Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nom, Nom, Nom, Nom

I am going to consider myself tagged by Laura because I am struggling with pulling together anything coherent or interesting today. At the very least, having a numbered, topical list might help with the coherency issue. Interesting? Not so much. (You’ve been warned!)

The rules are, as follows,

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.

2. Share 5 facts about yourself. – Laura talked about food, so I am, too.

3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them)

4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

1. Meat freaks me the right hell out, but I wish that it didn’t. I like the taste of meat, and I think it provides important nutrition. I know I drive family and friends a bit batty with my random shrieking and gagging at the dinner table (yes, yes I have done that).

But, I imagine pathogens all over and in it, and am TERRIFIED of biting into a piece of GOD KNOWS WHAT that I can’t get my teeth through. After An Incident of Biting Into Something Scary, my gag reflex is then on High Alert and I can’t even choke down a raw baby carrot. *gag* A. now recognizes the look that comes across my face when this happens, and has been known to quietly pass me a napkin to spit into when this unfortunate event happens in a public place. LOVE HIM.

2. Once, while browning up some ground moose meat for Sloppy Joes, I saw a piece of something that was this color:

It really was! I am not exaggerating! Ask A.! I made him look and made him *gag* remove it. *GAG*

My terror around all things meat has increased tenfold since.

3. I am not, however, scared in the slightest to eat raw fish. I looooooooooooooove sushi and sashimi. I crave it. I could eat a spicy tuna roll every day and never grow bored. Yum. Which is all very problematic and unfortunate since I live in a sea of sagebrush.

4. Going to the grocery store to buy food results in near anxiety attacks every week. I’ve been known to abandon my cart in the store for a few minutes, step outside, and breathe deeply before returning to the Cave of Sinister Tricks and Evil Lies. I’ve gone into some of my concerns about food and nutrition a bit before, but the sheer sophistication, cynicism and greed of the food marketing and delivery system boggle my simple mind. (Let’s not leave the nutrition industry out of the indictment!) The bummer is, the more I start to think about things, the more desperately I want out of the rabbit hole.

And I have a hard time keeping this shit in perspective.

5. I’ve got three food “projects” in mind. I’d like to attempt to make the following from scratch very soon:

a. whole-wheat bread with sprouted whole wheat grains that I sprout myself;

b. mayonnaise; and

c. mozzarella.

I am far too lazy to tag anyone, and for all I know everyone is sick of being tagged. Feel free to tag yourself if you just want to talk about food or if you are struggling with a topic today.

Happy Wednesday to you!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It Is Posts Like This That Make A. Question My Priorities

I just hung up the phone with a pet boarding kennel in North Dakota. They have a very large pen reserved for my sweet, sweet Buster and Belle the day of A.’s cousin’s wedding. These pups have never been boarded before and I have a very Nervous Tummy regarding the whole event.

My dogs? They don’t do their business on command while on a leash. Oh, I feel for the staff that has to wait for Buster to just settle the fuck down and take a leak already. And then, when he does? It is sure to take three minutes. I’ve timed him. At 2:37 a.m. while groggy and grumpy. (For a while I was concerned that he was developing diabetes or a kidney condition, but long pees are his norm. If he suddenly takes lots of little trips outside, I will worry.)

Belle didn’t have good experiences with people early in her life, especially women. She has made wonderful improvements in the Trust Department in the past few years, but I am still nervous. When I first came into A.’s life, Belle took her time getting to know me. She never snapped at me or anything, but if I approached her to pet her when she wasn’t asking for attention she’d give me a little growl (like an motor running, not an actual growl). So, I let the friendship progress at her pace. I let her come to me. I think that was a smart move. Now she snuggles and plays with me all the time. She follows me around the house, and is especially fond of hanging out with me while I am cooking. She’s really become my little buddy. Oh, goodness, I just love her.

Now, she greets guests – including women – and asks for attention almost immediately. She never used to allow a new woman to pet her upon just meeting. About a year ago, when she met my best friend JelBel who was in town visiting, she snuggled right up to her, no questions asked! I was so happy to see that. At one point she gave JelBel a little growl (these growls are more like purring, actually) and JelBel growled right back. Belle’s heart was won, on the spot. Too funny. I am so happy to see some trust built up in this dog.

She’s always been fiercely loyal to A. It is sweet and endearing to see how much she adores him.

The dogs have a vet appointment later today to get up to date on their shots and get a wellness check up since they are “senior” dogs. I am fairly certain this check-up will go well. They are happy, energetic dogs. I don’t think they are senior at all! Belle doesn’t like people messing with her feet or her teeth, so this afternoon should be chock full of excitement and rumblings of a Nervous Tummy, too.

I’ve decided to take them to a new vet. Their original vet, Dr. W., sketched me out a bit when he looked at Buster’s leg. I don’t know what it was, but something about him and his office just didn’t sit well with me. A good friend positively gushes about this new vet, Dr. K., so I am hoping today’s appointment goes well. I’d love to have the homeopathic vet, Dr. MotherEarth, as the dogs’ primary healthcare provider, but she is BOOKED solid, all the time. But I am so pleased with how well she got along with Buster when she looked at his leg and back. And the pup hasn’t had trouble since… I think when issues arise I’ll call Dr. MotherEarth, but for normal, run of the mill check-ups and shots and such I’ll use this Dr. K.

Speaking of Dr. MotherEarth: She recommended that I start the dogs on glucosamine and chondroitin, Vitamin C, and fish oil. I’ve found some chewable tablets that have the amounts of glucosamine and Vitamin C that she recommended, but not the fish oil. Do any of you give your dogs (or cats) fish oil? In what form? A gelcap stuffed inside a T-R-E-A-T? Squirt some on their food? Do you have any recommendations as to brand and administration?

Are you sick to death of this post yet? Then, I should warn you: Tonight the pups are scheduled for a bath and so there is sure to be a ridiculous post about me wrestling with two wet, soapy dogs tomorrow!

Monday, February 25, 2008

But, Not Really

So, do you remember when I placed a work deadline on my calendar a week later than it really was? Funny, wasn't it?

Have I mentioned that A. and I are going to his cousin's wedding on March 8 that is a 1,000+ mile trip? That required me to finagle a Friday off from work during an on-going and labor-intensive project? That this finagling involved backbends and begging and pleading and the promise of homemade cookies?

Can you guess what I am about to type next?

The wedding is, in fact, this Saturday, March 1.

I feel like I am losing my mind!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

An Improvement. Of sorts.

Well, I still don't have a chance in hell of having the report designed and printed and distributed by deadline, but such is life sometimes.

My boss, who is so very merciful, told me to do the best I can. I hate that the best I can do will not be good enough, but again -- SUCH IS LIFE.

My day improved, however. I suppose. I was presented with an opportunity to face a particular fear of mine. I was presented with an opportunity to do something that I could later brag about to A.

I ate a meal worm.

Yes, you read that correctly. I ate a meal worm that had been fried in sesame oil and garlic. It wasn't bad at all. It was a tad crunchy, but crunchy in the way popcorn is. And it tasted good, with all that garlic.

(Just how the hell did this opportunity walk itself across my desk at work? A professor down the hall had fried some worms up for a class and asked if I'd like to try one. He is also the guy who won't touch canola oil. Do with that what you will.)

Word traveled fast around the department. No shit, within three minutes I had heard from every other women in the department, all surprised I ate the little bugger.

As I gloated to A. that I had actually eaten a bug, it dawned on me that I no longer have a foot to stand on when insisting that he keep his meal worms for ice-fishing out of the refrigerator.

At least I was presented with a small personal triumph -- yes, yes I could compete on Fear Factor! -- to take the sting out of an otherwise crappy day.

What's a Week?

About twenty minutes ago I realized I put a deadline on my work calendar - a week later than it really is.

Nineteen minutes and 15 seconds ago I realized I am not going to make the (real) deadline.

Those 45 seconds that my mind journeyed to the final realization? Painful.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Last evening, during my hair appointment, the extraordinarily BORING routine of my life as of late became quite clear to me as I “updated” my stylist on what I’d been up to since my last visit.

Reading. Baking. Laundry. Not enough writing. Work.

Need to remedy this. Need to break out of this Rut of Blah.

One unfortunate and predictable result of having a BORING LIFE is that I have very little blog fodder. So, Thank the Heavens! I’ve been tagged! Tagged for the Seven Random Things meme by Flibberty. THANK YOU.

The desperation, so apparent in this post, has me really considering going to the gym tonight. At least it would be something different. And misery always makes for good blog content. Now, let’s see if I can come up with a whole seven random things about me. Er.

The Rules:

# Link to the person who tagged you
# Post the rules on your blog.
# Share seven random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog.
# Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.(I am sure I will repeat some folks, and I can’t promise I’ll hit seven folks. Sorry!)
# Leave a comment on their blogs so that they know they have been tagged. (In my case, this may be delayed by a day or two…)

1. Thirty-seven is my favorite number. Actually, the 3 and the 7 together are my favorite number. Let me explain.

I love the number three because of my sisters. My mom had three daughters, no sons. Just us. She was always very proud of this fact. My sisters and I were proud. My father positively beamed at his girls. Three. Yes, we were a family of five, but there was something really special about being three sisters.

After my mom died and my father re-married, we became a family of seven. And though I would never wish that my mother was gone, I am so thankful for the blessings that have been a part of our lives as a result of what my family is today. Including yet another (step) sister and finally! a (step) brother. Not to mention a kick-ass step-mother. Needless to say, I am a true believer that Grace comes to us in many ways.

So, 37.

2. I desperately want to become “a runner.” I daydream about how good I will feel in my own body again, how I won’t feel trapped by this extra layer that just GETS IN THE WAY, DAMMIT. I want to shed this alien that has latched onto me in the past year and a half. I can’t wait to cross that threshold from “flailing around the track painfully while panting mightily” to “running gracefully and purposefully through the pain.” I want to feel strong again.

Please don’t let me give up on this.

3. I have daydreamed about – and even tried to figure out how to – set up a radio/CD player/MP3 player/record player/tape player of some sort to solar power once life as we know it comes to a nasty, messy halt. Because I want to still be able to dance to R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” during The Revolution.

4. I inherited a fair amount of Crazy and Paranoia regarding the End of the World from my father. Thanks, Dad. Love you!

5. As a child, nothing held my heart or imagination with such steadfastness as unicorns. At one point, I had more than 50 unicorns, in some form or another, in my bedroom. Dear Lord.

6. I want to travel by myself, at least once. I want to know I can do that. It would mean a lot to me if that trip were to Turkey.

7. I love color. I mean, I really love color. My favorite part of any art project was mixing paint. One of my professors called me a Color Wizard. That nickname meant so much to me. More than it should have. I could match any color. This professor would whip up “challenge colors” for me, just to see if I could match it. FUN.

I become mesmerized by color. My favorite technique in painting watercolors is to actually build the color. Because watercolors are transparent, the color you see is what happens when light bounces back off the paper and through the layers of transparent paint to your eyes. Amazing, yes? Using watercolors, I like to build layers of color on top of each other, so that the color you see is actually a process. To a degree this is always the process in watercolors, but I like to make it a very deliberate part of the process. So instead of mixing a kind of green, I like to paint many, many alternating layers of different mixes of blues and yellows to let that green I am looking for literally glow through the paper. The theory behind this literally makes my heart race. It is so fun. I am not nearly so talented as to get the results I am looking for most of the time, but the challenge is always there and is such a thrill.

I need to paint again.

TAGGED: Whimsy, Erin, Lisa, Bibliodiva, James, Pann and PixelPi

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Friday Five: Ahead of Schedule

1. Buster and Belle were both asleep on the couch earlier tonight (so strange). Both of them had their legs simultaneously stretched out and curled around and cuddly. (How do they do that?) I thought, with such clarity and conviction as to be both startling and settling: These are my babies.

Weird, no?

2. I need to get much work done on The Thesis this weekend. The situation is rapidly approaching the category of DIRE. A. will be out of town ice-fishing in the northern part of the state so I should be able to hunker down and work. I hope.

3. I swear I heard A. mention to a friend on the phone that someone died going through the ice last week on the lake he will be fishing.

Dear God, how am I going to concentrate, what with all the fretting I will be doing?

4. I made Sloppy Joes for dinner tonight (Thursday). I used butter instead of oil. It was yummy. Here is the recipe for your own enjoyment. (Make them. They are YUMMY.)
A.'s Mom's Sloppy Joes

  • 1 1/2 lb. hamburger (we used ground moose)
  • 1/4 cup onion (I just eyeball it and use about half of an average yellow onion)
  • 2 T. shortening (I've never used shortening, used to use canola oil and just this time used butter. Mmmm... the smell of onions cooking in butter...SO GOOD)
  • 1 C. celery, diced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 C. catsup (How do you guys spell ketchup?)
  • 1 C. water
  • 2 T. vinegar
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce

Brown hamburger and onion in the fat of your carefully informed choice. Add other ingredients. Simmer for 30 minutes.

5. Oh, how I love A. I am ridiculously fond of his nose. I remember, quite clearly, falling in love with that nose on our first date.

Doesn't he have a great, stupid, fake-for-the-camera grin? *sigh*

He had this picture filed under "family." Damn, I love this man. I sure hope all this butter keeps him around for a long, long time.

Sleep Deprivation

It was another craptastic night of sleep. It all started when the 60 MPH winds (and I am NOT exaggerating) blew the power out. Buster decided this turn of events was VERY SCARY. And he proceeded to wet the bed, then run around the living room coffee table, peeing all the while. The power came back on just in time for A. to witness the splashy laps around the room.

After throwing in a load of laundry and scrubbing up yet more carpet, we all snuggled back up to bed. Buster kept yawning. He yawns when he is nervous. And we are all now very well aware of what he does when he is nervous! Every whimper and snort and yawn and stretch made by Buster jolted me out of sleep. Thankfully, but also infuriatingly, there were no more accidents throughout the night.

I can't wait for exactly 6:20 p.m. tonight because that is when I am going to bed. Bah.


A. opened his birthday gifts last night. (His b-day is Friday, but he will be up north ice-fishing.) I got him an Absinthe glass and spoon.

He is rather fascinated by all the folklore surrounding this newly-legal-again-in-the-States spirit. Unfortunately, when I swung by the liquor store last night to pick up a bottle, I was greeted with empty shelves. Apparently, just yesterday, someone came in a bought up all 12 bottles in stock. What in the hell could they have planned?


I opened my final birthday present last night, too. A. and I were both very excited to try it out. We wondered how much it would tickle. We giggled.

Afterword, we were amazed at the power. We both sighed, totally refreshed.

I am a lucky girl to have one of these for my bedtime routine:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Where I Go On and On**

Well, hell. I didn’t mean to spread a contagious round of insomnia with my post about late-night musings regarding the supposed virtues and evils of saturated and unsaturated fats. I forgot that many of you who pop in here at Sagebrush and Serendipity are health conscious and have a genuine interest in nutrition. Smart folks, you.

For the record: I am not a nutritionist. I am just a nerd with a touch of paranoia who was raised by a father with a passion for conspiracy theories. I have no formal education or training in nutrition, I just love to read about all things nutrition. A lot. (I am also growing more and more obsessed with food ways, local foodscapes, what is involved in both individual and community commitments to locavore food ways and systems, food traditions, etc. I don’t think I am exaggerating, either, when I choose the word obsessed.) In fact! Next week I am sitting in on a lecture called Ethics, Economics and Public Policy for the Global and National Food Systems. The title is a bit dry, but the abstract for the lecture is positively sexy. I have circled and starred the date on every available calendar and have invited everyone I work with and A. to join me. OBSESSED.

A few weeks ago, I ran across this post via Pann (with, what looks to be, a yummy recipe to boot!). In the post, Pann links to this post by Michelle S. Michelle’s post gives a lengthy and well-written argument against using canola oil. I always give information like this consideration but I don’t usually change my diet without further investigating claims myself. (Why I trust myself to decipher all of this shit, I don’t know. It is kind of like trusting yourself to drive more than anyone else, I guess.) I take what health columnists in newspapers and magazines write with more than a grain of salt, too. I really think their interpretations of health studies are often questionable at best. Not to mention the original structure and framework of said studies… But maybe I am just being an arrogant snot. It is not unheard of.

Even though Michelle’s post includes a lot of information, she does not include references and that always gives me pause. I still have one foot in the Pool of Academia, after all. To be fair, it would be a lot of work to include all of the references I am sure she has come across. And she has posted this to a blog rather than submitting to a journal, etc.

Nonetheless, Michelle’s post piqued my interest. Her arguments did not appear to be unsound. Just unreferenced. I decided to keep my eyes open for more info and my ears tuned to any mutterings in the nutrition world regarding canola oil.

If you glance over to the right at my “what I am reading” section, you will see I am reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon – for fun! The title of the book caught my eye; I thought the volume might be about traditional foodways in a time of convenience and fast foods. Rather, it is a cookbook with a referenced introduction that challenges conventional nutritional guidelines. I am always up for challenging the status quo, so I snatched it right up. (Also, I am curious about the food choices A.’s little sister, B., and BIL-Twice Removed* make for their son, The Most Darling M. This book appeared to be in line with their thinking.)

Much of what Michelle S. talks about in her post is brought up in this book. Hmmm. Fallon goes into enough detail regarding the different molecular structures of oils and why some are better and some are worse to further convince me to dig through more research on the effects of canola oil in our diets. I like that she didn’t brand anything (other than hydrogenated oils and trans fat) as unequivocally, unconditionally bad. Nutrition and health and environmental factors seem far too nuanced and sophisticated to allow such rigid proclamations. Her arguments and illustrations definitely keep the lay reader in mind, which is both nice and problematic. I like lots of references, casual readers probably do not. But there are enough sources included in the back of the book to get me started on my own little journey toward Dietary Validation.

So, I am not advocating throwing out your canola oil and slathering your naked body in butter. Unless you want to. *devilish grin* I would encourage you to keep your eyes open for solid, well-referenced and rigorously examined information, though. Hopefully without sounding too preachy about it?

I haven’t even started the section about sugar. Shall I post about the next Dietary Crisis I find myself in when I look through all of my cookie recipes?

* A.’s little sister, B. has a child with K. They are not married, and neither are A. and I. Hence why K. and I are in-laws twice removed. I rather like the nickname BIL-Twice Removed.

** Was this the strangest mix of nerdiness and snottiness in one post, or what?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Monday Arrived a Day Late

11:16 p.m.
Toss and turn, fail to fall asleep.

12:16 a.m.
Worry about whether I should eliminate canola oil and any and all margarine and shortening from our diets, and if making a spread from raw butter, olive oil and flax seed oil would be better. We don’t use much shortening, but we do use margarine sometimes.

12:37 a.m.
Wonder where the hell to find raw butter. Is the Challenge brand of butter raw?

1:07 a.m.
Wrestle with the deeply-ingrained idea that saturated fat is evil. Turns out, it may not be!

1:12 a.m.
Think of contacting a professor in work department who has some research on polyunsaturated fats.

1:17 a.m.
Feel shitty that the cookbook I worked on advocates canola oil. Feel a bit like an asshole. Think of implications of working in the nutrition field for the first time.

1:20 a.m.
Wonder how A. will react to this dietary change. He may like it. It is incorporating more butter, after all!

1:25 a.m.
Realize I don’t have to feel as guilty about making shortbread cookies with all that butter. Wonder if they would be good with whole-wheat flour.

1:35 a.m.
Finally drift off to a fitful sleep full of nightmares, dammit

2:48 a.m.
Get up and go to the bathroom

3:38 a.m.
Wake up, certain that my alarm is going to go off in the next five minutes. Wait.

3:45 a.m.
Realize that it is not 6:30 a.m. Look at watch and swear out loud when I see what time it really is

5:07 a.m.
Buster whines at me a while, then jumps up on the bed

6:30 a.m.
The alarm finally goes off. I had been asleep for over an hour.

6:30 a.m. – 7:10 a.m.
Am grumpy

7:20 a.m.
Much more alert after a warm shower. Notice, for the first time, that there are two piles of doggie puke in the bedroom

7:23 a.m.
Finish scrubbing up puke, blotting up cleaner

7:24 a.m.
Have a gagging spell

7:30 a.m.
Eat Overnight Oatmeal. The memory of doggie puke and the sticky consistency of the oatmeal result in another gagging spell.

7:33 a.m.
Give up. Toss the rest of the oatmeal in the trash.

8:something a.m.
Remember the snow blower isn’t working properly, so A. and I pile into the truck, uncertain if the car will get out of the drive or back to the house later tonight. THANK YOU 30+ MPH WINDS. Love those snow drifts you’ve sent us!

9:07 a.m.
Accompany co-worker into storage area to look for missing brochures.

9:08 a.m.
Notice something has spilled all over an open box of printed materials.

9:08 a.m.
Realize I tipped my coffee cup right over the materials.

9:09 a.m.
Swear profusely

9:15 a.m.
Prepare files to re-print the coffee-stained materials.

How the hell has your Tuesday been?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday Five: Not as Occasional

1. It has been -10 degrees with the wind chill due to 55 mph winds for a few days in a row now. Spring? Are you coming soon? Please? Because dammit, this is absurd.

2. A. is worried that Belle is depressed. The cycle of not enough walks, not enough road trips and too much BORING WINTER may be taking its toll. Other than fitting in more walks and some trips to the mountains, I don't know what to do. Our dogs don't play with toys. They don't chase sticks. They wrestle and cuddle. There is always lots and lots of both of those activities. Any suggestions?

3. It could be that A. is fucking with me and totally planted the "Belle is depressed" thing in my head. Bastard.

4. Yesterday I realized that I have work commitments that cannot be re-scheduled on the Rockies Home Opener. I am in total despair.

5. I bought myself a birthday present last weekend. I never buy much for myself. I will hem and haw over a $10 purchase. But I just HAD to have this:

And yes, I will be wearing this to work on April 4. *sniff*

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Lenten Ruminations and Devotions

I am not too active "in the [Catholic] Church" anymore, but it used to play a very important and defining role in my life. Most of my dearest friends I met through church retreats and volunteer opportunities organized by my favorite parish. I grew to appreciate and cherish the divinity and dignity inherent of every living thing, largely through my friendship with Father R. He taught me and our community so much. This man is a wonderful leader and represents the followers of Christ that I can admire. (If you've ever seen The Laramie Project, then you've seen a small glimpse into what a fine man he is.) He voiced his opposition to the hypocrisies in the Church while respecting it as his own community. That is not an easy task.

I miss the community intensely. Eventually, I found I was crying through Mass a few too many times, enraged and heartbroken by the hypocrisies and hatred that too often prevailed. You can probably guess what bothers me the most: not welcoming gays and lesbians as fully divine members of the community, turning "our" backs on divorced individuals and families, refusing to recognize that women are capable and inspirational members of the Church who would be a remarkable addition to the priesthood, etc. Basically, I've been a total (and happy) pain in the butt of every priest and nun I've known since high school.

I struggled with my relationship with the Church mightily. If I were truly a member of the community and took that membership and its accompanying responsibility seriously, shouldn't I stay and work to bring about the changes I think "The Church" so desperately needs to be more like Christ? I suppose I am just not strong enough for the fight. After years of internal conflict, I finally stopped attending Mass. I am not always at ease with this, but I wasn't always at ease with attending, either.

I suppose part of why I am not fit for the battle is I never really bought into everything the Church said. I wasn't never really, oh, fundamental about my faith, for lack of an articulate explanation. The Church has many hard and fast rules that I always interpretted as suggestions. (Cafeteria Catholic, anyone?) Parables and readings and spiritual studies always seemed to me to represent ideas and considerations to facilitate an active spiritual journey. I didn't see those as actual, immediate answers. I never took any of it literally. I even struggle with whether or not I actually believe in a literal sense either Jesus Christ the Man or Jesus Christ the God . I always have--and still do--believe in Jesus in a spiritual way. In a connected way. In a divine way. I could go on and on, trying to articulate this, but clearly it is beyond my means. Maybe in another post some day.

All of this leads me to how I am feeling about today: Ash Wednesday. This used to be a powerful symbol for me, and in many ways it still is. I still chose to observe this devotion, though its meaning for me is still ambivalent. Right now, for me, it is a time to do the hard work of engaging my faith, of examining what I do in my life that keeps me from Christ. (And for me, Christ is found in/is every human being, and when I really think about it, every living thing in our system. I think of Christ as our unconditional connection, through grace, with every living thing and God. But, anyway....) Also, what do I do in my life that keeps others from Christ? How do I hinder their faith journeys, rather than nourish it? (In whatever form, vocabulary, etc. those journeys may be.)

So, along with giving up soda for Lent, (as usual! When I think of a soda I'll remind myself of Jesus, or whatever they taught us in CCD classes) I've decided to meditate daily. I am hoping to develope a habit of quietness, where I can look for and find my demons in an environment of peach and grace. I am hoping to train myself not to react to these demons, but rather draw them out and face them. And maybe reconnect with whatever my faith is again.

Oh, and I will also work on The Thesis for at least three nights a week. Bah.

Now for the fun part! Do you observe Lent? What are your plans for the next 40 days?


This post turned out to be much heavier than I'd planned. Obviously, I've decided to throw it out there anyway. I am struggling with how to articulate much of what is bouncing around my head, so please bear with me.

And Then There Were Five

My step-brother, C., and his wife, J., welcomed their second son, Little L, yesterday! A. and I are an auntie and uncle five time over!

The umbilical cord had wrapped around L2's neck twice, but thankfully the doctor was able to perform an emergency c-section and baby and mama are doing really well. My step-brother is over the moon. He is so in love with his kids. It is awesome to see. I hope Big L. is tickled with his new baby brother!

Welcome, Little L!


I am a tad bummed out that Little L. and I don't share the same birthday. At least we are both under the sign of Aquarius. Woohoo!


C. and I have never been very close. When our parents married, he and I lived in the same house for all of four days before I left for college. During my visits getting to know the step-sister who was "away" wasn't really a priority. Football and girls were his primary concern, as they would be any high school boy. There are days when I really regret that we don't know each other better, that our relationship is cordial and polite but not close. Other days I am thankful that our relationship is cordial and polite because at least then it isn't resentful.

I've watched C. grow from a shy, awkward, skinny cowboy to a dedicated, ripped athlete. And now, over the past few years, I've watched him grow into a very adoring, patient, and committed father. It has been a remarkable transformation. He is huge. He played college football. And his is so, so, so very gentle with his babies. I may not know him well, but I am still proud of him and the kind of father he's become.


My sister, T., is due in less than two months. I love being an auntie!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Each With Our Own Name

Inspired by this post by Shauna over at Pickles and Dimes, I decided to delve into my dark, dark past and share with you why I am a Shovelling Pain In the Ass.

Yes, yes I am.

When my father re-married, my family moved into my step-mom's house. She'd been in this house since her first marriage, and my step-siblings knew this as their only home. Since my family was moving 75 miles in this marital deal, it was a no-brainer.

My family adopted many of the daily routines and rituals that came with that house. It provided my sisters and I with some unfailing structure which we desperately needed after losing our mother, and it kept the household in smooth running condition after it had more than doubled in size. We were all happy.

Until that first winter.*

The neighbors on our block were almost all elderly and couldn't shovel their sidewalks and driveways. If they couldn't, then they shouldn't be shovelling. The neighbor next to us wasn't elderly, but she'd adopted two parapaligic children and didn't have time to shovel. She also had a MASSIVE driveway and sidewalk to accommodate all the wheelchair-loading and unloading in her vans.

So, the no-nonsense thoughtful and generous woman that she is, my step-mom decided early on that she and the kids -- who now included my sisters and I -- would shovel everyone's sidewalks, driveways and stairs. EVERYONE ON THE ENTiRE BLOCK.

It gets better. Stay with me.

Not only did we have to shovel the entire block's worth of sidewalks, driveways and steps, we had to do this at 5:00 a.m. Why? Because. The paperboy delivered the paper at 6:00 a.m. and we couldn't let him make any stubborn footprints in the snow that could turn to ice.


We had to shovel the street. Yes. I am not shitting you. You read that correctly. We had to shovel all of the snow from the sidewalks, driveways, steps, and the street at least three feet into the center of the street so that when the plow came down the middle the snow was actually moved instead of just piled up in everyone's gutters and in their driveways. Once reasonable progress was being made and snow was starting to show up in the street, my parents followed up with snowblowers and blew it even further into the street.

At one point -- I swear I remember this but T. and A., do let me know if I am only hallucinating and creating an alternate reality for myself -- we each had our own shovel with our name on it.

Needless to say, I have very little patience and no capacity for understanding when folks won't shovel their 20 feet of sidewalk in front of their house. It is a character flaw I share with all of my siblings. And I get lit up and all sorts of crazy-ass PISSY when I see some little old lady shoveling her own walk. Hello? Neighbors? Where the hell are you?


* To be fair, I was a freshman in college with my family moved into the new house an so my sisters shoveled far more than I. But I did do my fair share of shoveling, especially because the bulk of time I spent visiting my family was during the winter months.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Without fail, for each of his daughter's birthdays, my father sends flowers. It is the one thing I always look forward to, every year. There is something about this ritual that makes me feel so very cherished.

My friends from DC and NYC sent me flowers as well. This is one of the best arrangments I've ever seen.

Thank you, for all you do to remind me how loved I am. It means the world to me.


Please excuse the crappy picture-taking. What can I say? Photography is not one of my gifts!