Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

Tibi gratias agimus quod nihil fumas.

It says "...freedom of...", not "...freedom from...".

"It's amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness. People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we're compassionate we'll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint." - Penn Jillette







Friday, February 29, 2008

Owlish

I caught a glimpse of the owl this morning.

I know, big deal. Well, it was a bit of a big deal, since yesterday he was nowhere to be seen. Usually, he'll hang out on the end of his branch for a bit during the day - maybe just a few minutes, but I swear, it's like he's waiting for me to see him and smile before he goes back in. Yesterday, he didn't show up, and I was worried. Especially when the blue jays were landing on his branch with impunity.

I told mum I hoped he hadn't gotten tree-sick and fallen off his branch or something. She laughed, and so did I...I mean, come on, can't you just see it? Poor little owl, turning a little green and...plop! It's been so windy of late, I know he's had some wild rides. I think yesterday he hung out by the trunk because it's quieter there. Smart bird.

I can still see him, head tucked down, eyes closed, perched in his usual place. I must say, my heart lifted a little to see him there.

Here comes the wind again.

Mmmm, oatmeal.

I had an unhappy evening, and then some fairly sad dreams last night - really, I woke up this morning and thought about just crying and staying in bed all day - so when I did get up this morning, I decided I wanted some comfort food. Enter the oatmeal.

I love oatmeal. I even loved it when I was in school and they made the kind that looked like thick, grey, wallpaper paste. Now, I make my own, and boy does it warm the cockles of my heart!

On the off chance you might wake up in a foul mood and need a little gustatory consolation, I shall now inflict share my recipe with you.

The cast, in no particular order:
3/4 C Rolled Oats (hey, look, there's an actual measurement!!)
1 1/2 C Water, Milk, or both (Uh-oh, two measurements - the world may well end)
Butter (Ahh, that's better - no measuring)
Salt
Cinnamon
Vanilla
Brown Sugar
Dried Cherries
Dried Cranberries
Golden Raisins
A pot of sufficient size to hold all of the above, with lid


First, assemble your cast. Aren't the brown sugar, cranberries, cherries, and raisins pretty? Sometimes I use dried blueberries, but I wasn't feeling them today.Dump the water (I usually use water and milk, but I was almost out of milk today) into your pot along with butter (about 2 Tbsp, today), brown sugar (also around 2 Tbsp today), vanilla (uhh...some...I have no idea how much I used, but at least a tsp), and as much cinnamon as makes you happy. I use quite a bit.

Bring that mess to a boil over medium heat. Mmm...looks like something Mike Rowe would have to clean up. Mmm...Mike Rowe.

Once it's boiling add the oats, raisins, cranberries, and cherries. I measured the fruit by the handful - about half a handful of each, but I have big old man-hands. Give it a good stir and cover it up. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Check on it every few minutes - scorched oatmeal is one of the great tragedies of the culinary world.

Almost done - most of the liquid is soaked up. At this point, I turn it off and let it sit for a few minutes. Yes, it looks like a mess - trust me, it'll make your mouth happy. It might even still be good for you.Mmm...doesn't that look yummy? OK, maybe it looks a little horrifying - oatmeal really isn't a pretty food, is it? Still...this is like having desert for breakfast. Some folks like to pour milk or cream over it and I've been known to do that myself, but not today.

The amount I made with these ingredients will feed two people, or one very hungry person, quite nicely. I will have leftovers, as no one but me 'round here eats oatmeal. It reheats nicely in the microwave, or you can make a variation of Bannock with it...but that's another recipe.

With a start like this, the day has to be decent, right?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Once more into the breach, dear friends.

I hope that nothing I write here will offend anyone - but I'm fairly certain that it will. I hope it won't run anyone off, but it's a risk I am obviously willing to take. It is, after all, my blog, a place for me to write the things rattling around in my head and set them loose to bother someone else for a while so I can have a nap. I am afraid that this will be long, because it's not an easy subject for me to discuss, and I haven't really had an opportunity to reach any sort of clarity with it. Hopefully it'll be worth enduring, and also give you pause for thought. It's OK if you don't agree with me...sometimes I don't think I make any sense, either.

First, a little history on how I got to writing this post, because you may need a little help sleeping: Because I am such a slacker fabulous mum, I have spent a large chunk of my day an hour or so meandering around Blogopolis. I was doing my usual daily perusal of sites, hopping from one to another with an ease born of familiarity. On my way through Dad Gone Mad (a Daddy blog worth reading, even if I am a mum) and decided to check out his forums. I'm a sucker for a well developed forum. One of them has links to folks needing help and support - causes that DGM's readers think are worth time and/or money. One of the people I already knew about, and posted about her here a while back - Crystal from Boobs, Injuries, and Dr. Pepper. The other two, I hadn't heard of, but being the intrusive curious critter that I am, I went on over and looked.

I read this post, and then poked around a little more on the blog, and it sparked some thoughts. Lucky, lucky you, I am now going to share them.

First, I think it despicable that anyone would use the court system as a means of vengeance. It's called the Justice System for a reason. Carrying out personal vendettas against others by lambasting them with legal fees, calls to court, lies and obfuscation is cowardly. Using a person's religion, politics, or beliefs in personal freedom against them in an effort to show them unfit is equally cowardly. Threatening to take children away from a mum simply because he doesn't want her to have them make a man less a man and more...well, honestly, I can't think what. There's not a critter in the animal kingdom low enough, and I wouldn't like to insult another life form by making a comparison. *Edit - this is equally true of women using the tactic against daddies. If you continually lose, you might want to reexamine your whole basis of complaint. Also, when you have made children, your first responsibility will always be to them and their needs, whether you like who the kids are with or not.

Granted, I don't know the folks over at Anarchangel, and am writing this after reading only their POV, but I am OK with being lopsided and biased a little. It balances out my constant need to be fair elsewhere.

So I think it stinks to high heaven that someone can use their financial means to try and wrench kids from their parents, and cases like this are a prime example of why people with real legal needs are often left in the dust, with no recourse but to take the kids and run or just give up.

Even if this particular tale hadn't set me off, there are others. Cases where divorcing parents have used religion as a means to take children away from each other (it was OK to be Pagan while we were married, but now that I'm dumping her for someone my mommy likes better, her Paganism is a means for her to corrupt and abuse my children, and no I don't think her clean, loving, smoke free home is a better place than my beer-fueled-nightly-tirade-filled-half-a-trailer, your honor, because I'm Christian and that's my trump card. Burp.)(I know that's offensive - but it happened. To someone I know. Not a friend of a friend. Someone I actually know.)(Although perhaps I am exaggerating a mite...I'm pretty sure he didn't actually burp in court, or admit that he was an alcoholic, drug using, spouse and child abusing asshole to the judge, and the only reason he wanted the kids was to hurt her and get child support. And the only basis he had for complaint was that she was Pagan. Which was fine with him until he started cheating on her with a teenage waitress. Oh, yes he did. Springer episode in two parts, truly)(And while it may seem like I'm generalizing about a religion here, I don't mean to - I have Christian family and friends whom I adore and who love me no matter who, where, or how I worship, bless 'em) make me angry.

So it isn't about religion for these folks...it amounts to the same thing - a strongly held belief in personal freedom and responsibility being used against someone to try and punish them. Please. Keeping a gun in the house isn't abuse - beating your child bloody, making their life hell, verbally abusing them, sexually abusing them, or allowing others to do so - that's abuse. A gun in the house needn't be any more dangerous than keeping a butcher's knife.

Enough - I am getting myself all riled up.

The second thing I thought about was gun ownership. I am a staunch supporter of the Bill of Rights and believe in personal freedom and responsibility above law. I think a government should protect the borders of its nation, enact and enforce the laws of its citizenry, and always remember that it serves the nation's people, not itself. Hah!! I believe that people should be permitted, if they so choose, to own, carry, and even use when necessary, firearms.

My father hunts. My brother used to hunt, and would still if he had the time. My father-in-law hunts. I benefit from the skills of the hunters who use my mum's land, because they are kind enough to share venison with her, and she with me. I grew up in a home with rifles, shotguns, handguns, crossbows, and knives. For all I know, there was a cannon in my grandfather's attic - we are sea-faring folk, after all. I ate game animals and birds on a regular basis thanks to the skills of our family hunters. No one ever got shot, either by accident or on purpose. I even learned to shoot - first with a .22 rifle, then a .22 handgun. I wasn't all that bad, either.

Having said all that...oh, dear...I must admit here that...sigh... I don't like handguns. Hunting guns are different - they provide food, and my philosophy has no difficulty with that. It's the handguns that bother me.

Life is so complex, so special, so very unlikely that I have difficulty with anything that makes it so easy to take away. Guns are...impersonal. I feel that if you simply must take a life, it should have meaning and be deeply personal. It should never be easy. It should take thought, effort, a consciousness of your act. It should be visceral. There, I've said it. Of course I know that's insane. I don't hold with going around killing folks for kicks, or to take what they've earned but you want to steal. It's all terribly wrong to me.

Because of the way I feel, I don't believe that I could use a gun on another human. Because I don't believe I could use a gun on another human being, I will not carry one. This make T unhappy. He wishes I would. He used to ask me to, but has given up on it (at least for now). I won't though. Carrying a weapon you won't use is just another way of arming the thugs. I'd carry a knife if they gave permits for that...or better yet, a sword. I am a complete geek, I know. A blade doesn't discomfit me the way a handgun does, though. I believe I could use a blade to defend myself or my family. I could not use a gun.

Because of the way I feel, I am teaching my son what I call The Rules of Guns:
1. You never point a gun at anything unless you intend to shoot it.
2. You never shoot at anything unless you intend to kill it.
3. You never kill anything unless you intend to eat it or it is in defense of your life.

I have no issue with people who hunt and enjoy it - as long as they are not hunting wastefully and for trophies. I do have issues with trophy hunting. I think it's arrogant and disrespectful, at the very least. I don't even have a problem with mounting dead things on the wall, if that's what people are into - as long as the critter once attached to the mounted body parts was actually used for something besides decor. You know - like clothing or stew or something. I believe that a life taken must be used to its utmost, or it is dishonored, as is the one who took it. Maybe I should make a fourth rule - always honor the life you've taken.

I have not banned guns from the house. I think it's important that Bird learns that they exist, that there are rules and consequences to them, and that he has to obey these rules or suffer the consequences. Come to think of it, I think everyone who has a gun of any sort should learn those things. I don't refuse to associate with people who keep and carry handguns or other firearms. I know that most owners are careful, responsible, rational people, and I do feel safer sometimes knowing they're there - if you'd been some of the places I have, you might feel the same.

I don't yell at my son for playing "guns" with his fingers or sticks or whatever - I just quietly remind him of the rules. He may only be five, but he has them memorized and can repeat them with just a little help.

I wish I wasn't such a wuss, so squeamish about them. In the abstract, the power, chemistry, mechanical engineering, and ingenuity that they embody is awesome. I even think some of them have a terrible beauty to them. But I don't like them, so I won't use them. Collect them, perhaps, but not use them. I am told I'd likely change my mind if someone threatened Bird. I don't know. I hope I never find out.

T carries a magnum somethingorother...one of those great big ones. He can do the shooting while I do the dialing-of-911. Yes, I realize that smacks of cowardice and sexism both, but I can own who and what I am, at least in this.

I could go on, but I really do need a shower and a nap, and to let my somewhat overheated brain cool off a bit. Whatever your feelings on the above, I hope you'll go give Anarchagel a read - they've got some terrific geekery that confused me entirely, a few cartoons, and they are refreshingly honest. Also, it's two people sharing one blog, which I find astonishing since I don't even really like sharing a computer with T, never mind a blog!!

And you can quote me...

...or someone. I added a little thingie at the very bottom of my page - the quote of the...something. I would like to think I'll change it daily, but probably not. Anyway, the first quote was: "There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings." - William Hodding Carter, Jr. I've put a new one down there today. Let's just see how long I can keep this up, eh?

The quote thingie is right above the things I'm not allowed to mention or ask anyone to click because that would be in violation of their TOS, so I can't tell you what they are or encourage any clickage. Whew...skirting a topic takes effort!

Now please excuse me while I go do battle with the Beast of the Nether Laundries.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How windy was it?

It has been remarkably windy here. Not as windy as this:

At least, I don't think it has been...but I bet the owl is wishing it had a good pair of tennis shoes right now, because walking would be preferable to battling the gusts we're having.

Who pissed off the Zephyrs??

A quick thought.

I am about to go take a nap - I once again did not sleep well, because there's no comfortable position with a pulled neck muscle. Whine, whine, whine.

Also, I had strange dreams. They defy description, truly, but I can say this - reading two year's worth of Kevin and Kell comics back-to-back and then half a book that takes place at a Renaissance Faire right before bed can lead to some interesting nocturnal mental activities.

Yep.

G'night. Or afternoon. Or...whatever.

Droppin' da bomb

Warrning, warning, warning, danger, danger, danger...foul language ahead!! Read at your own risk. Really. Any ocular sanguination that ensues is your own bloody (hah!) fault!! You were warned...

I was reading something over at Foolery about the things kids say, and it reminded me of Bird and the F-Bomb. Yes, my darling, sweet, ever so well behaved little gentleman has used the F-Bomb. Two years ago. Which would make him three at the time. Let me regale you!

I am, I believe I've mentioned once or a hundred times, in a band. Being in a band requires either a complete lack of commitment and simply enjoying the noise you make or rehearsing to get it right. I'm a fan of the rehearsal route. To facilitate rehearsals so that the fewest people possible are inconvenienced, we meet in town and not out here in Next-To-Nowhere, Georgia. At the time I'm recounting, we met at B's house, where one of our band members lives.

B has a lovely house, with a pool out back that we have often swum in. She would watch Bird for me while we rehearsed, which was easier as he got older...plunk him in the pool with water-wings on and splash around with him. Happy Bird. Also, tired Bird. Swimming wears a body out!

Sometimes, B's front door sticks - it's hard for a grown-up to open, let alone a (then) three-year-old. On the afternoon in question, Bird had been swimming with B and was worn slap out. As I was gathering our things in another room, Bird was trying to get out to the van. He was having a hard time with the door and was making his growling, fierce, angry-Bird noises. I hurried to the foyer and asked what was the matter. There, with an audience of all nine band members and B, he replied "I can't get the fucking door open."

Stunned silence ensued on the part of the other grown people. I wasn't exactly quiet, but I had to contain my mirth for a moment.

I calmly replied as follows, almost verbatim:

"Bird, don't say fuck. Fuck is a grown-up word. You haven't earned fuck. When you earn fuck, you may say fuck, but until then you may not say fuck. Only grown-ups who have earned fuck may say fuck. I'll tell you when you've earned fuck, but until then you aren't allowed to say fuck. Do you understand?"

"Yes, mommy."

The other adults were shocked - eyes widened, mouths hanging open, nothing but the occasional blink to show they weren't statues. Heh. I so rarely say the word myself, they couldn't believe it. I think I stunned them with my carpet F-Bombing.

Bird was just fine and hasn't used the word since. We've since had the same talk about Hell, Ass, and Shit. No one has to watch their language around him, because he knows he hasn't earned some of the words he hears. When one of his friends uses a grown-up word, he tells them they shouldn't because it's a grown-up word that they haven't earned yet, and I have to keep myself from laughing.

More proof that kids were made to amuse us so we don't smother them in their sleep when they've been horrid.

Also, did you know that the word "fuck" gives spell check hives?? It does...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A snapshot in words

Other than writing here, I haven't got a way to make a picture of last night. Dang.

Monday evening is Black Hat Society, when some friends and I get together and craft - crochet, write, sculpt, paint, color, chase small boys around the house and try to keep them from murdering each other with die-cast cars for fun...you know, the usual stuff.

Last night, Kit had Babyman with her, but her two older boys were off with daddy for some trouble fun. That left Bird and Noodle (Michelle's son) to try to kill entertain each other - which, now they're older, can be done without the help of television or us mums intervention.

At some point on the evening, Bird and Noodle decided to play hide-and-seek. Spontaneously. On their own. Bird is five and Noodle is three-and-a-half, so you can just imagine... Nah, you don't have to, I am going to write about it.

First, Noodle counted while Bird hid. It sounded something like "One...two...threefourfiesisseveneightniten" followed by "ReadyornothereIcome!!" and the thud of little feet. Meanwhile, in the two seconds that took, Bird was trying to hide under a couch cushion. Not even one of the big one - it was an accent pillow! Noodle somehow figured out where Bird was hiding - it may have been the feet sticking out, or the giggles, or the fact that Noodle could see him while he hid - in a few seconds, and they traded places. Bird's turn to count at turbo speed, and announce "ReadyornothereIcome!!" He found Noodle in short order because Noodle has only one hiding place, equally useful for escaping angry mommy, or angry me, or bogeymen, or hide-and-seek. He hides under the dining room table where no one could possibly see him between the chairs or anything. Heh. They played for quite a while this way, and us mums sat in the kitchen and recounted how the boys played hide-and-seek when they were even younger.

It seems to be universal - the child will either hide himself and count at the same time and then call out to be "found", or demand that a parent count while they hide and then, when the counting is done, run out from their hiding place and announce their presence with "Here I am!!"

What struck me most was how they were playing cooperatively, interacting, and chatting at normal volume, not simply running and screaming and acting like crazed monkeys. They had grasped the idea of hide-and-seek and were enjoying it enough that Bird was quite angry we had to leave.

He asked if we could stay the night. No, but we could come play again soon. Could we stay a whole week? Umm, no...we don't live all that far away, we can simply drive down or meet somewhere.. He then announced that he wished we could just live there with Michelle and Noodle all the time. Sweet, huh? Maybe when I win the lottery and build a little village for all of us...eh, a gal can dream. For now, though, out weekly semi-potluck get together will have to do.

My word picture: Bird in overalls and a blue shirt, head burried in the arm of Michelle's couch, counting to ten. Noodle crouched under the dining room table, grinning, eyes shining. Bird straightening, "ReadyornothereIcome!!", scampering around the foyer and into the dining room, bending over and peering under the dining room table, butt in the air. "I found you!" Giggles and proclamations of "Now it's your turn!" from both boys. Two boys running from living room to kitchen to dining room to foyer, one big circle, until Bird tells Noodle "We have to stop running now because I'm exhausted." and flopping onto the couch. Noodle running a bit more then throwing himself dejectedly onto the floor. Another round of hide-and-seek, this time Noodle counting and Bird hiding under a sofa cushion. Repeat for an hour or more.

Yes, I still have an indulgent-mum grin on my face.

A Rainy Day

This morning, I woke to a room cool with shadows, large pillow at my back, arms wrapped around the bunched-up comforter. Thunder rumbled in the far distance, a comfortable, snuggled-into-bed kind of sound. Maya the cat was nestled in with me, purring softly, nose tucked under tail. Her purring made a counterpoint to the thunder. Ki, another cat, was curled up with her, making a feline Gordian Knot.

Rainy morning wake-ups can be such luxurious things - when you can sleep late, wake slowly (no phone ringing, nowhere to be, child still sleeping), and come gently into the day. I've long enjoyed waking up to long, rolling thunder, the patter of rain on the roof, the grey light and the silver wet.

Last night, I once again pulled a muscle in my neck - it's the same one, over and over, and I think I need a new pillow or it'll keep happening. It hurts to turn my head, aches all the way down into my shoulder. I didn't sleep well until around five or six this morning, so being let to sleep in, having life, the universe, and everything scheme to give me a lovely morning like this one, well...I sure do appreciate it.

I had enough time before Bird woke up to make a bit of breakfast and check on the owl to see if if he was still there - he is. I wonder what he thinks of rainy days? Maybe he just sleeps right through them. Bird and I will certainly be having a laid-back day. A bake-cookies kind of day. A banana bread day. A laundry and snoozing on the recliner day. A rainy day.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Twice in One Month.

It's like dodge ball all over again. You know, everybody aimed at the fat kid?? Good thing I'm agile and can duck and dodge really well. You can read my post from earlier in the month here, in case you missed it and really, really want to know how truly odd I can be.

Blondie tagged me with this, and I'm going to do it, but bend the rules a little - it's only asking I tag three others this time, but I can't think of anyone I haven't already tagged or who hasn't already been tagged with this - I travel in a tiny blogging circle - so I may not tag anyone else. You can always decide that, since you've read it, you are tagged.

1) Link to the person who tagged you. That would be Blondie.
2) Post the rules. Done.
3) Share 6 non-important things/ habits/quirks about yourself. See below.
4) Tag at least 3 people. No. I'm a rebel!
5) Be sure the people you tagged know you tagged them by commenting that you did.

Thing one - I have blue hair and tattoos. Not all of my hair is blue, just the tips and some streaks in my new bangs. The tattoos aren't blue...at least, not entirely. But they all have blue in them. Sensing a theme? Hey, almost all of my shirts are blue, and a girl has to accessorize, right? Right??

Thing two - I refuse to kill spiders. I will relocate them, but I won't kill them. Not even Brown Recluse or Black Widow spiders. I move them. This makes for some interesting service calls from satellite, phone, or power people, because I ask them to come get me if they find a spider, so I can move it rather than have them kill it. They often think me odd.

Thirdly - I like yarn. And fabric. I have boxes of fabric that I am saving for "some day" when I have time to quilt again. I have a box of odd yarns - some I've used a bit of, some whole skeins - that I will make up into the world's most horrifying afghan one day.

Quatro - I often have the feeling that I am two of me, living two different lives. Sometimes, I swear, I wake up and think I am in the wrong life, that my house should be somewhere else, full of different things and different people. I'll reach for something that isn't there and never has been, or get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and find it's moved. I remember events that didn't happen. I've even looked outside and been surprised by the view. I wonder if the other me has the same experience.

Five - I get a silly smile on my face every time I look out the window and see the owl perched there. I have no idea why it delights me so, but it does.

Lastest - I like older men, too (go read Blondie's meme). When I was fourteen, I had a tremendous crush on an older man - he was in his fifties at the time. I adored him, and I never recovered.

I hope I don't get hit with this again too soon...I am running out of stuff that's sharable on the net!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Feeling Silly

Yes I am.

I was sitting here minding my own business, staring out the window at the owl and wondering what they dream about, listening to the neighbor's grandkids shrieking, giggling, and generally having a fine time in his yard, and I suddenly thought of this:

If a group of geese = a gaggle,

Then does:

A group of girls = a giggle?

A group of researchers = a Google?

A group of skiers = a goggle?

A group of peeping Toms = an ogle?

I could go on, but I really don't want to be pelted with olives or whatever.

What was in that Bisquick waffle, anyway??

Mmmm, waffles...

Bird and I just had waffles for breakfast. Homemade ones. Yum!

How does he manage to get the syrup in his ears?? He knows how to use a fork (not that he actually uses one, but he does know how), a napkin (see previous parenthetical statement), and the like...and I don't put that much syrup on - maybe a tablespoon for a whole big waffle - so how does he do it?

It's a wonder.

Want my waffle makin' recipe? It's a cheater recipe - I use Bisquick. They have a perfectly useful recipe on the side of the box. I make that up and add (because I can't leave well enough alone) cinnamon, powdered ginger, and vanilla to it. Mmm. House smells nice. Don't panic - I do make pancakes from scratch (heh...want to read something cute? Go read this!), and intend to learn a nice waffle recipe, too - but when you're in a hurry you can't beat a good mix.

The recipe says it make 12 waffles, but not on my monster maker - I am lucky to get four out of the batch. I froze two of them for later. You know, in case strawberries go on sale and I suddenly can't live without strawberry shortcake style waffles or something.

'K, now I have to go get the syrup and...um...is that catsup , ketchup, tomato based condiment in his other ear??? Good grief.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

An odd synchronicity.

I've noticed something...interesting...while tripping through the blogopolis. That thud was the spell check hitting the floor. I may need better medical coverage for it. Anyway, I have noticed something interesting, even if I am the only one who thinks so.

I have mentioned I read quite a few blogs, yes? And sometimes I follow links from those blogs to other blogs (excuse me, the spell check is twitching violently and I need to get it a pillow) because apparently raising and home-schooling an Evil Genius, writing stories, writing, practicing, recording and performing music, and studiously avoiding finishing housework just doesn't fill up my day. And also, really, who needs more than three hours of sleep a night? Oh, right, that would be me. Where was I? No, really...I think I derailed my train of...oh, wait, there it is!

While playing "follow the bouncing blog", I have noticed that a number of folks have some of the same links I do posted on their pages. Post Secret is one of them. Several of the blogs I have listed over there ot the right are also common ground. Apparently a number of us are reading and interested in some of the same things. Isn't that a terrific example of the "It's a small world" philosophy?

Now I don't know about you or anyone else out there, but the blogs I have listed off to the side? I read them all at least once a day. Sometimes twice or more. Again, obviously I have no life. My list is growing...so many neat people out there with things to say, and how else will I ever steal be inspired by ideas?

As a sort of aside, I love Post Secret and haven't missed a week since I found it. I've never sent anything in, though...that's what blogs are for, right?

And while I am being completely random, can someone tell me when it's OK to link to another blog that one enjoys? And if one should ask permission first or just dive right in? Because I have recently run across some more folks I enjoy reading, but haven't linked them because heaven forbid I should be electronically rude. Not that I asked any of the folks I already , listed off to the right, there, but I'd sure hate to piss some of these terrific writers off. You know, they used to tell the nobility that it was better to have an angry bee shoved in their codpiece than anger a bard. Or something like that.

And now that I have dizzied you with my staggering intellect and rapier wit...I am going to go raise my basement-level blood sugar and get some sleep.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I think I broke something.

I was at another blog, because I am weird and follow blog links from other people's blogs until I am entirely lost in blogopolis and have to stop and ask one of the nice blogofficers for help finding my way home (spell check just fell to the floor stunned by this sentence and I will now be spelling on my own until it recovers). Yeah. Anyway, I went from here to here and then found the link to this:

I laughed really hard as quietly as I could so as not to disturb the Evil Genius who was semi-crashed on the living room floor after an exhausting day of having his hair cut and watching his mommy (that would be me) get hers re-dyed blue at the tips and cut for the first time in twenty years (I don't count the occasional trim as a haircut) so that she (that would be me) now has bangs, sort of. Hey, I needed a change in a hurry, Amelia (my hair goddess) said it would look good, and since I can't lose eighty pounds in an afternoon, bangs it was. Bangs with blue streaks to match the tips of the rest of my still-down-to-my-ass hair. Anyway, I think I busted a gut or something.

When T actually noticed the much-shorter-than-he's-ever-seen-it part of my hair, he looked a little green around the gills - he thought I had it all chopped that short. Good Goddess, no!! Not just no, but Hell no!! I like my long, hippie hair and frankly, the thought of cutting it all off gives me hives. For a minute, though, I thought he was going to faint - I had no idea he was that attached.

And now I am going to scrounge up a snack because I have eaten less in the last two days than I usually consume in two meals, and my stomach is telling me that it thinks I suck and if I don't eat something it's telling my spleen on me. I'm not on a diet, I've just been busy - almost done with one story (finally, and when it's finished you'll hear the shrieks of joy all the way over wherever you are) and starting yet another one (this will make more than a dozen in the works at once - if I were a juggler, it'd be impressive)(as it it, I am an unpublished writer, which just makes it kind of sad). I think I hear some Laughing Cow calling my name....mmm...cheeeeeese...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

If wishes were fishes...

Do you remember when you were a kid and the grown-ups would ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up?

I remember wanting to ride show-jumpers, be a competetive swimmer of some sort, or a dancer, a teacher, a doctor, a shrink of some variety, a writer, a singer, a jockey, an actress, a model (hah!), an advice columnist, a forest ranger, a marine biologist, and any number of things. Mostly things that involved nature, creativity, or healing. Hmm.

Now that I'm supposedly grown-up, I still have things I want to be. Or at least do.

I have always wanted to scuba dive. I've swum, snorkeled, and sailed, but I've never been scuba diving. I love the deep water, I've just never had the time or money to go learn and be certified - and now I can add a distinct lack of confidence in my physicality to the list of "why not?" Still, I hope to manage this one in the not-too-distant future.

I would love to sky dive, while we're on the subject of diving. Deep water, open sky, same-same. Sky diving looks so free...this one may not ever happen, but a gal can dream.

I think learning to fly would be fun, too. Or maybe to operate one of those glider thingies - you know, the ones they tow behind an airplane and then release to float back to earth?

I'd love to brush up on my sailing skills - for all I talk about sailing as a kid, it's been several decades since I actually did it, and I'm afraid that only bit of it I can still do with any confidence is the knot tying...you never forget how to tie a good knot, and it's always a useful skill to have.

I've often wished I could ride a horse at something faster than a canter. I never did, and riding is something else I haven't done in a long while. I'd like to own a horse, but I'd have to re-learn how to care for the beasts. They eat pickles, right?

I'd like to go to Alaska. I don't know if I'm hearty enough to live there, but it'd be nice to visit some of the less touristy bits and take a million or so pictures.

Speaking of visiting places - Australia and New Zealand would be nice, too. And, umm...let's see...Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, and a number of the United States that I've missed in all my travels. I like wild places, rugged places, places where nature still has a presence. I also like places with history, where pieces of humanity are still standing long after the people are gone. Following the Roman wall through Paris would be one of the few reasons I ever went back to that city.

Visiting the sacred spaces of the world would be brilliant, too.

I've been hot-air ballooning, and would like to do it again - this time without garnering the back injury that still plagues me some fifteen or so years later.

I'd like to go back to school, if I could just go and learn without having to declare a major or worry about grades. I'd really like to root around in some of the sciences a bit more - chemistry, physics, and quantum physics mostly, although biology, geology, and a number of other -ologies would be fun, too. I can read books aplenty (and I do) but having a proper teacher to ask questions of, to explain the many, many, many bits I don't quite get, would be tremendous.

I'd also like to study more art, more history, more everything.

Also, winning the lottery would be nice. Oh, the things I'd do...

And while I am wishing things up...heh...I'd really like to not only finish a story/book/whatever the hell I'm writing, but maybe even manage to get the dang thing published. Sigh.

Well, if wishes were fishes, beggars would eat.

What do you wish you could be or do, grown up or not?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Moon, Moon

There was a lunar eclipse tonight. T and I stood outside and watched the eclipse - patchy cloud cover made a hide-and-seek, peek-a-boo event of it. Bird was with us, and we told him stories about the moon, legends, and history. We discussed the phases of the moon, and also how an eclipse happens with shadows and light, and why the moon shines at all. We talked about the men who had walked on the moon, the footprints still there, and how one day he may walk up there, too (the US is reviving the program and hopes to have people on the moon again around 2030 or so). I sang a moon song.

We really enjoyed it, and video taped the first half. The clouds are thick enough now that we can't watch the re-emergence, but it is also late and time for Bird to be in bed. Our cats are scampering around the house, wrestling each other. Even though they are indoor beasties, I think they know something's up.

I hope y'all have enjoyed the eclipse!

Eclipse photo by David E Jones of Atlanta and posted entirely without his permission but in hopes he'll forgive the lapse in courtesy.

More on depression.

I've written about this before, but I didn't include some things because the post was too freakin' long as it was. Here, then, are some more thoughts on something that generates a lot of thinking. This is how I usually try to explain this particular item on the Variety Plate:

Depression is rather like a mucky swamp. You don't even always notice what you're walking into, until your up to your boobs in the mire. Then, you look around, and it stinks and is dirty, and you're in the middle of all the greyness and being crushed by the ooze, which makes it bloody hard to make out where to go to get out of there.

So what's a gal to do?

It's easiest, from the perspective of the one lost in all of it, to just give in and sink. But...easiest isn't best, from the perspective of everyone who loves you and wants you, muck and all, in their lives. People who love you, really love you, don't mind a bit of mud on the carpet when you've had to come such a long way to see them. Even when the long way is a typewritten sorrowful cry of frustration and pain.

Life is full of people who love you. And full of clean, fresh water. And people who've had to make their way out of the same mess you're mired in now.

The thing is...yeah, it's easier to give in and sink, when you don't see a way out...but...if you're willing, you can work out of it. Of course, I only know the hard way out - pick a direction and keep walking until you're out of it. I can't trust medication, myself, because it tends to kill what I value most in me, my creativity, so I just have to slog through it until it's done. Sometimes it's done quickly, in a day or two - and sometimes it takes a year or more. I promise you this - you get back onto firm ground eventually. It does end. Really. I only hope that for most folks the path is a shorter and easier one, that they've come through the worst of it and are on their way to clearer days.

It does end. You just pick a direction and keep slogging, and the swamp ends. It just...takes a little longer, sometimes. And sometimes, people decide it isn't worth it and they build stilt houses and settle on in...but no one should have to hunker down in that misery if they don't want. Who wants to be sucked dry by someone else's emotional mosquitos??

And something I've said before, when someone mentions that they aren't medicating, or are medicating, or are being questioned by others about how they are treating their depression:

Doubting your choices and lifestyle are only normal. Living with them take courage and perseverance. Please, though, don't let sorrow dictate how, or who, you are, or what you do with yourself or you life. It is, after all, your life to live.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Legends

I was reading this over at Foolery, and I decided to borrow the idea and recall a few family legends here. I have no proof any of them are true, but I don't really care.

I am distantly related to Marry Todd Lincoln. Now you know where the crazy comes from.

I am also distantly related to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This is why I can't write - he got all the talent!

My grandfather burned down a yacht club that denied him membership. What can I say, he liked fire. So do I, but I never burned down anything that wasn't for roasting marshmallows over. He also allegedly burned a garbage scow. I have no idea why, but my mum's mum woke her up from a sound sleep, dragged her to the window, and demanded that mum look at what her father had done - and there was the burning scow on the water.

When he was a young man, my father allegedly sought vengeance on a mean old woman by feeding a pig a box of Ex-Lax and locking it into her house when she was away on vacation. Imagine what she returned to!

My grandmother was a pilot, but she had her pilot's license revoked when she landed on a reservoir on her float plane. It wasn't so much that she landed on the pond, although the state of Massachusetts frowns upon people landing planes on their drinking water...it's that she then went skinny dipping. Oh, and the reservoir was in full view of a highway. Yep.

My father worked on the Alvin-Lulu when I was a kid. That was a paired research vessel - ship and submarine - working for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. The Alvin is still in use, but I don't know if the Lulu is. I still have the trivet he sent me when he (I believe) skippered the Lulu.

My mother has a little trinket box with a ship pictured on the lid - my great-grandfather's ship, the Hardibayou...Hardy Bayou...Hardi Bayou...dang, I grew up on boats named that and I've forgotten how to spell it! Anyway ,this ship on the box was used during one of the Great Wars for Coast Guard duty. My grandfather was in the Coast Guard for WWII (or was it WWI??). We come from sailing folks, and yet here we are, landlocked. What happened?

The diamond in my engagement ring has a history. It was my mother's ring, and before that belonged to my father's mother's family. According to family lore, my great-great-great-great-great grandfather was an archeologist. While with a group in Egypt, robbing studying tombs, they broke through a wall and found an inner chamber still intact. Not for long - it was customary, it seems to help one's self to whatever one found, and this group did. Piles of uncut gems were taken away, and my ancestor had the diamond and a number of sapphires cut at Tiffany's in New York, and set into a ring. Later, someone took the diamond out of that ring and made it into an engagement ring, the one I wore. I like the stone because it's old, got a history, and it isn't a flashy cut. It's a miner's cut, if you know about this stuff. When my father learned I was getting married, he brought me the original ring, sapphires intact. It's tiny, won't even go halfway down my pinky finger. I did ask him if I had both parts, would I end up with some funky Egyptian curse. He laughed, but never answered. Hmm. I don't wear a ring any more, but every now and then I take it out and stare at it, thinking about the journey that stone took.

There you have it, a few of my family's legends. Aren't you glad you clicked over here, now?

But it wasn't all bad...

So the day started out irritating. Big deal.

I could have had my best friend's day - she had to deal with her mother going into surgery and unexpectedly being saddled with someone else's child for the day when she had other plans...namely going to her mother's house to do something nice and tidy up a bit while her mum was recovering. Not that her mother's house is a mess, but it was just something nice to do.

I could be my doctor's office manager, who had to call and talk to me this afternoon. The woman was trying to get me to admit that I was the one who screwed up the appointment. Hah! Why would I just show up and insist I had an appointment when I didn't? I've never done that before, have I? She wanted to know if I'd brought the appointment card with me. Or if I still had it. Nope, but you can bet that if I keep using that office I'll never again make the mistake of tossing the card once the calendar's marked. She was trying very hard to make me say I'd made the mistake, and really didn't want to apologize...and then had the gall to sound like she was doing me a favor by rescheduling the appointment. She didn't want to believe that they'd neglected to contact me or the phamacist after repeated calls, either. Read the computer record of the prescriptions they'd called in for me and it wasn't there. Well, duh, of course there was no record of the one in question when they never called the damn thing in! When I told her I no longer bother leaving messages on voice mail because they never get returned, she really didn't have an answer. She did finally apologize and make the new appointment, but that doesn't mean I am going to make nice next time I'm there.

You don't try and blame the consumer for your fuck up. Not ever. You apologize, take it in the teeth, and make it right. Backpedalling and trying to pass blame will only piss me off more and will probably result in my trying to get you drawn and quartered fired.

Or I could have had my brother's day. His wife was hospitalized last week with a torn placenta (sorry, fellas, I know you didn't need that visual) and ordered on complete bed rest. It didn't work, and yesterday the doctors did a c-section and brought their son, my nephew, into the world far earlier than he was planned for. 14 weeks early, to be exact...that makes him a 26 weeks baby for those of you who don't know baby math. Nephew was born 1 pound, eleven ounces sometime last night, and that's all I know about him. He hasn't got a name yet - they hadn't figured that out yet. My brother was joking with mum that he may name the baby Houdini, since he's an escape artist.

So my day wasn't briliant, but at least I got to hang out with my Evil Genius, crochet a bit,be grumpy on my blog, have a nap. I looked out my window and watched the owl bob up and down when the wind played tag with the trees, as still as any Zen master meditating. The world around him was rushing, roaring, shaking and trembling, and he was still. There's a lesson to be learned in that owl.

One nice thing about bloggin is having a place to mouth off about stupidity (mine and other's) without damaging anyone but the poor few who read the words. Better than therapy. And now I am going to unload the dishwasher, run some laundry, maybe color some picture's for my friend's new coloring book project. It's not such a bad day after all.

Ooooh, it's on now!

Well...maybe not "on", per se. More like off. Or never was to begin with. Depending on who you believe.

Shall I begin at the beginning?

Sometime near the end of last year, in late November or early December, I made a doctor's appointment for today. I usually go in every three months or so for blood tests, and it has to be a fasting test, so I can't eat any breakfast. That being the case, I make the appointment for the earliest available time slot. That means I have to get myself and Bird up and out much earlier than we're used to, and also bringing breakfast along for Bird because there's no reason he can't eat, and I'd rather slather myself in bacon grease and crawl nekkid through an Anaconda pit than sit for one minute in a doctor's office with a tired, hungry five-year-old, kid.

Today, I scored some baby sitting from Mum, who spent last night. She offered to watch him so I could chat with my doc without distraction, since I have some service and medication issues I want to go over. Sweet! I loathe having to get Bird up early, especially when the night before he was up late getting a breathing treatment for his asthma.

So last year I made this appointment and wrote it ever so carefully on two calendars. That's right, two. Each time I wrote it down, I looked carefully at the card to be sure I had the correct date and time, even though I had made the appointment only a short time earlier that day. Because I have OCD and can be a little anal that way. So I checked carefully several times. Can you see where this is going?

I pried my sorry ass out of bed six hours after I got to sleep last night, made a teeny tiny special effort to find a clean shirt to wear, dragged a comb through my rat's nest hair, and got out the door with plenty of time to get to the office in town, and without waking the Evil Genius from his beauty sleep.


At the doc's office, there was plenty of parking - a fringe benefit of early appointments, along with knowing there's no one sick in the waiting room. They all come in a little later. The people in early are like me, regulars who are in for maintenance stuff.


I know the drill by heart, by now - walk in, sign in, hand over the insurance card, sit down and wait. Get called up to retrieve the insurance card, pay the co-pay, sign the paper to show that the address and other info is correct, promise my firstborn if the bill doesn't get paid, go sit down and wait some more. Crochet or entertain Bird if he's with me.


This morning, though, there was a snag. Of course there was. It seems that, even though I was handed an appointment card all those months ago, even though I checked that card ever so carefully for date and time and wrote them both clearly on the calendar, there was no record of the appointment in their computer. Umm. OK. The lady at the desk asked if I was there for Dr. G, and I said yes.


Oh, well, hmm. Pity. She's on vacation this week. And there's no record of my appointment in the computer - not a cancellation or a re-scheduling, I wasn't in there at all. As in, the appointment never existed. The woman looked at me like I'd made a mistake. Uh, I don't think so. I know I had the right day and time.


I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and asked very politely for copies of my medical records because I needed to be finished with their office. This was really enough. Really, really enough.


I went for two weeks without insulin in December because that office wouldn't return my calls or my pharmacist's calls. Two weeks. Insulin. Important.


Sometimes they don't return calls for days. I stopped leaving messages with them because I often wouldn't get a return phone call for a week or longer, and sometimes not at all. They are supposed to call me when labs are in, but I often go a month or longer without knowing unless I call them.


Mum has been telling me to find a new doctor for a while, now. I don't want to. I like Dr. G, and equally important, I know her. If you've read any of the Variety Plate, you know how important that is. Going to a new doctor, going through all the crap, the medical history, the questions...ugh.


I was then informed that I would have to sign a release for my own records, since they don't keep them there and would have to get copies from record-keeping. I asked her to make sure Dr. G knew what had happened - yeah, right, I'll hold my breath. She took my phone number and assured me that she'd let the doc know. Again, holding my breath.


It's not her fault her staff are inept, careless, apathetic, or whatever the hell is wrong with them that they can't manage the simplest tasks. I do understand that they're busy, and they're getting busier, but I don't think it's too much to ask that they do what they say they'll do in a timely fashion. Hello? Customer service? Foreign concept, these days.


If they are too bloody busy, too overwhelmed, to follow through with patient care, they need to simply say so. They need to learn to say "no" when someone new asks for an appointment and they know they're full, booked through the next six months. Learn to say "we have a standard of care that we need to adhere to, and adding to our patient load will be detrimental to our service, so we suggest..."


Sigh. If I hold my breath any more, I'll be the nicest shade of blue...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Laughing at The Evil Genius

On Monday nights, Bird and I join friends for a friendly evening of play. He plays with his friends and I hang out and chat, write, and crochet with their parents, who are my friends.

We have a potluck sort of dinner, with the hostess providing the main dish and the rest of us bringing sides.

Guess who usually brings desert?

As Bird was sitting down to his dinner, he turned to our hostess and asked for something to drink. It's not that he asked, it's how he asked.

"Uh, Miss M, could you facilitate my laziness and get me a drink of water?"

Yes, he did.

You see, when I am seated and don't want to get up because I am covered with cats or a project or my legs are both broken or whatever my excuse is for not wanting to get off my ass, I ask whoever's nearby to facilitate my laziness and get me whatever it is I'm wanting or needing.

Until tonight, though, Bird has never used that phrase. The four adults in the room had a hard time keeping it together.

Good grief, kids are funny, aren't they?

Expanding on some...you know the drill...

I've been meaning to write this for a while, but life (and other, far more amusing topics) kept getting in the way. This morning, however, I find myself with an urge to write (but not productively, like, say, on one of the elleventy-million stories I should be finishing)(Or the query letter I was supposed to have written and sent out before the end of January), and no specific incident with which to bore you dear reader. So we return to the variety plate. Huzzah!

But first, the usual disclaimer type thingie.

Warning: This isn't sweetness and light. It may well contain TMI, strong language and adult themes...but not the fun kind. Read on at your own peril.

Right, on with the show.

Today's item on the variety plate is paranoia. Whee!

The stereotypical definition of paranoia is the belief that everyone is out to get you. Here's an explanation I found useful: The term paranoia was used by Emil Kraepelin to describe a mental illness in which a delusional belief is the sole or most prominent feature. In his original attempt at classifying different forms of mental illness, Kraepelin used the term pure paranoia to describe a condition where a delusion was present, but without any apparent deterioration in intellectual abilities and without any of the other features of dementia praecox, the condition later renamed schizophrenia. Notably, in his definition, the belief does not have to be persecutory to be classified as paranoid, so any number of delusional beliefs can be classified as paranoia. For example, a person who has the sole delusional belief that he is an important religious figure would be classified by Kraepelin as having 'pure paranoia'

See? It's not all "They're out to get me!!" Some times it's "They're out to worship me!" Or in my case "They're staring at me and think I'm awful."

Yep. It's a contributing factor to my agoraphobia - I really don't like people looking at me. I'm always afraid they think I'm fat, ugly, stupid, or whatever the negative self image du jour is. Mostly it's about how I never look good. Bad hair, no makeup, overweight, unflattering clothing, whatever. If I'm in a public place and I hear people whispering, I automatically presume that they're whispering about me. Laughter? Laughing at me. Yep. So it's an egotistical thing too. Come to think of it, most mental illnesses require a large ego or a chunky dose of self-centeredness.

In a way, believing that people think you look awful and are whispering, pointing, and laughing at you all the time is a bit freeing. If you are utterly convinced that you look bad no matter what, then why bother with makeup? Or worry about fashion? I mean, if everything you try is a failure in the looks department, why not just forget about it and just be comfortable? Whew! I found a way to make it work for me.

I grew my hair long because I like it that way. I stopped worrying about how others might think it looked because I don't care any more. I think that they think it looks awful no matter what I do, so I suit myself. I dye it blue at the tips because I like blue. I wear it down, back, or up depending on the heat, humidity, and my own weird mood. I really don't care what convention, fashion, or my fellow humans think, any more.

Makeup? You're kidding, right? Hah! I wear makeup on stage, sometimes, but even there I can't often be bothered. I'm up there to sing, not be seen. It's the voice that matters, and I am surrounded by beautiful people who have way more flare than I...so they can shine and I'll just be happy to make music.

Fashion? Again I say...hah! I get to wear what I want because I already know that people think I look bad. So if I am going to look bad all the time, I may as well do so in comfort. Blue jeans or maybe a floor-length skirt in blue or black and a sarong shirt are my standard wear. The skirt is for formal occasions. Crocs or Teva sandals on my feet, and I'm good to go.

This member of the variety plate, I know the source. I can tell you right where it cam from - something my grandmother told me when I was a kid. I was going outside to play in the yard, and she stopped me and chastised me for...well, to be honest, I probably looked like a kid about to go outside and play. You know...hair looking like hair, blue jeans, t-shirt, sneakers. She told me I looked awful, and then lectured me on how people are always going to be looking at me and judging me, and how I should always look perfect and never do anything to give a negative impression. I should always be neat, tidy, and lady-like. I should always look perfect, and if I didn't then people wouldn't like me or want me around them. Good grief, y'all, I was all of thirteen!

I'd like to know how I was supposed to manage all that supposed perfection while horseback riding, playing tennis, swimming, or any of the other pursuits I was supposed to...pursue...because that's what well-bred kids did. Oh, wait...my cousin did it, so I should to, and if I couldn't then I just had to try harder. No pressure or anything, though.

This helpful little diatribe grew into my weird belief that everyone is watching me, making my skin crawl, taking me apart and finding all my flaws with their eyes.

And yet...I get up on stage. In a busy season, I may perform up to ten concerts with my band. This year, we have three events booked, one of which will almost certainly require two concerts and several smaller performances at workshops, meetings, and such. We may perform every day for a week. In front of people. Who will be watching us.

Music trumps paranoia.

I'm really lucky - I found a benefit to this little side item on the plate, in that I no longer worry how I look and may now live a comfortable life free of the concerns of cosmetics, fashion, or social norms. It doesn't keep me from happily singing with, for, and in front of others. It's only a problem in new or really crowded places, where other things contribute to psychological discomfiture, and I can usually ignore it anyway. Occasionally I can even enjoy being unselfconsciously myself. How many "normal" people can say that?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Because sometimes I can't shut up.

This may be the height of vanity, but I'm feeling full of...er...something, so I don't care. Foolery offered a comment on the post a few down from this one, the post about lobsters lobstahs. Since my reply comment was getting long, I decided to kill two birds lobtahs with one stone and turn it into a post.

Foolery's comment: "I've always thought that I'd like lobster that way -- the way the locals do it, in big pots with dogs and cats and kids running around, and lots of beer and salt and BUTTER. As it is, I won't order it in a restaurant, and I've never been impressed when I did. But your way looks like a hoot..."

My (of course) long-winded reply: Most restaurants autoclave their lobsters, which is a fine way to cook one in a hurry...and ruin it. We steam them - an inch or two of water in the pot and sea salt. And more sea salt. And...ummm...more sea salt. Even better is when you can get water from the actual ocean, but for some reason that's in short supply in our neck of Georgia. Hmm. We boil the water before putting our live (and I do mean live) critters in there for a lovely sauna.

They're done when you can tug one of the feelers (I know they're antennae, but I grew up calling them feelers and it stuck) off without too much effort, and of course they're that lobster orangey-red.

Some folks put bay leaves and all sorts of other nonsense in their water, but we're simple. When we cook! We're simple when we cook!

When I was a kid, we'd get them off the dock from the boat that just brought them in - short of plucking them from the sea floor yourself and dining right away, that's as fresh as they get. The same for clams. I didn't realize until I moved to Georgia that Steamers were a very local thing. You can't get them here. I can't even find a place to order them without calling Maine. Most of the time, I am offered little-necks or cherrystones instead. Those aren't steamers. Ipswitch clams are steamers. Sigh. I can't get too upset with the local fishmongers - they have to fly most everything in and most of them are only really familiar with the common salt-water fishes and freshwater varieties.

We'd have clam boils at my grandparent's house. They'd get the old cast iron stove going (this was always fun in the summer) and set the special clam cookin' pot-apparatus-thingie up with layers of clams, potatoes, chouricco (yes, it's really pronounced shehdeese)(it's a yummy, hot Portuguese sausage and you can usually get it at Publix)(in case you were wondering) and corn, and a pot with butter melting to one side. Y'all...words can't describe...sniff...

When it was all cooked, we'd dish it into a bowl, a bit of everything, and pour some of the pot broth into one cup and melted butter into another, then go to town.

You winkle the clam out of its (now open or don't eat it) shell, peel off the turtle neck, dip into the broth to get any rogue sand off it, then into the butter and...oh, my...'scuse me...

Before I could manage to clean my own clams and snarf them down, my family had to take turns doing it for me. I'd eat them so fast, they couldn't keep up. I'd sit there with butter dripping down my chin, flecks of corn stuck in my eyebrow, stuffed to the gills and in seventh heaven - clams were possibly my favorite dineer when I was a kid. Mmm. I can still eat up a passel of clams in a hurry.

We always got our corn from Cole Walker's roadside stand in Little Compton. His patch of earth produced the finest sweet corn anywhere, yes it did. His strawberries were lovely, too - sweet little jewels bursting with earth, sun, rain, and juicy goodness. Halved and lightly sugared in the afternooon, served that evening with a bit of heavy cream...oh, dear Gods...

I was spoiled. I lived where we could get these things, if not cheaply then at least not at inland prices, and in plentiful amounts. There was always someone hauling in a load of something fresh and wonderful from the water, and if you had the right friends you got a terrific deal - sometimes even trading one thing for another. You know...some of my swordfish for some of your tuna. Some of my lobsters for some of your clams. Some of what I grew in my garden or butchered from my farm for some of whatever you have to offer. There were times when I dug my vegetables right out of the ground and probably knew the cow, lamb, pig, or other beastie we were eating that night. Some folks find that horrifying, but I think it's nice to know who what you're eating. You give more thought to what you put into your mouth, appreciate it more. Well, I did (still do), anyway.

And Foolery, you're right - the finest way to enjoy these gifts from the water is to do so with friends and family crowding around, glasses of wine or bottles of beer in hand, laughing and chattering and filling the house with steam, noise, and general congeniality. Never mind the bibs, forks, knives, or spoons - this is food to be eaten like cave people, with the hands and teeth and some big stones (or, in our case, lobster crackers). If you don't get messy, you didn't enjoy it enough. Which reminds me...umm...I may need to clean the ceiling in the dining room. And the light fixture. And the glass case. Tomorrow.

Lobster in restaurants isn't worth it, to me. It always seems more about pretension, prestige, or impressing others wth one's mad lobster-eating skillz, yo, than about honoring the crustacean. I like lobster bisque, lobster ravioli, lobster dip and whatnot and might order those things, but a whole one? Nah. I'd rather not have a critical audience or potential shelling victims when I'm getting into one of those, and consuming a disapointing lobster is just a shame.

Thanks for the post fodder, Foolery!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Better late than never.

So it was Valentine's Day three days ago, but I was too preoccupied to post anything really...you know...Valentiney. I did my heart-shaped post, but nothing about how we do VD 'round here.

It's something of a non-starter, to be honest. I did help Bird make a Valentine for T. Look:

I drew the heart outline, penciled in the letters, and cut out the paper hearts. Bird glued the hearts on and wrote over the letters with red Sharpie. Red Sharpie, in case you needed to know this (I'm not saying I did, or anything) will wipe fairly easily off a TV table with a Mr. Clean sponge thingie, comes off Pergo with the same, and will scrub off an evil genius a kid in a day or two or one marathon bath.

I bought a heart-shaped Rice Krispie treat for T at Borders that night - I knew they had them, and he looooves the treats. I waited until Friday to get Bird something ( a little M&Ms guy with a whirly beanie and candy inside). I wouldn't have gotten him one, but he was bummed that he didn't get a Valentine - see, T had told him they could make one while I was gone Thursday night, but they didn't. Poor little guy. He actually wept. Good lord. Lucky he has a kid's distorted sense of time, so Valentine's Day could be stretched a little to accommodate him.

I didn't get a Valentine.

Well, that is, until I looked at things from a different perspective.

My fried K got a big box of Godiva chocolates. Mmm. Other women I know received CDs, cards, flowers, massages, and sexual favors. Not me. I don't really expect anything, any more.

So what did I get?

I got to come home to a tidied-up living room, dining room, and kitchen. Who needs chocolate, emasculated plant life, or a pregnancy scare?? Not me!!

I didn't think about that at first, but I realized yesterday that T and Bird both put a lot of work into getting the living room, dining room, and kitchen into company-order. They must have spent most of Thursday evening doing it, while I was at Borders writing, editing, and chatting about all kinds of things with my friends.

Chocolate tastes divine, but it will only end up settling on my hips or ass and spiking my blood-sugar. I'll end up feeling guilty, unhealthy, or ill because I'll eat too much of it. No self-control, me.

CDs are nice, but unless you really know someone's taste in music, they can be a dud.

Cards are nice too, but after one day they are relegated to the trash, the recycling bin, or a shoe-box for the most part.

Flowers are lovely...I am enjoying the half-price blossoms I got yesterday, and I didn't break the bank to get them. Also, because I picked them out, I got some that were most appealing to me that moment. I don't really need someone to neuter a plant on an arbitrarily appointed day to show me love. Any time is a good time for flowers, but there's something faintly horrifying in the prospect of removing the reproductive organs of a living thing and handing them over to someone as a gesture of affection. Kinda creepy, really. That's more for birthdays, isn't it??

A massage is always good, but if you are worrying about finding a babysitter or if your S/O, DH, DW, or other e-speak-slang-type-person will be taking good care of the kid or feeding them crack sugar while you're gone, or thinking about everything you'll have to do to make up for the time you're wasting on that table, or wondering what bill won't be paid to cover the cost of this extravagance, well...they're not very effective.

Of course, there's always the sensual evening, but you can thoroughly debauch someone any time. If that's your bag. And what if you aren't in the mood the one night you're expected to be in the mood because the corporate world says you should be in the mood? Gee whiz. Who needs the pressure?

A clean house, though...a clean house that was a disaster when you left a few hours ago but now you can see the couch, the floor, the dining room table...that's tremendous. And all it cost was a little time and effort - pricey, but totally worth it.

What sucks is that it took me until Friday evening to figure that out.

Friday, February 15, 2008

So full...

We have a yearly thing that we do, mum, me, T, and a dear friend we've known...well...a very long time. Our friend S is originally from New England, and we often reminisce about old times and places. We've all been in Georgia long enough to sound like we belong here, except for a throwback or two (T was born here, so he's not included in this bit) like saying tomahto instead of tomayto, and bahthroom instead of baaathroom. Our yearly thing is, we get together and have dinner and catch up with each other, maybe tell stories about our corner-working days at the track. If you don't' know what corner-working is, just nod your head and smile - I'll explain one day. Suffice it to say, at the moment, that it was a bonding experience.

We have seafood. Specifically, shellfish. Last year was steamers (Ipswitch clams) and lobsters flown in from Maine. No, we're not loaded - we save up all year for this one night. We had corn, chouricco (pronounced shehdeese), potatoes, and salad as well. I am sure there was a desert but that was a year ago and I can't remember what it was. We did our feast in January.

This year, we had to reschedule a couple of times, but finally found a date that would work for us all - tonight. The order was placed last month with The Fisherman's Catch Seafood Market in Damarascotta (type that in a hurry!) Maine. They ship the critters live in a big old box with ice packs to keep them comfy. Clams weren't available, so we just did lobsters. Oh, no, not just lobsters. Cancel the whole thing. Hah! Here's the box:
It's big, huh?

Here's what was inside:
Mmm, tastey, a styrofoam container!

Inside that? Let's have a look:
What? Newspaper?? We were robbed!! Wait...it was twitching. Hmm. Dig deeper. Why lookie here, it's burried treasure!
Arrrr, mateys, bonanza!

We had to make sure they all survived the trip - it's vital that you not cook a dead lobster. They must be live before steaming or you'll get sick. Montelobstahs revenge in the worst way. Truly. No, not kidding. Really. Ickiness will commence. We check vitality by placing them on the (clean for once, thank the gods) floor and letting them stretch out a bit. Hey, it was a long flight!

They were thoroughly inspected by myself and Mum:

Huckabee: I'll take you with my claws shut!!

And Maya, one of my cats:

Just after I snapped that picture, the rightmost lobstah flexed his tail, making a scraping/clicking noise, and Maya shot two feet into the air and headed for higher ground. The other two cats didn't even bother making an appearance, smart beasts.

The we let Bird have a look:
Boy meets dinner. Shake hands, dinner.

Bird told the lobsters he loved them. Yes, he did. He wasn't really thrilled to learn that having lobster for dinner meant cooking them, although I was clear about that from the start. He said he didn't want them for dinner, he wanted them to be his friends. At that point, T distracted him and they went off to play and leave us wimmin folk in the kitchen to do the dirty work. No problem. We like our lobsters a little less lively when we dunk them in butter.
Hillary to Ron Paul(yes, we name our lobsters - in an election year, they're named after the candidates running for office. Nice, huh?): Is it me, or is the sauna getting crowded?
The blue pot must be economy class...there's much more claw room in the silver one!

Isn't the corn lovely?
We covered them and let 'em get cozy - wouldn't want them catching a chill!
Don't look at the next picure if you're soft hearted.

Fair warning.

It's brutal.

But oh, my goodness, was it tasty!!

All that remained:

Bird ate his share without a qualm. Maybe it helped that I told him that what we eat becomes a part of us forever. More likely it was that lobstahs are tasty, and he's smart enough to know he didn't want to miss out on this.

We call the bowl the "boneyard", and it's nothing but empty shells, now. Replete with our lobstahs, corn, and cheddar-dill biscuits, we sat back and breather a happy sigh. And a few burps. Scuse us.

Then it was time to clear the table and do some damage to the ridiculous cake that Mum brought. It was nice of her to do, because I was going to make key lime pie and maybe buy a French silk pie, because I love me some French silk pie and I draw the line at baking my own dang birthday cake. I'll do without. But I didn't have to. Look at this insanely, ridiculously cute cake:
Kiki is my nickname. Shut up. I can't believe I had to cut this up. I managed. It was tasty, too.
You can always tell how good it is by how much gets on the kid's face. The more he wears, the better it is. Oh, yeah, I had strawberries, too - they were on sale and they were pretty and dang were they yummy with that cake.

The fact that our annual get together coincided with my birthday was just serendipity, but I'll take it. Wouldn't you?
We played a rousing round of our newest board game "You Might Be a Redneck If..." after. The cats tried to convince us they needed leftover lobstah, or at least lobstah buttah, to live. We weren't moved. They survived.
There you have it...our entire night of crazed birthday debauchery. If every birthday was this nice, I wouldn't mind them so much.
G'night, y'all - I need to go sleep it off, now.

You say it's your birthday....

...buh-na-na-na-na-naaaaa-na-nuh.....

Yes, yes I do. Hooray, hooray, I'm one year older today than I was yesterday. Funny, I only feel a day older. Temporal anomaly, alert the...whoever deals with that sort of thing.

The first part of my day involved getting my sorry butt out of bed. That was a chore. We were up late having a family cuddle night, and then T went to sleep in the recliner because he has lung aliens, so I hogged the bed. This means sprawling from corner to corner in an attempt to flatten out the hump in the middle that inevitably forms when two people of larger-than-they-should-be size share a bed. Whenever I can I try to sleep in the middle of the bed and moosh that sucker down. I watched The King and I for a bit, too, while dozing off. Around two-thirty. Yeah.

The upside to the late hours was that Bird slept quite late, too. I was less than thrilled to log online and be greeted with the headlines about the lad who shot all those other kids in Illinois. Sad. It knocked the happy right out of my blogging for a bit. I'm still sad about that, but...it's so easy to distance yourself emotionally when you are distant physically, too. And it is my birthday, and if I could sit through the death of a beloved friend (AIDS related cancer) in the morning and still hold my birthday party later that evening (which happened about ten years ago on my birthday) then I can manage to find some nice things about today.

I had a leisurely bowl of Froot Loops (take that, pancreas!!) and a Diet Coke Plus for breakfast. You were dying to know that, weren't you? Then mum got here, and she made me open gifts. Really, she made me - nearly twisted my arm right off at the shoulder. She's like a kid at Xmas, only with the giving, not the getting. Heh. First I opened this:
Yes, a waffle iron!! Score!! I've wanted one for ever so long, but I'm too cheap to buy one myself. This one is heavy and could double as a home defense head-thwacking device. She even thought to include this:

That's right, waffle mix. Don't worry, I'll know how to make them from scratch before we run out of mix. Gods bless the Internet. Thank you, Al Gore!

Next, I opened this:

Which foreshadows things to come this evening (and a whole other post). Not that we needed foreshadowing, since we've been planning this particular meal for months.

Then there was this:

My sister-in-law introduced me to these. She's British. They have lots of fun stuff to eat. Mmm, Hob Nobs. We had some with tea a little while ago. Isn't my Mum the best? She knows these are like crack to me.

And then there was this:


This is a candle box that our friend Vivian made. She's talented. When I win the lottery, I want to hire her to do windows all over my over-priced, custom-built, artsy-fartsy house.

After this extravaganza - mum really lost her ever-lovin' mind this year, huh? - we had to go get some fresh corn. Yes, in the middle of winter. What, you can't get fresh corn in the middle of winter? Huh. Imagine that.

Why do we need fresh corn? Ah...patience, Iago. That's another post, too.

We got some other stuff, too. Look:

Who can resist fifty percent off roses? Please don't get excited about the silver tray - it's part of my polishing therapy. You know, that little quirk I mentioned in the meme I got tagged with? People let me polish their silver. T's mum gave me the tray to polish and just forgot to ask for it back. Heh. I like using it, it makes me feel more posh and less white-trash middle-class. Here's another beautiful picture:
Doesn't Mum look thrilled? She did this just for me. She was laughing, truly, and then threatened my life when I told her I was absolutely going to post this. I fear no evil. Also, I am pretty sure she's not armed right now. Although the thorns on the rose were wicked - I had to warn her about them so she wouldn't accidentally pierce her lip. She's got tattoos but isn't really the peircing sort.

And then we sat in different room and I posted that Portrait of Modern Living post just below this one. What a day so far, huh?

Just wait until you see the cake Mum brought. Good lord. It's ridiculous. Really.

A Portrait of Modern Living

Me in the kitchen with Bob the Wonder Computer, clicking away.

Mum in the dining room on her own, as yet unnamed, Wonder Computer, clicking away.

The two of us chatting while we wander down electronic pathways.

T in the living room using the Big Beast of a Desk Top, ignoring us and our girly chatter but watching a Marx Brothers movie on TV.

Bird playing with his toy laptop in the lving room (dubbed the little green Bob by me) and ignoring us all.

No one is more than a few feet from anyone else, but we are all in our own worlds.

I had to laugh.

Oh, no...please, not again...

I had a cute post ready to go for this morning, but...maybe later. I don't feel like being a bubble-head right now.

I don't usually watch or read much news - it hurts and I'm not a glutton for punishment.

Yesterday, when many people were celebrating love - parents, kids, romantics, spouses, friends - one young man was finding a settling-place at the bottom of his existence. Or perhaps he found it days, weeks, months ago and yesterday was simply the day to express himself with violence.

He opened fire in a crowded lecture hall, snapping short Fate's threads for seven people, himself one of them.

Sixteen more will view Valentine's Day in a new light for the rest of their lives, scarred in flesh and spirit. If they find themselves dreading the day, they'll be among the small few who have reason not to join in the spirit of hearts and chocolates. I wouldn't blame them.

Perhaps, though, they'll enjoy it all the more for having come close to meeting their maker. Perhaps their experience will lend a certain piquancy to their lives and loves.

The boy who instigated this destruction turned on himself, saving police the trouble, saving the people of his community the expense of trial, incarceration, care. Leaving us, so far without answers.

Please, for the love of all that's holy, if this child left a video tape, a manifesto, a website or some other communique...please don't play it! NBC? Are you listening? Don't play it! Ever. Something that horrible belongs to its maker, should be viewed by authorities and perhaps...perhaps if they ask to see it, the families of the victims so they might garner some understanding. But me? And everyone else not directly involved? We don't have a need to see it, and frankly, we don't have a right.

Respect these bright futures brought low, grown dim and then dark - don't give the shooter his fifteen minutes. He doesn't deserve the glory-after-death that the Virginia Tech shooter got (I refuse to even type his name. He doesn't deserve it.). He deserves compassion for the suffering he must have felt, for whatever sickness, evil, anger or pain drove him to shout his misery so loud and with such violence, but not fame or infamy (they're so difficult to distinguish, lately).

Show, rather, something of those wounded and killed. Show something of who they are or were, of what they love, what they want or wanted to be. Show how they rally from this, how they rise from it and walk on through life, scarred but triumphant. Show how they live, lived. Leave their families alone, let them find understanding and peace without your blaring, blazing, intrusive presence.

I know it's a stretch, but give them a little dignity.

Now please excuse me while I go light a candle and mourn - no, I don't know any of these kids, but every time something like this happens, I hurt. These are my children, my brothers and sisters, my fellow sojourners through life, and just because I haven't met them doesn't mean their loss doesn't sting. The day I stop hurting over these horrors is the day I leave the last of my humanity behind for something worse.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

You can't measure love.

But wait...


It seems you can.

Or at least, you can measure with love. Or anyway, with heart shaped spoons. Aren't these cute??

If you want some, just Google "Heart Shaped Measuring Spoons" and you'll find them a-plenty. There are heart shaped measuring cups to be had, too. See?



You can get all kinds of heart shaped things, it seems. Coffee scoops:




And bottle stoppers:


And even an ice cream scoop:

Type in "heart shaped" anything and you'll probably find it. I guess you can buy love...

This is probably as close to a Valentine's Day post as I'll get. Enjoy.

Regarding Owly

Because I'm sure the two or three folks who read this are just desperate to know...

I believe the owl may have decided to stay. For four days he's been in his spot in the tree outside our window. Today was windy, and he was holding on for dear life, but he was there. I think he knows I'm watching him - every now and them I swear he looks right in the window and winks at me. He's a flirt!

I haven't gone looking for owl pellets, yet, although I read that they produce several of them each day. I wonder if they freeze well? And if I freeze some, will anyone ever eat anything I've cooked from the freezer again? Hmm...

Today, one of the neighbor's cats paused under the owl tree and looked up. I swear, the cat was thinking "Holy crap, that's the biggest chicken I've ever seen!" I imagine the owl was thinking "Here, kitty, kitty..."

I just thought you'd like to know.

Aww, dang.

Well, I was perusing my usual morning blogs and hit a meme. Sigh. It's over at Dawn's "Because I Said SO" if you want to see her answers. Here are mine.

Sixty Things
(Not Quite) 60 Things You Possibly Didn't Know About Me

1. What is in the back seat of your car right now?
Without going down to look - a booster seat for Bird, several kid's meal type toys, some ossified french fries for future anthropologists, archeologists, and geologists to wonder at, several kid-sized quilts and a full-sized quilt, some napkins, a pair of Bird-sized sunglasses, a crocheted shawl, three DK learning system books, an empty water bottle, a rogue Cheez-It or three, and various other little-boy leavings. And that's just the SEAT!

2. When was the last time you threw up?
Umm...a couple of weeks ago. I can't remember the exact date...it's not like I keep a diary of these things!

3. What's your favorite curse word?
I vacillate between "Oh, pickles!", "Oh, pucker-nuts!", "Holy crap!", "Confound it!", "Oh, bother!", "Dang it!", and a few other non-cussish cuss words. If I am really cheesed off, I may say "Fuckery!" or some other derivation of the f-bomb, but I prefer to be creative.

4. Name 3 people who made you smile today?
It's early, yet...Bird's the only person I've interacted with so far. Umm...Bird, mum (in an e-mail), annnnnd...ah...do the cats count? They frequently amuse me.

5. What were you doing at 8 am this morning?
Trying to convince myself that it was OK to go back to sleep since Bird wasn't awake yet. I failed.

6. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
Reading someone else's blog and eating breakfast.

7. What will you be doing 3 hours from now?
Probably making lunch for Bird and T, or trying desperately to get some portion of this house tidy for Friday's company. Sigh.

8. Have you ever been to a strip club?
I'd rather go to a ribeye club...

9. What is the last thing you said aloud?
Bird, would you like some Kashi?

10. What is the best ice cream flavor?
Phish Food...or strawberry...or coffee...umm...you shouldn't ask an Aquarius to choose a favorite anything. We rarely have one.

11. What was the last thing you had to drink?
Mmmm, water...

12. What are you wearing right now?
Cotton-linen blend pajama pants and an old sarong shirt. I decided not to get dressed today. Yeah, decided.

13. What was the last thing you ate?
A bowl of Special K cereal.

14. Have you bought any new clothing items this week?
Nope.

15. When was the last time you ran?
I dunno, when was the last time I was chased?

16. What's the last sporting event you watched?
I suppose the Super Bowl...I started watching for the commercials but kinda got into the game, too. The shame...

Where's seventeen? There's no seventeen!! What do the meme creators have against seventeen???

18. Who is the last person you emailed?
Mum.

19. Ever go camping?
Oh, yes. I like camping. Yes, even the tent kind with bugs and cooking over a fire and sleeping on the ground.

20. Do you have a tan?
No, nor do I have skin cancer. Hmm, think there's a corollary?

Twenty-one, twenty-two, and twenty-three have gone in search of seventeen and will not return until they've found it!

24. Do you drink your soda from a straw?
That's no way to treat good scotch!!

25. What did your last IM say?
I don't remember...probably telling my roommate J what was for dinner...

26. Are you someone's best friend?
Sometimes I wonder...

27. What are you doing tomorrow?
Hmm...Thursday...more cleaning of the mess, doing of the laundry, making of keylime pie for Friday, and then going to Borders to pretend to write and hang out with my friends (we have a discussion group that meets there weekly and I go early to goof off write). Then, probably a late dinner at Fridays and home. Gee, aren't you glad you asked??

28. Where is your mom right now?
She was online a moment ago, so I presume she's home.

29. Look to your left, what do you see?
A wall and some cobwebs.

30. What color is your watch?
Uhhhhh....ummmmm....ahhhhh....watch? I DO have a silver pocket watch that I use on occasion, but it's old and grumpy and doesn't always function. I love it, kinda like me!


31. What do you think of when you think of Australia ?
Wanna go, maybe run away from home and hide out under a wallaby or a wombat or something.

32. Would you consider plastic surgery?
Yes. Yes I would.

33. What is your birthstone?
Amethyst.

34. Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive thru?
Unless I intend to let Bird play in a play-area, I drive through.

35.How many kids do you want?
Three, one of each kind.

36. Do you have a dog?
Nope.

37. Last person you talked to on the phone?
My roommate J, who wanted to know if a package had come for him. I looked out by the door and the garage. It hasn't come yet.

38. Have you met anyone famous?
Umm...well, yeah, actually. When I was a kid, I played with that guy from Sha-na-na's beard. Not Bowzer...one of the other guys. I sat on his lap and tugged his beard. I have no recall of this - my dad swears it's true. Also, I have met and almost rescued Paul Newman, sewed patches onto the driver's suits of several race car drivers (Including Boris Said who still owes me for it...heh...), pulled a few more out of tire walls, and met Patrick Dempsey who is just about the nicest fellow ever. You get to meet all kinds of folks at the race track.

39. Any plans today?
House keepery, cookery, and general skullduggery.

40. How many states have you lived in?
Let's count...umm...comfusion, suspense, distress, misery...oh, wait, I bet you meant how many of the United States I've RESIDED in. Five.

41. Ever go to college?
For a while, but it wasn't my cuppa - I like thinking outside the box, for myself, and it turns out that most colleges aren't so keen on that sort of behavior.

42. Where are you right now?
I am here.

43. Biggest annoyance in your life right now?
The constant struggle to get this place clean and keep it that way.

44. Last song listened to?
Something the Doodlebops were singing, goddess help me.

Concerned about the fate of our other missing numbers, forty-five is organizing an expedition into the wilds of the hard drive to find them. Wish it luck.

46. Are you allergic to anything?
Yep.

47. Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time?
Crocs.

48. Are you jealous of anyone?
Happy people...I want to know how they manage it on a regular basis.

Forty-nine is making sandwiches for the trip and will get back with us in a bit.

50. Is anyone jealous of you?
Let's don't be silly...

51. What time is it?
It was before nine-o'clock when I started this thing, but now it's a bit after ten.

52. Do any of your friends have children?
Most of them do, in fact.

53. Do you eat healthy?
Healthy, unhealthy, positively deadly, I am an equal opportunity consumer.

54. What do you usually do during the day?
As little as possible? Read blogs, comment, write blogs, laundry, check e-mail, write e-mail, run errands, clean house a bit, school Bird, play with Bird, feed Bird, clean up after Bird, watch TV with Bird, read, bathe, cook, nap, and try to finish one of the million-and-two stories I'm working on but never seem to get anywhere with. Also crochet, quilt, make sarong shirts, bead, chain maille, color, paint, and generally exhibit crafter's ADD.

55. Do you hate anyone right now?
Only myself.

56. Do you use the word 'hello' daily?
I have no idea, but probably.

Fifty-seven is sulking because it wasn't invited on the expedition.

58. How old will you be turning on your next birthday?
In two days I will be precisely one year older than I am today.

59. Have you ever been to Six Flags?
Once or twice, but not recently.

60. How did you get one of your scars?
Hmm...which one? There's the windshield scar, the tape dispenser scar, the spear-to-the-face scar, the amazing-exploding-appendix-while-pregnant trio, and the c-section. And that's not including emotional scars! Which one did you want to know about?