Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Five, An Occasional Series

1. I am rather grumpy that I have to spend my Friday frantically preparing for a week-long training of newbies next week and A. gets to release some Black-Footed ferrets about 50 miles from here. No fair.

In grade school, the Big Red Square State Game and Fish would distribute kiddie newsletters three or four times a year. I distinctly remember the issue with Black-footed ferrets on the cover and the article about the breeding program. The color of that particular newsletter was kind of orangey-brown, something kind of like this:

I WANT TO HELP RE-INTRODUCE THE LITTLE FELLAS TO THEIR NATIVE HABITAT, DAMMIT! Instead, I am preparing presentations for a week-long, painfully dull, dull, duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuull training on program procedures. I am having to train myself on this shit; I have NO BUSINESS training the new employees. Hmff.

2. Last night, A. and I, as well as our friends C. and B., and BG, watched the #24 Big Red Square State Cowgirls beat the Montana Lady Grizzlies. It was a big win; Montana beat BRSS during both match ups last season. Go, Cowgirls!

3. Brief update on The Thesis: K. happily agreed to serve on my thesis committee, and gave me more suggestions for my bibliography. I was thrilled that I'd already read many of her recommendations, though I had read those just for fun and not with my Thesis Hat on. (Could I be a bigger nerd?) I am happy to revisit these texts, especially Coming Home to Eat by Gary Nabhan and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I have about 50 pages left in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I was already planning on, at the conclusion of this reading, flipping to the first page of the book and immediately reading the volume again, regardless that now I need to rescan it with my Thesis Hat on. It is amazing. I'll write a proper review of the book in a bit, but for now, if you are wondering what to read next, I heartily recommend this book. READ IT. (Wow, there are some run on sentences going on.... Eh, whatever. It's Friday!)

Also, my third committee member from outside my department is delighted that I have a new chair. Just saying.

4. Getting myself all hyper and totally wired over a book makes me think of one of my favorite places on the entire planet, the Long Room at the University of Dublin, Trinity College. What an amazing, reverent, secular-holy place. The Book of Kells resides there, too. Holy cow, if I didn't almost cry when I saw it. Also, I was surprised at how much stuff from my art history classes came back to me, and came back full of life, no less.

5. About twenty minutes after A. dropped me off at work, he called to tell me with no amount of pleasure in his voice, that he had just plunked down "a small fortune" on the dogs. What?! Twenty minutes wasn't enough time to drive back out to the house (seven miles north of town), see the pups, ascertain that something was awry, rush them to an emergency vet appointment and empty our checking account. What the hell had happened?

Well, the pups are now seven years old, closing in on their eighth year. So they are senior dogs. *sniff, sniff* And the new "senior" dog food we decided to put the dogs on? $42 a bag. Um, yeah. Granted, this will last a month. However, this food had better make the doggies stay youthful, springy, full of spunk, and happy as all get-out, and! AND! I had better not see any sign of stiff joints for at least, oh, four more years. And I thought it was ridiculous we were spending $32 on a bag of the diet stuff. Sheesh.

Happy Friday to you!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quirky Loveliness

A couple of you had mentioned that Pushing Daisies was kind of a neat little show. Last night, as A. was flipping through the channels waiting for the Colorado Avalanche game to start and I was basking in the new-found happiness that is a productive and competent thesis committee, I noticed that Pushing Daisies was about to start. I asked A. to flip to it for a bit so I could check it out.


Is this show always narrated in a Dr. Seuss-like fashion? Are the reds and greens always kicked up a notch or two? Is there always a bit of dark humor wrapped in kitschy tartness?



Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sugar. Also, Trying Not To Barf, Part 6 and Still Swooning

Um, yeah. I just spent no less than three minutes in the office break room, staring at my coffee cup. What was I contemplating with such dedication? Or rather, what was on my mind at that moment that had me paralyzed?

Whether or not to put two teaspoons of sugar in my coffee or a packet of Splenda.

NO SHIT. I really need not feel so insecure about every decision in my life. Geez. I am not kidding about being paralyzed with this decision. Because, what was the right decision and will I be happy with it? Lordy. There is some fodder for another lengthy, scary post, eh? Also, you can imagine how much I squirm trying to make a decision at the hair salon, no?

Anyway. I went with the sugar. At least I can pronounce it and I know it is minimally processed. It occurs in nature (yes? Or am I stretching the truth, here?) and I am not introducing crazy, manufactured concoctions into my body. I even know that this particular sugar was processed in the northern part of my state, so bonus points for local food from my foodscape!

But I am hypoglycemic, and if I don't watch my diet, sugar can really throw me for a loop. So, substituting Splenda for raw sugar every now and then has its benefits. I don't like feeling as though my legs are not connected to my body at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon, or being so disoriented as to not know where I am, or sometimes, who I am. So, I limit sugar when I can. (Um, right. I bake cookies at least once a week...)


I e-mailed professor K. from my department to see if she would discuss serving on my thesis committee over coffee. She replied that she'd be delighted to serve on my committee, and even more delighted to visit together. (Woo hoo!!) She and I are meeting tomorrow over the lunch hour to review my prospectus, discuss my lit review, and to chit chat and catch up a bit. She and I have always gotten along very well, and I was her teaching assistant for two of her undergraduate classes. In fact, the most challenging and rewarding class of my entire academic career, The Ecology of Knowledge, was developed and taught by her. That class was one of my favorite experiences of my life. (Nerd? Yes!) Damn, that class was amazing.

Also, A. and I met in her class.

I think K. is one of the most brilliant minds I've ever encountered. In particular, I am always blown away by her ability to see patterns. In everything. Patterns of thought, patterns or speech, patterns of behaviour, patterns of knowledge, patterns of learning, patterns of consciousness, even. The stuff she is interested in blows my mind. Truly, hers is a mind I respect entirely.

She is also an excellent writer. She sees writing as a necessary vehicle to convey information, yes, but also as an expressive craft that deserves uninterrupted attention. Needless to say, I have much re-writing to do as well as hours of careful proofreading. ;-) I am a little bit scared of this task, as it is daunting, as writing for her always is, but am also gingerly anticipating the work with a bit of excitement.

Even though she isn't going to be my chair, she doesn't do anything halfway and I know she will be involved in my work. There will be no half-assed work passing for acceptable here. (I might be in deep shit!)

I am a bit nervous about our meeting. To be honest, I don't know if I could tell you what I am writing about at this point. Truly. Much of what I am working on now is muddling through all the vague, pointless suggestions of Advisor #1, my own mediocre approach to the material and whittling my project down to something I can get my head around. So, I've decided to put myself out there and have a frank discussion with K. about the situation I find myself in. (But, I will be careful not to mention Advisor #1 and what it was like to work with him. I am sure she will understand that without my saying it, and I don't need to put her in a position to hear negative comments about a colleague. I'll spare her that.) Whenever we are discussing something, she picks up on my patterns of thought that my worrying and fretting keeps me oblivious to and gently points out ideas I am hitting upon. It seems like she is almost saying, "See. You know more than you think." Or, she is really good at planting ideas and making me feel like I came up with it all on my own. Whichever. I am really counting on that quality of hers to shine through.

I have to help her help me, right?

(Why, WHY, do I let grad school and The Thesis riddle me with doubt about my abilities?)


A (new?) song by Bon Jovi just played on my online XM radio. Living on a Prayer was a hit about the time I was 15 or 16, and Jon Bon Jovi's voice played an important part in my, um, awakening. His voice still makes my knees weak and my heart flutter!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Travel Checklist

  • Pajamas - check!
  • Toothbrush - check!
  • Knitting paraphernalia - check!
  • A.'s shorts so he doesn't walk around naked - check!
  • Three days worth of dog food and appropriate amount of J-E-R-K-Y - check!
  • Puppy-proofed car - check!
  • "Fun" book to read in the car* - check!
  • "Thesis" book to read to reassure the parents that yes, I will indeed finish The Thesis someday - check!
  • Laptop for A.'s papers and *wink* my work on The Thesis *wink* - check!
  • Prerequisite winter storm with snowy, icy roads, blowing snow to obstruct driver's vision and general travel shitiness - check!
  • Snow boots, just in case - check!

A. and I are all packed up and ready to drive about four and a half hours across the state to see my folks for the holiday. I like Thanksgiving with my folks, step-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. They are good people. They drink whiskey throughout the day to increase the cheer. Woo woo!

I am not bringing my favorite Thanksgiving Potluck Dish - cranberry pie. Noni always makes so much food, and there are some picky eaters, so I chose to save myself the disappointment.

I really love this pie, though. Maybe I'll make it when A. and I get back home. It is such an easy, easy pie to make and is so yummy. A designer friend of mine from DC gave me this recipe. It is perfect for the holidays and travels well. It almost has a cake-like consistency in the middle. So yummy!

RB's Cranberry Surprise Pie

Line 10" pie pan with unbaked pie crust (I usually just buy a pie crust. Works out pretty well!)
Put 2 l/2 cups whole cranberries on crust (I plopped frozen cranberries on the crust and they bake up fine.)
Add l/2 cup chopped pecans (I never add these as A. would FREAK OUT, and then MOPE AROUND because there are nuts in his baked goods. It is much more pleasant to just leave out the damn nuts already.)
Sprinkle l/2 cup sugar over this

In a bowl mix:
l cup sugar, l cup flour, 2 eggs, l stick melted
butter or Land of Lakes margarine. (I ALWAYS use BUTTER!)
Mix well and pour over cranberry nut filling and right to crust edges. This will be the pie cover.
(This will be kind of thick and sticky so I use a spatula to smoosh it to the edges of the underneath pie crust.)

It is thick. Bake 400 degrees for about one hour or longer.
The crust edges often get too brown, after the top has cooked a little and isn't sticky, you can add a rim of foil.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I wish you safe travels, lots of quality time curled up on the couch watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and plenty of leftovers!

* Can you read in the car? I can read while riding in a car upside-down. I used to do that when I was a kid! If A. so much as looks at me reading in the car he turns a little green around the edges.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Late Saturday night:

[Me, setting my alarm: beep beep, beep, beep]

A.: What time did you set your alarm for? *snort*

Me: 8:00 a.m.

A.: *snort*

Me: I'd like to get down to the greenbelt first thing in the morning and distribute some more surveys.

A.: Yeah, there is an entire demographic you are missing.

Me: "Morning People." The fuckers. *grumble*

A.: *chuckle*

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Five

1. Sometimes those word verification things are really hard for my poor eyes to decipher, but this is because my eyesight degenerates further with each passing minute and I am kind of a dork. But yesterday I ran into a combo of letters that was something like, "bdbdgb" and it dawned on me that these must be a bitch for folks with dyslexia. It also dawned on me that I take an awful lot for granted.

2. I've started messing around with a rewrite of Chapter One of The Thesis to give to Advisor #2. My goal is to have it wrapped up by the weekend and shoot it off to D. on Monday. I have a lot of refresher reading to do, and need to really dig into the material; it's been a while.

3. Surprising in a happy, happy sort of way, this doesn't feel nearly as daunting as everything associated with The Thesis did previously. I am in a much healthier mental neighborhood this time around. I not too worried that the world will end if The Thesis is not Perfect and contain observations of such a caliber as to Shift The Paradigm. Now, I'm residing in the Whatever Neighborhood. This neighborhood? It is awesome. The neighbors are so much more friendly and forgiving of my messy front yard that appears to have no rhyme or reason, and some neighbors have even delighted in my choice of periwinkle exterior house paint instead of the typical beige or white.

4. I am quite certain that I will get helpful and timely feedback from Advisor #2, who lives just down the road in my new neighborhood. Also, I am not currently convinced that needing some guidance through This Process makes me Unworthy of Academic Recognition and that D. is not going to think I am stupid and unfit or a nuisance because I want to work with him to finish The Thesis.

5. This is a much, much better place to be. If any of you notice me futzing around with the idea of moving back to the Neighborhood of Unrealistic and Harmful Expectations, please remind me that I can't afford to own in that neighborhood and that the rent there is much, much too high.

Happy Friday to you!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ridiculously Belated Weekend Wrap Up

By 7:00 p.m. on Friday, A. and I had a weekender suitcase packed and the car puppy-proofed with two very happy mutts going apeshit in the back seat. They get so damn jazzed to be in the car that they gallop and pace across the backseat, filling the cabin with hot, damp, stinky dog breath. It is so much fun!

They pace from one window to the next, sticking their eager little faces under the front-seat seat belts and the windows, just to get a better look out the front window. All the while, charging themselves with
freakishly massive amounts of static electricity. Inevitably, they will decide they need some pets, and will ever so lovingly and kindly rest their sweet heads
on our shoulders, reminding us that they are there, in the backseat. Unfortunately, every time they shock us with static electricity from their cold, wet noses to our dainty, exposed little human ears.

There is nothing in this world, not even J-E-R-K-Y, that Buster loves more than riding in the car, watching trucks go by.

He looks frightened here, but really he is just really, really into the passing traffic. If you look closely, you can see nose smudges on the glass from when he forgets there is glass even there and tries to jump out and follow to damn trucks. Stupid, adorable puppy.


We were happily zipping our way up to the north-central-ish part of the Big Red Square State to visit A.'s family. Both his sisters were home with their kids, and it was a special treat to see those from Santa Fe.

His older sister and mom taught me how to make lefsa! I grew up eating this, but never knew how to make it myself. There is a debate between members of the family as to whether you eat this with butter and sugar or butter and brown sugar. I like the plain sugar the best, though we grew up eating it with butter and honey. When I mentioned that at the dinner table, conversation paused briefly. Apparently, that is considered a special form of culinary treason within this family.

The Universe decided to hand me a couple of gems over the weekend to help me reconsider my recent longings for a kitty to join our family.

First, A.'s sister B. mentioned that her cat, Lilly, shits in a litter box in the car during the long trip from Santa Fe and how that was mildly unpleasant.
Mildly unpleasant? I nearly died right there.

Then, Buster came up to me, all happy, wagging his tail and grinning he ass off. He and Belle LOVE it at Grandma's house. They get to run on 40+ acres without a care in the world. But that wasn't what had him so lit up.
He had found himself a new treat.

As he was panting, I had never smelled breath so foul in my life. My brain started leak out of my left ear, my nose sealed shut, and my tummy started threatening to barf and barf and barf. I looked over at A. in horror; why did our dog smell so bad? Can the others smell this?
Offensive didn't even begin to describe this dog's breath. What the hell was going on?

Turns out, Buster had eaten cat shit.

Now, from reading some of your blogs and some conversations with Black Sheeped , I know this is not an altogether uncommon occurrence. But, my lord. The wretched stink! I am getting all kinds of gaggy and antsy just recalling that horrific, horrific, smell coming out of Buster's mouth. *GAG*

Also, Lilly scares the living hell out of Buster, and even has Belle keeping a distance from her. The hissing and spitting and viscous swatting every time one of my dogs comes near her give me pause. Also, that hissing, and especially that fucking crazyass
spitting thing that she does just manifests the evilness that I fear lurks within all kitties. That is some scary shit right there.
Here is the evil kitty, only barely disguising her evilness:

But Phoebe, one of the other kitties? SO. SWEET.
Needless to say, I am rethinking the kitty adoption.
It was a full house. There were eight adults, three children (4 yrs, 18 months, and 11 months), four dogs, and three cats. BUSY. Lots of feet. It was very happy. It was relaxed. It was comfy. We celebrated an early Thanksgiving because everyone was home. A. smiled a lot. I am so glad we made the trip, so thankful for such wonderful people in my life who so openly welcome me into their own. It was one of those weekends were I fell even deeper in love with A. It was a good weekend.

A. with his nephew, M. Go, Avs!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday Five

1. Oh, yeah. It's freakin' Friday already.

2. This morning was finally the last morning to start with a generic pop tart. Thank goodness.

3. I've been fumbling around with a post about my feelings on having or not having children for some time. The comments and impending follow-up post here has this idea kicking around again. This would be, by far, the most personal post I've written so fa

4. An all-veggie sandwich that is then "toasted" is kind of weird. And kind of gross.

5. For a few months now, I've been daydreaming of adopting a kitty. I am terrified of cats. I hate when you walk into someone's house and your nose immediately informs you that, yes, this is the house of a cat owner. Myself and half of my family are allergic, as well as my best friend, Jel Bel. The dogs may try to eat the kitty, I am not sure. Or, alternatively, the kitty might scare Buster into an even more neurotic mess. Trying to budget in a third vet bill would require a knowledge of magic I do not possess. I would barf and barf and barf if I thought the kitty, with its little kitty-litter feet, was on my countertops while I was away at work. BARF.

But! Last weekend we met a tabby that was up for adoption and she has just stolen my heart. She is a pretty, pretty beige color. Kind of like this:

She is only four months-old. Do you suppose she'd purr a lot? Cuddle in bed? Snuggle with the dogs? Chase mice? Awwww.... So sweet.

But, s
imultaneously, I think: So evil. She will scratch my eyes out and gnaw on my throat while I sleep. Evil, evil kitty!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Where the Hell I've Been

I am wrapping up my involvement in a four-day statewide conference and I am SO. TIRED. But that is boring news. Here are some of the less boring highlights of the past four days:

  • Being told, in an infuriatingly passive-aggressive way, what pages I missed typos on in the 400-page cookbook by the most infuriatingly passive-aggressive colleague of the bunch. Just tell me there is a goddamn typo on page 41 already. Jesus!;
  • Crashing a two-hour sexual harassment training. Because it sounded so! fun! Bonus: role-playing a girl-on-girl kiss from a case study in front of 200 colleagues;
  • Hearing the story for, um, at least the fourth time and with no diminished discomfort, of a colleague acting out childbirth in front of these same 200 colleagues as she “congratulated” a male colleague on the birth of his first child (it was the strangest thing I've ever heard of, but this lady is fucking crazy so I am not surprised.) Bonus: Crazy Spontaneous Childbirth Lady knows A.'s mom. She is always reminding me that she "has her eye on me." WTF?!?!;
  • Eating dinner hosted at an early education and childcare center, twitching all night as I waited to contract pink eye. (I am sure all of your kids are not germy little monkeys!);
  • Bullshitting with my favorite colleagues over margaritas and dozens of rounds of spoons well past midnight on Day Three/Four;
  • Dragging my ass to the 7:00 a.m. breakfast hosted by my department on Day Four.

I missed you guys! I’ve got oodles and oodles of post-reading to catch up on. Plan on some very tardy comments!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Friday Five

1. Logistics of all sorts defeat me regularly, not the least involving how to get to work on time. Lately, though, I’ve been specifically stymied by the logistics of a mid-day workout during the work week.

Those of you who regularly work out on your lunch hours, how do you manage it? Do you take an hour and a half for lunch? Do you shower? Shampoo? Shower but don’t shampoo? Wear your hair in a ponytail the rest of the day? For those of you who don’t workout over the lunch hour but do exercise regularly, what are some tricks that have helped you establish (and keep) this routine?

2. Generic Pop Tarts? Gross. The innards, well, they snap back into place when you break the tart into two pieces. So. Gross.

3. A. and I are going to be making homemade pizza tonight or tomorrow. Do any of you have an recipes or tips for making your own crust?

4. I’ve realized that I much prefer a nice warm lunch to a cold sandwich.

5. For whatever reason, today I am missing England. Below is a picture from one of the great public spaces in Birmingham. This was a highly pedestrian area and the space enjoyed immense use. I loved it, especially during this public photography exhibit. I miss it dearly. (I don’t miss the food, though.)

Happy Friday to you!