Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Oh, hi!

Are you here to see me? How disappointed you must be. Because here I am, at long last. Only I'm here to do the thing I swore I'd never do. Which is to apologize for not blogging. God, I can't stand when people do that. It's the weakest post ever. But the only thing I can't stand more than that is to envision someone checking back repeatedly, only to find the same dumb stale post. I hate when bloggers do that to me, even more than I hate whiny posts about being too busy to blog. What a tizzy I'm in.

Tell you what. I like blogging, and maybe you like when I blog. I really would like to get my own URL fired up with some sort of interesting design, something that really SAYS "chickenbone jones." But if I don't have time to blog, I REALLY won't find time to get that project cooking. So I will leave you hanging no longer: I'm calling a little blog break while I figure all that out. I'll post an update here when it's ready. Or, if you want, I'll even send you your very own personal e-mail when the real CBJ.com is up and running. Just post a comment or shoot me an e-mail if you'd like that. You are a great person.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mildly disconcerting

I entered a stall in the ladies room at work and sat down to begin the business, then saw a copy of today's newspaper on the toilet-paper holder, folded to show the column with my husband's grinning face on it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Home improvement

For six months, my bathroom has been begging for a face lift.

The previous owners painted much of our house quite colorfully -- a splashy red wall in the dining room, hues of blue in the kitchen, and peaceful greens in the master bedroom and living room. But the bathroom walls were boring off-white blah. There's also a salmon-colored sink and bathtub, which really stumped me. Just what is one supposed to do with a pink bathtub?! And the mirror was simply horrid. It was chipped all along the bottom, plus it was the wrong shape -- a vertical mirror hung in a horizontal space, which was totally fengin' my shui. Oh, and it was hanging on the wall by a COAT HANGER. This must be what mirrors are like in prison.


So a few weeks ago during our vacation, I began the great bathroom do-over. First I spray-painted two really awful dark-wood fixtures: that light above the sink and this unusual medicine-cabinet-type thing built into the outside wall of the shower:



I used antique white spray paint to match the trim on the window. I also replaced those puny little transparent lightbulbs with fat, white compact fluorescents, because we here at CBJ.com are incredibly environmental.

Then I picked paint colors for the walls. On the wall above the sink went French Cream by Valspar, which makes the pinkish sink and tub look pretty neat. The other three walls were done in Babbling Brook by Olympic. I also used a 40-percent-off coupon to purchase a big silvery mirror at Michael's for just $30, and then I replaced the grody old wood light plates with brushed silver fixtures.



Now I'm all through, except we're still waiting for the arrival of a train shelf and towel ring we ordered from Restoration Hardware, marked down by about $100. So the entire project cost just a little more than $300. But can I tell you? My finest moment during this makeover wasn't finding a good deal. It also wasn't figuring out how to paint the wall behind a toilet, or how to open a 6-foot ladder in a bathtub. No, my finest moment was when I INVENTED SOMETHING.

So when I pulled off all the blue masking tape, sometimes there were little dribbles of paint on the trim or caulking. Horrifying. So, thinking fast, I looked around the bathroom at what I might use to fix the problem. I happened to find this:



What is a bottle opener doing in a construction zone? Well, me and a couple Sierra Nevada Pale Ales think that's pretty obvious. Anyway, then I grabbed my plastic container of paint wipies. I don't know if that's what they are really called, but that's what I call them. They are like Wet Ones, but for your paint-spattered hands:



Then, I wrapped the wipie tightly around the top of the bottle opener:



Now, WITNESS THE GENIUS:



Isn't that outstanding?! I was able to wipe away the dribbles without disturbing the wet paint. I call it "The Paint Editor™." And because you were so nice as to read this entire blog post all the way to the very end, you may use my invention whenever you wish, absolutely free.

Friday, November 9, 2007

BK Safety Dance

This week I evidently have 14 seconds to set aside for blog posting, and luckily for you, they start right now! Watch this video to see how flipping the bird was never so much fun:



Friday, November 2, 2007

Debut

When Chickenbone gets a great dog treat -- and I'm not talking some dumb milk bone; I'm talking something so very special and savory that it blows his little MIND -- he does this weird thing where he whines and scurries around "burying" the treat over and over. It's ridiculous. I read somewhere that when a dog gets something it really adores, it instinctively feels it must do SOMETHING to protect it. But domesticated dogs don't really know what that thing is, as it's been awhile since they had to worry about enemies stealing their food or whatever. So they just sort of fret and worry as they try to figure out the protocol for handling such a treasure.

Well, one of Chickenbone's favorite treats is the pig's ear. A triangle-shaped dried piece of flesh that actually came from a pig's head. You can actually see little veins and stuff inside. It's grotesque, but boy, does Chickens love these babies. The other day I gave him a really gigantic ear, and I used my digital camera to film this video. It took me six hours to load it onto the blog, so, like, there probably won't be a sequel. Also, it's not edited whatsoever, and it's sort of shaky. But this is my very first video, so what do you want? Also, my house is kind of messy. So just don't look at that part. Enjoy.


Chickenbone and the pig's ear from Amy on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Waiting for the kiddies


Only two pumpkins were harmed in the making of this blog post.

The damage

At right you'll see the extent of the havoc wreaked by last night's 5.6 earthquake here in San Jose. A few bottles knocked over in the shower. It might not appear thrilling, but for four or five seconds, I can assure you it was.

My husband and I were in his office, which is a finished room off our garage. We were cleaning, organizing papers, building bookshelves and, sorting through various boxes. OK, fine, I was online, ordering a pizza. But still. So I'm sitting at the computer when I felt my feet moving. Then I heard this noise, and I turned around because I thought Sal was doing something. For the tiniest sliver of a moment, before I could realize how absurd this is, I wondered in my head: "Why is Sal shaking the office?" Then I heard him yell "OUT! OUT!" So I bolted for the door, with him right behind me. And Chickenbone was a country mile ahead of both of us.

But by the time we got into the back yard, it was practically over. I turned around and saw the four swag lamps hanging in the office, and they were swinging like pendulums. My heart was thumping. It was the most exciting thing ever. You see, I have felt tiny earthquakes before. But then again, sometimes I think I just wanted to feel an earthquake so much that I just made myself THINK I felt it. There was no question last night.

It seems like most folks had the same experience as us, a few books knocked over, or bottles toppled. Nothing too dramatic. But imagine being my friends who were walking through the Body Worlds exhibit when it happened. Freakin' corpses swinging from the rafters, man!

Friday, October 26, 2007

No, sir, YOU suck it.

While sitting at a red light this afternoon, I heard a horn blare behind me. In the rear-view mirror I saw a man in a truck angrily motioning for me to scoot up so he could get on the freeway on-ramp. Except there was no room to move up, because of the cars stopped in front of me. So I shrugged my shoulders, and he thrust his middle finger into the air and mouthed a big old "eff you."

Light turned green, and I proceeded. Almost immediately I noticed in the mirror a different car, a dirty black Nissan veering crazily back and forth, trying to snake ahead of all the traffic. At the exact moment this car got behind me, the car in front of me slowed down. So I pressed on the brakes, which sent the Nissan guy into a sputtering fury. Middle fingers and effs all OVER the place.

Well, this pissed me off. For one, I already got road-raged, didn't he see that? It happened like two seconds ago! For two, yet again, this was no fault of mine. When the car in front of you slows down, you slow down. But this guy, he was boiling over. Well, I did something I really shouldn't have done. I know this, because who knows, maybe I was inviting a rifle shot to the head. But I turned around, flashed him a big, bright grin, and raised my hand in the air for a friendly wave. A cute little "Toodle-oo!" wiggle of the fingers. He waved his arms wildly and I saw him call me an effing bitch. So I raised my hand again, curling my fingers into the A-OK sign. He gunned the engine and nearly clipped my car while steering around me, charging toward the intersection.

Well, as good fortune would have it, he was stopped by a red light, and I was in the turn lane directly next to him. And I was all ready to stir up some more smart-assed antagonistic shit when I saw something that makes my jaw drop. A woman in the passenger seat. A WOMAN?!?! Dude has a woman?!? But wait, there's more! So he's still all enraged with me, and because we're growing bored with the middle finger, he began pointing wildly at his crotch, over and over again, and mouthing at me to "suck it." I looked at him, looked at her, looked back at him, and I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. You see, your average woman in this situation would be slouched down in her seat, face buried in her hands because she can't believe what an incredible douchebag she ended up with. But this chick? She has actually opened her mouth into an O, curled her thumb and fingers into a circle next to her cheek, AND SHE IS ANGRILY MAKING THE UNIVERSAL SIGN OF THE B.J. AT ME.

Before I could see how this road-rage porn scene would end, the light turned green and they blazed off. And all I could think to myself was, man, that couple is gonna raise some AWESOME kids.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

10 things, seemingly unrelated

1. My new deodorant has caused a scorching red rash on both my armpits. Sorry, Mitchum Smart Solid Anti-Perspirant. My little black dress may approve of you, but I do not.

2. While trimming the lavender bush in my front yard, I saw a weed sticking out. So I reached over and gave it a firm yank. When thorns sank into my skin, I realized it was not a weed at all, but in fact it was a miniature rose bush, living back there in a thicket of darkness, where nobody even knew it existed. So I cut the lavender way back, tied the little guy to a thin green pole, and waited. Three weeks later, there are six or seven bright red blooms, and I swear to god it's six inches taller. I ask you, how often in life does one find a rosebush one never knew one had?

3. My favorite new drink: Grey Goose on the rocks, with a splash of pineapple juice. Try it. It's perfect. Not too boozy, not too sugary, the perfect sipping cocktail.

4. The big diet began this week (evidently training for a half-marathon doesn't help you lose even one puny little ounce of weight), so when someone handed me a fun-size bag of peanut M&Ms yesterday, I looked up the nutritional value on my favorite weight-loss web site. Six M&Ms = 110 calories, 5 grams of fat. FOR SIX M&MS.

5. Seems Ugg boots are trying to make a comeback. Can that really be? They were awful the first time. GODawful. Get back to your ugly arctic ice cave, Uggs!

6. I toy with the idea of buying http://www.chickenbonejones.com/. Except I don't know how. And I wouldn't know what to do next. I don't know how to transfer content from this blog to another one. And also, I want my own logo at the top of my page. And a clever little blurb to put under the title. And how can I get my stupid e-mail address over on the left to show up as a link instead of plain text? I'm also sick of looking at the Blogger templates I use, so I want a new one of those, too.

7. When you are too tired for real cooking: Mix two cans of Rotel tomatoes and peppers, one can of corn, one can of fat-free refried beans, one can of chicken broth, and one package of precooked chicken breast, broken into chunks. Heat for 30 minutes, then serve, with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese. Hearty and nutritious.

8. My husband and I are on vacation next week. Big plans include cleaning the gutters, organizing the garage and office, figuring out how to use the fireplace, painting the bathroom, visiting the Body Worlds exhibit at the Tech Museum, and having a fabulously extravagant meal at a four-star restaurant.

9. Last night, Chickenbone jumped up into my lap and barfed all over my pajamas. I'm not even sure it's possible for a dog to look mortified, but I'm telling you, he did.

10. A Halloween joke I learned as a kid:
Q: Why couldn't the witch have babies?
A: Because of popcorn balls and hollow weenies.

Booooo!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Departure

Last night I noticed a delightful new comment on my post about the spider in my front yard. It was written by a stranger who stumbled on this blog while doing research on her own marbled orbweaver. The commenter said she's scared of spiders, too. But then again, she got close enough to capture her spider, put it in a water bottle, and feed it ants, so maybe her kind of scared is more intellectual and curious, while mine is more Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Anyway, it reminded me that I forgot to share an update with you, which is that last week? Well ... down came the rain. And washed the spider out.

Believe it or not, I was quite sad to see him go. (Sad, and also a little afraid that maybe took a liking to me -- me, who would go outside a dozen times a day, stand under his web and squint up at him -- and moved into the guest room.) But every time I saw him, I felt a little proud that I hadn't yet squashed him flat. I was just ... cool, you know? Like, "Hey, orange spider. What's shakin."

And wherever he went, the others must have gone, too. I swear, for more than a week, every time I turned around there was another friggin' spider in my house. I'm thinking there must be some sort of spider season when the weather turns chilly, and they all come scrambling into your house to try to stay warm. I'm talking five, six, seven spiders a day! Tragically, many of them lost their little lives, but we were able to scoot a couple back into the great outdoors.

Where, now that I think about it, they probably went ahead and died from the cold. So I guess that wasn't so humane after all.

Beggar


In other words, "Are you going to finish that Lean Pocket?"

Friday, October 19, 2007

Costumes

Last night I spent a few hours wandering down memory lane with shoeboxes of old photographs and a half-bottle of pinot noir. I was collecting pictures for a scrapbook I'm making for my best friend from college, a soul sister and fellow seeker of good times who shall be known here as M. This autumn, M and I celebrated 10 years of being friends, and she came up with the idea of making each other scrapbooks as an anniversary gift.

Anyhow, I ran across some photos of my old Halloween costumes. Since it's October, and this magical day of make-believe will soon be upon us, I thought I'd share:

1999: Saloon girl


I rented this lacy, mint-green dress from a costume shop. The day of the party -- which I hosted at my very first apartment, in Bakersfield, Calif. -- I went to a cheap hair salon, where they made my mop into a mountain of ringlets and pinned them up with a white feather comb. For my shoes, I removed the rollers from some old skates purchased at goodwill.


2000: Blind mouse


I was one of two blind mice that evening, and guess what? You know the other mouse! We donned dark grey sweatsuits and hot-glued big pink felt ovals onto our bellies. We made mousy ears using plastic headbands, styrofoam and more pink felt, and then we popped on some dark sunglasses.

2003: Roxie Hart


M and I, obsessed with "Chicago," decided to celebrate as Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart at San Francisco's Ruby Skye. We even watched the movie on pay-per-view in our hotel room while we dressed and did our makeup. Both costumes were handmade -- M did her own, while I relied on a talented seamstress friend to sew mine. We wore wigs and carried silver cap guns. We were hot.

2004: Miss California


Another holiday with M, and this time we celebrated in Santa Fe, N.M., at a nightclub called Swig. I wore an old bridesmaid gown made of blue satin, and created the beauty-queen banner with wide plastic ribbon and sticky letters. A tiara, long white gloves and a 12-dollar bouquet of roses completed the costume. (P.S. Miss California only smokes when she drinks. Really!)

Monday, October 15, 2007

The race

It isn't often that one can feel good about finishing in 6,240th place. But when you have more than 11 thousand competitors, I believe this becomes perfectly respectable.

Even better, consider that only 8,787 people even managed to FINISH the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in downtown San Jose. So even if my worst loserville nightmare of coming in last had actually come true, I still would have finished better than 3,000 people.

Some more numbers: I ran the 13.1-mile race in 2 hours, 34 minutes and 20 seconds. This is almost a four-minute improvement over last year, which is impressive only because I didn't exactly follow a traditional running-based training program. (But on that note, I guess yoga ain't exactly for the wussies, now, is it, SUCKA!!!!) Also, I had another one of those stupid sharp cramps sneak up on me at mile 11. Only this time, instead of getting all panicked and blubbering like a five-year-old, I calmly came to a walk until it subsided after a minute or so, and then I began to run again. No big deal. Happened two more times, including a nasty jolt of pain as I sprinted toward the finish line, but at that point, who the eff cares?

I wish I had lots of ridiculous sights and comical moments to write about, but on the other hand it feels great to say the race was simply an all-out blast. I can't even describe how cool it felt to turn the corner onto Santa Clara Street on mile 4 and see thousands of beaming people lining the street, like it was a freaking holiday parade. I just couldn't believe my eyes. Hollering, clapping, ringing cowbells, waving their arms, reaching out to high-five us or pat us on the back as we ran by. I mean, that kind of thing just doesn't HAPPEN to regular old boring adults who spend every day in a cubicle. "Hey, I just finished editing that girls golf story." "WOOO-HOOOO! ALL RIGHT, AMY! YOU'RE AWESOME! YOU ROCK! YOU SOOOO ROCK!" Um, no.

One more cool moment: While I was enjoying my post-race meal of an In-N-Out double-double with a side of my own french fries (no sharing, that's the rule after a race) this guy came up to me and said "Congratulations!" Now, I was wearing the race T-shirt, but this dude wasn't, so I was confused about how he knew. Then he grinned and pointed down at his feet, clad in the plastic sandals every runner got after crossing the finish line. Then he limped over to wolf down his own cheeseburger. I'm glad we all recognize the REAL prize at the end of a 13-mile run.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Running scared


Most people passing through downtown San Jose this week would probably see this sign and think, "Cool!" Or "Huh." Me? I'm more of an "OHGOD, OHGOD, OHGOD" kind of girl.

This Sunday, I'm taking part in the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, which will be my third time running such a distance. I signed up back in April, fueled by a ferocious burst of optimism as I recovered from my painful half-marathon finish in Santa Cruz. "This!" I said, finger waving wildly in the air. "This! Will be my triumphant return!"

Only now I have stage fright. Because recently I realized I may have made a grave mistake in how I trained for this race.

Again I decided to follow Hal Higdon's intermediate half-marathon program. Unfortunately the 12-week training plan coincided with the summer I fell in love with yoga. Which, like running, is another pastime I pursue despite a total lack of talent. I was on a roll, doing yoga three days per week and improving a little with each class. And I didn't want to give that up. So I would, you know, just sorta bypass a Wednesday track workout, or a Friday tempo run, in favor of grueling, sweaty 75-minute yoga workouts. Workouts that made my muscles feel strong, and lean, and pleasantly warm for the rest of the day. Plus, I told myself, I'm still working out four or five days a week. It's not as though I've spent the past 11 weeks on the couch with a bag of Cheetos.

But a couple weeks ago, a terrifying realization hit me: To train for this race? I WAS SUPPOSED TO RUN A LOT. But instead of the prescribed 4-5 runs per week, I have been doing 2-3.

But often, uh, 2.

Dammit! So now I'm a little freaked out. Like I'm going to be in a play on Sunday and I forgot to memorize my lines. Now, if there is one thing that will save me, it's that I did every single long-distance run in the plan. These are critical. Each Sunday I drag my sorry self down to the Los Gatos Creek Trail for long runs, and then longer runs, and then even longer runs, the final being 10 miles. And that distance I did two weeks in a row. So it's not like running 13.1 miles is utterly beyond possibility.

Yet for some reason I have it in my head that had I just done EXACTLY what ol' Hal told me to do, I'd probably finish this race with the friggin' Kenyans. But since I veered so crazily off-course, into the mystical land of downward-facing dogs and eight-parts bowing, I'm gonna choke.

It would probably be wise to revisit the goals I had last October. I, a person who was once so unathletic I would hyperventilate after a single lap around the track, was preparing for my first half-marathon ever. My goals were thus: 1) Don't die. 2) Don't throw up. 3.) Don't walk. That's it. Simple as that. And I'm fairly sure that on Sunday, with the right attitude and a favor from the angry gods of cramp, I can accomplish these goals again.

And, I guess if it all goes to hell, at least I'll have something to blog about.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Girl talk

Notable moments from my OB/GYN checkup today, otherwise known in secret womanly terms as "The Annual":

1. While flipping through a parenting book (no, I am not pregnant, and no, I don't plan to be pregnant anytime soon. This just happened to be the only available reading material, so settle down, mom) I read the following words describing infant poop: "putty," "curd" and "cake batter." Um, ew.

2. A teenage girl is standing at the counter waiting to schedule an appointment. In between smacks of gum, she asks "OB? What's OB?" The receptionist replies, "That means obstetrician." Girl stares blankly. Receptionist: "A BABY doctor." Now, is it OK that a 17-year-old girl doesn't know that word? Did I not know it back then? Because I feel like I did know it. I feel like it is probably not OK.

3. About a decade ago, I was having abdominal pain. Turned out to be ovarian cysts, which aren't usually a big deal and were subsequently removed. But during one of many exams that year, a doctor informed me I had a "tilted" uterus. I very clearly remember him describing it as "backwards." While this anatomical curiosity is found in roughly 20 percent of women, I was alarmed as hell, and for years every time I saw the med-school drawing of womanly parts, I was a little disappointed that I didn't look like that. Well, today I mentioned this to the physician's assistant, who looked at me like I'm nuts. "Umm... no. Nope, your uterus is fine. It's in the right place." She said either that dude was wrong, or somehow my body corrected itself since then. And I was so delighted by this news that I wished I could somehow give my uterus a great big hug.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Hey, remember when I said I like spiders?

Well, I'm pretty sure they ALL heard me.

Yesterday I was working in the garden when I looked up and saw one crawling along the bill of my ballcap. Yeah, the one on my HEAD. Then I went to work, and one of my reporters had a spider drop down from the ceiling onto his keyboard. This morning, I shooed one out of the laundry room and into the back yard, and tonight, I discovered one in the office, and then again in the laundry room.

I also had dinner tonight with a girlfriend who told this story: She was walking beneath some trees when she ran facefirst into a spiderweb the size of the one in my front yard. It got all tangled up in her hair, a sticky, stringy mess. She picked it all off and thought the story was over, but 20 minutes later while standing in her kitchen, she felt something crawling in her sleeve. Looked down at her arm and then BOOP! Out of her sleeve crawls a fat orange spider. She believes it crawled through her hair, down through the neck of her long-sleeved shirt, and then along her entire arm before she noticed it. I went online and pulled up the picture of the marbled orbweaver (same as my front-yard visitor) and sure enough, she swears that's the exact spider she saw.

By the way? This is not an invitation to tell me your worst spider story. In fact, I told my friend she is grounded from ever telling me another story again, ever. This subject is giving me the major heebs.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tenant

Heard a gasp come from the front yard yesterday morning and I went outside to find my husband and mother-in-law staring up at the eave of our house. There, billowing gently in the breeze, was a spiderweb the size of a wagon wheel. And perched in the middle of it was the fattest, gnarliest arachnid I have ever laid eyes on.

This sucker is the size of a friggin' egg. He has a bright orange body, with flesh textured by swirls and strange markings. Very unusual legs. A couple of them extend upward, two pointy, jointed outreached arms. The rest dangle down in one leggy clump. The web itself is magnificent, countless rings and a geometrically perfect pattern.

My mother-in-law suggested that we get rid of that thing. "But .... how?!" I wondered. She looked up at him with narrowed eyes. "I'd shoot him," she said.

Normally, I couldn't agree more. Since childhood, I have been a trembling, hyperventilating arachnophobe. At the sight of even the tiniest house spider, I'd freeze, and from my lungs would burst a screech like I was watching an axe murderer chop my mother to bits. Even as an adult, I still have occasional nightmares about giant spiders dropping down from the ceiling onto my face. The dream is so realistic that I literally leap out of bed and bolt across the room, petrified. You know what else? I got so sick of flipping open my dictionary at work and ALWAYS having it open right to the tarantula listing (with the appropriately frightful drawing) that a few years ago I got a sharpie and blacked out the picture:



So now here I stand, staring up at my worst nightmare dangling from my rooftop, and I realize the most unbelievable thing: I'm not scared. In fact, as we discuss ways to, er, "handle" the situation -- like with a broom, or bug spray that has some SERIOUSLY long-distance spraying power -- I feel kinda sad about ruining things like that. And when I think about the spider dying, Chickenbone's face keeps popping into my mind.

Isn't that completely ridiculous? I know it is. I just wrote that sentence and already I'm embarrassed about it. But I'm starting to think that having a dog has made me think a little differently about something like a spider. I mean, this orange creature? He's just a little guy, just like Chickens. Just a little guy trying to get along in the world! And his web, way up there on the rooftop? It isn't exactly bothering me. It's not like it's draped over my pillow or something. Plus, he worked really, really hard on it! You can tell. It is so intricate and big! And then if we just go and kill him? I don't know, it just seems so mean now!

Now I'm sure there are limits to my newfound compassion for nature. If this sucker even THINKS about putting even one of his scary spider feet into my home, he's getting a hammer in the back. (A hammer tied to a broomstick tied to a mop, but a hammer nonetheless!) But for now I think we'll all keep an eye on each other and see if we can't just calmly go about our business.

Here's a picture, though honestly, you're going to have to trust me that this dude is so, so much bigger than a photograph could ever illustrate.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Let's all have a comment, shall we?

The Great Mofo Delurk 2007

Greetings! Today I am participating in "The Great Mofo Delurk" (click the button above for info). Why? Because I support Schmutzie, and because blog comments bring me such joy! You really have no idea, these vast amounts of joy. (Unless you have a blog, too, in which case you do have an idea. And also in which case you should expect a comment from me today, because this here Mofo is going to put down the lurk and say hello to you!)

Would you like to bring me some joy? Post a comment today! I would really love to hear from you. You. I don't even know who "YOU" is! My little site counter thinger says I had 20 unique hits on this page yesterday. But, like, I only know of seven or eight regular readers of this blog. THAT IS CRAZY, MAN! Who are you people? Are you my friends? My enemies? Is there anybody reading this who has actually never met me in person? I think that would be the wildest thing ever. OK, so here goes. Don't be shy. Let's all go post a comment on our favorite blogs today. Spread some joy, Mofos.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Puckered up

A few months ago I was invited to try makeup products and review them for the paper. This sounded like a refreshing change from my typical work duties, which happen in a sports department and rarely include fun things like dual lip and cheek cream, or pearlized eye shimmers. So of course I said yes, even though I have to do it on my own time, and it kinda felt like working for free.

But after a few weeks of testing, it finally dawned on me that I might actually get to KEEP this stuff. I mean, who's going to want to use a lip product I have been smearing all over my big ol' mouth every single day?! So I asked, and sure enough, you get to keep everything you test. So that's the cool part: Try fabulous and expensive beauty products, write little blurbs about whether you like them, and keep all the stuff! This week I reviewed three lip plumpers. Read my expert opinion here.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Circling back around

A few updates on previous posts:

Remember the plant in my front yard I puzzled over a few months ago? I learned last weekend that it is, in fact, a canna lily. I think a couple of you suggested that, but now it's in full bloom and a green-thumbed girlfriend of mine confirmed. Check it out now -- in most parts, it's not even dead!

Update No. 2: Remember when I accidentally bought a $5,000 trip to Cancun? Well, as of about 25 minutes ago, the trip is booked, set for early June. Funny, any queasiness I had about that price tag melted right away when I saw the American Airlines confirmation e-mail littered with the words "first" and "class."

And speaking of price tags, let's fondly recall when I went to the hospital for food poisoning and was literally stabbed in the back. Got the bill for that little excursion. Turns out a five-hour ER bed rental, one lumbar puncture, a couple X-rays and a morphine drip will run you around $23,064. That's right, five digits of sheer agony. Wonder how much Dr. Psycho's cut was. No mention of the crippling, six-day post-lumbar headache -- maybe they threw that in for free, since I was such a good customer! Now, I had insurance, so after my $100 copay I'm in the clear. However, there's some suspicious wording on the one-page bill that says more than $21K of this is "in excess of the allowed expense for a participating provider." So that means I paid $100, the insurance company paid around $900, and the rest? Poof! I dunno what kind of crazy voodoo math shit that is, but thank you, American Health Care System, for keeping me out of it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

This food will make people happy!

What's nice about cooking is, you don't really have to be GOOD to be fabulous.

I wouldn't describe myself as wickedly good in the kitchen. My dishes are fairly successful half the time and an outright failure every so often, but now and then? I nail it. Here are a few recent hits: two absurdly easy party ideas and two dinner entrees.

The first dish is called ...
CHAMPAGNE GRAPES! (I guess.)

I made this for our housewarming party, and the guests flipped out. Get two pounds of red grapes and cut them into clumps of two or three grapes. Put them in a big bowl, then pour an entire bottle of champagne over them. I used Moet & Chandon White Star (much to my husband's horror -- but I don't regret it!) Cover and chill in fridge for 8-10 hours. Go in a couple times and gently rearrange the grapes so all the fruit has time to soak in the champagne. Drain, put on a plate, and you're done! The marvelous thing is that you can actually see the grapes plump up as they absorb the champagne. Everyone went nuts for these juicy little babies. One problem: Sitting on a plate, they just look like .... grapes. So you might want to put out a sign that says something like "This fruit may get you drunk!"

Next up, also from the housewarming:
BACON-TOMATO SANDWICHES!

Merely five ingredients: Beefsteak tomatoes (I used maybe 6); white bread (four loaves; crusts cut off); bacon (one package); mustard (dijon) and mayonnaise (don't you EVEN buy non-fat.)

Mix 1/4 cup mustard and 1.5 cups of mayo. That's your spread. Then assemble sandwiches with tomato slices (one per sandwich if your tomatoes are big enough), a little spread and bacon. Cut into triangles. Voila! When your guests eat this, their eyes will roll back in their heads. (Thank you to Epicurious for both of these recipes. Good ol' Epicurious!)

Now, let's have dinner. Generally I'm a very health-conscious cook and I make dinners that are serviceable, affordable and low in fat and calories. Tasty, but not a lot of excitement. But last week I was feeling inspired by an extra carton of heavy cream in the fridge, so I created the following dish. Let's call it:

POACHED SALMON WITH CREAMY ASPARAGUS PASTA!

I used: Two nice-sized salmon fillets; chicken broth; basil; heavy cream; asparagus; bowtie pasta; parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, butter.

1. This is so easy. Smear cold butter in the bottom of a glass baking dish. Lay salmon skin-side down, then pour in enough chicken broth to almost cover the salmon. (But not quite.) Salt and pepper the fish, then lay entire sprigs of fresh herbs right into the broth between the fillets. (I used lemon basil from my herb garden! Dill works great, too.) Put uncovered into 400-degree oven for around 15 minutes, or until salmon is fully cooked. When the fish is cool enough to handle, remove skin and break salmon into chunks. Set aside.

2. Bring large pot of water to boil. (I did this while the salmon was cooling.) Add cut asparagus (inchlong pieces) and cook until tender but firm. Scoop out asparagus with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Add pasta to asparagus water and cook until it's how you like it. I used a half-pound of bowties.

3. When pasta is almost ready, melt a chunk of butter in a large skillet. Add asparagus, one small carton of heavy cream, and liberal amounts of salt and pepper. When sauce begins to thicken, add cooked pasta, salmon, more chopped fresh basil, and parmesan cheese. Let it cook a few more minutes until it's nice and thick. That's it! Go on, try it. It's delicious! And quite pretty.

Last one. CAN YOU HANDLE THE TASTINESS?!?!
ROASTED TOMATO PASTA WITH CAPERS AND OLIVES!

This is a delicious dish I created from thin air, which is rare for me, since I'm normally a strict recipe-follower. I was thinking one morning, "Man, we have nothing to eat for dinner!" But then my mother-in-law brought over a huge bowl of cherry tomatoes from her neighbor's garden. Inspiration! Everything else I had on hand. Here's how you do it:

Ingredients: 1.5-2 lbs halved cherry tomatoes; 1 diced red pepper; crushed red pepper; garlic; balsamic vinegar; olive oil; fresh basil; capers; kalamata olives; parmesan cheese; penne.

1. Mix tomatoes, red pepper, a couple teaspoons of crushed red pepper, 2 minced cloves of garlic, splash of balsamic and 1/4 cup olive oil in a 9x13 baking dish. Pop into 375-degree oven for 45-50 minutes, and stir once or twice during baking.

2. Meanwhile, cook pasta (about a half-pound) in boiling water. When it's to your liking, drain and put back in pot. Pour in the tomato mixture, along with a handful of chopped fresh basil,1/3 cup capers and 1/2 cup halved, pitted kalamata olives. Mix together and let it thicken up over low heat, maybe 5-10 minutes. Serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese!

I hope you find a good occasion to try one of these recipes, and let me know how it goes!

Monday, September 24, 2007

A URL that says it all

How I wish that http://myroommateisadick.com/ had been around when my dear friend and former roomie Jeff was obsessed with crab legs. He'd steam up an entire pound of legs, gobble them up, then leave the stinky crab bones laying around the kitchen and living room. He isn't a dick, but MAN, that drove me bonkers.

Monday, September 17, 2007

That's not really supposed to happen on your birthday

This morning my husband served me a mouthwatering breakfast of homemade cinnamon french toast with raspberries and strawberries, plus four strips of thick-cut bacon and hot coffee.

Then in the shower I had a lengthy water fight with a daddy longlegs spider the size of my palm.

(He lost.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Shame on you, you great big meanies.

On the drive to work today, I was flipping through radio stations when I heard something that piqued my curiosity, because it sounded like a regular old commercial, but you could tell it was really just a DJ pretending. The DJ had picked up the phone to call what seemed to be this random woman. Here's how it went:

DJ: "Hi there! I'm Sue from Sue's Flower Shop, and I'm conducting a survey! And if you answer just a few questions for me about flowers, I'll give you TWO FREE TICKETS to a Raiders or 49ers game!"

Woman: "What? Really? Oh, wow ... OK!"

DJ: "OK, first question! Yes or no: Do red roses remind you of romance?"

Woman: "Uh .... yes?"

DJ: "Great! Now, second question: Would you rather have flowers delivered to you because of a special occasion, or just out of the blue because someone thinks they have fallen in love with you?"

Woman (with laughter): "Both!"

DJ: "Ha! Ha! Ha! That's fantastic! OK, you just won two free tickets to a football game! So, which team do you want to see?"

Woman: "RAIDERS, BABY!!!!"

DJ: "Oh! Ho! Ho! Sounds good! Now, what's the name of the person you'll take with you? I need to tell the people at will call who will be using the extra ticket!"

Woman: ...... "Oh ...." (giggles) "..... well ..... " (giggles again)

DJ: "What's that? Whaddaya, have some kind of secret romance or something?!?! Huh? What's going on?!"

Woman: "Well, yes ... I mean, no. Well, I mean ..... we're ... close friends."

DJ: "A-HA!"

Woman (sheepishly): "Yeah ... we met on MySpace."

DJ: "Well, lookee here! Good for you! Hey, maybe a football game will be great way to lure a man's heart! Now we're going to write a card to your new sweetie! What do you want us to write on the card?"

Woman: "Um ..... OK, how about this: 'I'll take you to the black hole ...' (giggles uncontrollably) ... and then put 'if you promise to be faithfullllllll' -- be sure you put lots of L's at the end of that. It's an inside joke!"

Next the DJ starts to say something, but all of a sudden you hear this man's voice cut in from another phone line. A very angry voice. He starts yelling "HEY! Who is this guy, huh? HUH???? Are you guys SEEING EACH OTHER?? C'mon, I wanna know!" Then he rants and raves and froths at his lunatic mouth, while the poor woman on the phone is going "What? Is there someone else there? I hear a man's voice ... what's going on???"

It's all very confusing until the woman recognizes the man's voice, and you can hear her voice actually fill with fear. Evidently angry guy was someone she knew who was trying to scam information about her new MySpace friend. The woman goes "What is going on here?!?" And the DJ starts cackling, and explains that she is a radio host from, I don't know, K-SUX maybe, and the woman shrieks "ARE WE ON THE RADIO?!?!?!" "Yes!" the DJ chirps. The woman screams "YOU GUYS SUCK!!!" and slams down the phone.

Now, I like a good prank as much as the next guy, OK? When I was little, every April Fool's Day, we always pranked each other all over the place. My two little brothers loved to TP my bedroom. My mom taught us how to put a big bucket of water on top of a door so that it would rain all over my dad when he came in. Ha, ha. Hilarious, all. But does the public humiliation of this woman -- with an assist from the psycho ex-boyfriend -- go a little too far? And I don't know, maybe this dumbass DJ didn't know she had a stalker on her hands. But don't you think you'd want to be a little bit cautious about tricking a woman into telling you about her love life while some heavy-breathing nutjob -- and, oh yeah, the rest of the Bay Area -- secretly listens in?

And in case that doesn't churn your guts around enough as it is, take a look at this. It's footage of a prank played last week, involving a scoreboard marriage proposal at a Yankees game on behalf of a guy who was NOT about to propose to his girlfriend. Gah! It's horrifying! (OK, fine. I laughed like seven times watching this video. But not at the really, REALLY mean parts.)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Babe in toyland

Just in case he wakes up and needs to play RIGHT AWAY.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Productive

This Saturday I:

  • Took Chickenbone to a dog park.
  • Went to Target to purchase dog food, boxed cereal, a flat of bottled waters, a box of thank-you notes, and assorted cleaning supplies.
  • Then headed to Trader Joe's for red and green bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini and fresh baby spinach; frozen salmon, dover sole and marinated mahi-mahi; organic free-range boneless/skinless chicken breasts; bananas, raspberries, strawberries and plums; and a carton of milk.
  • Stopped at PetSmart to buy a box of stuffed squeaker squirrels and a 10-pack of poop bags.
  • Ate a grilled bratwurst at Top Dog.
  • Accompanied husband on long-planned "date night," which began at the Tapestry Arts Festival in downtown San Jose. Purchased delicious-smelling homemade soaps in mint, bay rum and california citrus (from a fellow who looked a little organic and free-range himself, if you know what I mean.)
  • Beat the heat with a couple late-afternoon cocktails at the Caravan Lounge, a grimy dive bar with just enough questionable clientele to keep things exciting.
  • Ate dinner on the outdoor patio of the Poor House Bistro, where we tapped our toes to the music of a live blues band while feasting on barbecue shrimp, sausage bread with dijon mustard, and a pitcher of cold PBR.
  • Headed to the local theater to get our pants scared off by "Halloween," then took the bus home at around 11 p.m. Realized with horror (har, har) that to get to our house from the bus stop, we had to walk past a hospital. An abandoned hospital. Abandoned, except for a hunched-over half-naked homeless man on a bench who was so thin you could see his teeny spine bones dotting the skin on his back. Not making this crap up.

And on Sunday I:

  • Stripped the bed, flipped the mattress, then made up the bed with crisp, clean sheets.
  • Sorted the laundry and started a load up in the washer.
  • Went for a rather grueling eight-mile run in the Los Gatos Creek Trail.
  • Ate lunch, an avo-turkey on dutch crunch bread at Togo's.
  • Cut back the six Dusty Miller plants in my front yard.
  • Picked cigarette butts and other tiny pieces of garbage out from the bed of tan bark where the flowers live.
  • Trimmed the rose and lavender bushes.
  • Pulled the rosebush straight with a piece of string tied to the house.
  • Edged both the front and back lawns while Sal mowed.
  • Swept 14 or 15 pounds of peppercorn-tree droppings off the driveway.
  • Unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. Scrubbed the kitchen sink.
  • Went to Safeway to buy a six-pack of root beer, vanilla ice cream, pink plastic tumblers and neon-colored bendy-straws.
  • Headed to a barbecue at the home of friends, where we ate grilled chicken and vegetables, salad, corn on the cob, with those frosty root beer floats for dessert.
  • Came home and folded and put away six loads of laundry.
  • Watched the season finale of "Entourage."
  • Collapsed.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Kickoff

It's Friday night, after 10 p.m., and I'm still at work. But don't feel bad for me! Because this is the most exciting time of the year. Better than Christmas, even. It's high school football season, baby! I LIVE FOR THIS.

OK, so maybe this being my seventh season of high school football, I'm not actually as gung-ho as all that. But it IS pretty much the most exciting time of the year when you have my job. When some people hear that I work in a sports department at a newspaper, they get all starry-eyed and ask "Oh! So do you get to go to all the games?!!" Ah, no. Actually, all those guys out there tonight, walking the sidelines with a notebook and pencil? They will go back to their computers in a little bit and write stories. Then they will send those stories to newsrooms that contain folks like me, who read the stories, write some headlines, and then poof! You have a newspaper. It really is just that simple.

But the real thrilling part isn't even those stories -- it's the phones. I have to write this post sorta fast, because in about 15 minutes or so, the four public lines in my department are going to light up my phone like a Christmas tree. And I have a small team of folks in the room with me right now who are going to pick up those phones, talk to a bunch of coaches, take game statistics and type them into the computer. Then I'll gather up all that info and smash it into a "roundup" that will contain information on a bunch of games. Maybe it'll be five games. Or maybe 10. OR MAYBE 25 GAMES! WHO CAN TELL?!?! It gets very chaotic, because it is impossible to predict how many calls and results you'll get. And what you WON'T get, meaning you have to scramble to find it yourself. And we'll have to accomplish all of this in the span of about an hour, which is how much time we have before our first deadline.

It is during this hour of an autumn Friday night, an hour that happens just 11 times per year, that I actually look like those journalists you see on TV and in movies. My colleagues and I actually look, you know, COOL. Fingers flying over the keyboard ... phones ringing and slamming, ringing and slamming ... hollering out scores to each other ... running laps around the room to see what games we're getting ... sweat on the brow and a hard-thumping heartbeat. It is pure, exhilarating chaos.

My attitude about it today is a far cry from that of my very first football Friday night, back in 2000, when I worked at The Bakersfield Californian and was one of those clerks spending that hour being trampled by ringing phones. I literally knew nothing about football, and I had this paralyzing fear that all my new coworkers would sit there listening to me sound like a total dumbass with these coaches. And they would probably send each other secret e-mails mocking me behind my back. "Can you believe she didn't even know what a two-point conversion is?! What a dumbass!" It was the only time in my life I was so nervous that I actually barfed, in a bathroom stall an hour before my shift started. So every year on this night, I feel so grateful that nothing about football, not first downs or fumble returns or quarterback keepers, makes me want to toss my cookies. Well, except for Michael Vick, but I don't have time to go into that right now, because the phone just rang! Gotta go! Woooohoooooooo!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Nice knowin' ya

We're having a housewarming party Saturday, and as part of pre-party housecleaning I wanted to clean out the laundry room. Our washer and dryer are stacked in this closet-type area, and on either side of the machines are these black holes where socks fall but you can't ever reach them. So I had Sal get me one of those long pincher things, like you see prisoners picking up trash with? Looks like this:


So I plunge the thing back there to grab the one thing I dropped in the two months we have lived here: a black sock. Twenty minutes later, I have this pile of dusty new treasures:


What's that, you ask? Why, yes! YES! That IS a psycho killer doll, that appeared as if from nowhere! The doll who will no doubt climb out of the trash can tonight, crawl into my bed, and pierce my jugular with its teeny killer-doll teeth! Huh? Oh, yeah! I know! IT DOESN'T HAVE ANY ARMS! AND YES! YES, I DO SEE THE SPIDER CORPSE CLINGING TO ITS ARM STUMP!



Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Don't know, how you do, that haiku, that you do

My friend Robyn has a cute new blog that features haiku. Do you know haiku? Several years ago, I wrote this haiku about my favorite burrito in the whole world:

CHIPOTLE HAIKU
Foil-wrapped heaven
Meaty goodness swathed in spice
Hunger dies happy


And just now, I wrote this!

O, funny Robyn!
Homemade bags and poetry
Who could ask for more?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Happy Chickenversary!


Exactly one year ago Sunday, Chickenbone Jones joined our little family. And to celebrate this very special anniversary, I will tell you exactly how much I used to hate his furry guts.

It's true! I really did! Me, the crazy broad who now blathers endlessly about good ol' Chickens right here in this very blog!

What got us all off on the wrong foot was the issue of crate training. In case you don't know, crate training basically means keeping your puppy in a kennel or cage at night, and during some daytime periods, while you're potty-training them. It sounds mean, but it really isn't. You can read about it here. But Chickenbone's discomfort during this process was, ah, intense. His crate was in the living room, and the moment we'd go into the bedroom at night, the barking would begin. Piercing barks. Relentless, agony-filled shriek-barks that would make your ears shrivel up and fall right off your head. It was absolute torture, laying there listening to that each night -- and imagining how our neighbors must feel about our new tenant -- but I didn't know what else to do except ride out the storm.

Eventually, of course, Chickens would settle down and sleep for awhile. But then he'd be wide awake six hours later. Barking. Barking. Barking. Then it was five hours. Then just four. Each time I heard the first morning bark, a vision popped into my mind of his wee bladder bursting to smithereens if I didn't take him out RIGHT NOW. So each morning I'd put on a coat, grab the dog and trudge outside. Around day six of this routine, I opened the door to chilly darkness, and I realized it wasn't even 5 a.m., and the little devil had let me sleep for just four hours. Horrified, I stared down at him and knew we made a terrible mistake.

That night I sat Sal down and tearfully brought up the idea of taking him back. The shelter offers a two-week return period, and I didn't even know how I'd survive one more night, much less another week. I was frustrated with this dog. I didn't understand what he wanted, or how to make him feel happy and safe. ALL I WANTED WAS SLEEP. But luckily my level-headed husband had already fallen so deeply in love with this pooch that there was no convincing him. And by "fallen so deeply in love," I actually mean "could sleep through a Category Four hurricane, and never once heard a single peep out of this precious baby after the lights went out."

But I did want it to work, truly, and so after this conversation, I did two things.

One, I signed us all up for an eight-week doggy training course at PetSmart. We learned things like rattling coins in a can when he gets noisy, which works like a charm. We also moved his crate into the bedroom, so he wouldn't feel scared and alone. Within a couple of months, he was out of the cage and sleeping in the bed, just like a real boy.

Two, I did what any respectable 21st-century human being does when faced with an important question, and I turned to Google. I actually typed in this phrase -- "how can a dog make you happy" -- desperate to find something, ANYTHING, that could make me believe it was all going to be OK. And in honor of Chickens, I will show you what I found, and I cannot possibly explain how much better it made me feel! You can enjoy it here.

Oh, and that picture up there? It's the photo the shelter had on its web site, back when Chickens didn't have a home. The humane society had picked him up about a month earlier, and he had been living with this rescue agency and coming to the animal fair every Saturday waiting for someone to take him home. Look how skinny he is! Poor little guy! But today he's nicely pudged out, he's happy as can be, and he only barks at squirrels, at the mailman, and when taunted with treats dangled juuuuust out of his reach.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My cat-loving friends will dig this

You know who you are.



With that, I'm outta here for one last getaway before the summer's end. A girlfriend trip to Yosemite Valley, where we'll no doubt drink wine coolers and wear lingerie and scare away the bears with a nice feathery pillow fight. Tell you all about it in a couple days.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Definition

Bloser (BLOO-zur). n. 1. Blogger who fails to blog for two entire weeks, and actually feels quite apologetic about that, but warns that this is the only mention of that you'll find in this post, as said blogger finds "sorry I haven't posted on my blog" blog posts to be incredibly annoying.

On we go.

Had the husband's extended family over on Saturday for a housewarming barbecue. Overall, it was a successful party, though if you could have peered into my kitchen an hour or two before the guests arrived, you probably wouldn't have predicted a happy ending.

For one thing, I screwed up the homemade ice cream. Instead of gently mixing in the whipping cream AFTER dissolving the sugar in the milk, I dumped all the ingredients in the mixer at once and whipped the shit out of it. Which gives you a nice, big frothy bowl of WHIPPED cream, not the milky liquid you freeze to make ICE cream. So I had to run to the store to purchase all new ingredients.

Then, in the middle of homemade-ice-cream-attempt No. 2, I opened the freezer too quickly and a can of frozen lemonade fell to the floor, the silver cap burst off, and syrupy sweet lemonade concentrate pooled all over the kitchen floor, the cupboards, the stove and my feet. The ensuing F-bomb could be heard two counties away.

And then there were the beans. OH MY GOD, THE BEANS. So here's the thing, when I'm cooking for company, I don't like to do anything from a can, or a microwave, or even a freezer. And I desperately wanted to make my very own homemade beans. So I scoured the internet for hours and found a recipe that got rave reviews called "BBQ beans." On Friday night I excitedly rinsed and sorted my beans (so cool, just like on the prairie!) and Saturday I mixed them into the crock pot with a whole bunch of seasonings, sauces and other ingredients. Four hours later, I closed my eyes, lifted up the lid, and waited for the yummy scent of the broth to waft up and tantalize me.

My nose crinkled. I looked down and saw a glob of the absolute worst-looking food I have ever seen in my life. It looked like vom. And it smelled worse. There were thick pools of red, glistening grease floating on top, and below that were the pound and a half of pinto beans, still hard like little pebbles. I sipped a little bit of the broth from a spoon, and it tasted like ass. I frantically stirred the beans, hoping maybe it just wasn't mixed well enough, but no, it was still just a big disgusting vat of brownish-grey prison food.

So 30 minutes before partytime I decide to blow the whistle on the beans. No way am I serving this. But then I'm like, shit, how do I get rid of this stuff?! It's boiling hot, so I can't very well put it in the trash can. And I'm thinking 14 cups of uncooked pinto beans probably won't mix well with a garbage disposal. And I sure as shit can't leave it out, or Sal's family will see it and know that I'm a miserable failure as a cook, a wife, and a human being. THINK, GODDAMN YOU!! THINK!!!!!

Then it struck me: I slammed two oven mitts on my hands and hoisted the crock out and over to the sink. Then I stuck a colander underneath, where I poured (er, splattered) the contents of the crock. The steaming broth went down the drain and the beans landed in the bowl, and on top of them I dumped two trays of ice cubes and cold running water. After a few minutes, I took the whole slimy mess and double-wrapped it in a garbage bag, which went into the dumpster. I couldn't clean the crock yet, since you can't stick a hot crock in water or it will crack (this, sadly, I know from experience) so I simply wiped off the rim, stuck it back in the crockpot holder and popped on the lid. Voila! It's like the whole thing never happened!

And now I have to go, because -- jesus christ, will this mistake ever end? -- I just realized I forgot to clean the crockpot. Which ought to smell even more appetizing now that it has been sitting in decaying bean crust for three days.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This and that

I'm totally overloaded with things to write about here, so you'll forgive a hodgepodge of updates, won't you?

First, the back yard is all better. Within two hours of my post on the broken tree limb, a very nice old gentleman who owns a tree service business arrived. He let out a long whistle when he came into the yard and said we have one of the biggest peppercorn trees he has ever seen. Then he walked up to one of the fallen branches and lifted it high. Leans over to me and makes a joke that seemed to give him immense joy, despite being told hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of times: "Do you know what this is?" he says, peering at me closely. "Um ... a peppercorn tree?" I ask. He grins and says cheerfully, "It's nature's way of pruning your tree!"

Oh! Ha! Hahaha! OK, now cut the crap and go get your chainsaw.

He really was terrific, though, and the very next morning he came out and tidied things up. He even chopped up a bunch of the wood and stacked it up for us to use in our fireplace.

Sal and I also went on vacation. Now that seems like a million years ago. And every time I went to write about it, something would happen, generally something at work, and generally something unpleasant. But I'm determined to tell you, though, about how our John Williams concert was nearly ruined by a disgusting, smelly cow of a woman who reeked like she hasn't showered in a month. Mere moments after Sal and I cracked open a bottle of cold chardonnay and unwrapped our hot dogs for a quick dinner before the show, this gal plops herself down in the seat in front of me and pulls out of her backpack a tub of hummus the size of her head. The moment Sal smelled her, his eyes darted in my direction, because he KNEW I was gonna freak.

You see, there are many objectionable things in this world, but at the very tippy-top of my list are people who stink. I'm not saying that a little extra B.O. at the end of a long day (such as my nasty 12-hour shift yesterday) means you were born in a barnyard. I'm saying that folks who do not hose off their big, smelly bodies at least once a week or so really do need their own section at the Hollywood Bowl. MY GOD, I cannot stand the smell of B.O. And, I mean, we were outside! There was a breeze! And it was still so bad that I had to turn my head all the way around and take quick teeny gulps of air before facing forward again.

As the minutes passed, my temper boiled at the fact that this stench was going to ruin a concert we had looked forward to for months. So after about 15 minutes I marched over to one of the ushers and told him the problem. The show was sold out, so he didn't know how to help me. But he sent me over to his boss, who seemed to take pity on the crazy lady sputtering about showers and homeless people and garlic-flavored hummus. And in five minutes he had us moved to great seats that were even a little closer to the stage.

Oh! But the stench does not end there, my friend! Because just days after this concert, I was eating lunch with Sal, my aunt and my cousin at a pizza restaurant in Cambria when a disgusting unshowered individual sat right behind me. And when the stench wafted into my nose, I almost hurled. Again, I had to move. So you see, America, please just take a bath. I do not know what sort of nasal dysfunction keeps you from passing out when you smell your very own self, but perhaps you could try using your eyes: If you actually see folks RUN AWAY WHEN YOU GET NEAR THEM, it could be time to hop in the tub.

OK, let me post a couple of vacation photos, and then I gotta jet. These are from the Santa Barbara zoo:

This is Janine, a crooked-necked giraffe. Don't be afraid! She was born that way and the zookeeper says she is a happy giraffe, and that her neck doesn't hurt her at all.

When Sal walked up to this bald eagle, he solemnly sang the first verse of "America the Beautiful" in its entirety.


I was watching the toucans when I heard Sal hissing at me to come look at something. He's waving his finger and pointing wildly at two turtles who are MADLY going at it. I mean, you can actually hear the top turtle grunting repeatedly as he bumps and grinds with his girl below. Look close, you can even see his open mouth! And so before I know it, this little girl runs up to the tank and begins laughing hysterically. "MOMMY!" she whirls around, laughing. "Lookieeeee! They're playing leapfrog!"

Horndog

Pick-up lines we made up for Chickenbone, as he was violently humping my husband's arm in bed last night. It works best if you grunt and moan and thrust your hips back and forth while you say them:

"Baby, I AM the other white meat."

"There's no fuel in the tank, but the engine still runs."

"No boneless chicken here!"

(This last one you have to say in that REEEEALLY slow sexual drawl)
"Chick-en mar-SAL-a!"

That's just the kind of parents we are.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Kind of exciting, in a way

Dude, I had so many great plans for the post I was going to write today, all these neat vacation stories and photographs and witty updates on life in general. But now I don't have time to write! I gotta go home! WE HAVE AN EMERGENCY, MAN!!!!! So, you know that big, huge, beautiful peppercorn tree in our back yard? Well, giant piece snapped off the top! And it made a loud snapping noise! And .... and ... now everything looks like this!



I mean, remember how the yard looked back when I wrote this? Yeah, that gigantic green thing covering half the house? NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THERE. Worst part is, that huge crazy broken part is resting on two other limbs. And me? I'm thinking that those other limbs probably ain't all that stable, since BRANCHES WITH NOTHING RESTING ON THEM WHATSOEVER apparently can't hold it together. So now we are frantically calling around to find an emergency tree guy to come over and, I don't know, do whatever the tree guys do in these situations. And if tree guy is smart, he'll charge me lots and lots of money because at this point I would pretty much pay any amount to make my beautiful yard stop looking like that.

Friday, July 13, 2007

No longer newly wed



Let's see, one year ago today I was running around town like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to finish umpteen-million last-minute wedding preparations. Meanwhile, Sal was at home, tasked with typing in and printing out place cards for our 162 guests. Therefore I was surprised when I walked in the front door and saw that, in fact, this had not happened. And by "surprised" I mean "ready to skin someone alive with my bare, but beautifully manicured, hands." The computer was dark, a bunch of ink-smeared, crunched-up labels were strewn about the room, and in the middle of the mess sat Sal looking slightly fearful of his wild-eyed bride.

But before I could go all waah-ooh-waaaah-don't-you-care-about-our-wedding on him, I realized what was going on: Evidently our printer hated the place cards I bought at Target. Chewed them up and spit them out. So realizing how likely I was to explode into full-on bridezilla mode if I came home to no place cards, Sal ditched the printer idea and began to write them out individually.

By hand.

In CALLIGRAPHY.

That, friends, is the kind of man I married. The kind of man who, two weeks after he proposed, bought a calligraphy kit at Barnes and Noble and spent hours at our kitchen table teaching himself the craft. I lost track of how many days it took for him to hand-address all our invitations. They were exquisite. And because he had ALL that practice, it was no trouble for him to crank out the place cards, too.

I married a man who saves the day, all the time, sometimes even saving the day multiple times in the exact same day.

So off we go to Southern California to celebrate one year of matrimonial good times. We're headed first to Los Angeles, where we'll see John Williams and the L.A. Philharmonic perform movie music at the Hollywood Bowl. And the Dodgers. Then we'll enjoy a few sunny days in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo before heading home. When we return, I'm sure I'll have many fine vacation tales to tell, and hopefully this time they won't end with a syringe in my spine. See ya!

P.S. Thanks, Gamy, for the hilarious anniversary card!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Breakfast with dad

He'd very much enjoy a refill, please.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Score!

A major topic of conversation around our house lately: How do you buy a whole bunch of new furniture with, oh, hmm, let's say, zero dollars?

Evidently we have a tough time picking our priorities. But priorities aren't easy when you ABSOLUTELYFRICKINGNEED four dozen things. For example, the guest bedroom and dining room are empty, except for one desk. So we need a bed, plus a dining table and chair set. We also need a dresser for the master bedroom, since our closet is so small. Oh, and we're also going on vacation next week for our one-year wedding anniversary, so, you know, the ol' money tree ain't exactly in full bloom.

One plan we thought could save money is to buy a new master bedroom set. We could put our current bed in the guest room, and also solve the dresser problem, all at once. Problem is, buying a new master bedroom set? Turns out there's not a whole lot of "saving money" going on there. Everything is so just so ridiculously overpriced, and gigantic, and ... I don't know ... EXPENSIVE! AND HUGE! Those, too! And I don't like 17-piece matching sets. And stuff that looks like it belongs to someone's parents. OK, Macy's furniture gallery? OK, crappy furniture stores with those creepy hose-monsters billowing out in front? (Seriously, how does anybody think those scary-assed things will make me want to buy something?!)

So, we turn to the used-furniture market. The guest bed is goal No. 1, as we have visitors coming this summer, and nothing is more worthless than having a house but not having a proper place for folks to sleep. So I go to Craigslist and find a full bed that is described as having "some minor damage on corners from regular use." Um, ew. Then I e-mailed about another and inquired how old the mattress set is. Guy says he doesn't know, which I'm thinking is not a good sign. I quickly realize that getting a new bed is really the only way to go, so on Sunday night with exactly 16 minutes remaining in the 4TH! OF JULY! ANNUAL! BLOWOUT! SALE! we bought a brand-new bed. Now you are free visit without the fear of catching a disease from all the "regular use."

Buying this bed unclogged the whole process, as now we were free to just buy one dresser, as opposed to an entire set. So I kept my eyes peeled on Craigslist, and yesterday morning I made the most wonderful find -- an antique dresser for $225. I headed over to this warehouse last night to see it, and it really is beautiful. It's beat-up, and in desperate need of a paint job, but it's solid, roomy, and best of all, it's interesting. NO! Strike that! Best of all, I wheeled and dealed my way to getting it for $200, PLUS the woman delivered it right to my house! Dude. That means all our immediate problems were solved for $750, which is far less than what we would have paid for a new set of anything. So, let's hear it for used shit!

Here are a couple photos of the new dresser. (Not pictured: Me doing backflips because now we can stop living out of cardboard boxes and garbage bags.)



Monday, July 9, 2007

Eloquent

Excerpt from a Yelp review:

The day I accept New York style audacity from a Los Angeles restaurant is the day I am run over by an MTA train, halved from the balls below, and am forced to dine exclusively at places that excuse my leaking colostomy bag because I pay them exorbitant sums derived from my insurance settlement.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Yep, still cranky!

First of all, it's hot. And I'm wearing one of those shirts that, when you pull it out of the clean laundry, appears to be a perfectly fine shirt. But if you are like me and you sweat like a goddamn sow when it's really hot, it just takes a couple hours for the previously invisible deodorant stains on the armpits to get yellow and crisp. THIS PISSES ME RIGHT OFF. If it didn't mean I would have to sit at my desk wearing just my bra, I would throw this asshole shirt in the trash right now.

OK, so also, last night I ordered a poached salmon salad for dinner. But the salmon was mealy, and the slices of avocado were crisp, like carrots. That is just wrong. So I only ate half. Then I went to see a play, and I had to sit next to a woman who smelled like hamsters. So I sat with my head turned toward Sal, who always smells nice, and then just craned my eyes sideways toward the stage so as to not hurl in my own lap. This morning, I broke a beautiful globe wine glass. (Doing dishes, not drinking, though now I wish that wasn't so.) And today for lunch I tried another salad, but the mushrooms were dark, stinky and gross. Remembering what happened last time I had a fight with bad mushrooms, I threw half of it away.

And another thing: POOCH, YOU ARE KILLIN' ME.

I'm certain my dark mood is partly due to sleep deprivation, since every morning for a week now, I wake up because Chickenbone's tongue is poking into my mouth bright and early at 7 a.m. Now, 7 is not an approved household wake-up time. A good rule of thumb is 8 or later. And not only is Chickens generally a strict follower of this rule, he's usually the LAST one out of bed, at 9, or even 10. So I don't know if it's the heat or the sunlight or what, but every morning this week has gone like this: Chickens frenches me, I sputter awake and briefly consider cracking him upside his wee hairy head, and then he does something so cherubic and adorable that I melt. Like, he'll drag over his stringy rope and lay it on my chest. Or he'll bury his little face in the crook of my neck, tail wagging under the covers. So we lay there cuddling for a few minutes, and I keep drifting back to sleep, but every time I doze off I get the tongue again. Or, worse, the deliberate paw scratch across the cheek. So after about 15 minutes of this, I give up. I put on my slippers and stumble to the kitchen to make coffee.

The best part is, this is when the little beast curls up and goes back to sleep. Next to my husband. In my spot.

Head. on. my. pillow.

That dog, he's no dumbass.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A little gloomy around here

Well, I'm not going to lie to you, things could be better. A whole bunch of people at my office were laid off yesterday. Last week I went to a funeral. And with the exception of two rooms -- the kitchen and bathroom, obviously the most important rooms ever invented -- most of my house is still an avalanche of boxes, bags, piles and many other varieties of mess. If you know me at all, you know what a very special brand of torture this is. Fortunately our house is big enough that I can still create tiny pieces of pretty and organized outside of the moving wreckage. For instance, see the lovely roses I picked from my front yard on Sunday night:


Then again, there are other parts of the yard that aren't looking quite so vibrant. One plant in particular is ailing something awful, and every time I go out there it looks worse. I don't know what to do. I'm not even sure what kind of plant it is, and I have no idea how to find out. What am I going to do, google "Big leaves, crispy, brown edges"? So I took a picture of my dying plant, and maybe you can tell me what it is. Perhaps this clue will help: When I inspected it closely, I saw some old black sticks that had little crunchy, dead blossoms on the end. Please, save my crunchy blossoms!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

We have a winner

I'm pleased to announce that my very dear friend Amy, who lives in Missouri, has named the lions, who live in my back yard. For this, Amy should keep an eye on her mailbox, because very soon she will receive a "rockin lion guitar pick pendant," which I just purchased off Etsy. Etsy is a cool site my friend Robyn turned me on to, and it's full of lovely handmade things. I picked this trinket for Amy because she plays guitar and she named my lions. I TOLD YOU THE PRIZE WOULD BE APPROPRIATE! Do you know how rare a "rockin lion guitar pick pendant is"? You wear that baby proudly, Amy! And thanks for naming my lions.

I'll let Amy tell you her idea in her own words:

"I think you should name your two lions after Gog and Magog, the porcelain dogs on either side of the hearth in the "Anne of Green Gables" series.They always stuck in my mind for some reason, and I thought, "Maybe someday I'll have a Gog and Magog of some sort." Your lions are perfect. (Of course, there is actually some fairly frightening imagery regarding a Gog and Magog in the Bible, but as far as I can tell, no one has really been able to tell what it means!) In case this does not ring a bell, here's the reference from the book (yes, I'm a huge nerd!):"

From "Anne of the Island," chapter 10, "Patty's Place":

The girls rang rather timidly, and were admitted by a grim and ancient handmaiden. The door opened directly into a large living-room, where by a cheery little fire sat two other ladies, both of whom were also grim and ancient. Except that one looked to be about seventy and the other fifty, there seemed little difference between them. Each had amazingly big, light-blue eyes behind steel-rimmed spectacles; each wore a cap and a gray shawl; each was knitting without haste and without rest; each rocked placidly and looked at the girls without speaking; and just behind each sat a large white china dog, with round green spots all over it, a green nose and green ears. Those dogs captured Anne's fancy on the spot; they seemed like the twin guardian deities of Patty's Place.

(The girls agree to rent the house while the ladies go abroad)

"Will you leave the china dogs?" asked Anne timidly.
"Would you like me to?"
"Oh, indeed, yes. They are delightful."
A pleased expression came into Miss Patty's face.
"I think a great deal of those dogs," she said proudly. "They are over a hundred years old, and they have sat on either side of this fireplace ever since my brother Aaron brought them from London fifty years ago."

"I shall leave the dogs where they are, if you will promise to be very careful of them," she said. "Their names are Gog and Magog. Gog looks to the right and Magog to the left."


So named are my lions. Now, a couple of updates on my other mystery, the snail-shell thing in our laundry room. First of all, my husband points out that it is not a snail at all, but rather a "mollusk with a pretentious name," otherwise known as a "chambered nautilus." Does that help? No. But it's good trivia. Also, that photo I posted might make the little panel seem bigger than it really is. It's about the size of my hand, or even smaller. It is very firmly attached to the wall, and that space between the front of the panel and the back isn't very big at all. You can't push anything, swivel anything, or move any part of it. But it's not exactly, you know, cute. So it definitely seems like it has an actual purpose, as opposed to being decorative. What the hell is this thing?!