Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The bells, the bells . . .

The incessant playing of "merry" Christmas commercials has started already--hell, what am I talking about? They started before Thanksgiving. I'll be sick of every single one by December 1, yet I guarantee they'll be stuck in my brain for several weeks. Hmmm, just long enough to influence my Christmas shopping. How fiendishly clever!

The one that's driving me crazy the fastest is for G@rmin department stores or malls or some damn thing. The jingle is that Christmas carol about bells, I think? But it's just the chorus repeated several times, as far as I can tell, so it's incredibly monotonous yet oddly hypnotic. Yesterday in the shower, I found myself singing a bit from it over and over: Call the salon, need a waxing now, got a UNIBROW. And the woman sporting said unibrow looks damn frightening; she's become a major player in my nightmare landscape. I hear that song all the time in my head now. Curse you, G@rmin Stores! I am unfortunately prone to getting what the kids are calling "earworms" these days, or maybe I have a touch of the OCD. I hate retailers for causing bad song loops in my head.


One of my favorite lines from Seinfeld is Jerry describing Kramer: "He falls ass backward into money." Well, Kevin seems to fall ass backward into creative opportunities. I mentioned a few weeks ago that he's going to be teaching some classes on collage for the Sugar Creek Arts Center, but another opportunity fell in his lap. His cousin Sam moved back to Indiana recently and got a grant to start an arts organization/learning center, which also involves overseeing an archive of materials related to arts and literature. The grant includes a stipend for an artist-in-residence, who will be Kevin. I don't know what-all this position entails, but it will include running workshops, teaching art classes, organizing art exhibitions, and so on. He'll also be working with the mayor of the town where Sam lives, about an hour north of here, who's interested in boosting the arts in that community, particularly for school kids. Kevin's so excited he can barely contain himself. I'm afraid he's actually developing a BUBBLY personality (the horror!). It's wonderful to see him happy, of course, but I barely recognize him these days. He was babbling away about his plans yesterday, and I was compelled to ask him "Who ARE you, and what have you done with Kevin?" Maybe I should check him tonight for the placement of a hidden mole that few people besides me would know about.

I'd better scoot and go work out. I have to run to the grocery to pick up a few things for a chicken pot pie I'm making tomorrow. Daniel will no doubt refuse to eat it because all the ingredients are mixed up together under the crust; if he DOES eat it, by some miracle, he'll inspect every bite for evidence of lurking onions. He loathes onions but suspects me of putting them in everything. Too bad, though. I make a delicious homemade chicken pot pie, and I haven't made it in ages in deference to His Pickiness's delicate tastes. The weather is supposed to turn wintry and nasty tomorrow, which calls for a warm, comforting dinner, in my opinion. If I'm feeling magnanimous, I just might hold the onions.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Importance of News Anchors

The morning news proclaimed today Cyber Monday, the online equivalent of retailers' Black Friday. In my house, however, today is Black Monday because Robin Meade, of CNN Headline News, still isn't back from vacation.

Several months ago, Kevin and I got in the habit of watching this "CNN light" station because you get a smattering of news, weather, entertainment, financial crap, and so on, which is perfect for mornings when you don't have time for in-depth news coverage. It took a few weeks to pierce my pre-caffeine fog, but I realized eventually that Robin Meade was doing more to get Kevin out of bed in the mornings than I was. I suffered a brief flash of jealousy, until I realized his adoration of Robin is more akin to a school boy's crush on his teacher. He comments on what she wears and says she's "SO sweet"; he even gets a happy little grin on his face when she says "Morning, sunshine." I swear he thinks she's talking directly to him. He adores Robin, but there's not a drop of sexual attraction in his lurve of her. Actually, I teased him about that once, and he was horrified I'd even suggest he could harbor such crass feelings for Roooooooooobin.

To be honest, Robin makes my mornings pleasant, too. She's as cute as a bug, without the nauseating perkiness of a Kelly Ripa or Katie Couric (before she got all evening-news deadly serious). She's easily amused, which I like because I am, too, and her chortle is slightly goofy and very genuine. I found myself looking forward to her return this morning after being on vacation all last week, but alas, her substitute was still there today. Please come back, Robin! Come on. How much vacation does a news anchor need?


Kevin had to work Saturday night, so I coaxed Daniel into helping me clean up the downstairs a little. I vacuumed and dusted while he took out trash, loaded the dishwasher, and changed some light bulbs. I was vacuuming the entryway when I noticed how disgusting my cat-hair-covered stairs looked. My cats like to hang out on the top stairs where they can keep tabs on the action but stay out of reach of the dogs. Unfortunately, gray and black hair shows up quite clearly on beige carpet.

As you can see in the picture (taken last Christmas--you didn't think I had my Christmas decorations up already? please), the steps on the spiral staircase are too narrow to balance a vacuum cleaner on. So the only way to clean them is to pop them out of the step frames and toss them down to the entryway floor, starting at the top and working my way down (which I learned after trying the reverse direction the first time and finding myself stuck upstairs), spread them out on the floor, vacuum them with the brush attachment, and then put them back in from the bottom up. I have to warn everyone first to get whatever they need from upstairs. Daniel still has trouble with this concept, and a few months ago, realized after I'd started vacuuming that he needed to change clothes for work. He had to walk upstairs by balancing on the metal step frames because I'm a mean mom and refused to put the steps back and then take them out again.

The steps are now as clean as I can get them, considering that hideous beige carpet is probably 15 years old. Ugh. I want to rip up the carpet in the entryway and install a wood floor, but I'm stumped as to what to do with the steps. They're just plywood with carpet wrapped around them, so I can't simply remove the carpet. I suppose I could have new steps from nice wood cut to fit, but I imagine that would be expensive. I thought about painting the plywood, but I'm afraid it would look tacky, and besides, the plywood steps aren't quite thick enough. When you walk on them, the sharp metal edge of the step frames would cut into your feet, if you were wearing soft-soled shoes or going barefoot, as I'm wont to do. The carpet adds some thickness and pads the steps a little. Any ideas?

You know, every time I clean, I'm overwhelmed by how much I want to fix or change in this house. However, money, time, and energy: I need gobs of all three, and I have none of them. The only solution I can come up with is to stop cleaning so I don't notice, but that's not going to happen, so I guess I'm stuck with feeling overwhelmed. It would be easier to bear if Robin were back to brighten my mornings, though.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Babble and a picture

That picture to the right is me at three-and-a-half, when I lived in Sacramento. I was going through a period of insisting on wearing my bathing suit most of the time. My dad took me to the pool in the apartment complex after work, and I wanted to make sure I was ready to go the second he got home.


A few thoughts I've had lately:

  • When I watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas last week, I spotted something I never noticed before that disturbs me. The Grinch is slinking around stealing Christmas decorations and stockings and presents, and then he goes to the refrigerator to take the Christmas dinner. He picks up a can of Who Hash. I thought "If corned beef hash is made from corned beef and potatoes, what is Who Hash made from?? Are the Whos cannibals?" It's still bugging me.

  • Why is the term Realtor capitalized sometimes? Other job titles aren't, as in "I'm a brain surgeon." What's so special about realtors? People need to stop that practice right now.

  • Do you think Rosie O'Donnell realized, when she opened her yap about Kelly Ripa and Clay Aiken, that not only was she outing Clay when perhaps he didn't want to be, but also she was calling him not cute? She said something like Kelly wouldn't have reacted as she did if Clay had been "a straight man, or a cute man." If I were Clay, I'd be a tad offended.

  • Also, does anyone besides my mother watch The View?


My Thanksgiving dinner turned out pretty well, although the turkey was nothing to write home about. I'm not very good at cooking meat. I can whip up great side dishes, bake up a storm, and stir-fry like a mo-fo, but a roasted chicken or a brisket and such? Not so much. My pumpkin pie was delicious, partially thanks to Daniel, who ran up to the little grocery on the corner Wednesday afternoon to find premade piecrust for me. I hate bland pumpkin pie, so I jazz it up with lots of molasses and spices. I got some good tips on making piecrust, though (thanks!), so I might get brave enough to attempt it again one of these days.

Kevin took me to see the new James Bond movie last night, and I was pleasantly surprised by Daniel Craig. He's a very different Bond, but a good one. I wish I knew more about poker because I would have enjoyed the card game scene more. Whenever they showed the cards in someone's hand, Kevin or I would whisper "So is that a good hand? Is he going to win, or is he bluffing?" Everyone else in the audience seemed to be poker geniuses, oohing and aahing knowledgeably--or they were just good fakers. The Bond song by Chris Donnell (Is that his name--the Soundgarden guy?) was good; I liked it at the time. Today, I can't remember at all what it sounded like, however.It didn't stick with me the way Bond songs usually do. The cheesy Goldfinger theme--now THAT'S a Bond song you can remember.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Kitty haunts me 25 years later

In graduate school, I taught classes in communications and English comp and lit. For one class, interpersonal communications, I was actually more of a teaching assistant. I worked for a professor who gave once-weekly lectures, and I ran the twice-weekly labs and determined students' grades. I'll call this professor "Kitty," although the oh-so-professional nickname she insisted on being called was another animal (seriously). She was annoying in a multitude of ways, but one of her most irritating traits was claiming that "and" should be used instead of "but," as in "You're showing improvement in class, and your last paper didn't show enough effort." She theorized that "but" negates everything that comes before it. Yeah, yeah. I mean, in the example I used, both statements can be equally true, but saying "and" sounds unnatural and stupid.

To my surprise, however, I found myself using it yesterday when I was talking to my friend Lynn on the phone. She was a little worried about how well she and her husband are going to handle around-the-clock togetherness over the next few months. He has a landscaping business and doesn't usually work between the end of November and the end of March. Because she quit her job and will be working from home for the new job she's likely to get, she's going to be home all the time, too. I was telling her that earlier this year, when Kevin was unemployed for several months, that all the "togetherness" started getting on my nerves, and I wanted to tell Kevin, "I adore you, honey, AND I'm sick of seeing your stupid face all the time." I used a Kitty-ism! The horror! Unfortunately, it seemed to fit--in that context, anyway. (Note: I don't really think Kevin has a stupid face, but YOU try being around your beloved nonstop for months on end.)


Well, I was wondering when this was going to happen. Normally, I have little patience with litigious people, and I have my doubts about how innocent Melinda Duckett was in the disappearance of her son. However, someone has to stop that shrill-voiced harridan Nancy Grace. Not just for this incident, although I do think she was out of line in her questioning of Melinda Duckett. Nancy Grace needs to decide whether she wants to be a newsperson or a prosecutor, and she has got to stop trying to run her show as though she's the judge and jury combined. It's not up to her to determine guilt, and haranguing guests on her show isn't as much help in solving crimes as she'd like to think it is.


Anyone have a good pie crust recipe? I forgot to buy the premade crust you roll out and place in an pie plate when I went to the grocery yesterday, and I'll be damned if I'm going back again today. My homemade crust usually turns out pretty bad, but I'm willing to try if it means I can avoid another trip to grocery hell.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Two days until T-Day

Thanksgiving creeps up on me every year and catches me woefully unprepared. I understand some people, bless their hearts, sit down a few weeks ahead of time, plan a menu, and create a detailed shopping list, organized by grocery store aisle. I should amend that. Some crazy people do all that. OK, OK, I'm just envious I can't plan ahead, all right?

So of course I didn't go grocery shopping until today, and I went with only the vaguest notion of what I plan to serve Thursday: probably a turkey, something with sweet potatoes, and, um, other things. Oh, and a pumpkin pie. Clearly, I like orangish food.

After dodging slow old ladies and pushing around a heavy, overflowing cart with a wheel that kept sticking, I was exhausted by the time I got home. It was at that point I realized I really, really suck at this "planning ahead" thing. Just once I'd like to have the forethought to clean rotting and/or moldy food out of my refrigerator before I bring new foodstuffs home, instead of frantically tossing decrepit vegetables and wiping down shelves before the new carton of ice cream melts. Also, when I finally got around to putting the groceries away, I discovered that I already had not one, but two, giants cans of pumpkin puree. I now have enough canned pumpkin to bake pies for a horde of hungry stevedores. Gah.

Testing, testing . . .

Is this thing on? Hello?