“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


It's Like An Out Of Body Experience

Thursday, January 31, 2008

I had an interview today – the first one since I started seriously looking for a job about a month ago. Office work is scarce in this rural area, yet all of my experience is in office work. If I had experience as a nurse or a machine operator or a big rig driver, I would probably have a job by now, but I don’t. This job is as a file clerk, but it’s really a general office position – gathering and replacing charts, answering phones, etc, etc.

The interview went well, as interviews go, but I had to lie. Does everyone lie at interviews? I’m not talking about telling them you worked 10 years at a company where you only worked 10 days, or telling them you’re not a felon when you’ve been convicted of attempted murder. I would never do that (neither the telling nor the murder).

I’m talking about lying in answer to the stupid questions. Questions like, “Do you really want this job? Or do you just want a job?”, to which I answered that I really want this job, when the truth is that the only job I really want is homemaker of my own home. Or how about this one? “What was your favorite thing about your previous job?” To that one I answered that I loved learning about all the equipment the company used and then passing that knowledge along to others. Not true, but I had to come up with something.

I can be quite convincing. Funny thing is, the only question which they probably won’t believe my answer to is one which is absolutely true. When they ask that age-old, despicable question, “What is your worst quality?”, my standard answer is that I tend to be very shy, but of course I have spent my life learning to overcome that tendency. This is absolutely true, but I don’t think interviewers believe me.

See, I have somehow developed this odd sort of act that happens on interviews that is completely out of my control. I can be utterly freaked out to the point of tears before the interview, but the moment the interviewer shakes my hand it’s like I become a different person. I’m friendly, loquacious, unreserved, and while my brain is still up there hiding out in my skull, invisibly freaking out, my manner somehow says I’m cool, I’m calm, I’m completely in control. I swear, the people who know me best would not recognize me when this change comes over me, and I can’t explain how it happens. It just does.

For that reason, they don’t believe me. I’ve had interviewers look at me incredulously, even suspiciously, and tell me that I don’t seem shy. And I can’t prove it to them. I just am.

And the minute I’m out of the interviewer’s sight, I fall apart again. Like I did today. It took about a dozen kleenexes, a big can of Red Bull, and a really sappy movie to pull me together again. And now I feel a bit like I’m in mourning – like a piece of me died and I’m trying to get it back. Don’t bother asking what that means. I can’t even explain it to myself.

So now all that’s left is to wait to hear from them, telling me either that I did or did not get the job that I don’t really want, but feel guilty for not wanting because I really should want it. I should hear either tomorrow or Monday.

Great. One more thing to freak out about.

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I Need A Hit Of Trading Spaces, But...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Alright my friends, it’s time to get shallow...really, really shallow. But let’s start with a bit of background, shall we?

One of my very favorite shows to ever be shown on TV is Trading Spaces. Since we have not had cable for many years, I was first introduced to it several years ago when we were visiting my in-laws who did have cable. We were there for a week-long Christmas vacation and I was immediately hooked on the show. The paint color reveal! The homeowner/designer banter! The excitement of seeing a room go from drab to fantastic! I lived and breathed it all while we were there visiting.

The next year, my Christmas gift from my in-laws was a box of six VHS tapes packed with episodes of Trading Spaces. Be still my beating heart. I have watched those episodes many times over the years. They are all that keeps me from going crazy with TSWS (Trading Spaces Withdrawal Syndrome), since we still don’t have cable.

Though I never saw it myself, I have heard from friends who are less cable-challenged than myself that the show changed drastically (for the worse) after Paige Davis left and they overhauled the show format. I must admit, even I lost interest. What could the show be without Paige? Don’t misunderstand me; the designers are great, but it’s a team effort of which Paige was a very integral part. I can’t imagine the show without her.

But now, as I am sure you all know, Paige has returned! And I am back to being as jealous as ever of all you cable-rich people out there. I don’t know if they changed the format back to it’s former state, but my longing for a shot of TS is back. Keep me away from the phone book, please, or I might just do something foolish like calling the local satellite company and signing up!

(deep breath) I’m okay now. Really. I am.


Okay, now here’s where we get to the really, really shallow part. It’s about Paige. She is so cute and beautiful and perky (I bet she really hates that word by now) and entertaining and, and, and....


and I’m sorry to have to say it,

what is up with the hair?

Her old hairstyle was so adorable. It was the perfect match to her face and attitude. This one...well I just can’t find the words to say how awful it is. It looks like that horrible haircut I had in 6th grade, or one of those cuts you get when you’re trying to grow your hair out and nothing looks good.

Okay, maybe she is growing it out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But aren’t expensive Hollywood hair designers with names like Cherise (shar-i-zay) and Mauricio and Alabaster supposed to be able to make even growing-out hairstyles look good?

I’m glad she’s back – really! I am! – but I’m just a little scared of that hair. Paige, if you’re reading this (and yes, I do realize how delusional that sounds), please, please tell me you’re growing your hair out. Then all will be forgiven. I promise.

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Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This fantastic book by Lynne Truss has been around since 2003, so I’m sure you have all heard of it. Therefore, this is not so much a review of the book as it is an infatuated rave about it. I’m not writing this to convince you to read a new book; I am telling you emphatically that I love it and would absolutely recommend it to anyone.

I adore this book. (Did you get that?) I mean, how often does one get to laugh while improving one’s punctuation skills? According to the end flap, Lynne Truss “ a writer and journalist who started out as a literary editor...”, but as far as I am concerned she is a comedienne and a genius at it. How many people do you know who can make you nearly wet your pants while writing about a semicolon?

If you are a blogger, and I assume that most of the 4+ people who check in here every day are bloggers, you write every (or nearly every) day. And if you write in English, you use standard English punctuation; at least I hope you do. Whether or not you are obsessed with punctuation (or grammar in general), this book will provide you many useful pointers and hilarious anecdotes.

For instance, Lynne (and I do feel I am on a first name basis with her since, though unbeknownst to her, she could be one of my very best friends) talks about the “knock-down fights”, complete with sarcastically re-punctuated Wordsworth poems, that humorist James Thurber used to have with New Yorker editor Harold Ross over commas. And then there is the story about the grocer who became Queen Elizabeth’s Apostropher Royal, in charge of the quality use of apostrophes all across England.

Lynne also fits in examples of the punctuational points she is making by using them in delightful sentences such as this one about the comma:

“Assuming a sentence rises into the air with the initial capital letter and lands with a soft-ish bump at the full stop (period), the humble comma can keep the sentence aloft all right, like this, UP, for hours if necessary, UP, like this, UP, sort-of bouncing, and then falling down, and then UP it goes again, assuming you have enough additional things to say, although in the end you may run out of ideas and then you have to roll along the ground with no commas at all until some sort of surface resistance takes over and you run out of steam anyway and then eventually with the help of three dots ... you stop.”

I am no proponent of run-on sentences, but I must say, if I had written this book, that would absolutely be a passage I read at book-signings.

If you need a brush-up on your punctuational skills, or if you just need a good laugh, you must read this book. It is one that will always be on my bookshelf, and will likely be read many more times in years to come.

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Squashing the "Wasting Time" Bug

Monday, January 28, 2008

Just moments ago I was commenting on Leanne’s blog which, when you comment, links to the most recent post on your own blog. It told me that my most recent was “Mysteries of the Sun”, and I realized that post was so old that I couldn’t even remember when I had posted it. Turns out it was 10 days ago. Ugh.

At the risk of sounding like a total spaz, I’m going to be honest: my new format isn’t working for me. It’s way too structured. Okay, that makes me sound completely undisciplined, but considering that I haven’t posted in 10 days, is that really a surprise?

The one good thing that came out of my experiment is that I discovered some things I can blog about that I had not really thought of before. For instance, I love making handmade things and am planning to open an Etsy store soon to start selling some of those things. And yet, as much as I love this part of my life, I have never blogged much about it. It’s like a whole part of my life that I could be blogging but haven’t.

Anyway, I am still here, and with the Etsy store and another home business I am considering, I have realized that it’s really in my best interest to keep my blog more up-to-date, if nothing else for the advertising opportunities it affords me. I suppose that might sound crass to some, but I don’t plan to have my Etsy store emblazoned across the top of my screen; just a discreet link in my sidebar.

And the truth is, I really do enjoy blogging. I started this blog over two years ago because I wanted to write; that hasn’t changed. I still love writing, but I think that can make it even harder to justify. My logic tends to be this: If I enjoy doing it, then it must be a worthless, purely recreational activity and therefore everything else is more important than it, and in fact it should be avoided because it is a waste of time. Of course, that line of thought is not completely in charge of my life – trust me, I can come up with much more meaningless ways to waste my time – but it has a strong tendency to creep in and catch me now and then, especially when it comes to writing.

Does this sound like a bunch of lame excuses? I hope not. What I’m really trying to say is that I love blogging, I have enjoyed writing blog posts for the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve met some wonderful people, and I’m really going to make an effort to squash the “it’s a waste of my time” bug and blog like a crazy woman. My sincere thanks to the few of you who keep checking in. I adore you all and hope you’ll keep coming back. I’ll be here!



Mysteries of the Sun

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sometime around the 22nd of December, I woke up in the middle of the night and could not get back to sleep. This was the result of my insomnia.

We have finally passed over the line – that line in time that tells us that the days in our northern half of the world will continue to get longer from this point forward. My ignorance of the ways of our spinning world and its interaction with the sun makes it seem strange to me that while the days are getting longer, the air is getting colder. If the sun spends more time shining on the earth, shouldn’t it also be warming it?

Winter has only just begun, and yet from this point on the sun will begin to rise earlier each day. Soon it will make its daily appearance at 7:00, and then 6:30, and then 6:00, and then it won’t be long until the living things that hibernate underground begin to finally force their tender green heads up through the earth in search of the sun’s warmth.

But three long months lie in the path between us and spring – maybe more. Three long months of cold and snow, coats and hats and scarves and gloves, sweaters and warm socks and slippers – all the things we use to convince our bodies that it’s really warm out there, when we know better.

But even with that long winter ahead of us, there is comfort in knowing that the days are stretching and overcoming the nights. They are fighting the fight against the darkness, and the days will win just as they have always done since the dawn of time. And before we know it, the days will be longer than the nights, and the sun will remember how to warm the earth again, and our bodies will no longer have to be fooled into thinking it is warmer than it really is, and the green things will be resurrected and begin to grow beneath our feet.

Spring is coming – I can feel it – and it’s only a few short months away.

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Another Homemade Christmas Gift

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This is another project I made for a Christmas gift using a thrift store purchase. It really inexpensive and plain, but a few simple changes made it special.

It started out as just the wrought iron "cage" top part on a wooden base. The wood was unpainted, but it was not very nice wood. If it had been nice I would have left it natural, but instead I painted it in a vanilla color. I gave it 2 or 3 coats and then gave it a "Shabby Chic" look using steel wool and a brillo pad. The steel wool really took the paint off nicely, and the brillo pad buffed out the scratchiness left by the steel wool.Then I added some greenery and berries I had in my stash of craft stuff. I just taped the stems together with floral tape and hot glued them to the base. Then I added an inexpensive candle from WalMart, and voila ...
... a pretty Christmas gift for my mother-in-law and I still had enough money left to get her a book (also from the thrift store – like new!).

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Seeking A Slower Rhythm

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In response to Scribbit's January Write-Away Contest - Topic: "The Great Escape"

There is a conversation in the movie, Kate and Leopold, that always makes me a little sad. Leopold and Kate are standing on a bridge and she asks if he misses where he comes from. He (being from the year 1876) replies, “I miss it’s rhythm.”
“It was slower?” Kate asks.

“Quite a bit slower.”

I can relate. I long for the slower rhythm of years past. 1876 was, of course, long before my time, but I can remember 1976, and even then the pace of the world seemed slower. Maybe it’s because I discarded the placidity of childhood in exchange for the responsibilities of an adult. Or maybe it’s because I moved from a small city in South Dakota to a larger city with multiple freeways; skyscrapers; mass public transportation; and thousands of corporations, every one with their own time-tables and deadlines, and employees rushing here and there to meet them.

For years, I’ve been seeking an escape from the rat race, a way to slow down. Full-time home-making was a wonderful gig when we could afford it, but so far our financial situation has always demanded that I return to work. So back I go, into the hustle and bustle of people, all with their own agendas and their own reasons for working; some trying to get ahead and others just trying to pay the rent.

But escaping the corporate work-force, my husband and I have found, is not the only way to rid oneself of the fast-paced world in which we have lived for many years. Just two months ago, we finally left the big city behind, along with its many distractions, some pleasant and some...not so pleasant, and moved to a home in the country. We live only three miles from a small town where we can find a few conveniences. My husband still has to drive to the city for work, but we dream of his being able to work from home someday so he can escape even that.

We have willingly abandoned fancy restaurants, abundant cuisine choices, 24-hour gas stations, mega-bookstores, and mega-malls. Unfortunately, we have also given up close proximity to many of our friends and family, but we have gained things that the city can never give: tranquility, quietness, privacy, space. There are no sirens blaring throughout the day and night, no booming sub-woofers rattling our windows at midnight, no shouting matches down the street. My husband’s drive to work now consists of miles upon miles of pastoral vistas as opposed to his former drive of fewer miles sitting on crowded highways among thousands of cars pumping out noxious exhaust fumes.

It’s an exchange; one we are more than willing to make. We are still in the process of escaping a hectic lifestyle, but our sweet little home in the country has brought us one step closer to our goal: a peaceful life with a slower rhythm.

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Restaurant Meme

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I wasn't tagged for this, but I like stealing memes and it's been a while since I stole one. I stumbled upon this meme at Camy's Loft, and my penchant for thievery got the better of me.

Here are the meme rules:
*Link to the name of the person that tagged you

*Include state and country you live in

*List top 5 favorite local restaurants

*Tag 5 other people and let them know they've been tagged

And if you know me at all, you know I don't play by the rules when it comes to memes, so my standard rule applies. If you want to be tagged, consider yourself tagged!

We used to live in Minnesota until we moved recently. These are not all local restaurants, but they are a few of the restaurants I will miss most.

1) Buca di Beppo
Sure it's a national chain, but oh, what a chain. I love Italian food. Love, love, love it. My Geek and I talked for years about going to Buca before we ever made it there. When we finally did, we fell in love. The food is amazing, the atmosphere is fun and friendly, and I think I could eat there every night of the week. The Macaroni Rosa, with yummy marinara sauce, chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, and peas is perfection itself.

I'm in trouble; that was only the first out of five and I'm already drooling.

2) El Loro
This place is a chain, but I think it's only in the Twin Cities area. They serve authentic Mexican food. They have a great vegetarian menu too. In fact, that's all I ever ate there. When it comes to Mexican food, I'm all about the beans; refried, whole black beans, in a tortilla, on the side, I don't care. I just love beans.

3) Lotus Garden
I've only been to this place 2 or 3 times, but oh my, they make some good food. It's a tiny little Vietnamese Restaurant in a run-down little strip mall on Highway 65. From the outside it doesn't look like much. Inside it's decorated in a pretty typical Vietnamese restaurant style. But the really impressive part is the food itself.

When you order, they ask you if you want it mild, medium, or spicy. I asked for medium the first time I was there and the waiter advised I go with mild. I did. He was right. The food is very spicy, but ooooohhh so good. I challenge anyone to find a better eggroll than theirs, and the Vietnamese salad? To die for.

4) Athens Cafe
Teensy little Greek cafe in Robbinsdale. No atmosphere. Small tables. Order at the counter. Best dang Greek Vegetarian meal I've ever had. Their veggie combo is a heavenly plate full of spinach pies, falafels, and those grape leaf wrapped dill rice thingies that I can't remember the name of. (If you try it make sure to specify which veggie meal you want. They have one that is a plate of roasted veggies, also good.) It's all I ever tried there, because let's face it; when you find perfection you should not attempt to alter it.

And for dessert? My husband would recommend the baklava, which is good, but the pecan blossom makes me swoon.

5) Erte
I've saved the best for last. There is no place like Erte. It's a little corner restaurant in a not-so-great part of town, but there is nothing I don't love about this place. The atmosphere is slightly funky, but also very elegant. You can go in jeans and a sweater, or dressed to the nines, and you will not feel out of place. The staff is pleasant, professional, and helpful. They'll answer your questions and make it seem that doing so may just have been the highlight of their day.

And then there's the food. I've never had the steak, but my husband says it's the best he's ever had, and that's compared to some of the best steakhouses in Minneapolis. Personally, I have a whole perfect meal which I order every time we go there.

Start with the cheese platter. The cheeses change regularly, but there are usually four different types. The platter also has bread, grapes, sliced apples, and cinnamon toasted pecans. Mmmmm.

My drink of choice there is a Merlot from Chile. I can't remember the name of it, but if you like a good dry red wine, you would love this.

For the main course, Chicken Saltimbocca. It's so tender it melts in your mouth. I never have anything else; it's sad, I know, but it's that good.

And finally, for dessert, the creme brulee. The first time we had it, I think the Geek and I both almost cried it was so good. In fact, "so good" doesn't begin to describe it. Each bite is like a soft little cloud of heaven...edible heaven. With an angelic burnt sugar crust.

Erte is a little expensive (for the meal I described above – make it for two with him eating steak, and add a side or two – after tip, it runs close to $100), so it's where we like to go when we're celebrating something special. We plan to go when our old house finally sells. It will totally be worth the long drive back to MN. Oh lordy, I hope that house sells soon.

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The Early Bird Gets...Old?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they start noticing what I’ll call “old moments”, those moments in daily life that make one realize they’re growing older. You may find a gray hair...or 5...or 10; you may have to stop yourself from asking a teenager why she isn’t wearing a hat when the temperature is hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit; or you may notice your bedtime becoming increasingly early.

I experienced one of those moments this morning.

There was a time when I could easily sleep until noon or later. 9:00 a.m. was early for me on a Saturday. It was such an affliction with me that my Geek still makes residual jokes even though I rarely sleep late anymore.

I suppose that in itself is an indication of my getting older, but this morning it was even worse. When I woke up, the jingling of dog tags alerted me to the fact that the Geek was up and had let the dog out of her kennel. I checked the clock and was absolutely horrified. The first coherent thought I had was, “Holy Cow! It’s past 7:30 and I’m still in bed!”

Yes, I was perfectly aware that it was Saturday. I’m just getting old.



Razzie Got A Bath Today!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

She was getting to be a very stinky dog, and bathing in the winter can be a real challenge since you can't give her a bath outside. I tried giving her a shower once, but she doesn't like small enclosed spaces and got pretty panicky.

So we took her to a vet/groomer to do it. She needed her claws trimmed anyway. She loves having her paws held, but I'm afraid that if I do it I'll cut too close and hurt her, so I had them do both. It was cheap! Only 23 bucks total and she's nice and clean with short claws.

Here she is a few days ago, before her bath. Sweet puppy, but wait until you see her clean! (Isn't she cute with her little lady-like crossed legs.)

And here she is after her bath today! All happy and with a pretty blue bandana to boot! The Geek isn't usually a fan of clothing/adornments on dogs, but even he thought the bandana was cute.

She was so excited, she must have spent a lot of energy. When we got home she just crashed out cold. But look how her clean coat shines! And she's even showing off her newly trimmed nails for you!

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Monday Morning Mithridate

Monday, January 07, 2008

mith·ri·date [mith-ri-deyt]
–noun Old Pharmacology
a confection believed to contain an antidote to every poison.
(And who can't use an antidote to Monday Morning?)

Top Ten List
(This is a slightly modified version of an old Thursday 13.)

Top 10 Ways to Open a Door

10. The Sleep-walker - While sleep-walking, stumble into the door, bouncing off of it and stumbling back a few steps. Repeat until awakened by the bruise on your head.

9. The Clutz - Same as the Sleep-walker, but while awake.

8. The Geekwif - Open the door. Walk through. Forget to close the door completely and inadvertently let the cats out.

7. The Passive/Aggressive - Walk through the door and slam it shut. Wait to see if anyone reacts. When no one does, open the door and slam it shut again, only harder this time.

6. The Fonz - Enter the room, slick back your hair, strike a pose and wait for the applause.

5. The Star Trek - Walk through the doorway as it magically slides open on its own.

4. The Inigo Montoya - Body slam the door with your shoulder repeatedly and unsuccessfully.

3. The Fezzig - Shove Inigo aside, hit the door once with your hand, knocking it off its hinges, and step aside for Inigo to enter.

2. The Charlie's Angels - Kick the door down with your stilletto heels. Run into the room, shake your head to make your hair do that movie star swish while your two friends run in and stand next to you. Strike a pose with your gun pointed.

1. The Kramer - Stumble through the doorway, tripping over your own feet and nearly falling over. Then right yourself, and with a slightly dazed look on your face, act as though nothing is unusual at all.

(Thanks to Ian Punnet and Happy Boy for this one.)

A blonde woman is driving when she gets pulled over by a police car. She opens her window, and a blonde police officer walks up and asks for her license and registration. The driver nervously digs through her purse looking for her license, but she cannot find it.

“What does it look like?” she asks the officer.

“Well, it has your picture on it,” the officer replies.

She keeps searching until she finally finds a mirror and sees her face on it. She hands it to the blonde police officer. “Here it is, officer!”

The officer looks at it and hands it back to the driver. “I’m so sorry ma’am,” she apologizes. “I didn’t realize you were a police officer too!”

(from one of my very favorite books: “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”, by Lynne Truss)

“I have two cartoons I treasure...The second shows a bunch of vague, stupid-looking people standing outside a building, and behind them a big sign that says ‘Illiterates’ Entrance’. And do you want to know the awful truth? In the original drawing, it said, ‘Illiterate’s Entrance’, so I changed it. Painted correction fluid over the wrong apostrophe; inserted the right one. Yes, some of us were born to be punctuation vigilantes.”

I am on the hunt for funny, fun or encouraging tidbits to add to the Monday Morning Mithridate. If you have something to contribute, I’ll link to your blog in exchange for ideas! Go here to find out how.



The Search (part 2)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Last week I said that we were going to try the Assemblies of God church again, but we ended up trying another local church instead. We’re not sure what (if any) denomination it is. We got there late since the service started 15 minutes earlier than we thought, and at the end of the service they moved right into a church body financial update meeting, so we left without the opportunity to really speak with anyone. The music and the message were good, but ehh....

Today we did go back to the AG church. The pastor greeted us within seconds of entering the door. We were greeted by several other people on the way in. This being the Week of Prayer, the service was all about prayer. We broke into small groups to pray before the message, which was also about prayer. Again, very good message. We are really impressed with the pastor.

The Geek is pretty much ready to settle in there. I’m not completely convinced yet, but I can’t really say why. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good church; on the contrary – from what I have seen so far it’s a great church. Of the churches we’ve visited, this one is definitely the best fit for us. Yet I’m not quite ready to settle there yet.

Maybe it’s that I’m afraid to decide too soon; maybe I’m not quite ready to give up our old church yet. I don’t know. I want to decide on a new church home. I want to settle in and stop searching, but right now I just don’t know.

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The (Brief) Luxury of Unemployment

Friday, January 04, 2008

Unemployment is a funny thing. There is a strange juxtaposition of stress and peace about it. The stress comes from the fact that I am, as of this week, no longer generating income and we are still paying two mortgages and have no prospects toward the sale of our other house.

Adding to that stress is the fact that I am looking for a job, which I am certain I am not alone in finding one of the most undesirable challenges one can undertake. This is compounded by the fact that I now live in a small town and there is only one job in the paper this week for which I am qualified. All the others call for skills in nursing, truck driving, or something called CNC machining (no clue what that is, but it seems to be in high demand); all skills which I am wholly lacking.

On the other hand, there is the abundance of time. I actually have time to keep the house clean. In the past three days since I became officially unemployed (for my pride’s sake, let me just be clear: I was not fired; my contract expired and the company had a freeze on extending contracts) I have accomplished more than I usually would in an entire month.

Some of my accomplishments have been pretty ordinary, like cleaning the house; but some have been things that I can usually only dream of, like completing the outline for a novel. I have also had the luxury of time to read. I finished "Emma", which I had been reading in bits and pieces for weeks; and today I started reading “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” by Lynn Truss (again), which is one of my very favorite books (besides which, my punctuation skills can use a little brush-up). I’ve also begun combing my year’s worth of Bon Appetit magazines for recipes I may want to try.

There is a peace about being at home, about being able to complete the tasks that need completing. Even the simply luxury of having dinner ready to eat when my husband gets home is something I find I enjoy as much as he does.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I have long aspired to be a full-time housewife, and even had the opportunity to be one for a while. I still hope to have that opportunity again someday. But alas, today is not that day. Today I am still looking for a job.

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Crocheted Lamp Transformation

Thursday, January 03, 2008

This year we decided to keep our Christmas gifts cheap inexpensive. We settled on approximately $10 per person. For the guys, there wasn't much we could do but search for a great deal at Wal-Mart. For the girls, however, I got a little creative. I went to the thrift shop and found a couple of "fix-up-able" objects for next to nothing and then...fixed them up. Here's one of them.

My sister-in-law's living room is navy blue and yellow. I haven't actually seen it put together since she lives in a city far away, but I did see her slipcover fabrics before she left, so I had an idea of what colors she would like.

I found a lamp, which I am sorry to say I did not take a picture of before I started. Before I got my hands on it, the base was dark green. I had decided on navy blue and white, so I spray painted the base white.
Isn't the swirly side thing cute? The spray paint covered perfectly. I just used what I had learned on Trading Spaces and swept from left to right, starting off (before) the surface of the lamp and ending off (past) it. The only thing I would have changed about this part is that I would have taped more than 4 inches of the cord. I ended up having to scrape a couple inches of paint off of it.

Next was the shade, which started out kind of a dirty white. I cleaned it up a bit and then started painting.
That acrylic paint in a bottle was only 50 cents, and the mini sponge roller worked great. Plus it's just darn cute!
As you can see, it took a few coats to really cover well, but it dried quickly so that wasn't a problem.

For the next few steps, I have less pictures than I would have liked. I got into crunch time and was completely focused on finishing rather than snapping photos.

At this point, I had been crocheting a cover out of white #10 cotton crochet thread. It took a little longer than I thought. I would have liked to pull out some parts and re-do them in order to get the shape just right, but I didn't have enough time.

When the crocheted cover was complete, I glued some navy blue satin ribbon around the top and bottom edges of the shade. Hot glue worked pretty well for this. The edges had paper tape over them, which if I had it to do over I think I would have removed. Also, I used 1/2 inch ribbon and I think I could have gone slightly wider to get better coverage over the metal frame.

Once that was done, all that was left was to fit the cover over the shade and glue it into place. Because I didn't take the time to really adjust as much as I should have, the cover got very tight toward the bottom. I started with fabric glue at the top, but once I got to the tight part, that was pretty useless since it didn't dry fast enough, and I'm not sure it would have been strong enough either. Hot glue, however, did the trick pretty nicely. I just glued around the bottom edge in 2-3 inch sections, and then stretched the cover into place and stuck it to the glue all around.

And here's the finished product.
The angle isn't perfect – I took this in a hurry – but you get the idea. For less than $10 and a little work, I was able to give my SIL a pretty cute little lamp for Christmas.

Next week, my Christmas project for my mother-in-law.

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Words Words Words

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Miss Eliza Doolittle may have gotten sick of them, but I don’t think I ever could. I can trace my first recognition of my word obsession to my first experience with Magnetic Poetry; however, I have always loved written words – their spelling, their arrangement on a page, the rhythm of them as I read.

Notice I said “written” words. The spoken ones I can do with or without equally. They are necessary, I suppose, and certainly have their place, but I think of them as more utilitarian than as an object of affection.

Maybe it stems from my mother reading to me from the time I was just a teeny little thing. She tells me my favorite toys were books. She would put me in a playpen with dolls and blocks and other toys, and a book. I would pick out the book every time. I’d sit and “read” it, which, I am told, consisted of my holding it upside down and babbling, but I’m sure I thought I was reading it.

These days, we have a house full of books and I can’t get enough. My Geek says we should get rid of some of them, but he loves books too and neither of us has the heart to actually take any action toward that goal.

In the past few years, I have developed an interest in writing as well as reading. This is not an entirely new desire, just one that I have finally begun to consider nurturing. Even as a child, I used to dabble in writing things. I wrote a song about my then favorite syndicated character, Holly Hobby. I wrote my own interpretation of the Easter story on a giant card/book for my parents one year. I even tried to start a biography once when I was about ten years old or so.

In more recent years, I have jumped head first into NaNoWriMo twice and dangled my toes in the water once, which means I have three partial novels which I would like to finish. But all the typical excuses get in the way – mainly the “I’m too busy” excuse.

So, at this point, my only writing outlet is this blog, but I mean to start changing that soon. I’d like to pick up one of those NaNo novels and continue it to completion. I’m enjoying this new format so far, even though it has only been half a week, and I hope that this “Words on Wednesday” scheme (my apologies to the “Wordless Wednesday” folks) helps me to become more serious about writing. We shall see.

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No More Heroes Anymore

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It’s Trivial Tuesday! And what could be more trivial than....TELEVISION! Yup, good old TV. The boob tube. The idiot box. And yet we love it. It’s all the entertainment (okay, maybe just some of the entertainment) of a full-length feature film compressed into a package of 30 or 60 minutes...minus commercials, of course.

It’s sometimes easy to forget just how trivial TV is. How many times have you said something like, “That outfit is so Phoebe!” Have you ever taken a look around your house and wished you were as obsessive as Monica just for one day so that your house would look as spotless as hers? The Rachel haircut phenomenon alone is enough to prove our forgetfulness when it comes to the triviality of television.

As an aside, before I get on with my point, I do realize that those were all “Friends” references, and I also realize how pitiful it is that “Friends” was possibly my favorite TV show ever. In addition, I am fully aware of how utterly ridiculous it is that I really really really want to have that $200+ complete set of “Friends” on DVD sitting proudly in a prominent spot on my media shelf. (sigh)

I believe the word I’m looking for here is...


Occasionally I do have to remind myself of the fact that everything I see on TV is fake. It’s all made up. Those people don’t really exist, the events aren’t really happening, and none of it can have any effect on my life unless I choose to allow it to do so.

The problem is that I have an overactive imagination. I always have had. At times, my brain will take something I’ve seen and, against my will, turn it into reality. And here is where we come to my actual point.

I can’t watch “Heroes”. I want to watch it. I really, really do. See, my sister-in-law gave us the first season on DVD for Christmas. She knows our taste in TV pretty well and that we generally only watch TV on DVD.

On Christmas night, the family sat down to watch it. We were immediately completely engrossed. The storyline was riveting, the characters were engaging, and three episodes later we still wanted to keep watching. But it was getting late and everyone went home. Shortly after that the Geek and I went to bed, figuring we would watch more the next day. It turned out that he would, but I would not.

I hardly slept a wink that night. The events and images of the show raced through my tired little brain and would absolutely not let me sleep. I was certain there was a brain-eating psycopath hiding in the corner of the dark room. I didn’t want to even look in a mirror for fear of what I might see there. And that was just the beginning of my fears.

I spent the night chiding myself. “This is ridiculous. There is no psychopath in the house. I am just a normal woman who does not have an evil twin just waiting to go freakazoid and start murdering people." But my brain didn’t believe me. I told my husband the next day that, much to my extreme disappointment, I would not be able to watch the remaining episodes of “Heroes” with him.

A few days later, while I was out, he watched several more episodes and when I returned, he informed me that it had gotten a bit tamer on the bloody, gory, psychopathic murderer front and I might actually enjoy it. I was still skeptical, but I really wanted to watch the show and see how things turned out, so I sat at my laptop at a table across the room while he watched. I kept one ear tuned in to what was happening on the TV and occasionally glanced up to watch for a few minutes, looking away again anytime it seemed something gruesome might be about to happen.

I thought it was alright. I thought I might be able to start watching with him again. But that night I dreamed of running away from people with exploding heads so I would not get blown up too. Not exactly the kind of dreams from which you awake refreshed and ready to face another day.

It’s silly, I know, but I am surprised how disappointed I am that I can’t watch the show with him. It’s so fascinating and I really want to know what happens to all these people. I want to see how the fate of the invincible cheerleader is tied to that of the world. I want to know how Hiro the Hero acquires the sword and why he needs it. I want to know if Nikki ever learns to control Jessica.

But, alas, it seems I am doomed to live a life without “Heroes”. And if that isn’t trivial, I really don’t know what is.

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