Friday, August 31, 2007
Hang on a sec.
Doesn't the smell warn you... when there's a... smell?
I don't know who developed this product, but as a cat owner with many years of cat co-residence in my life, I have never, not even once, toodled along to the litter box to have a peek at the contents just for the fun of it, or even for research purposes. I don't care if they develop a product that sparkles and sings, I'm still not going to stick my head in and have a look-see.
I wonder just what audience they're catering to that needs a visual warning of an oncoming smell?
Thursday, August 30, 2007
This book makes me hungry.
Like, ALL the time. And not just for any old food. But for real buttery, drippy, crispy, thoroughly bad-for-your-veins, good-for-your-soul food. Homesick food. Comfort food.
But then I got distracted. One scene is set at an outdoors reception type event and one of the characters brought her famed cucumber sandwiches to the party. Now, I’m a fan of the cucumber sandwich. But I was not a fan as a child, and frankly, I don’t know anyone who was. I only discovered the joys of cucumber sandwiches in college, while working on a production of “The Importance of Being Earnest”. (In case you never saw it or read it, there is a scene in which cucumber sandwiches are the main sustenance for Algernon. It’s funny. You should see/read it.)
I rediscovered cucumber sandwiches when I lived in England, and I don’t really associate them with the American South. The English version of cucumber sandwiches was very simple: good bread, crisp and thinly sliced cucumbers, butter, salt and pepper. They are VERY tasty sandwiches.
But the book I’m reading now referred to cucumber sandwiches and mayonnaise in the same breath and I got curious. (I was reading on the train on the way home from work.) By the time I’d gotten home, I’d decided my dinner this evening would not be leftovers or homemade pizza or anything like that. No. Tonight I would experiment with cucumber sandwiches. For the good of all interested cucumber eaters everywhere, I would selflessly experiment with cucumber sandwiches to determine, once and for all (or at least for tonight): Which were the best?
I made them all the same, varying only the spread. I tried three varieties: with butter, with sour cream, and with Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise. (I'd have tried with cream cheese too but didn't have any.)
And the winner is…
I was surprised. But there you are. Cucumber sandwiches with mayo are mighty tasty. I recommend them highly.
My father does not like cucumbers. If you offer him any, or perhaps, try to sneak a few onto his plate to see if he'll notice, he’ll growl and say, “Even pigs won’t eat cucumbers!” Then he might tell you story about how smart pigs are. (He and George Clooney would BOND, y’all.)
I just say, the pigs are missing out.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I just spoke with an old friend. We hadn't talked in ages but spent an hour or so on the phone tonight, catching up and making each other laugh. I love that we can go for months without speaking and just pick up as if we still see each other every day, the way we used to.
Without going into too much detail, Ange-Pudding and I discovered that we are in very similar situations, and that we are employing similar methods for changing – improving – our circumstances. (I can't describe just how incredibly comforting it was to discover someone else is going through pretty nearly exactly the same thing.) We agreed, quite solemnly, to cross our fingers for each other, and send mighty thought waves of optimism back and forth between Boston and Birmingham.
“And cross your toes!” I told her.
“I don't think my toes will do that.”
Hm. Turns out mine don't cross either. (Funny. I thought they used to. Maybe that was my nephews...) But I KNOW there are folks out there with the prehensile toes, and now we throw ourselves on your mercy. If you've got the cross-able toes, please cross 'em for us.
I'm sorry to be so vague about our circumstances – once we've changed them I'll fill you in as best I can.
In the meantime... cross those toes!
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I went to my dentist yesterday. He put his hand in my mouth. I bit him.
It happened like this: I went to the dentist to get a crown. Unlike checkers, getting a crown for a tooth does not indicate skill. I've learned all sorts of new things about crowns - chief among them, crowns are expensive - and I'm not a fan. I am, however, a fan of my dentist, who is good at explaining what he's up to, warning me of bad tastes/noises/smells, and not causing me undue pain.
When we got to the part where he had to take an impression, he walked me through all the techniques for remaining calm and not freaking out when the urge comes over me to gag and freak out. I listened, nodded wisely, and forgot all about it, gagging and freaking out just exactly as I knew I would. Poor dentist. He had his hands in my mouth, holding the impression tray in place, when I began to freak out, so when I bit down, I bit down on his poor skilled fingers. He soothingly talked me through it, I began to calm down, and then he politely asked if I'd mind easing up *just* a little, so he could free his fingers.
For the rest of the morning I had to avoid thinking about it, because it made me giggle. And when the dentist has his hands in your mouth you do not want to giggle. First, because you shouldn't distract anyone with a drill in his hand. Second, giggling in that situation sounds like pig snorts and that's no way to maintain control of yourself.
So. I bit my dentist and spent the rest of the morning trying not to laugh about it.
Mouse update: Too much mouse, not enough landlord. Scheming to reverse that.
My cats have apparently discovered their histrionic sides.
By that I mean they think it’s FUN to freak me out now.
After several days of mouse-free peace in my home, I began to relax a little. Yesterday I even sat on my own couch for the first time in a week.
But two nights ago, as I sat in my arm chair, reading and enjoying a quiet evening, my cats suddenly went all alert and hunter-like in my bedroom. That’s right, in my bedroom, scrambling around under my bed, shoving stored linens and handbags out of the way in haste. I have no idea in haste for what. I was overcome with horror that there was the possibility of a mouse being anywhere near my bedroom, much less under the bed. I went into action (after the initial shrieking, hopping and donning of boots episode). I set a mouse trap under there and cleared out the handbags.
A few hours passed. No mouse in the trap. No more cat interest under the bed.
It was merely a diversion, apparently.
I think my cats have discovered that the answer to boredom is the feline equivalent of crying ‘wolf!’ They just head to a different part of the apartment and start looking for mice. I’ll come running. There will be shrieking and jumping up and down. Flashlights, mousetraps, the whole works. It’s like a little mini melodrama, all for the entertainment of my pets. Its better than any of their toys from PetSmart.
And since at least once in the recent past they’ve been absolutely correct to be on the alert, they know that I will always react this way. Because heaven forfend I should decide they’re just playing on my nerves one night only to discover another real-live mouse dancing around the place…
Friday, August 24, 2007
When I was a kid one of my favorite books was “The Cricket in
I loved it.
I actually loved a mouse. I also loved Reepicheep in the Narnia books and Gus-Gus in the Disney Cinderella movie.
I like literary and cinematic mice.
I do not love the real-live mice in my house. You read that correctly. Mice. Plural. My apartment is under siege.
The mouse in my living room – who failed to appear last night and whose whereabouts now worry me in the extreme – is actually from a family of mice that has moved into the cupboards beneath my kitchen sink. I don’t know where these mice came from, but they apparently came in large numbers. And they're not too picky about where they live - there's no food under my sink. Only Gladware and pots and pans. I have no idea what they're eating since the only one brave enough to come into the rest of the kitchen where the food is, was chased to death by my cats. (Was it death? Is he curled up in some cozy fatal spot in my living room, soon to start reeking? Did he find a mouse-sized equivalent to the door from 'Being John Malkovich'? Is he in another dimension? I refuse to speculate about the possibility he's moved to another room...)
I do know that there's a large number of them, wherever they came from, for whatever reasons.
That statement is so utterly revolting that I have to pause a moment to gather my strength.
I’ve been setting traps. The traps have been catching… things. There’s an actual body count. It’s on the rise.
The landlord has been brought into the situation. The landlord, following what I can only assume is a sort of landlordian circular anti-logic, worries fretfully that since he’s never had mice in this house before, I must have somehow brought them with me because of the cats. That’s right. Because of the cats.
Never mind I've lived here more than 2 years and this is the first time we've had a problem. Never mind that the cats think the mice are the best entertainment they’ve had in years. That my cats haven’t slept in days because they spend all their time chasing the one under the couch (WHERE IS HE?!) and alertly eyeing the kitchen cabinets in hopes that the rustling they hear in there will turn into more little gray playfellows out here.
The cats are clearly the cause of the mice in my house.
I, however, am following my friend Miss Amazing’s advice. I am SENDING THE MICE A MESSAGE. The message is this:
“You may have thought this would be a mouse-friendly house, but you would be wrong. She only likes fictional mice. When it comes to real mice, the crazy shrieking lady in the boots and pajamas means business. She cunningly uses the power of Jiff Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter to lure you to your death. Mice, beware! If the crazy lady doesn’t get you, the fat cats will play with you until you die. Seriously. They played with our cousin for two and a half days and we never saw him again…”
Please pass this on to any rodents in your area. I’m trying to get the word out.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I admit I'm having a little difficulty trusting the food chain, largely because the carnivore in whom all my hopes are invested isn't aware that she's supposed to be hungry for the kill. She thinks the little fellow in the gray leisure suit has come to play games. A cat who has never really lost touch with her inner kitten, Wilkie thinks the mouse is a heaven-sent opportunity to play ALL THE TIME.
To my horror, the mouse is still under the couch. Wilkie sometimes plays tag with him. Sometimes she plays hide and seek. Sometimes she bops him on the head like Little Bunny FuFu and the field mice. For all I know after I go to bed they may play a hand of poker or gin to pass the time.
It's the bopping that gets me. I SAW her. She had him in her clutches. I was on the phone with Kelsey, trying to protect my bedroom, and yelling encouragement at Wilkie to kill the little varmint and she just looked at me like I was getting in the way of all her fun. Then the mouse ran back under the couch.
Thank goodness Kelsey was on the phone with me. She kept me calm. (That may be news to her. 'Calm' in this instance means 'no outright screaming or flailing' but there was definitely a lot of adrenalin and volume involved.) Kelsey has been through this before with her cat Charlo,
and she advised me just to trust the food chain. She said this tortuous game-playing part has to happen before the mouse gets exhausted and Wilkie delivers the coup de grace.
(She didn't actually say it that way. I'm paraphrasing. Partly because I NEED to envision the coup de grace part. It's the life I want to lead. The one where the mouse is definitively dead and I can dispose of its carcass. NOT the one now where I skulk on the open edges of my living room and look distrustfully at all my books and furniture, wondering where he's hiding now, and if he's dead or alive.)
After the mouse ran back under the couch and Wilkie went back to watching the perimeter Kelsey said, “I'd feel a whole lot better about this if you were wearing boots.” Good point. I rummaged around till I found my knee-high winter boots and added them to my pajama ensemble. Not a look I'll be taking outdoors, but good enough for a mouse encounter.
Then Kelsey asked, “Where's Dickens?” Good question. I went looking for him. Realized he had put himself to bed in my room. Um. I don't think so. I hauled his furry orange butt into the living room, set him on duty near the couch, and lectured him on his role in the food chain. There was only a little sulking before he got back into it.
This morning there was no indication of the mouse’s presence, dead or alive. The cats acted as if nothing had happened.
I’m REALLY getting sick of feline nonchalance.
The mouse and I are both being held hostage. I will keep you apprised of changing circumstances.
In the meantime, trust the food chain.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I went to bed as usual last night. All was well. I look back at that last moment of serenity now and sigh regretfully.
About 2.45 am my cats were raising a ruckus in the living room, which happens to be right outside my bedroom. It was loud enough to wake me up and it made me very grumpy. I shouted at them, rolled over and went back to sleep.
At 3.45 am the ruckus was so loud that I had bolted out of bed and was standing wild-haired in the bedroom doorway, flicking the living room lights on before I knew I was fully awake. "WHAT are you guys doing?!" I yelled.
The two of them took no notice of me and kept playing. Dickens was in watchful mode and Wilkie was in full-on huntress on the wild prairie mode. She batted her toy under the dining room table and followed it to the wall. The toy squeaked.
I'm afraid this story is a perfect illustration of how I wake up stupid.
I stood there for a few minutes while parts of my brain warred for an explanation that makes sense. I NEVER buy my cats squeaky toys for precisely this reason: the toys only get played with in the middle of the night and I wake up real unhappy about it. My cats play with silent toys.
But this one squeaked. Then this squeaky toy started moving in slow motion independently of Wilkie. That's when it finally dawned on me that the squeaky toy was ALIVE.
I do believe I stood there for fully 5 minutes in horror and slowly mounting panic as I realized that my cats had a real live mouse in the living room and I had no idea what to do about it.
What follows next is embarrassing and I have to ask you to be very forgiving in your judgment of my behavior. I wake up stupid, remember?
The mouse ran under the couch and my cats commenced harassing it to come out. My first productive response to the problem was to put on bedroom slippers. I briefly considered donning my winter knee-high boots but decided that was not merited just yet. Then I went back to standing in the doorway. I REALLY didn't want that mouse to run into my bedroom.
There was a whole lotta nothing going on. Cats intently stalking the couch. Me standing there trying to figure out something useful to do.
I got out a flashlight and started holding it near the floor so it could light up whatever was going on under the couch. The cats got real interested in the flashlight and came over to investigate. So much for the flashlight. "Get back over there and catch that mouse!" I yelled.
They went back to the couch. My adrenalin levels were soaring. Not that I was doing anything.
At some point I got a bathroom towel, closed my bedroom door and used the towel to block the gap near the floor. No mouse in the bedroom, no matter what happens.
I also armed myself with a large tupperware container. If that mouse came racing toward me across the carpet, I'd be ready. (Do you believe that? Yeah. Me neither.)
Suddenly - and I do think we're about 20 minutes into this real-life cat and mouse adventure - it occurs to me that I could ask for help. (Give me some credit for recognizing the shortcomings of my own mental capacity at that time.) Okay, so it was 4 am, but still. Someone might be awake somewhere right? I quickly texted two friends, one who is sometimes a night owl and one who has a new baby:
"4 am. R u up?"
No answer. And then it hits me - my mom lives in Australia! Jackpot!! It's gotta be like what 4.30 in the afternoon there, or maybe 6 pm? At any rate, she'll DEFINITELY be awake. I call. I tell her what's going on in my Voice of High Drama. My mom starts laughing at me.
I can't tell you how comforting that was.
Eventually Mom talked me out of the hysterical idea of staying up all night to keep an eye on a mouse smart enough to hide under a couch. After considering and discarding a few other creative suggestions (Mom's gifted at lateral thinking) involving winter boots, redistribution of cats and lights, and opening doors and windows, I let myself be talked into going into my bedroom, shutting the door, blocking the gap with the towel and going back to sleep. Ha.
Well, I tried.
There was a brief lull, more audible cat ruckus, and not a lot of sleeping. About 5.45 my cats set up a plaintive howl outside the door - they really don't like to be shut out of the bedroom - so I tentatively opened it. No mouse carcass on the floor or in their mouths. Perhaps it was too much to hope for.
At any rate, today I will be recovering from a nocturnal adventure of suspense, disappointment and adrenalin. And I will be buying mousetraps.
Postscript: This morning when I got up, a little blearier than usual, the cats seemed perfectly fine. No gloating over prey caught, but also not obsessing over prey lost. But as I left for work today there they were in the corner of the living room, resting in the watchful but ready-for-action shoebox pose. I have no idea if the mouse is back there, or if that's where he was last seen. I devoutly hope he finds some magical exit to the outside world and that I never have to see him again, dead or alive.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
So I’m sitting in my office at , about ready to leave for the day. For those of you who’ve never seen my office, it’s quite large, and quite full of stuff I inherited from my predecessors. One corner is full of books, files, accession records and my desk. One corner is full of Native American artifacts that have yet to be accessioned. One corner is full of dollhouse furniture and toys that were kept in various parts of the old museum and need to be relocated to permanent new homes. And the rest of it is allegedly work space that has somehow morphed into storage space – it’s all covered with stuff that comes to me from old exhibits, old closets, people’s desks, etc., and I have to find a home for it at some point.
My office is notoriously cold and the relative peace and quiet it offers in a loud museum is a secret I don’t share with many. I’m isolated from almost every other staff member. My closest neighbors on this floor are the (usually empty) staff lounge and bathroom, two telephone utility rooms and a fax machine.
So, like I said, I’m sitting here, about ready to go, when loud enormous bird tweets started pouring forth from the far corner. Not real bird tweets. Recorded ones. And at such a volume that upon hearing them I can only assume this is what a bug feels like when a bird stands over it and sings about its supper. HUGE bird tweets.
Then they stopped. I immediately emailed this information to various people on staff here to see if loud bird tweets were supposed to be coming from the very walls or if this is a special treat just for me. Everyone assumed I’d gone more than usually crazy. No productive information about the tweets from my colleagues.
Then there were loud beeps.
Then loud rock music. Someone was clearly rocking out.
For nearly 10 minutes there were alternating blasts of noise and silence. The noises were so loud that they made me feel small. I felt like I’d stepped through the looking glass and while everything around me looked the same, if I stepped out of the office I would find that everyone here in this alternate world was invisible, enormous and possibly hard of hearing since they're all so loud. While none of the dimensions in my office had changed, my perception of my own size had shrunk considerably. I felt like I was about the size of a Tootsie Roll.
Suddenly the normal sized phone on my desk rang. It was my friend and colleague Claire (the one who is sometimes also known as the Easter Bunny of the Keys for her habit of leaving keys wherever she goes.) Turns out Claire left her cell phone in my office after our most recent meeting.
Four people had called her. Some left messages. And her battery is low.
Apparently those 3 statements explained all the weirdness that has been happening here.
Except that it’s been so surreal I’m not quite ready to open my door and check on whether the world out there is as I left it, or if it’s all spooky and wonderland-ish…
Since I’ve never really gotten organized to develop a blog roll, and since it would change so often that maintaining it would become a major task anyway, I figured today would be a nice day to let you in on some of my favorite reads.
For a daily dose of ‘what’s going on over there?’
HolyMama! (aka my sister)
Days to Come (blog friend Jeana is by turns thoughtful and hilarious)
Time & Place (new blogger - with a new baby! - and old friend)
Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds (home of some of my favorite modern fairy tales – read up on her chocolate gas station or Tomato Man posts)
For crafty inspiration
Angry Chicken (beautiful photographs - and I love her book, "Bend the Rules Sewing")
(beautiful photographs - and I love her book, "Bend the Rules Sewing")
For the food-obsessed
Bon Appegeek (Say it with me now, "Yum.")
(Say it with me now, "Yum.")
Blogging Basics 101
For a Jane Austen fix
Austenblog... she’s everywhere (I’m so entertained that this blog exists.)
Monday, August 20, 2007
I had reason to consider a few of these this weekend, and then entertained myself by coming up with a few others. Feel free to add to the list.
Don’t wear wrap skirts. It’s highly unlikely you live in a place without wind, and it only takes a little breeze to send that baby up in the air. I learned this while wearing a wrap skirt in
Do tie your shoelace BEFORE you get on the escalator.
Don’t get in an elevator with a claustrophobic. Even for a short ride.
Do get yourself a bug wand if you hate dealing with bugs and spiders and cannot guarantee that someone will be with you 100% of the time to deal with them for you. My sister got me mine. It’s good against everything except these which are too big and heavy for the bug wand. For those you need a scream that can carry several miles and brings help to your side at a dead sprint. Nothing less will do.
Do not wear flip flops with a tailored suit.
Do not wear clothes that have words on the butt. Really. No one wants to read your butt, not even if you are a cheerleader or a rap star.
Do choose your travel companions wisely. If there’s any chance at all that the two of you will come to blows, or that one of you may crack up, say, on a camel ranch outside of Alice Springs in the middle of a major backpacking tour, then perhaps you shouldn’t travel together.
Do get the insurance if you rent a car. It is SO worth it.
Do be wary of getting a haircut ‘no one else has.’ There may be a VERY good reason for that.
Don’t take your non-waterproof digital camera to the water’s edge. If it goes in, it will never click again. I learned that the hard way and am still in mourning.
Don’t tell your nephews you work in a museum ‘right on the water’ and expect them to think you work on the waterfront. They will assume you work in a museum that floats around the
Do make your own cookies. They’re just BETTER.
Do listen to Willie Nelson sing. Just do it, people. You can thank me later.
Don’t stick a dead snake down someone’s shirt. No matter what arguments you may use to persuade yourself, ultimately, it’s just not something you should do. Ever.
Do make stuff. Use your hands. Whether it’s baking, writing, cooking, sculpting, knitting, wood-working, bead-working, making order out of chaos, taking pictures, making music, painting, gardening – whatever it is. Making stuff - for yourself or for others - is just good for you.
Friday, August 17, 2007
When I was in college I played ‘Katharine’ in a production of ‘Love’s Labors Lost.’ It was a great show, directed by my friend
One of the many great things about the show (cast, set, costumes - the list goes on) was its soundtrack, which included:
- Why Do Fools Fall in Love (Diana Ross)
- Respect (Aretha
- The Sweetest Taboo (Sade)
- Another Brick in the Wall (Pink Floyd)
- Groovin’ (The Young Rascals)
It was this last one that confused me a little. Groovin’ on a Sunday Afternoon by the Young Rascals. Cool song. Very groovy and romantic. But right at the end there, after going on and on about spending a long lazy afternoon with the love of his life, the singer croons, “… you and me and Lesley.”
For years I was puzzled. Why introduce a third party? Things were going so well.
Then someone explained it was ‘you and me endlessly.’
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Sometimes I am aware of moving in two worlds: the one inhabited by the vast majority of the world (Normal People) and the one inhabited by people I work with (
ONLY for the purposes of this post, ‘Normal People’ refers to people who don’t work in museums. I know good and well just how ‘normal’ that makes some of you, but that’s a discussion for another time. Right now we’re talking about the weirdness particular to the insular world of museums.
At a national conference a few years ago one of the speakers gave a speech that mimicked Jeff Foxworthy’s famous “You know you’re a redneck if…” riff, but instead went, “You know you’re a museum person if…” The following list is a partial recount of that speech, with some additions of my own. The crowd at the conference thought it was hilarious, but I’m willing to bet most non-museum people will just think it’s odd.
This should give you a glimpse of the
You know you’re a
- You complain about the ‘signage’ in your local grocery store.
- You use the date estimate ‘circa’ in everyday conversation.
- Your office contains at least two of the following: a taxidermied animal you did not shoot or catch yourself, fire proof filing cabinets, an enormous quantity of white gloves, a Brother P-Touch label-maker, an eyewash station, dozens of pantone color chips, yellowing catalogue cards, a space-aged vacuum that looks like R2D2, a reproduction of a Sears mail-order catalogue c.1905, or an Underwood typewriter c.1910.
- You would be upset to receive fresh flowers at work – and bring in pests!?! The horror.
- Your own personal thermostat is so perfectly calibrated that you can immediately tell when you’ve walked into a room that has cooled or warmed a whole two degrees away from its usual temperature.
- Most things you encounter can somehow be tied to the state education curricula for grades 2-5.
- Your friends bring you baggies with bug carcasses in them, asking for your expert advice: what would you do if you found one of these in your sweater drawer? (‘Scream’ is apparently not considered a ‘professional’ answer.)
- You’ve ever followed a list serve discussion on how to catalogue Dentist Barbie, how to rephrase the command ‘Please don’t touch’ or what were the best Christmas gifts of the 1950s.
- People assume you’re on a first-name basis with Tutankhamen, Claude (Monet), George (
- Anyone at any time has recommended that you or your workplace should appear on Antiques Roadshow.
Now I’m sure few of you are actually rolling around laughing, clutching your sides, begging for mercy and oxygen. But really. That’s just about the acme of museum humor. I find it pretty amusing, but will understand if you don’t.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Today is a crazy day at the museum. I am channeling that half of the Wonder Twins who always assumes the form of something made of water. I am going to be a hurricane. A very organized hurricane of gale-force accomplishment. Do not get in my way. I will organize you. Activate!
So to keep you distracted while I'm off organizing the Eastern seaboard, I give you a little poem I wrote last year when my sister and I got into a lively discussion of exactly how to pronounce the word 'legumes.' (The title MIGHT indicate where I stand on that issue. And believe me. It IS an issue.)
We eat them –
every day –
without saying their name.
That rare and sincere bean,
full of protein
Be not afraid.
It’s not a magic bean,
fated to surprise you
by fulfilling your wishes.
It’s just a bean.
Say it with me:
A mouthful of
language and food,
best served with corn bread.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
This summer has been hot and humid. One of the yardsticks I have to compare this hot-and-humid summer to summers past is the number of hairballs my cat Dickens has horked up. Dickens is orange and white and has ridiculously thick short fur. I have never seen Dickens’ skin. The fur grows too thickly for me to see it, even when I’m brushing it. This leads to a happy warm kitty in the winter, but to a kitty prone to horking up hairballs in the summer. This summer in particular seems to have been the Summer of the Hairball. This may be our Hairballiest Summer ever, in fact.
We’ve established a little routine. He waits until sometime between 2 and 6 in the morning, launches into his horking noises and I jack-knife out of bed at a dead run before I’m even awake, in a usually-futile attempt to catch him before he horks onto the carpet or one of my shoes or something.
The nice thing about Dickens (to be honest, there are many nice things about Dickens – he’s an extremely nice kitty) – as I was saying, one of the nice things about Dickens is that he’s OCD. If there’s a mess on the carpet – his or someone else’s – he helpfully stands near it and scrapes around it with his paw until I’ve done something about it. It’s very handy at when you’re standing in the living room, knowing that somewhere in your vicinity is a fresh hairball, but you’re not yet awake enough to be able to find it. Dickens will scrape away until I can find it by sound if not by sight.
Aren't you just really glad right now that you're seeing pictures of my cats, and not of their hairballs?
Wilkie almost never has hairballs. Her fur is very silky and not as thick as Dickens’. (Wilkie is the roly-poly one, leading my friend Mike-in-Melbourne to rename her Silky Bulky Wilkie.) When she does have a hairball though, she cries first, in that echoing haunting sort of way that makes my heart race and eyes widen in panic because something other-worldly has clearly taken up residence in my house and I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS. Then the horking begins and the familiarity of it is almost so comforting that I forget to be grossed out. Almost.
(I have two cats. Once I had a French roommate who loved Dickens and had no time at all for Wilkie. She called them ‘Thees Wan’ and ‘THAT Wan’. She just LOVED ‘Thees Wan’ and couldn’t understand why I even bothered to keep ‘THAT Wan.’ Which is one reason why I no longer have a French roommate.)
Ever been so sick to your stomach that you’ve been unable to eat that last thing you ate before you were sick? (Clearly this never happens to my cats.) Earlier this summer I had a violent 24 hour stomach bug. The last thing I ate was a York Peppermint Patty. I had only just rediscovered them and I was totally reliving my crush on them. Mmmmm. Minty creamy chocolatey. Mmmmm.
I am so totally faking it.
I may never
Sorry for the grossness. For some reason it just needed to be aired.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Earlier this summer I saw the movie 'Holiday' with a friend. For those who've never seen it – or chosen to forget it – this is the fluffy little holiday film starring Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Jack Black. Not to put too fine a point on it, my friend and I agreed about 10 minutes in that the movie was baaaaaaaad. And about 10 minutes later we decided it would have been a MUCH more successful flick if only Miss Piggy had been cast in the role played by Cameron Diaz.
This same friend saw the movie 'No Reservations' this weekend. Full disclosure: I have not seen 'No Reservations.' My friend reported back that it too is a baaaaad film. When I asked if it would have been improved by casting Miss Piggy in one of the main roles she agreed, 'Yes! It would have been better!'
And thus the Miss Piggy Solution was born. Feel free to practice it in your own lives. When sitting through a bad movie, please mentally recast Miss Piggy in one of the main roles (a little mental rewriting may be necessary – Miss P doesn't play wimps or tramps, only vamps) and enjoy the improved film.
To be fair, both 'Holiday' and 'No Reservations' suffered from more than limp performances and miscasting. Far-fetched story lines and unconvincing and unsympathetic characters top the list - faults to lay at the feet of writers and directors, not actors. Although, according to my friend, 'No Reservations' also suffered from a lack of realistic detail. Apparently the 5-star chef in the movie was shown cooking a lobster TWICE! Maybe she should have been played by the Swedish Chef instead of Miss Piggy.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Last January every museum employee moved up to the 5th floor to work in temporary shared office space while the rest of the building was being renovated. That is, every employee except me. Since mine was the only office not really undergoing major construction, I stayed put here on the 4th floor. Starting in June this year when some of the other staff members rejoined me on the 4th floor, some of our shared spaces – hallways, lounge, bathrooms – that had been gloomy dirty construction sites for 6 long months, became clean and painted, and occasionally filled with my co-workers.
These are big changes. For a long time it was just me, the dirt, and the construction guys. There were no working restrooms on my floor so I had to go upstairs to find such facilities. Once everyone moved back down here, though, the restrooms were put back in order.
One such restroom used to look like this:
Just your basic restroom, right? (I figure you don't really need to see the toilet, although I assure you there is one. For those who are curious, it is to the left of the camera's viewpoint.)
One day shortly after the rest of the staff moved back down to Floor Four, I walked into the restroom and found it transformed:
A total makeover! Every day after that something new was added. The lavender-scented cleaning products and air freshener appeared first. Then the fresh flowers in the vase and the handy girly basket to hold extras. The plaid curtain was last to appear, but I think it made the most difference.
I had no idea that my colleagues had been so frustrated by the utilitarian appearance of our employee restroom. As soon as they were given free rein a bountiful feast of frilly decorative elements appeared, like a desert blooming after a rain shower!
I’ve been so amused.
Friday, August 10, 2007
For years now, whenever I call to talk to my sister on the phone, there has been at least one little boy in the background. I have become adept at being able to tell when Kelsey is talking to me, and when she’s talking to the boys. (Sometimes it’s not always clear.) A year or so ago I decided to start keeping a list of my favorite Little Boy Asides, as I call them. Here is that list, interspersed with a few stories of the boys in question.
Keep in mind most of these comments were stated (or sometimes shouted) in the midst of a completely separate conversation, and that once the situation was addressed, the original conversation kept going - unless I got tickled by that particular aside and we ended up talking about that instead.
Little Boy Asides
You’re not supposed to be on the table.
Stop licking the phone.
Hm. Maybe you shouldn’t have done that.
Don’t beat on his head.
Don’t knock him over.
Night-night. Love you.
(Maniacal baby giggles.) You took your diaper off, didn’t you?
Get that off his head! It’s plastic! (Pause.) That’s plastic too!
Ethan Story (age 6)
“Mom, why didn’t you ask ME? I am an animal behaviorist. That means I study animal behaviors. I’ve always been one. I just haven’t always told anyone.”
Maybe you could use a napkin instead of just shmearing the milk around with your hand.
Caden Story (when he was just 2)
The morning after falling off of Ethan’s bike and getting a nasty cut just above his eye and scaring his mom to death. Found in the living room looking absolutely pathetic. Pointed to eye and said in a quavering voice, “Fall.” And “Bike.” Kelsey agreed and then had to point out that he was pointing at the wrong eye.
Two Ethan Stories (when he was 6)
Several days after playing his way through a doctor’s appointment, Kelsey realized he had actually heard everything that was said. When she said, “Ethan, I didn’t know you were listening,” Ethan replied, “Mom, I was in the same room. I can’t shut my ears. I’m not a meerkat.”
Ethan, in the bath, behind the shower curtain, didn’t hear Kelsey walk in. She said, “How’s it going, Ethan?” and he answered, (pause), “Well, aside from not having any privacy at all, I’m fine.”
Quit shootin’ the cat with the water gun! Put it down. Walk away.
Stop squishing your fries with your elbows.
Don’t run over your brother with the horse.
GET OFF THAT TABLE. (Said in such an awful voice that I started looking around for a table to get off of.)
No, not the water – no, NOT the water – NO, NOT THE WATER DISH – He dumped all the water out of the water dish. Thanks, Seth!
You’re spraying me with water – MOVE!!
Caden, don’t spray Seth! He doesn’t like that.
Stop spraying me with cold water! STOP IT!
You just ran over your brother with a bike. Don’t do that.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
My computer access is limited to the point that I CAN’T STAND IT NO MORE! Obviously, it is restricted so badly that I’m driven to bad grammar merely to express my frustration. I do hope to solve this problem in the near future. Very near. Practically the present. SOON.
I apologize for the patchy blogs - it's all computer related at the moment. (Sometimes it's because my thoughts are patchy, but this time I blame it all on the hardware.)
I apologize for the patchy blogs - it's all computer related at the moment. (Sometimes it's because my thoughts are patchy, but this time I blame it all on the hardware.)
As I walked to work this morning I passed a man in a grey business suit standing on the sidewalk YELLING into his cell phone in a manner that suggested he had left his patience on the table at home. “Jean… no, Jean… LISTEN TO ME, Jean. I don’t have your beets. I have no idea what happened to your beets. I DIDN’T TOUCH YOUR BEETS.” I have never in all my life heard anyone get that het up about beets.
I went to my water aerobics class on Tuesday. Couple observations from this that I feel I should share:
1) JFK’s head now flaunts a sporty set of sunshades. It’s both funnier and a little creepier than without the shades. I mean. I think it’s funny that JFK watches water aerobics in the first place. But with the shades on, it’s hard to guess where his stony gaze might be resting. And you know Jack. He was one to keep an eye on.
2) I apparently spent the ENTIRE HOUR of the class with a large black speck between two of my front teeth and NO ONE told me. My friend Miss Krafty wasn’t there that night – off observing her wedding anniversary, bless – so there were no obvious candidates for telling me about the speck. Here’s my thinking: TELL ME. I don’t care if you think it’s rude, or if you’re afraid I’ll freak out. I won’t. I will be far more embarrassed an hour later to get home and realize that I’ve been sporting Pirate Mouth in public. I know some people get all freaked out about the idea of telling a stranger about a speck, or being told by a stranger. I think that a brief moment of awkwardness between strangers is a far more appealing option than finding out hours later that you’ve been flashing a Lunch Postscript at the world every time you open your mouth.
My 3 year old nephew Caden has followed in his brother’s footsteps, developing a fondness for big words, and a knack for narrative. My sister apparently walked into the big room in their house the other day and stepped in something.
K: Ew. What was that?
C: I did not do that.
K: Okay. But what is it?
C: I did not do that. It is DISGUSTING, but I did not do it.
I think that’s a very tidy little summary of the facts: disgusting, and not my fault. These are important facts to put in order, whether you’re 3 or any age.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
It was 61 degrees in my office this morning, but 82 degrees in my apartment. My quest for temperate climates remains unsuccessful.
I had to call a monastery today. One of the sisters there is interested in making a donation to the museum’s collection. The first sister I spoke with whispered and I began to whisper back – it felt sort of rude to keep talking in my suddenly-too-loud everyday voice. The second sister spoke up like a non-sister, and even gave me her email address. Even contemplative nuns have email addresses. I’m so tickled by that.
For anyone with an interest in piecrust: I have discovered that using half butter and half Crisco makes a far more use-friendly crust than a crust made solely with butter. It’s lighter, stretchier to roll and flakier when baked. This is perhaps not news to many of you. I, however, was thrilled with my discovery.
My roommate leaves today for a 3 week trip to
Postscript to the nun story: they have their own website and they sell candy they make at the abbey (for fundraising purposes). Deeply delicious looking candy. I believe I will be trying some in the near future.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Reading about Jeana’s experience meeting a current crush, I am reminded of my own mortifying experience meeting an Old Crush.
When I was a wee sophomore in high school (literally wee, I was quite tiny), I had an ENORMOUS crush on a senior named Tom. We were on the tennis team together. He lived just a few blocks away from me and sometimes gave me a ride home in his yellow car. His mother had been my 4th grade reading teacher. Tom lived next door to one of my close high school friends/rivals, Mike. Now you see all the ways in which our lives were entwined when I was 16 and he was 18.
Fast-forward 7 years. Tom’s graduated from Purdue and married a nice girl. I’ve graduated from Harvard. I’ve just finished a 6-month stint living in
I was back in the
As I walked into the
“Look, Tom. It’s your little friend.”
I was sure time stopped and those mortifying words were echoing around the room, stopping all other conversations. Even now it kind of affects my breathing just to remember it. I suspect I turned lollipop red although no one has ever been unkind enough to confirm it. I threw on my Southern Lady, Gracious in the Face of All Adversity act, shook hands with Tom, his new wife, Tom’s Mom and Dad, murmured something charming or at least forgettable, and turned to make my exit. Tom’s Mom followed up her first wholly unconscious attack with a second, equally lethal and unconscious, barb: “Honey, you look just the same as you did when you were 10!”
Oh. Right. So much for sophistication.
The only small comfort I took from that whole experience:
1) I did not trip and fall while walking toward them.
2) I did not discover later that there was a big hole or stain on my clothes.
3) There was no spinach in my teeth.
4) Tom looked as uncomfortable as I felt. It may have been indigestion, it may have been sympathy. At any rate, he too failed to enjoy the occasion. For some reason, that helped.
Friday, August 3, 2007
I’m referring to the
Even on holiday I visit museums. In
Now, don’t get me wrong. The Bishop is not the newest, or the oldest, shiniest or quirkiest museum you’ll ever see. I loved it despite that. For some reason it was just right. I didn’t see everything the place had to offer either, but I still loved it. It was one of those thoroughly pleasant experiences where the parts of the museum I experienced were exactly the parts I wanted to see. Plus the whole place is constantly chased by these beautifully scented little trade winds, so the smell of plumeria follows you all around. It just made me happy.
We went to see a show in their Planetarium. The seats were, to be blunt, vile. I still had fun. The show was about
The Hawaiian Hall was closed for renovation, to my great disappointment. But I’d seen one of Kamehameha’s feather capes at the
The Polynesian Hall was carpeted in 1970s green shag that sort of smelled like the 1970s – for this reason it was my least favorite part of my visit, but I still enjoyed it. There were artifacts from
The song and dance demonstration outside was lovely. The educator leading the show was naturally a good singer, but better than that, he was adept at getting us to respond. Anyone who has tried to encourage a crowd of strangers in front of you to answer questions without getting all embarrassed would have been impressed with this man. He got us to practice saying tricky Hawaiian words (slightly trickier than ‘hula’ but you get the idea). He also got us all to stand up and dance. There we were, dancing a story about a lighthouse and giving love to the people – me, my mom, and about 30 other tourists of all ages and origins. My favorite was the chubby pink baby in the stroller who was THIS CLOSE to falling asleep, but stayed awake so she could watch this strange group activity. She never blinked or smiled. She seemed to think we were all crazy. But it didn’t bother her and she dropped right off to sleep after the last ‘Aloha’ and ‘mahalo’.
The Library at the Bishop houses an impressive collection of Polynesian materials. I’m sure scholars all over the world use it happily and academically. The reason I love it, and will do so forever and always, is because when I went to the library to describe a book I’d read as a child but couldn’t remember the name of, they helped me find it. The Last Queen by Hazel Wilson is (unsurprisingly) about the last queen of
Fridge Update: I am cautiously overjoyed. It appears to be working. I eat my words (and, finally, chilled food again): the Fridge Repairman must have been right. I feel like I can’t push it, though. I have to be very careful with my recovering fridge. Can’t ask it to do too much at once. But I hope it will soon be at its full capacity again. Just in time for another heat wave. Thank heaven for frozen jammies.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
And I’ve been taking pictures!
The past few months have been good for my general craftiness for three reasons.
1) I have several crafty friends who have been busy creating things and inspiring me to try things out in my own home. Miss Krafty and Miss Amazing – you know who you are. Props to you.
2) I have had a digital camera to record my productivity and increased skill levels. Somehow having a visual record of what I’ve been able to do has motivated me to keep going.
And 3) lots of people I know have had babies lately and babies are very good for inspiring craftiness. D’you know WHY babies are good for inspiring craftiness? Not because they’re all cute and adorable and such, although that’s usually true. Not because their arrival usually means gift-giving, although that’s also true. No. Babies are good for crafts because BABIES ARE SMALL!!! You can knit up something for a baby in no time flat. You can sew something for a baby that doesn’t have to have darts or a waistline (who on earth wants to emphasize a baby’s waistline?), so it can be completed super fast. Babies are, in fact, heaven-sent crafting opportunities (among other things).
Here are some of the things I have made for babies lately. (Photos of all things knitted are reserved for colder seasons. I do love the knitting. Just not at the same time I’m sweating.)
Please forgive my total lack of modesty here, but AREN’T THEY JUST ADORABLE?????? I’ve been so pleased, and I hope, so have the babies who’ve received these things.
These are so cute and easy – I made 3 of them, for friends who all had baby boys recently.
This little set was for the friends who had a baby girl recently. (Same pattern as above. Butterick 5439.) They love vintage 50s looking stuff so I found a retro fabric, some vintage buttons and HAD A BALL making these. I had to show you the way the little pinny crosses in the back - so cute! I added a drawstring to the partially-elastic waist because I wasn't sure how big Baby's tummy might be.
Here are some things I made for my nephews. It’s hard to tell from the pictures (because I folded them up so nice and tidy) but they’re pillow cases. Two different fabrics for each case. They don’t necessarily go with the kids’ rooms, but they definitely go with their personalities! I figure they can use them for laundry or hauling stuffed animals on safari around the dining room or whatever they want. If they don’t choose to use them on their pillows I will hardly be offended – I’m sure they’ll think of something.
And here’s something I made for my friend MKA. Two things you should know about MKA: she loves bats, dogs and Halloween, and her living room is QUITE ORANGE. Hence, a sofa pillow covered in bats and dogs with a Halloween-looking color scheme. Note the cunning effect of swapping the fabrics around on the two sides. I picked that innovation right out of a Pottery Barn catalogue – or maybe it was Crate & Barrel. You get the idea.
One reason I’m allowing myself to crow with such an utter lack of humility here is that really, these things were easy to make. So simple. It wasn’t like I conjured up some magic powers or latent artistic genius. Nope. Just me, your every-day non-artistic non-genius here. The only things that got me going were my friends (who were generous with inspiration and the occasional helpful bit of know-how and wisdom) and access to a sewing machine.
Here’s the hitch though: I am now somewhat stymied by a camera that didn’t take well to its mini-dunking in the ocean and a sewing machine that is experiencing tension. I am not making that up. The following sentences comprise the full extent of my knowledge of all things related to my sewing machine and its problems:
The machine has thread coming from a spool on top and a bobbin on bottom. The two sources of thread must be balanced as far as tension goes. On my machine, right now, that tension is not balanced. Even when I twiddle the thread-tension knob, the tension remains unbalanced.
So. We have scratched the surface of my craftiness and discovered it is a pretty shallow layer. I have no idea how my machine works, or exactly what I have to do to get it back in order, but I suspect it’s probably not that difficult. I will visit the Singer shop in my neighborhood and let the Wise Crafty Ones there educate me. I would so like to believe that my Inner Crafty Self is more than just a passing phase.
Has anyone else discovered any new crafty things they love doing this summer? I’d love to hear about it. Come on – share the craftiness!
(PS – Fridge Update. When I got home last night the fridge was open and warm, as it had been left. To be fair, as my friend MKA put it, since it’s not actually TRYING right now, we can’t be sure that it’s actually still broken. So. Landlord’s Son is going to plug it in sometime today and I hope to return home tonight to a fridge with proper refrigerating function intact. I do hope it has enjoyed its little sabbatical, and that it is ready to rejoin the workforce. I do miss my dairy, cold drinking water, and icy pajamas.)