question though... did they ever beat Jesus??

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wonder Why Wednesday - Pity Party

Before I get all wonder-like today, I would like to report that I got through exactly half of The Big Lebowski yesterday before falling asleep (through no fault of the movie - it was late!), but so far it's pretty funny. Not for the kids, this one, but funny!

John Goodman has never been hotter.

Moving on to today's Wonder Why, I'll warn you that it will *sound* like whining and self-pity, but it is in fact careful introspection. No, really!

Why is it I can't just win the lottery already?

It's really sad that a phone bill that magically jumps by 150.00 completely derails me for an entire month. (Thanks, Verizon, for keeping me informed of your policies about old and new plans and their relation to picture messages and airtime usage, by the way... super helpful.) My budget is already so tight I can practically hear my debit card scream every time I have to use it.

I'm not greedy, I don't need to win a million bucks, but couldn't I just have a small break from penny-pinchin' for awhile?


Hm. (Reads back.)

I really ought to get myself some Brie, because I always like a little cheese with my WHINE!

To make myself feel better, it's time for one of my favorite words... PERSPECTIVE. Because it's all about perspective, isn't it? Yes, yes, I'm totally broke all the time and we all know it, but do I have a roof over my head? A car to drive? Some way in which to fund gas for said car? Food to eat, no matter how dull and spaghetti-filled?

Yes I do.

Do I live in a war-torn or impoverished country where I fear to go outside or let my daughter out of my sight?

No I do not.

Granted, as someone sage once said, "What makes our problems more important than someone else's is that they're *ours*". (I'm paraphrasing.) This is true, but when I really step back and look... I'm fine.

So maybe I oughta just quit my bitching, eh?

Hope you're having a wonderful week... check back tomorrow for an awesome photo that made me laugh.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Totally Random Tuesday: Beads and Beets

We have a monthly birthday celebration here at work, wherein all the birthday-ified gather for cake and coffee and chitchat for half an hour. We're all chicks here in the office (there was a guy once but I think we scared him away... must have been that discussion about ovaries), so you would think that the snacks would tend toward the low-fat, sugar-free variety.

Not so.

Last time, for example, we had a coconut-covered white cake confection that was just about the best coconut-type food I've had since Melissa's guacamole. (Trust me, it's good.) While there were a few "oh, just a small slice" type comments, most just accepted they'd probably never have cake like that again and went for it. Everything in moderation, right?

Well this time it was my turn to bring the goodies, and though I would have loved to go all out with something worthy of a Challenge, cupcakes was what was in the budget (and on a Monday night I can only get so involved), so cupcakes is what we got! Carrot cake and Devils Food... I don't think they'll mind that they're a little low-tech.

Anyway, given that there are only about 10 of us, I wasn't going to make full batches of each kind, but that left me with a lot of leftover batter. Being the frugal girl that I am, I decided to make a cake out of each batter's leavings... and The Kid decorated, since that's her favorite thing.

Cool, right? That was the carrot cake, which we gave to the neighbors to thank them for lending us eggs, since we were short.

Hopefully the Office Crew will like the cupcakes... I'm fairly confident, though. I mean, they're cupcakes! What's not to like?

As promised, here are photos of the suncatchers that don't involve my car; the first is a design that The Kid did for use as a computer charm of sorts, and the second is the first one I made, so it's not as cool as the subsequent ones, due to learning curves. (You can see these better by clicking on the photos, if you're so inclined.) Thanks to my hand model, Ms. Thing.

Finally, tonight I plan on watching The Big Lebowski, a movie I have never seen but have heard more than once is fabulous and mood-altering. I get the impression that this movie is akin to a Tom Robbins novel - weird but profound, and bound to leave you with a new view on the world around you.

Speaking of which, book recommendation of the day... Jitterbug Perfume, one of my favorite books ever. The Wikipedia summary says:

Jitterbug Perfume is Tom Robbins' fourth novel, published in 1984. The major themes of the book include the striving for immortality, the meaning behind the sense of smell, individual expression, self-reliance, sex, love, and religion. Beets and the god Pan figure prominently. The novel is a self-described epic, with four distinct storylines, one set in 8th century Bohemia and three others in modern day New Orleans, Seattle, and Paris.

That's a mighty fine description. Go read it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Weekend Catchup: Sunshine and Sewing

How I managed to get anything done this weekend between dusting the tops of doors and wishing I was in Florida I'll *never* know, but get it done I did... 2 purses, 2 oven mitts, several million (okay, 4) recycled flowers, burnt music (sounds bad, doesn't it?), a Summer Solstice activity, a clean house including dusting the blinds, and *still* managing to read for 2 hours... I think I hit a wormhole in there somewhere.

Friday night was spent with The Kid, watching Nim's Island (yawn, alas), getting everything together for Saturday's Solstice fun, and being overcome with crafty inspiration. I finally finished making the set of potholders and 2 purses I had all cut out and ready to go about 2 weeks ago... et voila!

You might remember this from the Skulls & Penguins version; these two are *also* for The Kid, who is a purse junkie. Good thing she has me! No pockets this time, but I did see a version on the Flickr pool for these that had a *zippered* pocket, and so now I have to make more. Guess what you're getting for Christmas, girls! You can't ever have enough bags, so sayeth me.

No pictures of the oven mitts... they still lack binding.

Saturday morning I was up early (of *course* I was, don't you know me at *all*?) and ripping music to my computer for The Kid's Zune. Amongst other things, she now has *all* Coldplay ever, plus the awesome Kid Beyond CD she fell in love with during one of the many really loud rotations it enjoyed in my car over the last couple of weeks.

Since my computer is super slow when it comes to this stuff (someday I'll have a zippy hard drive but it's not necessary at the moment, what with my lack of internet), I decided to organize my office while the CDs were loading. In so doing I found a bunch of magazines, and was about to recycle them when I remembered I had seen this project last week and thought it was really pretty... turns out it's super addicting too. The Child is now addicted as well so they're breeding like tribbles. What we'll actually do with them, I have no idea, but they're sure lovely!

If you know someone who's getting married, pass this project on to them... those bridal magazines that are no doubt languishing in a trunk somewhere, the victims of an overzealous planning fit, could be made into some seriously cool table decor.

The sun-catcher project went over really well, with several adults and kids whiling away 2 or so happy hours "playing beads" as I like to say. We made sun-catchers with the approximately 1 trillion beads I have lying around my house, the end results of my brief foray into craft fairs. (NEVER AGAIN.)

While on our trip to Tucson, I had seen something similar hanging in several windows in Bisbee and knew that I could recreate them fairly easily, what with my plethora of beading supplies, and I knew we had Solstice coming up, so yay for inspiration!

Yeah you can barely see it, I know, but trust me, it's cute. This picture is mostly about what I see on my commute in the morning, heading west on Arapahoe in Boulder. Just sharing.

I'll get better pictures, I promise, and ones that don't involve me taking my life into my hands while driving, although to be fair it was a red light and I was doing 2 miles an hour, and I'm an *excellent* driver. So there.

We finished up fairly early Saturday, I think we were home by 9. We of *course* brought a spare child home with us, since The Kid makes friends wherever she goes, and they were up til all hours playing Wii and watching movies and being good while I slept the sleep of the crafty in the other room. Lovely!

After a trip to the park Sunday morning with The Kid and her buddy (unsuccessful kite flying ensued), we took Colorado Alterna-Dad out for ice cream for Father's Day and then went home and cleaned house; I would have made him dinner or something, but he already had tickets to see Eric Clapton. Lucky! Instead I made chicken (from Frank's... you truly can taste the difference between theirs and big-chain groceries) and watched Becoming Jane, a semi-true story of Jane Austen, which was lovely but a little sad. I like happy endings... but then so did she, even if she never got one herself.

On top of all that, my house is super clean now, at least until the next project works its way into my head and I mess up the living room again... hopefully it won't involve glitter.

Oh, and my cat is adorable. I'm just saying.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thrilling Thursday: Everything's Coming Up Roses

Well this might not thrill *you* necessarily, but I was awfully tickled...

Anyone who saw my yard over the last couple of years can tell you that it was awful. Like REALLY bad awful. I've spent the last 2 summers trying to beat the weeds into submission and had to finally call in the big guns (my neighbor) this year. He owns a landscaping business and has industrial-strength weed killer.

Now despite my devotion to better living through modern chemistry when it comes to my personal body, I really try to stay as "green" as possible. I take the bus in the summer (I'd do it in the winter, but The Kid must get to school), I recycle everything possible, I have an electric mower, I use natural cleaning stuff (except for bleaching my tub and the Magic Eraser - that thing is a miracle of modern science), etc. So trust me when I say that if it were a few dandelions in my grass I'd just yank em' or let them be - I'm not out to have an award-winning velvety lawn - but this was ridiculous. It was like the Day of the Triffids out there.

No, seriously, the first summer I lived in fear of my back yard.

But now? Now I have grass. GREEN grass. In MY yard! I'm so delighted by this that I can't even form full sentences when discussing it, apparently. I still have many bald spots and I need to get out there with some gloves and yank the stuff that's growing in the sidewalk cracks (WTF) and such, but it is *vastly* improved.

And? I have this:

This is in the corner, where a weed once grew, and I actually gasped when I saw it. I ran over and photographed it (poorly - thanks camera phone) and now I have proof in the form of one single, solitary, long-stem pink rose.


I could lie and say that this was due to careful tending by me, but we all know I have a black thumb...I even managed to kill a Hosta, and that's really really hard.

Of course now I have a big back yard full of lovely green grass and can't go back there because it's so effing hot... next year may finally be the year I build some kind of roof over the cement porch. It's on the list.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wonder Why Wednesday - Ah, Youth

So I'm getting off the bus yesterday, minding my own business, when I'm stopped in my tracks by a vision of my past:

Holy crap! It was like I had de-trained at Belmont for a second... in 1989.

I had to get a picture (he was very sweet though I never would have told him that), and I have to say that I think he was a little surprised by the fact that this clearly mom-looking woman knew what Liberty Spikes even *were*, much less that he was a) sporting them or b) that they were impressive. No really, those things take skill and dedication! Any girl who ever tried to feather their hair in the 80's can tell you how long *that* takes... imagine getting it not only symmetrical but skyward as well!

If pressed, I probably would have done the uncool thing and informed him that I'd known guys with that 'do before he was born, so I'm glad he didn't ask.

The baseball bat is a mystery, but I'm fairly certain it was an affectation, akin to the "staff" (read: broom handle painted purple and decorated with a barber-pole stripe of black electrical tape) that my one-time prom date carried with him everywhere for a summer in 1991. He was, granted, a bit of a tool but he never actually smacked anyone with it except himself on occasion. It was strictly for show.

Today's Wonder Why comes from the startling fit of nostalgia I got from seeing this kid and his friends hanging in Longmont (of all places, though I think they were probably waiting for the LX bus to squire them to Denver), though it's more of a "when" than a "why"...

When do we ever stop being teenagers in our heads? And do we want to, really?

I think it's a yes-and-no sort of answer.

On the one hand, there are plenty of things about being a teenager that I am intensely grateful I'll never have to experience again, but on the other there are those fantastic memories of being so young and so *free* - things I didn't appreciate when I had them. I was never a true rebel, I was always too conscious of consequence, but I had some incredible adventures (there's really no other word for them) wherein I had to figure things out and save myself, and it made me more independent and able to tread some really treacherous waters later in life.

Can we truly have that intense level of learning about life as we get older? Maybe, but not if we ever let go of that defiant kid that's still residing somewhere in our memories. I think we get too settled in our routines to be able to let go long enough to get into trouble, but I also think that we're much more conscious that if we *do* get into trouble, we won't have youth to blame.

It's an interesting inner dichotomy for me personally, since this kind of memory of rebellion and risk is something The Kid will most likely not experience to the extent that I did, which as her mommy I think is a good thing, but as a fellow human I wish otherwise sometimes.

A little.

I hope she has at least a taste of that kind of adventure, some sort of secret trial-and-error, at least a time or two. I don't want to be called by the police, mind you, but I sort of hope she has to figure her way out of a situation or two before she gets out on her own, secure in the knowledge that I'll be there if she needs me - but free to not call if she doesn't feel the need.

Truth be told, it's one of things that motivated me last year (although I needed pushing...thanks Nova) to get her to learn the ways of the RTD... I know I can trust her to be smart, but secretly, deep down where I'm still 17 and sporting a shaved head and oxbloods, I hope she uses that bus to get herself down to Denver (with a friend ohpleaseohplease) and have to dodge a situation or two, live that city-girl life a day here and there, and that I won't know about it until she's 22 and reliving the adventure, admitting her little bits of rebellion to me just like I did with my mom.

I'll act shocked, but I'll be smiling.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lazy Tuesday

I really do want to post something stimulating for you daily, however today has been chock-full of actual work (I know!).

I did try setting up text-message blogging but my devotion to grammar combined with Blogger's lack of ability to understand punctuation in texting (it looked like a martian barfed on my monitor) means I can't post from the bus, which was my brilliant plan. Alas.

Despite my drudgery today, I did get a cool gift from my department... 2 tickets to the Colorado Shakespeare Festival here in lovely Boulder! They're for Hamlet, one of my favorites... it's depressing, sure but at least it isn't Romeo & Juliet. That one makes me cry every single time... stupid slow messenger. *sniff*


Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekend Catchup: Wild Weather & Dirty Movies

This was a good weekend, full of music and movies and relaxation... what more could a girl ask for?

Early Saturday I took the Child and her buddy up to their training at the local Girl Scout day-camp. They're Program Assistants (PAs), aka junior counselors, and how much fun is that? The counselors at camp always seemed to be having more fun than we were, and I remember from personal experience being *really* excited to be admitted to the inner sanctum... the FIELD HOUSE. Campers were *never* allowed but we counselors were admitted without question. I remember the excitement of finally surpassing the role of lowly camper and attaining the higher caste position of COUNSELOR (even junior counselor was enough), and it's been fun to watch the Kid do the same.


After dropping them off, I headed up to fabulous Greeley, CO to visit with Nova & her family. It's a fairly lengthy drive, and I decided to haul out my CD binder for once instead of my usual NPR. I had a blast cranking up a Seal album (Seal II in case you wondered) and singing along at top volume. Once I arrived, Nova & I ran some errands, dished about this and that and had delicious, delicious BBQ (don't tell her husband)... and I was of course charmed by her ridiculously cute kids. KJ gives monster hugs, considering he weighs like 40 pounds, and Karma immediately brought me a book and demanded picking up so that I could read to her.

Unfortunately I had to forgo drinks with Nova & her sister-in-law and head back home after receiving a call that severe weather warnings were causing the Girl Scout campout to be cancelled; all's well that ends well, though, and we ended up hanging at a block party held at the Child's fellow camper's house. I tried Dale's Pale Ale, which was pretty good, and some White Merlot that really thrilled me - nice and sweet, just like I like it. I chatted up their neighbors and watched the kids have a blast, and then squired the two girls back to my place for a sleepover and fun with beads (new project - sun catchers). Nothing like best friends at age 13, they're nearly inseparable. I do wish we lived closer to them, but through the miracle of texting and cell phones they are able to keep in good touch over the summer.

I also managed to watch two rather romantic movies (it's always nice to get some sap into one's life here and there), although at first glance you might not ever consider them as occupying the same universe, much less the same genre.

First, wile the kids were snoozing Sunday morning (a must, I knew in advance) I watched Zack & Miri Make a Porno.

If graphic sex and sexual vocabulary makes you squirmy, you might want to give this a pass - the title doesn't lie. Fair warning!

However if you are *not* offended by porn you will be fine with this. In my opinion, it's worth it for the sweet story that's underneath it all, the cuteness that is Seth Rogan, and the simple fact that Kevin Smith wrote it, but that's because I'm a sucker for them both. I had to kinda cover my eyes a time or two (I can only take so much of Jason Mewes' bare ass) but for the most part it was fine.

On the other end of the spectrum (and how) was the movie we watched last night (while I made another basket - it's a sickness I tell you), Dan In Real Life. I knew I'd at least like it, since I love Steve Carrell and it was recommended by someone with fantastic taste in movies, but I really ended up loving this to pieces. Made me cry and stuff. Stupid movie. *sniff*

Lastly, I finished up re-reading The Shining only to see this when I came in to work this morning...

Scary how things line up sometimes.

I hope your weekend was fun!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Family Friday: Men of Action!

I've mentioned that I have 3 uncles (well, 2 uncles and a sort of uncle-brother type creature, but I digress) who all do interesting and varied things with their lives (naturally, they *are* Birrens after all).

Today's their day to look awesome on my blog, because seriously, check these pictures out!

Birren sisters, be assured your day is coming, and it will involve your many, many bad perm decisions.

(Thank you Facebook, my new lazy-post friend.)

Peter hang-gliding. He wrote a book about stars and once brought home carved wooden talismans from Southeast Asia that my aunts all have in their houses to this day.

David channeling Hunter S. Thompson. He had the best collection of Legos I've ever seen (David, not Hunter, although you never know) and is one of the most peaceful people I've ever met.

Don on a bike, though there's a Jeep somewhere nearby I can assure you. He grows his hair out and cuts it off for Locks of Love on a regular basis, has a thing for Frank Zappa, and can clear a room with a mere lift of a butt-cheek. It's an art.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wonder Why Wednesday - Don't Hate, Concatenate!

Today on Morning Edition (my usual a.m. diversion) they had a piece about Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor who lost 3 daughters last year during an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip and yet (despite having every right to be angry) is embracing an attitude of love and respect for his fellow humans - no matter who they are.

He's quoted as saying: "Military ways are futile, for both [sides]. Words are stronger than bullets. We have to understand each other. We have to respect each other as a human, as equal, and that the dignity of both is equal."

I was really inspired, and it gave a nice, hopeful start to my day, but it also made me wonder...

Why can't more people try to work together like this?

You just see it everywhere, all the time... this is not news. From Dems and Republicans to the many religions at war with each other to the prolife/prochoice debate and on and on, there's always some group sniping at another group, and it does nothing. Nobody every wins. Maybe if people were more willing to sit down and listen to each other, and try to find a common ground to work from, the world might be a more peaceful place.

Well, all we can do is try, right? A little goes a long way.

Oh, and in case you were wondering... the definition. It's a bit of a stretch, but it rhymed so nicely!

Happy Wednesday... tonight is home-made pizza night! Spinach and garlic and italian sausage on home-made dough (courtesy of Nova)? YES PLEASE.

Another lovely thing this morning; roses from a co-workers garden.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

Well, you know I *meant* to ask her about her trip. But it didn't happen...

Instead, this happened.

All was right with the world.

And then I watched the last 2 episodes of True Blood (of course the kid wasn't watching, what do you take me for?!) and lamented my lack of HBO because season 2 starts in a week and I'll have to wait a year for the DVDs... oh well, I'm sure I can occupy myself until then.

See you tomorrow, and in the meantime, if you haven't already, please explore this because it will make you smile many times... and we all need that!

I'd also like to note that we are, right this minute, having a thunderstorm. I love it!

I'm reading The Shining again. I love that book!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Weekend Catchup: The Devil Went Down To Tucson

Travel is a funny thing.

There's so much anticipation and planning that goes into it, and then it seems to be over so suddenly. I swear if I had a bajillion dollars I would take last-minute grab-a-bag trips that lasted a month. That seems like the more pleasant ratio of planning to enjoyment, don't you think?

I did get to travel alone for the first time in a few years, which led to some interesting observations that either a) prove me to be the introspective, deep thinker I'd like to believe I am, or b) prove me to be completely insane. You pick!

Don't believe me?

Things that went through my head during the 2 hour wait:

* The airport smells at that hour of the morning (7am). I don't know why, but it really does. I was wishing desperately for a bottle of patchouli.

* I love small talk on the train to the terminals. A nice woman and I were chatting about the weird fans in the tunnels and how sometimes we almost expect the train to just shoot out the end of the tunnel like the Wonkavator. The guy next to us laughed rather more loudly than the joke warranted, and then did the accidental boob graze on his way out. Ah, just like sweet home Chicago!

* I was deeply amused by 2 rather old women (probably early 80s) who were giggling like teenagers over pictures of Brad Pitt in "US" magazine, and who were chatting cattily about Kate Gosselin's goofy hairdo.

* I love to look around at all the people and wonder where they're all going, don't you? Is that girl with too much makeup some kind of runaway? Is this just the first leg of her trip or the last after a long and disappointing foray into internet love? And how about that large family there... they're all doing their own thing (iPods, laptops, phones), and you wouldn't even know they were together except for their almost Osmond-like similarity of features. Where are they off to? Are they just on their way home and totally sick of each other, or is this just the start and the way they are?

* Old men shoes... I love them. They just don't give a hoot what you think of their Bass Weejuns with socks.

See? Insane.

I was happy to have ended up with a window seat; my favorite part about flying is the takeoff and we had a particularly spectacular one, as it was a bit overcast. We headed up and up and then into the low-hanging clouds, and then popped out above them into a magnificent view of the Rockies. There were shadows on the tops of the clouds from the higher ones riding the atmosphere... glorious.

And so, on to Tucson! (You can see photos of the trip this here... if you have a few minutes to kill, go look!)

Upon arrival at 9:30 AM, it was already pretty toasty... it hit 107 that day. It's actually not that bad if you stay in the shade and take it easy, but still.

I was really glad to see my mom and of course the kid... it had been a more different two week break from motherhood than I've had in... hm. I couldn't even tell you. Not different in a bad way, but rather in an "oh yeah you have a whole life of your own to lead...get to it!" sort of a way. I've been in mom-mode so completely and for so long that I sort of forgot that about the fact of my own existence, if that makes any sense? It was nice to have the touchstone of their familiarity and routine.

Our plan was to drive down to Bisbee, AZ and explore the town... we didn't actually realize it was 100 miles from Tucson until hit that "are we there yet" moment while in the middle of a whole lot of gorgeous nothingness... it is really quite beautiful in the desert, it's not the wasteland you might think.

Once in Bisbee, we found we had it mostly to ourselves (tourist season being over after Memorial Day), and had a nice lunch in the Copper Queen Hotel (reputed to be haunted, but I got absolutely no vibes... not even an "oooh, old building" one. Hm.), followed by some walking in the town. I couldn't believe how much art there was there, from paint and pottery to metal sculpture. It's probably even better in Winter... note to self.

We stopped in what I can only describe as a tschotchke paradise (I think that's the right place, anyway... did I mention it was 107 degrees and my brain was melting?). There was so much stuff in that shop (3 floors worth!) that it was almost painful not to be able to see everything. Each piece in the cases had a hand-lettered tag describing the piece, and it all ranged from 50's-era cowboy kitsch to Depression-era glass to old books that you just know smelled great to an entire basket of Barry Goldwater pins.

There was also this old alarm clock that at some point had a twirling ballerina, but now the ballerina lies dead and tilted behind the plastic. I saw so much looking at this - the little girl's farmhouse room where it was a treasured possession, the dusty spread outside the window where Daddy was trying so hard to make the fields work - but she knew they'd have to leave soon. She just hoped she'd be able to take a few things with.

I don't know what tune this might have played, but I bet that the old woman the little girl became still hummed it sometimes when she cast her thoughts back to that little room at the top of the stairs.


I want to go back just to spend awhile there. It's like Needful Things opened an outlet.

My favorite moment... walking past the many art galleries and spying in one of them a woman dressed rather like Holly Golightly, head cocked to the side in her black dress, hat and pumps, contemplating a painting, hand on chin. I tried for a photo (nothing like freaking out the locals, but she was accommodating and posed happily), but it didn't come out. Alas.

On the way home (and man that really was a long drive) we passed by a Border Patrol incident in progress... about 20 adults, sitting in a group under a tree, while the big white vans waited on the side of the road and the officers stood around them with sun-glassed authority. They work so hard to get there that you feel bad knowing that all that planning and dangerous trekking was for nothing... talk about travel being a funny thing.

Friday was busy but fun. We got going early and did a walking tour of downtown Tucson. We saw some really lovely art and old buildings that you just wouldn't see driving by the same place every day for a year... I think every resident should do this once.

The city of Tucson has a lot of art in public places such as underpasses and street signs. In particular there I liked the series of photos of neighborhoods and people from the past 100 years or so, done in black and white tiles. They're almost shrine-like, and really give me the feeling of a shared past of American culture - the bobby-soxers in the barrio neighborhoods of Tucson were no different than the ones in Chicago or New York.

After our walking around the city we sat down to a delicious southwestern lunch and did a little shopping in the art galleries that surrounded the restaurant (the last stop on the walking tour, naturally), then headed to Mt. Lemmon for a little cooling off and some killer views. Halfway up you'd swear you were somewhere north of Boulder; it's absolutely amazing how quickly the climate and surroundings changed. The road up there even gets closed in Winter due to heavy snowfall... not what you'd expect right outside of Tucson!

Near the top of Mt. Lemmon is the town of Summerhaven, a beautiful little mountain town that almost didn't survive the 2003 fire that devastated it. Everything was gone, but these folks came back even stronger than they were. It was deeply inspiring to see the shops and homes rebuilt.

We stopped in The Living Rainbow gift shop and I purchased a few of the owners Fire Beads. She had a shed full of thousands of glass beads behind the original store which burned to the ground in the fire. When sifting through the wreckage she found many of the beads had melted together and were in pieces... but they were still there. She was able to salvage a lot of the glass and make *new* beads which she features in some of her art and which are also embedded in the sidewalks outside of the shop; that she could find beauty and art in all that devastation is an amazing thing.

And the saguaros were blooming.

Saturday we were headed home after a nice breakfast and half an hour of watching F-16s taking off and landing (best reason for a half an hour delay EVER). We hit a bit of turbulence (read: massive air pocket) on the way back that was bad enough to send the flight attendant pogo-ing into the air. I love it even though it makes me nauseated... it's freaky, sure, but what can you do but enjoy it? It's not like you can do anything to stop it, so you might as well treat it like a roller coaster... an untethered, airborne, flying rollercoaster. Wheeeeee! We were picked up by Melissa, who was kind enough to drive out and get us, and then it was back home again. (I totally owe her.)

The cats were pleased.

We didn't get much done Sunday except for nails and painting pictures and getting out for dinner with Colorado Alterna-Dad; a nice relaxing day.

Tomorrow... the kid's very own travelogue of her adventures in Arizona! I'm going to take dictation tonight and post it verbatim, if I can squash my need to be grammatically correct long enough; at least I know it'll be spelled correctly! (I'm so mean, I know.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Family Friday: There Are No Words

Doesn't this picture just BEG for a story? I think so.

I particularly love the albums in the orange crate...that was so the way to go then!

I'd like to thank the subject of the photo, my lovely Aunt Susie who is off to Niagara Falls even as I type, as without her my mother & I may never have come to Colorado when I was a kid, and subsequently I wouldn't be here now or be the person I am! It's the little things that shape us.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thrilling Thursday: Prince Pantha vs. We're Not Sure


It seems our favorite Princess is running for her life, jumping bravely from her jungle canoe (which looks concerned for her safety - it's fear I see in that blue orb - or maybe it's a reaction to that arrow sticking out of its hide?), and I would be too if I was faced with a yellow-diapered bowman!

I hope she's not really aiming for that ficus there... it looks awfully flimsy.

Happy Thursday... I'm in Tucson today and tomorrow and should have a travelogue for you Monday. Lucky you!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wonder Why Wednesday - Patience Is A Virtue

Why, hello! Welcome to Mimi's Bad Poetry Corner!

"Why do you do this to us, Mimi?" you ask. "Please, stop the madness!"

Well, on second though I guess it is *kinda* much for a Wednesday morning, so I'll spare you. If you want to read it, let me know and I'll email you - but I can almost hear the crickets from here.

Instead I'll stick with the usual, although I'm a bit pensive this morning so our Wonder Why today is a bit more ponderous than normal.

The question for the day...

Why can't we be patient?

Why is it that we so often feel we must have everything *right now*, from super-speedy internet service while flying to a destination thousands of miles away in hours (too long even then) to an immediate resolution to a question we've got rolling in our collective head?

In particular, I think romance (for lack of a better word) suffers from this need for speed. I wonder (as I so often do) if our culture and current media are to blame for that one, with all it's perfected artifice and 2-hour films that seem to wrap everything up quickly and cleanly with nobody mentally maimed (at least not permanently) in the end. Or maybe it's the overabundance of instant accessibility... texting, email, even Facebook updates and their subsequent comments which seem to be the new way to communicate. That kind of immediacy has become *so* ingrained that now we want an instant answer to everything, from the mundane to the complex. We want to know the answer now - yes or no? Will it work? What's on your mind? Facebook update please.

But some things have to progress at their own pace. Push it and you might lose what you were hoping for altogether. Isn't it better to just wait awhile?

And so I'm taking that to heart... I'm learning to practice peaceful patience and just enjoy the little moments of happiness I'm allotted and be grateful for them, and not question things quite so much. It's good for the soul.

Tomorrow, I promise another Princess Pantha cheesecake thrill for your Thursday enjoyment, just to make today's introspection up to you. You're welcome!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Weekend Catchup: Gravel Makes Me Nervous When There's No Guardrail

You know, it's truly amazing how much you can cram into a weekend if you don't sleep more than a few hours...

If you'll forgive me for a moment, I'm going to sum up the bulk of the weekend in a sort of one-phrase-at-a-time stream of consciousness style.

Remembering how much I love being in the city, whatever city that may be.
Ace parking.
Never-before-seen parts of Denver I've seen before.
Old buildings that you don't see in Naperville.
Birds and squirrels and casement windows and terrifying staircases.
Sexy airplanes I'd love to fly.
Spirit and science.
Orange and tan paws.
Hot carrot cake that almost made me cry.
Near death by gravel and people up to no good.
Time-travel to the English countryside and the Scottish highlands in the space of an hour and a half.
Earl Grey and saltines and a 4 hour time-skip.
The comfort of proximity.
Good timing.
Wishing for better timing - where's that teleporter when you really need it?!
New music. (Do yourself a favor and watch this)
Fog and spring scarves.

Thank you for your indulgence, and now back to your regularly scheduled blathering!

Friday night Melissa came by and we had a low-key evening featuring Mexican food at our favorite place, Benajmin Button (which she hadn't seen before and which I wanted to see again - the story is good, but the cinematography is better), and the first two episodes of True Blood. Not for kids or the squeamish, but definitely addicting. I finished the rest of the 3 discs yesterday and am not-so-patiently awaiting the rest!

Saturday morning Melissa & I went to the Longmont Farmers Market, and I picked up some salad greens and pasta, but I think that I'll be hitting that place weekly for our weeks veggies and stuff as the summer wears on... you actually end up spending less and getting more this way - and bonus, you know exactly where your food is coming from. We also went to Your Butcher Frank and loaded up on meat - for about 40 bucks I got enough meat to last the kid and me through June, with maybe a little supplementing. I'm really enjoying taking control of my food this way; there's less in my fridge but what's there is quality, plus I get to make real use of my Foodsaver so WIN WIN WIN.

Finally, this morning I was listening to a podcast of This American Life, the theme of which was "Return to the Scene of the Crime" (who knew these were online? Probably everyone but it's news to me), and so far in my listening has made me...
  • feel like a curmudgeon (damn kids!)
  • want to smack somebody (how can you hit yourself in your own car with your own car? Nobody knows.)
  • laugh hysterically and rather loudly (Joss Whedon is so clever and fantastic - I need to watch Dr. Horrible again and in particular the commentary!)
  • cry and laugh at the same time with Dan Savage (Savage Love - also not for the squeamish, he doesn't mince words). He drew some parallels to my spiritual upbringing that I never would have imagined in a thousand years, and the laughing/crying jag was when he talked of the death of his mother... really heartbreaking, but important to hear.
All this during my drive to work. I'm pretty sure my fellow commuters thought I was having a nervous breakdown, but that's okay.