Monday, December 15, 2008

Baby Birds, Hallucinatory Dessert, Holiday Goal Setting

Oh, the CUTENESS!! I am just about to die. Baby birds practice their songs in their head while sleeping. Baby birds! Practicing! Baby bird tweets! and chirps!

(There is also some interesting ideas about memory and learning in that article, but I am pretty distracted right now with the cuteness of it all.)


I love birds, bird songs and bird watching. Anyone else? (Vicki - are you still scared of birds? That was you, right?)

My great-grandmother always said I had an old soul. I think she was right.


It only snowed about 2-3 inches over the weekend but it has been below -15 degrees outside all weekend. There still hasn't been any W _ _D to speak of, so the snow has stayed put and isn't melting away. Also, the cold is totally bearable without the W _ _ D.

The town I live in doesn't plow (I KNOW, RIDICULOUS. It is not as if snow is a rarity around here.), so all the snow has been driven on and is packed down tight. This morning, it looked like I was driving on white fondant icing. It even felt like it a little, kind of solid but creamy. It looks like the entire town has been wrapped in the smooth, flawless icing. Walking to work was like walking in a winter wonderland! It is awesome (but slick).


I am sooooo behind on Christmas stuff. New goal: send out-of-town gifts to UPS by Tuesday after work and get cards in the mail by Wednesday. Cookies? Oh, man. Baked and ready to deliver by Friday.

Man, I am going to be POOPED by the weekend.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

W _ _ DY

I cannot believe I am about to type this, but I am kind of glad winter has arrived.


Before you accuse my of losing my mind, I should explain that some unusual circumstances have brought about this reluctant (and noncommittal) change of heart. First, we have had a warm, drawn-out autumn. We never have weather like that. Ever. Usually, fall lasts all of three days and winter arrives and stays for eight, maybe nine long months. This leisurely fall has given me time to get accustomed to the idea of winter. It doesn't seem as scary. Still scary, just not as scary. The difference is sublte, but important.

Also -- and this is probably the most influential factor in my gracious attitude toward this winter season -- there really has not been any (Oh, do I dare type it?) W _ _ D to speak of. (Don't say it out loud! Please! You will jinx us back into our normal, howling 40+ MPH W _ _ D! Please, for the love of all that is sweet and pure, for bunnies and kitties and unicorns, DO NOT SAY THAT WORD OUT LOUD.)

Sure, there was that one day of 45+ MPH W_ _ D with gusts up to 70 MPH. But that was only ONE DAY. Usually, circumstances are flipped. Usually, there is ONE DAY of calm throughout all of winter. People come outsides in droves, so freakin' sick with cabin fever (W _ _ D Fever?) that they jump at the chance to be outside. So much energy gets freed up when you don't have to lean into the W _ _ D that you just feel like leaping around for the hell of it. Because you can. Every pup in town gets an extra walk on that day because it is just so damn nice to be outside.

So, if this is what winter could look like, not as an exception but as the rule, I could definitely get into the season. It is pleasant to be outside, even if it is only 11ºF outside. Who knew? I certainly did not.

Yep, wherever we live next has to be relatively W _ _ D-free. What a difference.

Oh, man. It STILL is not W _ _DY. Holy cow!

Remember - don't say the word out loud! Please! My sanity depends on it.

Monday, December 8, 2008


A. just finished his last presentation for the semester. He has one more class and he is officially done with his dual-masters.


I guess this means I really need to finish The Thesis From Hell by May, now, doesn't it?



I am really stressed over the logistics of Christmas this year. A. and I will be driving to Sioux Falls, SD with the dogs, where they will promptly be abandoned at this really great doggie jail. For three days. This will only be their second stint in jail and I am pretty stressed about how they will handle it for three whole days! But it is an awesome place, so I feel confident they will be in good hands.

But. We have to be in Sioux Falls no later than 6:00 p.m. on the 23rd or the kennel won't take the dogs. Um, that means there can be no funny weather. No delays of any sort.  If we are late, we have to figure out what to do with the dogs for the entire trip. Having the dogs with us will probably really stress out my stepmom, and, thus,I would feel like shit the entire trip. So!

No worries there, traveling through Wyoming and South Dakota in December!!! Everything is sure to work out just fine.


I totally thought I was on top of the Christmas shopping, but then I remembered two entire sets of grandparents. How rotten of a person am I? I FORGOT MY GRANDPARENTS. Geez.


I am hoping a night curled up by the fire (yay! curled up by the fire!!) writing Christmas cards and baking cookies will chase away this Grinchy Anxiety and bring in some Christmas Cheer.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Five

Updated to add the following video. Holy cow. It is both horrifying and THE MOST HEARTWARMING THING I'VE EVER SEEN.

I have had it with the stupid Glade commercials where the woman tries to conceal that she bought regular candles by lying, telling her friends they are expensive "boutique" candles and her bitchy friends gleefully calling her out on it. The commentary on women, female friendships and status infuriates the living hell right out of me.

2. I don't suggest substituting Johnny Walker for Jack Daniel's in a whiskey sour. Gross. I should have known better.

3. Tonight I intend to curl up a hot cup of Russian Tea* (or Spiced Tea**)and a mountain of cookbooks and determine which cookies I will be baking over the next week for my holiday cookie gift bags. I am so anxious to just go home and get started! The Cookie Action Plan needs to be finalized! I love this planning stage as much as I love the baking stage. So. fun.

4. I nearly have my Christmas Card List updated and ready to go. Thanks to the VERY GENEROUS gift from the Petty Bureaucrat last year that still makes me all warm and fuzzy and teary-eyed from the sheer thoughtfulness of it, I will not exceed my Stamp Budget.

5. Winter hadn't really arrived here until this week. Last week I was too warm wearing a sweatshirt -- without a coat -- outside and last night it got down to -20ºF. Good times.

The wood stove is AWESOME. I cannot explain how much more comfortable we are now, all warm and toasty. I am so very grateful that A. and I had the the monetary and logistical resources to install the stove.

I cannot help but think of folks who are not as fortunate as A. and I and who are struggling to keep warm.
I'd like to encourage you one more time to look up your state LIHEAP office, whether for your sake of for the sake of someone you know. Please don't hesitate to share this information with someone who might need it. It is scary, for whatever reason, to acknowledge that we or someone else needs help. Corny as this is going to sound, you may be a blessing in someone's life if you share this info.

Qualifying incomes have increased so more people than ever can qualify for heating assistance. Also, it is possible that even if utilities are included in rent that people can still recieve assistance. The landlord or manager who handles the actual utility bills needs to be involved, but I believe it is only one set of paperwork they need to fill out. It will not be a monthly commitment to paperwork by the property owner.

Warm Friday wishes to you!

* Russian Tea Mix

1 cup instant tea powder
2 cups orange-flavored drink mix (e.g. Tang)
1 (3 ounce) package powdered lemonade mix
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

In a large bowl, combine instant tea powder, orange drink mix, lemonade powder, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Mix thoroughly. Store in a sealed jar.
To use, mix 3 to 4 tablespoons of mix with 1 cup hot or cold water. Adjust to taste.

** My friend, Bibliodiva, makes her Spiced Tea with a smidge different proportions and ground ginger. It is super yummy.