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

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010, A Casa de Crazy Odd-yssey

January - Casa de Crazy grounds invaded by neighbors' dogs, much irritation ensues. Evil Genius turns seven. Snow. Someone cooks me up some fried okra, I photograph it for proof that a feller CAN TOO cook. I fall headlong into a case of the beiges (because I like blue, but beige? Depressing...). I get musically political with some friends.

February - I make a quilt square...woo-hoo, right? Cruise. Take second place with my quilt square. I get older. My friend K has her baby boy - Elvis has entered the building!

March - Casa de Crazy gets a jump on Spring. The bats return to Capistrano...er...Casa de Crazy. The Evil Genius joins humanity as a tool-user. We learn about the joys of K'Nex. We celebrate St. Patrick's Day. We celebrate Ostara. We celebrate Someone's birthday. We are exhausted. The garden goes to the dogs.

April - Spring is springing on apace. Someone and I head off into the wilds of Southern Ga to run a friend's booth for the weekend - it's our first quasi-camping experience together! Mum has a birthday. I have another stint in the beiges.

May - We celebrate Beltane with fire and frolic. Although we don't know it yet, I'm pregnant. Mum's truck won't give us a brake. The Evil Genius dabbles in art. Someone's Mom comes for a visit and we go to the RenFest, where Someone meets the Kissing Wench. The septic tank has a fit right before we have to leave for Baton Rouge.

June - We putter along, then go to Ohio for Solstice at Wisteria. It is Someone's first big gathering, and he takes to it like a Swan to water, drumming all night, frolicking in the woods, and attending one of my concerts for the first time; the Evil Genius runs wild and loves every minute of it. The garden is greening. We confirm what we've suspected - I'm knocked up!

July - Independence Day frolics occur. Knocked-Uppedness becomes more real. I enter a contest (which I do not win, dang). It's hot. Someone and I get busy in the kitchen - cooking dinner!

August - It's still hot. We celebrate Lammas. I sew...a lot. I give you a glimpse of life with cats. Dragon Con exhausts me.

September - My friend Snake dies. I ruminate about Jesus. We learn we're having a girl! I work the race and introduce Someone to my racing family and another part of my world.

October - We score free movie passes and have an actual, adult-type date! I explore polyamoury and what it means to us. The beiges kick my ass. We celebrate Samhain.

November - I vote, despite misgivings about the candidates and the futility of the entire process. Pregnancy is so glamorous I could cry. We clean the garage. Thanksgiving leaves us stuffed.

December - The Evil Genius discovers sudden-onset gravity. My friend Lo dies. The beiges chew me up and spit me out and I try to lighten up a little. I bake many cookies, then swap them. I finish the baby quilt. Someone has been here a year! We celebrate Yule. I enjoy more of the wonders of knocked-uppedness. We get the crib assembled - there's no bloodshed and very little adult language. The new year approaches and we wonder where the time went.

I wonder what next year will bring...
Have a safe, happy New Year's Eve, y'all...and I hope your new year is splendid.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It Ain't Exactly MTV Fodder

We got the crib put together last night.

You know a relationship can survive if you can assemble furniture together. We did fine...didn't even grump at each other. No "No, no, you're suppose to put the cam-bolt whatsie in the flanged doodle in a COUNTER clockwise manner!" and no "Wait wait, we were suppose to unscrew the fiddlebinger AFTER we locked the springbinger, not BEFORE!!".

It helps that Someone has a nifty screwdriver set that will pretty much handle any size, shape, or temperament of bolt, screw, or other furniture/assembly torture device imaginable. Gotta love a man who knows how to use his tools. Ahem.

Rook tested the finished product and declared herself satisfied with the results. She was less pleased when she was rather sternly reminded that this was Sprout's bed, not hers. I see a wet pile of kitty hork in my foot's future...

So, here's the crib:

Yes, the walls are plain - I figure once the kid gets her hands on a box of crayons, she'll take care of the decor, so why spend money on it now??

Four weeks to go...eeep...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


It's quiet around here without the Evil Genius. We're about halfway through his eleven day stay with his dad. I miss him, but I know he's having a blast. I'll see him Friday, and then bring him home Monday. Meanwhile, we're having some decompression days at Casa de Crazy.
We went in search of bolts for the crib yesterday - while Someone's sister was good enough to let us have one of her old ones, she and her husband sort of forgot to send along the bolts. Whoopsie. They found four and shipped 'em, and we went in search of four more that would match. Started at Lowe's. Never. Again. Ace is definitely the place. At Lowe's, there we NO cashiers, three people working (for "working" read "sitting on their arses ignoring customers) at customer service, and no one offered to help us (not that we needed much - two grown adults can certainly peruse the bevvy of bolts without a native guide, but a little assistance is narrowing down the bewildering selection would have saved some time and irritation). At Ace, we were greeted when we walked in the door, and an associate stopped what he was doing to escort us to the bolts, sized our two samples for us, then searched the drawers until he found the closest matches. The whole time, he was friendly and sincere, a most affable fellow. The bolts at Ace were far and away less expensive, too.

Hey, Lowe's? Customer service should be your foundation. Think about it.
A friend sent us a baby gift, bless his heart - shout out to Rob, who's coming to visit in April. Thank, sweetie!!
I wrote about my friend Lo passing away after Thanksgiving. His dear wife, J, recently sent us a package, something to remember him by. He collected bears - she sent us two soft, cuddly, stuffed bears for the kids and a figurine of a Mama/Papa with two cubs as well. One bear now resides in Sprout's room, one sits on the couch with me until the Evil Genius gets home and can find a special place for it, and the figurine is on the altar. J sent bears all over the country...what a wonderful way to remember a friend, and to feel that he's still part of our lives, watching over us.

Dear Lo, ever the Guardian...
Also counted among the more...ahem...festive experiences yesterday...standing in the returns line at the Evil Empire. Who thought it was a good idea, on the week after a holiday, to have ONE person at customer service? Hey, Evil Empire? You should go ask Lowe's how customers feel about that. I'd tell you to ask their customers, but we're over at Ace.
I'm itching to take down the outdoor lights and our sweet little tree...but am waiting until the Little Dude gets home so he can help - when I told him I might do it while he was gone, he seemed a little sad.
I need to check on my extravagant purchase of a few nights ago - I bought two lottery tickets. Yep, Spend McSpenderson, that's me. If you here shrieks of delight echoing through the aether, you'll know I've won. Don't hold your breath. Seems every time I buy a ticket, someone else wins. I think all those winners owe me...
I'm starting up the query letter process again. Hold me.
What's up in your world?

Monday, December 27, 2010

It Hardly Seems Fair

It started around the sixteenth week - a little flutter that could easily pass for butterflies in the stomach, a case of nerves.

Unless one had experienced it before, and knew better.

Movement. Life. A small collection of cells slowly but steadily growing into something that less and less resembles a gummi bear or alien and more and more looks like a human being. Waving tiny arm and leg nubs, uncontrolled, reflexive motions that were barely perceptible but with huge impact.

The first time you feel the baby move within...it's surreal. Indescribable. Suddenly, you are aware of that living thing in a way you were not before.

While I can honestly say that hearing the heartbeat is the concrete moment...the instant it is driven home that there's a baby...the first motion is special in its own way.

From that point on, about sixteen weeks in, I have been aware of her in there. Long before she was showing herself by stretching my midsection out and up, I was aware. Her friendly little wriggles and flutters would come at odd moments, giving me pause. These little reminders of her presence were for me alone - no one else could possibly have felt them, yet.

Now, with less than five weeks to go, she's much more pronounced. Mum could see her moving from across the room! It has only been a few weeks since Someone could put his hand on my distended abdomen and feel his daughter rolling, stretching, kicking, or boxing in there. His smile was magic...sweet, full of wonder and delight. Now he likes to rest his hand or head there, talk to her, feel her elbow me (and, by extension, him).

Her motion is more purposeful, now - she pushes back when she's pushed upon, stretches out her arms and legs, rolls to one side or another, all in preparation for the day when she is no longer cushioned safely (if somewhat claustrophobically) within her mother but is out here in the light and air.

Sometimes she moves so emphatically, I wonder if she's taken up Irish dance! She is especially fond of the wee hours, rearranging her furniture at two or three in the morning. Her head is resting near my bladder, and from time to time she'll head-butt me, make me jump a little. Zing!

Although I often feel stretched beyond popping of late, I love to feel her rolling around in there. When the specialist was worried about size, about growth and maybe having a very early baby if things didn't improve...it was reassuring to feel the Sprout dancing about. Like she was telling me "I'm fine, Mama, don't you worry 'bout me!"

There are many aspects of pregnancy that are less than delightful...more than a few I dodged in both pregnancies, like morning sickness, high blood pressure, food aversions or cravings, constipation, anemia...there's the heartburn that wakes me nightly, side effect of having my insides rearranged and squashed mercilessly by the current interior decorator; there's the difficulty sleeping - between butt cramps (yes, butt cramps), hands going numb at odd times, and the feeling that I need a hoist or sky hook or huge spatula to turn over, sleep is not easy or terribly restful; there's the feeling that someone has seriously turned up the gravity around me, making any movement difficult and a few motions downright uncomfortable (I can sit on the floor, but getting up again ain't pretty, and stairs are NOT my friend at the moment); there are a variety of odd little aches and pains that can't be stretched or rested away and that twinge throughout the day as a reminder that I have added the weight of bearing a child to my frame.

The glow, the joy, doesn't last forever, and I am well into the stage when it has faded into extreme awareness of every cell in my body and what it's doing. I have never been much of one for looking into mirrors - I don't like what I see, why look? - and right now it's all the more difficult. All the weight I lost before I became pregnant has returned...and while more than one person has asked if I've lost weight, I feel...ponderous. I can't have lost weight, unless I'm having a forty-pound baby...which would be impressive but, erm...no thanks.

Still...I get to feel her. I can get her to move by pushing in certain places or playing certain music. I swear, she wriggles in response to certain foods, as well! While Someone can see her growing, can feel her on my surface...it's not the same. I often feel quite sorry that the other person who helped make this life only gets to experience a small part of her first months, the ones spent in the womb. That is mine, and mine alone...and it hardly seems fair.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hey, A Gal Can Dream

Happy Cristmahannukwanzika, y'all!

A little meandering of the mind for today...

I recently wondered on Facebook if Santa would pay my power bill, seeing as how he never did give me that pony I wanted as a child. I'm not holding my breath.

Also in the not-holding-breath category? Lottery wins.

Still...I will while away a minute or three mentally spending the lottery winnings.

Here's my latest lottery wish list:

Buy Mum's neighbor's land. It's around seven acres, has a house and barn, water, power, and is adjacent to Mum's place. Bonus because it'd be helping out the owner (who would like to unload the property) AND give us more acreage for farming.

Build dream home at Mum's, complete with geo-thermal, solar power, wind generators, rainwater and greywater collection systems, and a few other details we daydream about when we're all together and wistfully looking at the future we'd like to have. Use Mum's cabin as guest space and the house on the other property as a work/commercial space for baking, canning, storage, or whatever else we get up to.

Build greenhouses. At least two. Who wouldn't want fresh strawberries in February?? Also, while the local deer have found ways to thwart most other deer-deterrents, they haven't figured out how to pass through walls yet.

Tools and equipment for running a small farm/large garden.

Trust fund for future generations (not that I'd ever tell 'em about it - that shit ruins a kid...I speak from experience, here)(not that I have a trust fund...but...eh, never mind, long story for another time).

Keep enough fundage to be certain we can pay bills, taxes, and various expenses for life.

Whatever's left after that? I'd give it away. Yep, I would. Once I know me and mine are set, what else do I need? Why hang on to money just for its own sake? I know, some folks think wealth for the sake of wealth is much to be desired...but I figure it's pointless, and doesn't do much for one's character or well being...and can sometimes lead to trouble. So...as long as we have enough and a bit extra for just-in-case, I see no reason to hang on to dead weight.

Don't' get me wrong - I define "enough and a bit more" as having a healthy lot to blow on vacations and playthings...just not to the extent you see some folks go. I neither want nor need a gem encrusted monopoly game, nor golden toothpicks and dinner wear. I like my Astro van just fine, and I prefer denim to fancier stuffs.

So - how could I give it away?


Last night, Someone and I were chatting about that and hit upon a few ideas.

Of course, there's always extended family...and we'd want to make sure that at least the children had some small security for their futures.

Then there are friends...and helping 'em keep their homes, cars, or businesses sure sounds fine to me.

Around here, there are folks who have babies but can't afford a car seat or other necessities - the local hospitals try to help, and so could we. I can see anonymously paying a utility bill or three, too.

We could start a soup kitchen.

There are scholarships. I would want to set one up that didn't take race or gender into account, but rather simply merit and need.

We touched on a few other thoughts, but those were the mains.

I know I've asked you this before, but tell me again - what'd you do with a lottery win??

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Let Me Explain...No, Wait, That Will Take Too Long...Let Me Sum Up

To write it out in detail would just take longer than I'm willing to give it, so here's a summary of how this day has felt to me:

I'm sitting on the edge of the couch to type this. Normally I'd be cross-legged, but I'm too big for that right now. My feet slide off.

I'm wearing size ten granny undies because that's all that fits...I was big anyway, and they don't make plus-sized maternity clothes. As with wedding dresses, I guess fat chicks are SOL. Thank the Goddess no one will ever want to marry me again, so I don't have to endure THAT hell.

I had to squeeze into my size ten socks because my feet are poofy and look more like potato dumplings than feet.

The 3XL shirt I'm in is too tight, but I don't have a bigger one to wear right now. I look like an overstuffed blue sausage. It ain't pretty.

The seat belt in the truck wouldn't fasten around me the first three times I tried. I had to sort of stretch myself upward and pull hard, and it hurt like a bitch for the whole ride.

Every time I go up or down the stairs, I sigh or grunt. Ditto for when I sit down on or get up from the floor. Bending over? Is a process. It also ain't pretty.

My belly hits the shower wall when I wash my hair. Yeah, it's a small shower, but geeze.

I hurt all over, inside and out, mentally, physically, and spiritually. No one seems to notice or care.

I feel fat, ugly, misshapen, ungainly, stupid, undesirable and unwanted right now.

My candy thermometer, the one I've had and loved for years, broke tonight. Oh, well...like my fat arse needs candy anyway.

That's pretty much how I'm ending my day.

At least the sunset was beautiful. And the baby keeps on wriggling, stretching, growing, and reminding me that (at least until she wises up and realizes she has a choice in the matter) she will love me as only babies can, if I can just hold out a few more weeks.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Annual re-post
Happy Yule, y'all!

Wait, what? Yule - you know...Yule? The holiday that some people celebrated waaayyy before that poor wee baby was born in a pile of hay? Evergreens ring a bell? Holly? Ivy? Mistletoe??

OK, go get a snack and a nice beverage (eggnog on the right, pink punch in the center, pick a bottle from the high chair to spike it with)(yes, the high chair is our bar - the Evil Genius doesn't need it any more, Sprout won't need it for a while, and it's an heirloom that I want to keep on display - so why not??) and get comfy. All set?

Yule, or Winter Solstice, is a celebration of the returning light.

Yep, it's that simple.

The God is reborn today, and the days will lengthen with his growth, into the fullness of Summer. In some villages, way back in the past, hearth fires would be extinguished (a brave thing when you didn't have Zippos or matches or even two sticks to rub together). They would be relit from brands taken from a community balefire, lit by the sun himself with a little help from some glass (or a hidden coal or two - c'mon, we weren't above a little showmanship, back then), thereby bringing the sun (and, one hoped, his blessings) into the home. It also kept the community united, because everyone shared the same fire, the same light and heat. Cool, huh? Gotta love a religion that encourages playing with fire. Ahem.

The fir tree was (and is) a symbol of life lasting even through death, the promise of life and light renewed, and a reminder that beneath the snow, the Earth-heart beats on. Holly and Ivy were green, too, but they were also symbols of the Green Man, the Forest Lord, Jack o' the Green - the God primeval. The Holly King and the Ivy King, the old and the young, the constant, changing balance. Deep stuff, yo.

Mistletoe is still used in a fairly traditional way, although it wasn't always just kissing done under the stuff. I still use the leaves and occasional berry when I make love bundles for people (Note - a love bundle isn't a love spell, it is meant to strengthen what is already there, not coerce or sublimate the free will of another. I don't DO love spells, so don't even ask.)(I mean it.), and it's a terrific symbol. It was also a fertility and aphrodisiac herb, but only symbolically - even wigged out Druids knew the stuff was toxic!

We light a yule log, in our house one that's cut from the trunk of last year's tree (the rest of which is providing habitat and nutrients in the woods out back). Old tales say if it lights on the first try and burns for twelve hours, we'll have good luck...this year, I'm soaking one end in water, first. What? We need all the good fortune we can get...don't you??

This year we are spending Yule at Mum's, lighting the burn pile, celebrating the returning light with a little spark of our own. We're stoked, too, because there's a lunar eclipse as well - awesome!

Sometimes a group of us will get together and just spend a quiet day nibbling snacks, enjoying each other's company, and taking a break from the holiday insanity out there among the English. If we exchange gifts, we try to make them ourselves, or give things that encourage and nurture our spiritual or creative selves.

But mostly, it's a celebration of the returning sun, the waxing light, the cycle renewed.

Happy Yule - When the days be cold, may your hearth be warm. When the nights be long, may your fire burn bright. When the wind blows, may you find snug shelter. When tree and field are bare, may your larder be full. May you never know Winter's chill a moment longer than you care to, nor hunger nor want, and should you find you have all that you need and a bit more besides, may you find someone who will gladly take what you offer and live better for the receiving. Blessed be.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Holy carp, I almost let it slip on past without saying anything.

Huh...some not-a-wife I am.

Today marks the one year anniversary of Someone's moving into Casa de Crazy!

He arrived at 5 in the morning on December 18, cold, tired, and ready to crawl into a warm nest after a long haul. That was one early morning call I did not mind getting - "Let me in!"

Yes, Sir.

We could celebrate any number of dates - the date we first read each other's blogs, the date we first commented, the date we first e-mailed, the date we first spoke online, the date we first spoke on the phone, the date we (finally) first met...but this? This is the date Swan came Home, and so will always be special to me.

Sir...I have not one regret. I am not, and will never be, sorry you took the chance, packed up all your worldly belongings, and drove a third of the way across the country from Texas to Redneck Central. I count myself blessed beyond measure that you love me, too, and that we can share this journey called "life" together.

I loved you yesterday, I love you today, and I will love you tomorrow.

Happy Swanniversary!


Someone asked me how I was doing, yesterday.

I answered "Up and down - I feel like a yo-yo".

That about sums it up.
It's not that I don't like the holidays - I just don't like what they bring out in people. Impatience, anxiety, anger, resentment, distress...what the heck happened to peace on earth and loving your neighbor and all that crap??
Got the cards done. Finally. Three weeks later than usual. I am movin' slow, right now, dragging in body, mind, and spirit. Put entirely the wrong name on one (sorry, Mister Hermit, sir...it in no way signifies a lack of respect for you on my part, truly). May have put the wrong address on another. Oops. Guess I'll find out...
I don't sleep for shit right now. I wish I could sleep suspended in a vat of water or something...I bet that'd feel nice.
Going to a birthday party today...bunch of little kids hopped up on cake. If that doesn't put a danged smile on my face, then we'll know I really do have a cold, hard stone where my heart;s supposed to be.
What're you doing this weekend?

Friday, December 17, 2010


Don't take it personally...it's not directed at anyone in particular. I'm simply tired in ways that defy my ability to speak of, and certain phrases from this lovely song haunt my mind.

Sometimes I'm blind and I just don't see.

I wish that life, that this life that I'm living, would let me out if it hates me so.

I'm awfully tired of hanging on to something that clearly doesn't want me. Why fight, why scrap it out, why roll in the dirt and dust and struggle when it just gets me another kick in the teeth?

It'll pass. It always does.

And some day I'll get it right, this damned life of mine. Hopefully before I ruin anyone else's any more than I already have. If you're part of the collateral damage...I'm sorry. I'll make it up to you on that far away some day, if you'll let me.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bah! Or Some Junk

Woke to rain and ice, how nice.

I drove into the city for my weekly appointment with the Specialist, and that was fun...but at least people were being slightly more cautious than usual. Half of the parking lot was blocked off because of ice, and there were icicles hanging from car mirrors and roof racks. I was very careful walking into the building - didn't want the ambulance sitting in the port cochere to have a second passenger!

Sprout is doing fine. Little minx, she's turned toward my spine so we can't see her face on the ultrasound, but she was happy to show me her butt.

Came home to a crying Evil Genius. I usually let him know the night before I have an appointment so he'll know I won't be here when he wakes up, and he's fine with that. I forgot to last night. He saw me driving away and though maybe I was leaving him here and not coming back.


We had a cuddle and read a bit, and I once again reassured him that I would never, ever, just go off and leave him. He's still feeling clingy, though.


I would like to go hide under the covers for a bit...but there's no vacation from being Mommy, no Spring break or Summer break, or even coffee break. 24/7 for the rest of my life, and most of the time I'm more than fine with that.

I need to finish addressing holiday cards. Every year, the list shortens. People die, or move, or grow so distant as to make it seem moot. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth it. Does anyone even give a damn? Would they notice if the little cards with the photos of the Evil Genius tucked inside and the hand-written greetings stopped coming?

There are one or two folks whom I believe are happy to receive what may be the one missive I fire off during the year...but the rest? I wonder why bother. Who cares?

I'm having a difficult time mustering good cheer, this year. Depression sucks. Anger sucks. Being broke and broken sucks. It might be more bearable if there was an end in sight, but given I've hauled this load since I was a child, and given that it has never, ever, lightened...I ain't holding my breath.

Nothing's right, right now.

It'll pass. It always does. Sooner rather than later, I hope...because ready or not, whatever my frame of mind may be at the time, come late January a certain Sprout is going to spring into the world...and I'd like her to see me smiling.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sew What if I'm A Quilter?

Yeah, yeah.

Anyway, I finished Sprout's quilt last week, but only just got the photos loaded onto old Bob the Wonder Computer.

The look on Someone's face isn't a reflection of his feelings for the quilt - he is making a social commentary about the scent of seven-year-old-boy feet. Either that or the Evil Genius farted.

The quilt is 100% cotton, a sort of pinwheel/windmill square made from pink and green fabrics, with purple paisley sashing (strips of fabric between the blocks). The backing (which I didn't photograph) is more purple paisley, but it's just a tiny bit different.

See, I got the fabrics for the front a few weeks ago, but the back? I've had that in my stash for almost a decade. I love that fabric. It's busy and gaudy and horrid and not at all my color or style and I love it. So I bought a big piece of it way back when it first made my mouth water but couldn't bring myself to cut it.

It looks essentially the same, until you get in close...then you can see slight differences in shading, but I dig the weirdness of it, and how the backing has a tiny bit more pink and green than the paisley on the front, so it echoes all the colors.

I was feeling lazy, so rather than quilting (which I have to do by hand when I do it, because my machine is cranky and doesn't take kindly to layers), I tied it with pale purple pearlized cotton. I may quilt it one day, but it'll do for now.

In case you can't tell, the pink has a looping line on it that makes hearts, and the green has a sort of leaf-and-vine on it...and the leaves are tiny hearts.

Now if we can get the bolts for the crib (still waitin' on those), I'll be able to make up her bed and get Sprout's room in order.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I spent part of last evening mending some pants for Bird.

He's been asking me to fix them, and I kept meaning to, but other things got int he way. They're his favorite pair, lined camouflage. He calls them his "soldier pants" and would never take them off if I didn't make him.

I was supposed to go up to Mum's with Someone, spend the night, take a gander at the Geminids as they sizzled past...but as the day wore on I got to feeling more tired, out of sorts, and generally unwell, so I opted to stay home. Mum understood, and allowed as how I could just come up today if I felt like it, so I'm going to banzai up there for a bit going to pick up the Evil Genius (he's at his dad's) and taking him to play with friends in the evening.

So anyway, I was mending his pants. They were bought second-hand at the Goodwill. I think I paid all of two bucks for em. I didn't realize they were worn as thin as they were, or I may not have picked them up. They tore in several places on each leg the second time he wore them.


Since I can't replace them (I have no idea who made them or how old they are), they have to be repaired as best as I can. Anyway, replacing them wouldn't be the same...the new ones wouldn't be this pair, would they??

My needle was bent, making it even more fun. Hey, a bent needle will still sew...and I couldn't remember where my new needles were, nor did I want to take the time to search for 'em.

It was no easy thing - since the pants are lined, I couldn't just turn them inside out and get to stitchin', or slap a patch on 'em. I had to mend from the top, which leave a sort of fabric scar...to minimize that, I used tiny stitches. Even so, I had to overlap a few "scars" because there were places the cloth just wouldn't hold. They won't look good as new, but maybe they'll last a little longer...

So I was mending worn fabric that didn't want to hold, with a bent needle while feeling rather poorly.

It got me thinking about the torn places in heart and soul, and how so few people even bother trying to mend things any more - easier to throw them out and get new ones.

But the new ones aren't the same, are they??

Monday, December 13, 2010

One, Two, Tree

It was cold, grey, and even a touch snowy yesterday - perfect weather for tarting up a yule tree.

Someone helped me re-hang the lights, and it went much better than Saturday's sad effort - really, you never know how terribly wrong lights can go, do you??

T was coming to get the Evil Genius, but not until late afternoon/early evening, so we went ahead and hung ornaments as well. All three of us had a lovely time, and although I chose to leave about half the ornaments boxed, the tree is loaded with shiny, funny, nostalgic baubles.

I'll have pics up eventually...as soon as I manage to take some that aren't over-exposed or blurry and dark. Sigh.

How was your Sunday?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Deja Lumiere

Yesterday was a prickly sort of day. It started late and slow and doing anything felt like moving through corn syrup - sticky, resisting, , requiring greater effort for less effect.

Up came the boxes of lights, home decorations, and ornaments.

Slowly around the tree I went with the lights.

Turned 'em on.


No good.

Didn't have time to fix 'em, though - we had a cookie swap to get to.

I would like to know how I brought two batches of cookies, maybe four pound or so, and left with enough cookies to require assistance getting them into the house? Like a forklift...

Oh, well - the mail carrier, bank ladies, and doctor's offices will all have a cookielicious week, for sure.

Meanwhile, today Someone is going to help me de-light the tree and do it again, this time making sure it doesn't look like someone put them on during a seizure.

Someday I really will wad them up, throw them at the tree, and call it a day.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Gift

It's that time again...time for the music, lights, the sparkle, the twinkle...and The Gift. I only listen to this song at this time of year, despite having it marked on YouTube. I love it...

I admit...it's one of my sniff, sniff, weep songs. I love the child's voice, and the story it tells.

M'kay, nuff o' that - it's lights-and-ornaments-on-the-tree time, and then there's a cookie swap to get to!

Do you have a favorite holiday song?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Zipping Right ALong

Not much time for blogging today - Mum's down from North Redneck Central and we're going shopping for a dresser for Sprout's room, and then to find a wee Charlie Brown type tree for Casa de Crazy for the holidays.

Then it's more baking and, if we're successful and manage to bring home our prey...er...dresser, arranging things in it. I'm weird - I like arranging things...

I'm still waiting for the bolts for the crib...Someone's mom is trying to get 'em to us, but worst case scenario we can always go to the local Bolts-R-Us and maybe find a few that'll do.

On the Sprout front, we have an estimated measurement of 4 pounds, 12 ounces at the moment, a good size. If she grows according the the average, she'll be about 8 pounds around our due date. That means I can carry to term and do the whole natural childbirth thing. Here's hoping...

Sorry, that's all I have for ya...

What're you up to today??

Thursday, December 9, 2010

This Must Be the Dark Side

"Come to the Dark Side...we have cookies..."


Guess where Casa de Crazy is, then?

Cookie swap on Saturday means there's a whole lot o' bakin' goin' on!

Yesterday was a grocery run, then a second trip to the store after I discovered I'd forgotten to pick up my medication. I would have waited, but I was entirely out and have to take it in the evening. Sigh.

In between town runs, I made White Trash Cookies. The funny thing is, I'm not actually taking any of those to the swap, but they keep well so it makes sense to do them first. Today is Leftover Cookies, and tomorrow it'll be Snickerdoodles. Both of those go to the swap. Then on Sunday I'm baking...never mind, I ain't sayin'..don't want to spoil the surprise. Sometime before the year's out, I might even remember to post a couple of recipes...

Thirteen days until Yule. Whew.

The baking improves my mood some, which I'm sure is a relief to Someone and the Evil genius - depressed me is just no fun. I'm still stressing about bills and my distinct lack of lottery winnings, but what can I do? Got nothin' worth selling (sent the last of the jewelry with Mum to see if her local auction house thought it would fetch anything) and got no one to borrow from (couldn't pay 'em back, anyway). Oh well.

So...what's your favorite holiday cookie? If you're not into sweets, what's your favorite savory?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Better Left Unspoken

I like to think I'm not the only person on this madly spinning marble who doesn't always give a...complete...answer when speaking to certain people.

You do it, too, right?

"Hi, how are you doing?"
"Oh fine, fine, how're you?"
"Just fine!"

The conversation continues, fluff and nonsense. Maybe they hear the words held back, maybe not. If they notice something's not entirely...on...that details seem to be lacking in certain areas, they don't mention. Easier to listen to the spoken words than what's left lingering.

Precious few people want an honest answer to "How are you?"

No, really - next time someone asks, give 'em a really honest answer. Tell 'em you stepped in cold cat hork when you got up this morning, you're wearing underpants you washed in the sink last night because you're out of laundry soap and can't afford more until who knows when, breakfast was something that's been in the fridge since last St. Swiven's Day because you can't buy groceries for two more days and it wasn't really all that moldy, and your favorite houseplant (Pottemer Potts the Pink Petalled Petunia) died last night...

Watch their face.

Bet they weren't expecting that.

I understand that polite exchanges help lubricate social interaction through the day, help to ease friction and pass a moment or two of shared space/time. I'm fine with that.

What's got me bothered right now is...there are people to whom we should be able to speak openly, freely, and honestly, but can't. In my case, because I just don't need the judgement, the censure, the lectures that will spill forth like a snowmelt-swollen river through a fractured dam. I don't need or want to hear about what I'm doing wrong and how easy it is to fix it if only I would do what someone else thinks I should.

I'm well aware that I'm a monumental fuck-up, thank you, I don't really need my face rubbed in it.

Sometimes I have to fight to keep from screaming.

I'm fast approaching the day when the only answer I can give anyone is "fine" when asked how I am because I just don't want to deal with the aftermath of honesty.

In case I should ever ask you, though, how you are - I mean it. Tell me. Let 'er rip. I don't ask questions to which I don't want answers.
To make up for being such a dange Debbie Downer: As things stand now, I will be "allowed" to have Sprout whenever she's ready to come out, even if she's a little late to her birthday party - I don't need to schedule a c-section! Sweet!

Monday, December 6, 2010


A notice to the public regarding a serious medical condition:

Several cases of Nogoods Syndrome have been reported in the United States in the past week. While Nogoods can be contracted at any time, it seems particularly virulent during the Winter holiday season and in times of economic crisis.

Reports of Nogoods are increasing in frequency and are global.

Sufferers of Nogoods report the following symptoms: The Blahs, The Moody Blues (not to be confused with the musical group, which can actually cause the Rampant Feelgoods), feelings of worthlessness and futility, constant repetition of the phrase "What's the point?", the inability to see past immediate obstacles, hopelessness, and general malaise. Nogoods patients have also reported feeling various aches and pains, general world weariness, pessimism, and an increased desire to nap for days on end.

If exposed to Nogoods, please do no be alarmed. Sufferers are generally harmless and not often contagious, although some rare cases have been communicable when secondary infection occurred in those just recovering from Nogoods themselves. Frequent contact with positive influences and supportive community can stave off impending Nogoods but may exacerbate established cases.

There is no known cure for Nogoods. It has been known to linger for months, even years, before mysteriously clearing up. While some people seem to have immunity to Nogoods, anyone can contract it at any time. Hand washing does not seem to help matters.

Sufferers of Nogoods should at all costs avoid malls during the holidays, lest they find their Nogoods escalating into Raging WTFsis.

Recommended treatment: Treatments vary by patient, but some successful methods include baking, loud music, animated movies, arts and crafts projects, cups of tea in the afternoon, substantial lottery wins, hugs, time spent with friends, and reading a good book.

Do not, under any circumstances, tell someone with Nogoods to cheer up, buck up, pull themselves up by the bootstraps, or what you think they are doing wrong with their lives. While well-meaning, such attempts frequently result in Nogoods becoming Spiraling Doom, much more difficult to manage and recover from, also incurable.

We will continue to post updates on current and new outbreaks as they occur. Thank you for your cooperation.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What the Fuck

Last night, I happened to see a plea for prayer from a friend on Facebook. She's someone I consider a friend, although we've not known each other long. Her husband Lo is...was...also a friend in the same vein.

He took ill just after Thanksgiving.

Went to the hospital.

Came home.

Died this morning while I was making pancakes.

Fucking Strep throat.

How does this happen?

He made amazing spaghetti sauce, welcomed us into his camp and his heart with a grin and some good-natured teasing, and made me one of the sweetest, most flattering (if stunning) offers I've had in my life.

When he saw me on FB or AOL, he'd message me and we'd chat.

Last year, when I was just beginning the divorce and newly in love with Someone, I happened to be at an event with Lo. He worked the late night medical shift. Each evening, I would walk up the hill to the one spot where my phone had signal, and I would call Someone for a chat. Lo tease me about lighting my way back with the resulting smile. He teased me about getting my feet back on the ground rather than floating around. He listened to me as I worked through my feelings about my failed marriage and this new man with whom I'd unexpectedly fallen in love. He hugged when it was needed, was fierce when it was needed, and never once left me feeling judged for being myself, for loving, and for trying to balance on a very thin line.

When he met Someone this year, he welcomed him into the community.

He was a fan of the band, knew our stuff better than we do. He shot one of the few pictures/videos in existence of Someone and I together (usually, one of us is working the camera - difficult to get shots of the pair of us, then), dancing to a Marley tune just before I was due to perform at Wisteria this year

How does this happen?

He and his wife invited our family to come for Thanksgiving. I declined because we had people coming here. Good people, they were sweet to offer.

I was already planning the please-don't-make-me-take-this-food-home potluck for Wisteria next year, and Lo and his wife figured in those plans. I was going to try and weasel his spaghetti sauce recipe out of him...or at least score a jar of it to bring home. Not a chance in Hell, I know, but it would have been fun to try.

I wanted him to see Sprout - he was so happy for me when he found out, and he and his wife were among the first people to know.

When she asked for prayers, I sent mine immediately...because there's a dearth of good souls on this planet, a surfeit of hurt...and when, this morning, I saw people leaving condolences...I wanted to tell them they were mistaken, that she'd only said he was ill, that she'd be posting an update soon that he was rallying.

Prayer works for so many assholes in this world...why not for a good man?

I had to check and double check...and wanted to tell her "J, tell these people they misread..."

I can only imagine, then, what she must be feeling...

Maybe I can't.

How does this happen?

Lo, you'll be missed. We did not have enough time in this life. May your soul find its way to the Summerland, where it is met and honored by your gods and ancestors. When you return to the circle, may I know you as friend.

Hail and farewell.

What's In a Name?

I've often said that one should be very careful when it comes to the naming of things. They tend to live up to the name. Cats, dogs, fish, cars, children - they have the innate ability to know what their names mean, and they strive to fulfill them.

I once had a cat named Marco Polo. One day he wandered away and went exploring, never to return. In my defense, I named him after he displayed his tendency to roam.

The human residents of Casa de Crazy had occasion to be at my friend K's house on Friday. She needed a bit of help with some leaf control (I actually asked her if her neighbors were dumping their leaves in her yard when she wasn't looking - there were enough leaves to cover a Volkswagen Bus!)(Not kidding), and Someone was willing to do the work. The Evil Genius and I were along for the ride and to pay a visit - K and I haven't had much chance to sit and gossip, lately.

K has a dog and two cats. One of the cats is rather...shy. The other, the newer of the two, is just about the sweetest kitty ever, anxious for a lap and some lovin'. The dog is...erm...sorry, K...a spaz of the highest order. He's a sweet, loving spaz, but a spaz. When guests come over, he goes into paroxysms of delight, wagging his entire self until the house shakes, then launching into an all-out display of ohmuhgoodnessyou'reclearlyheretoseemeandplayplayplayplay, running around the perimeter of the living room until he's escorted rather firmly outside by one of his resident humans.

His name is Trip.

In K's defense, the dog was named for one of his less endearing traits.

So the Evil Genius was at the top of a small flight of stairs, petting the new kitty when Trip decided it was his turn for some attention. He built up a head of steam and caromed into the back of the kid, head-butting the boy's back. Little Dude executed a perfect double somersault down the steps, landing in a heap at the bottom.

He looked rather confused for a split second, then he began to cry.

I can't blame him.

Luckily, he wasn't too damaged by the fall. He was delighted by the prospect of being allowed to tell people that Trip knocked him "ass over teakettle" - I told him he could even say "ass" instead of "butt" because he'd earned it.

I thought maybe he'd have a nice shiner out of the deal, too, but it looks like all we've got is a rather nasty looking abrasion:

He was happy to let me take a photo and post it on the Internet...proof that little boys are weird (lately, he has shied away from cameras and cried out "Don't post that on the Internet!!" Silly boy...as if...).

One of these days I will test my naming theory and name a pet Lottery Win. I'll let you know how that works out...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

And Then He...And Then He...And Then He...

When I was about six-ish (give or take), I stammered. It would take a try or two to get a sentence out. I can remember Mum telling me to stop, think about what I wanted to say, and then say it.

It wasn't that I couldn't speak properly or clearly...the trouble was that my mind was going so fast, my mouth often couldn't keep up.

I sang a lot.

I remember reading long ago that people who stutter when speaking don't do so when singing. Hmm.

Every now and then (maybe once every two years or so), I still have a slight stutter. Folks don't usually notice, but I'm aware. Sometimes humming helps make it go away, if it's particularly bad.

The Evil Genius has an odd habit of speech - not quite a stutter or stammer, but...almost. Sometimes he'll repeat the first half of a sentence three or four times before finally getting it out...and often, he'll change course halfway through and start a whole new sentence. It's because his mind is whipping along so fast, he can't catch the thoughts in his teeth and articulate them.

I tell him to slow down, to wait, to let the thought finish forming, think about what he wants to say, and then say it.

I think I was a better listener at his age. But he does try.

He's not aware of how exasperating it can be, waiting for him to "spit it out", and he hates when people try to finish a sentence for him, so we're stuck trying to be patient and as often as not failing.

From time to time, without really giving it much thought, he'll sing what he wants to say. I have not taught him this.

I know it'll pass - Big Brother did the same thing when he was a kid, and I've known countless kids in my "career" in childcare who did it...brains zipping along while they struggle to keep up.

I think part of the solution comes when they finally realize that they can be silent...that not every thought is worthy of vocalization, that they can condense it all down into concise communication...which means we lose some of their storytelling, some of the verve and joy in what they say, but we gain clarity, precision, and coherence.

I wonder if it's a fair trade...

Friday, December 3, 2010


There's a Simpson's episode - please don't ask which one - wherein Bart is being a complete little boy. He's playing, making his own sound effects and music to help fuel his imagination.

Homer is trying to concentrate on something.

He yells at Bart, telling him to be quiet. Bart falls silent, looking hurt...crushed...

Poor Homer.

I know how he felt.

Little boys...little kids...don't have an "off" or a "mute".

They are on 24/7, full tilt. When they're quiet, that's when you worry.

And as much as parent love their kids...whew...sometimes it's difficult not to yell at them to please, for the love of all that's holy, just shut up for a minute; just stop with the incessant noise, the constant barrage of little kidness; I don't need to hear every little thought that flits across your mind, I don't care about the details of whatever game you're playing now, I neither need nor want your presence wherever I am so stop following me around the house and forcing me to be an unwilling audience to your one-man show, and can I have a moment's peace??????

You can't say that to them, though. They don't understand the value of silence or solitude. They don't know about the need for a few minutes to just...think...or stare out into the void...or write uninterrupted. They're kids, and they understand play, and love, and tickling, and the world revolves around them and why wouldn't we want to be/take part in the wonderment that is they?

Children are walking, talking egos.

I love my Evil Genius...even when I'm exasperated. I know I'll miss these days when he's a few years older and won't speak to me for days, surrounded by a fog of sullen teen silence. I know I'll wonder what happen to the hugs, the kisses, the little guy who thought hanging out with/helping Mom was the best thing ever. Knowing, though, doesn't always help...although I've managed, so far, to keep from screaming at him or telling him to just shut up...I must admit my head has throbbed a time or two with the need for that release.

He's just being himself...his wonderful, brilliant, relentless self.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Soup's On

Last night's soup:

Turkey stock, meat picked from the bone, some carrots that didn't make it into the turnips and carrots, what was left of some frozen peas, corn, and Lima beans (not enough in the bags to make one serving, perfect for soup!), and a little okra from the summer garden, poured over a bit of leftover pasta. Served with buttered biscuits, it made for a lovely Winter dinner. Just in time, too - last week we were in the 70's here, now were in the 30's. Of course, the way things yo-yo in Redneck Central (and people used to say New England was bad!), it'll be hot and humid come Yule, when we light the big fire.

Oh, well.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Taking Stock

Whew, it was windy today. No kidding, a pair of skates and a sheet would have gotten me where I needed to go a lot faster than the van. With a little lift, I'd have been airborne walking through the parking lot!

I had a doctor's appointment at eight this morning. Eight! Y'all, I'm usually still asleep (or trying to be) at eight. Aww, don't get mad at me...I often go to bed after two in the morning, so eight isn't as late as it sounds.

They did the NST (Non Stress Test), and we'll be having them every week from now until Sprout pops out. That's when they wrap a funny little belt with a sensor on it around my middle and a fancy machine reads Sprout's movements and how her heart rate changes as she does the Cha-Cha in there. I don't like the time they take, but I am rather find of the comfy chair...I dozed in it, this morning. Some day, I will have a recliner again...and you watch, I'll have a butt groove worn into in no time.

I potzed a little in the kitchen and in the Blue Nowhere when I got home, played some board games with the Evil Genius, got some turkey stock on the stove, took a nap, ran some errands, came home and put the finishing touches on a pot o' soup.

Want a quick tutorial on making stock? Too bad, you're getting one anyway.

My favorite stock:

The remains of a turkey or chicken that you made for dinner a night or three ago.
Three or four celery stalks, washed.
Three or four carrots, scrubbed but not peeled
A slice or two of onion.

Place bird leavin's (if there's meat on the bones, leave it - you can always use it later for soup), celery, carrots, and onion slices in a large pot. Fill with water just until the contents are covered. Add a good shake or five of salt and a few grinds or shakes of pepper - don't worry, you can always add more later.

Place over medium heat just until it begins to boil, then turn it down and let it simmer. how long? Umm...I have no idea. I let mine go until the scent drives me mad and fills the house with its goodness...or about half the day. A few hours, at least.

Let it cool - sometimes, when I'm pressed for time, I put the whole pot in the fridge to deal with another day. If you do that, just bring it to a simmer again, let it cool, and you're good to go.

Pour the contents through a strainer into a large bowl or another pot. Refrigerate the liquid overnight, or at least for a few hours. You want the fat to rise to the top and solidify so you can easily skim it off.

If you want to make soup, pick the meat off the bones and save it, then discard the rest of the solids.

Once you skim the fat off the stock, you can decant it into containers and freeze it for bloody ever. Really, I've had stock for a year or so before using it, and it was fine. Aside from the obvious (soup), you can use stock for cooking rice, lentils, beans, making gravy, mashed potatoes, pasta sauce, and anything else that requires savory liquids in the cooking.

I'll post a soup recipe some other day...this post got long on me! Meanwhile, I think I'll go throw a few biscuits in the oven and enjoy some of the turkey soup I made this evening...good winter food for a chilly night, eh?

Do you have a favorite soup?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Grey day. Yes, spell check, I use an "e" in "grey". It's perfectly acceptable...quit trying to change me, man...

Grey, grey day. Clouds hanging low, exhaling earthward, chill, damp respirations lingering, tangling themselves in trees, leaving dewy fingerprints on shrubs, no place for wild things to hide from the damp, no place for them to get warm.

The sun is up there, somewhere, but down here is only half light, filtered through soft layers of wetness, no hope of a friendly, stray, warming ray.

The birds are crows pecking at worms on the pavement beyond the yard - not even oil-rich black sunflower seed mix can entice the smaller ones out to add a splash of color to the monochromatic day.

My head is full of mucus. You're welcome. So are my lungs. There's a chorus, a cacophony, of coughing here at Casa de Crazy.

Coughing, sniffling, cattargh, pleas skyward to please make this damned thing go away, we'd really like to breathe again, thank you.

There are things to do, but I don't feel like doing them. I should wrap Bird's Yule gifts while he's not here. I don't have much, but it will suffice...and it's much easier to wrap them when he's not just around the corner - I don't have to be stealthy or wait until ohgod-thirty to get the job done. I may even do it...in a little while...

In a little while...

For now, though, I'm a diffusion of greyness myself, trying to brighten, to warm, but feeling rather limp, damp, and out of sorts instead.

How's the weather in the Blue Nowhere?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Getting Into It

I have a love/hate thing with the holidays.

I love some of the music, the lights, baking, time spent with friends and family, wrapping gifts, the looks of surprise and delight that well-chosen gifts can elicit, and the way the season, if only briefly, can bring out the best in people.

I don't love the mad scramble to buy! buy!! buy!!!, the feelings of obligation engendered by relentless consumerism, the relentless music blaring distortedly over PA systems, the ceaseless auditory hammering of commercials touting cheap plastic crap as the next big thing, the marketing aimed at children that encourages them to equate gifts with love, the fact that this holiday's simple origins have been lost in the glitz, glam, lights and inflatable animatronic doo-dads, and that retailers are now readying their stores for the holidays in October.

I love putting up my few lights outside, and eventually getting a tree up indoors. I look forward to doing these things with Someone for the first of (what I hope will be) many times this year. I love filling my home with the scent of baking cookies and breads, then sending those baked goods out into the world for others to (hopefully) enjoy.

I hate being broker than a politician's promise, and so unable to give gifts as lavishly as I otherwise would. I hate how this time of year can bring out the very worst in people - beatings, stabbings, shootings, thefts, and cruelty abound, usually over some stupid sale item that a retailer has unceasingly advertised as available for one day only, while supplies last, creating huge demand...and yet only ordered a few of them, first come, first served.

I love popping in my Trans Siberian Orchestra CDs and singing along with them. Likewise my Bing Crosby CD and my GRP Jazz collection, all holiday music.

I hate the electronic, frenetic, blaring, grating, saccharine, over-played crap that runs over most retailer's loudspeakers.

I could go on, but why?

I used to work setup for a venerable local tradition, a week-long charity event. That was the beginning of the season for me - setting up the Festival of Trees. The event, like many things, was a victim of the economy and went away. I'm told there's a version of it still going on, but when I offered to volunteer or design something for the sale, I was rebuffed. Sigh.

Now it's the cookie swap that gets me started. Usually in the first week of December, it's a fun way to get rolling - bake up a storm and go swap delectables with friends, telling stories about our recipes and why we enjoy them.

During the next week, I'll haul out the outdoor decorations - a few lights, some garland for the banisters - and run extension cords. Who builds a house with no outdoor sockets? I'd like to ask the builder what he was thinking...

The lights need testing. I had to toss some strands last year because they were beyond my limited ability to salvage. Some of the garland had to go, too - the neighbor's cad had peed all over it, and that's a smell that doesn't go away...and is something less than festive.

I'm not feeling festive right now...but know I will get there.

Today will help - I'm off to the co-op to demonstrate my mad card making skillz, yo...and I'm making holiday cards to (hopefully) sell.

What gets you in the mood?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In Which Young Kyddryn Has a Vocabulary Lesson

Inspired by Halushki's post.
Some time ago - never mind how long ago - Big Brother joined the US Army.

He was fresh out of high school and he had plans that involved blowing things up, shooting stuff from a distance, and completely rearranging his ankles in new and interesting ways. He and the Army were a match made in heaven, by gum!

Once he made it through basic training, we got to go and watch him march across a field with a whole bunch of other fellows who looked remarkably alike, the Army equivalent of graduation day. I went with Mum and Spouse (my father's mother), and maybe one or two others. Hey, it was a while ago - never mind how long ago - and I can't remember every little thing, can I?

The pertinent thing is, Spouse was there with us.

As we watched the newly-minted soldiers march past, we also watched their families. There were people of many ethnicities present.

Now...I was raised in the Wilds of New England. The people with whom I lived, breathed, was educated, and made mayhem were rather...homogeneous. We looked, to be frank, like we'd been carved out of cream cheese.

Bigotry (not racism, which is something else entirely, a word so ill-used I can hardly believe it hasn't collapsed in a faint and refused to rise form the Davenport for fear of further abuse) was something to which I was a stranger. There was no bigotry in my life. The words, emotions, and concepts of bigotry were as foreign to me as the nation of Turkey remains to this day.

I didn't care then, nor do I now, what color a person's skin was. The external coloration has nothing to do with the internal makeup, and it's what's within that matters most to me. If I judged everyone by the actions of one, the I would hate everyone equally, having known hurt at the hands of men and women of a number of hues and genetic dispositions. In fact, should I allow the external to be my only guide, I would write humanity off entirely and perhaps seek to live among a throng of butterflies, having suffered nothing more than a vigorous flapping by one enthusiastic lovely, which tickled but was otherwise harmless.

Why does it matter?

Well, back to this graduation thing.

Once the parade and ceremonial fuferaw were done, families mingled and waited to greet and congratulate their graduates. Spouse looked around us with keen interest and observed "Look at all the little Pickaninnies!" I have no idea if I've even spelled that correctly, and spell-check isn't saying.

Mum looked pained...but I must have looked as confused as a dog with a grape...what the heck was a...whatever it was she said??

I had sense enough to bite my tongue until Mum and I were alone...but it wasn't easy. Since I was a child, I have loved words and have never been afraid to ask what a new one means and how I might best use it. Pickaninny sounded like something delightful, festive, like...balloons, or pantaloons, or Calliope, and I wanted to roll it around on my tongue, savor it, feel it fizz and pop before releasing it to the delight of would-be listeners. However, I couldn't use a word I didn't know...I have such a resentment towards people who misuse my beautiful language, I won't be one of them - never let it be said I abuse the language...if I've done something wrong it is most likely from ignorance, and I won't be the least upset to be shown how I've erred and how I may right myself.

So...Pickaninny. What was it? Did it taste good? Could it fly? Was it a hitherto unknown article of clothing? What, what??

Once we were alone, I asked Mum about the word, about its meaning and why she looked so peculiar when Spouse said it.

And she told me...bless her, my Mum, who knew I had as much idea of what bigotry was about as a babe would have as to the mechanics of an internal combustion engine...she explained that the word was...derogatory.

My grandmother didn't use it with hatred or irony, just with the ease of her years and generation, but still...

Except in telling this story a time or two (usually to illustrate a point about how easily one may enact bigotry, how unconscious it can be), I've never used the word. It's there, in my personal lexicon, along with a few other unpleasant and unspoken epithets, but it languishes.

What prompted this jaunt down memory lane? Another blogger wrote about her recent experience with an older customer who expressed, much as my grandmother did, bigoted sentiments with the ease and familiarity of her generation...not with rancor, or hatred, but out of a habit born of her times. It reminded me of that day, and how surprised I was to learn that anyone had ever been judged as less-than because of pigmentation.

I'm still surprised by it, and I have been living in Redneck Central for nearly a quarter of a century, now.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rorschach Test

Yesterday we sent Someone's mom home with a cooler full of Thanksgiving leftovers and a large cardboard box full of fairly pissed off, confused, and probably resentful kitty - she took one of our porch cats home with her.

Rorschach was the only female from this year's crop...in the photo, she's the one with her head resting in the corner of the planter, sort of a grey-tortoise kitty. That photo is the only one I have with her in it, but if you're curious, you can go look at Someone's blog and see more.

We debated which one Someone's mom should take, and Rorschach seemed the best choice - the others, while male, seem to have a tight bond, always walking together, bumping into each other, and flopping down in one large ball-o-cat for naps. It would have been awful to break up their little gang, and Rorschach, while not left out of the love, often hung out on her own in one of the plant pots rather than joining her brothers and cousins on the porch.

We sent her along with lots of love, a warm and cuddly blankie, a bag and some cans of cat food, and a few toys that Bird thought she'd enjoy. Little Dude's heart was breaking - he cried about sending Rorschach away, which didn't make it any easier for me, but I tried to assuage his hurt by explaining that our kitty would be better off with a home, someone to love her, indoors when the weather's bad, lots of food, and no damned neighbor dog constantly allowed to run loose and chase kitties in our yard (don't get me started about that).

I'll miss the little beastie, but I am glad she's got a home. Finding places for the other four my prove more difficult - at least two of them need to be together - they're inseparable now and I can't bear the thought of breaking the bond. I'm OK with keeping them here as long as it takes, and should they still be around if/when we move Northwards to Mum's place, we've already decided that the cats will come with us.

I spent a chunk of the day with this song running through my head, thought I'd share it:

I hope y' all survived Black Friday - I did the only thing that made sense to me and stayed home!

One less set of pawprints on our porch in the morning...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Because I'm Still Recovering From Turkey Overload

I'm posting a couple of videos for you to ignore...er...enjoy...

I've always like this song, and I got kick out of the illustrations in this version. It's in two parts, but hopefully you'll find it worthwhile. It makes me grin, anyway.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I have a few traditions on this day. Not many - the menu I posted last week, recording the Macy's parade so I can watch it and fast-forward through all the crappy pop music, commercials, and talking heads to see the twenty minutes of balloons, floats and high school bands I'm interested in hidden among all that junk, and my list of some things for which I am thankful, in no particular order and in no way complete:

The house in which I live
The Evil Genius
Gypsy, K, Kit, Sam-I-Am, PJ, Mizz Beth, and all of my friends who put up with me when I am most myself and therefor least likable. They are the net beneath me when I fly and fall
The scent of leaf loam and woodsmoke in the crisp autumn air
Books, music, and art
Clean, plentiful water
Clean air
Clean clothes
Nature and the way she finds to show me something new of herself every day
Adversity, that joy is all the sweeter
Every creature and plant that I consume to sustain myself, because without the life I take, there would be no life to live
Love - that it exists at all is a wonder, and I feel blessed to know it in many forms
Chocolate, gift from the Gods (yes, even the perversion called "candy bar") (Mmm...candy bar...)
Strong hands
Strong spirit
Strong will
Cussed determination not to curl up and die just because life can sometimes be a succession of truly awful, bleak, and desolate days...but sometimes it isn't
The Internet

I hope you have a blessed day, and that you the things you're thankful for outweighing the things for which you're not.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all, from us at Casa de Crazy to you out in the Blue Nowhere and beyond.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Whirling Dervish

Yesterday - bake and frost pumpkin cupcakes, clean dining room, consider laundry, sweeping, and ironing the tablecloth for Thursday but reject those ideas as time consuming and requiring effort. Go pick up Evil Genius, take him and cupcakes to friend's house, let boys play for a while, head home loaded down with hand-me-down goodness from friend's. Consider making turnips and carrots, reject as requiring me to get off the couch.

Today so far - doctor's appointment (specialist says baby is now square in average range of size, fluid still on the low side of average but still a happy number, Sprout will be permitted to come out when she's ready...unless he stays in there long enough to order furniture, and then we're evicting her), quick stop at the grocery store for drugs (drugs're good, m'kay??) and cat food, plus a sudden mandatory eggnog grab (thanks a lot, C, for planting that idea...dang it, I wanted eggnog all freakin' night long!!). Considered popping in to the liquor store but decided to come home and see if such a supply run was needed. Fed Evil Genius breakfast (uh-oh, he saw the Frosted Flakes). Emptied dishwasher, filled it with things I'll need to make dirty again so I can bake the keylime pie later. Peeled and began cooking turnips and carrots.

Still to come today - run one more errand, come home, mash turnips and carrots, chop onion and celery for tomorrow's dressing, keylime pie, pre-steam green beans so tomorrow they just need sauteing in garlic and butter, and fix dinner (pork steaks, rice, pan gravy, and fried okra). Considering sweeping and mopping the floors, but maybe I can convince Mum and Someone's mom to admire the textured ceiling and its newly cobweb-free state...maybe they won't notice the floors, especially if I tell 'me to keep their shoes on. Given the rate of cat hork around here it shouldn't take much convincing. Someone's Mum will also be arriving today, and I need to go down to the guest room and remove the cat food and water dishes and blanket from Rook's convalescence and make sure the bed is decent...and then...then I think I'll take a nap until next week. The turkey will cook itself, right??

What're you up to today?
If you're traveling, I hope it's an easy journey with no delays, TSA hassles, or rude motorists, and that you reach your destination safely and with a modicum of good cheer.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What's Going On

Not much of excitement here - still pregnant, still haven't won the lottery, still haven't suddenly discovered that I am really Bill Gates's secret love child (wouldn't Mum be surprised??).

The Evil Genius is hanging with his dad until tomorrow...Casa de Crazy is unnaturally quiet when he's not here. Rook is looking for a playmate - she's entirely herself again, and full of beans!

The last few nights haven't been very good for sleeping. No, no, not because of that! Heh. No, because I have this small human inside of me, and she insists on growing at an astonishing rate, which puts strain on my spine and joints and means I can only sleep on one side or another without compromising my circulation. I'm fond of circulating. Also, while I can sleep on my right side, I'm in that delightful stage of knocked-uppedness (that is so a word) when heartburn and reflux pay a call, so I'm really relegated to spending most of my nocturnal hours on my left side.

That wouldn't be such a big deal, but for some reason sleeping on one side makes my butt cramp. yes, I said it makes my butt cramp.

Do you know how unpleasant it is to wake up with a cramped behind??

Between Rook, who now thinks nights are time to play! play!! play!!!, and (yes, yes, I just used all kinds of punctuation without capitalization, and followed it with a comma...stick to the point here, people) buttocks cramping, sleep is something of a precious commodity around here. Oh, well - I am trying to see it as warming up for Sprout's arrival and concurrent demands on our time.

Meanwhile, taking advantage of a relatively quiet day, I did some marketing (spent the last of my grocery money, too, naughty me, but I won't have to go again for a week or so and have everything I need for the upcoming cookie swap to boot, so I can't feel too bad about that)(at least, not until I need milk or something and realize I can't go get any)(dang) and am baking the bread for Thursday's dressing. I like to bake it and cut it up a few days ahead, let it sit out and get nice and stale. I'm baking two batches because we want a lot of dressing and because it would just be mean to make the house smell so lovely but tell Someone hands off the goodies. He really likes that bread!

Speaking of Someone, he's out Winterizing the garden under the supervision of a handful of wild-born-but-not-at-all-wild kitties. They want to know why he's messing with their toilet, I imagine.

Tomorrow I'll be making mashed turnips and carrots for Thursday and baking pumpkin cupcakes, then picking up Bird and bringing the cupcakes to a friend's house for her son's birthday.

Whoopsie - timer's beeping, have to go knead! What're y'all up to??

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How'd That Get In There?

Someone has parked a van in the garage.

Yes, I know, that's just ludicrous - that's not where vans belong. And yet, someone has parked one in there. It looks suspiciously like Rosie the Mule (my beloved Astro van).

The vehicle looms where perfectly useful (if empty) cardboard boxes once proudly squatted. Also displaced by tons of steel, plastic, and an engine that still hums along despite nearly 300,000 miles on it:
- a nifty little wooden bench that lit out for the front porch and staked a claim near the railing where the kitties like to perch
- a tool box and a large cardboard box full of something that should be a chandelier but had an odd assortment of old stuffed animals on top that were not mine, nor Bird's, nor Someone's (I believe they belonged to T at one time, and so have gone home with him...I think he was expecting to be picking up the Evil Genius and ONLY the Evil Genius, but the box and tool box insisted, insulted that they should be asked to share space with a VAN in the GARAGE!!!) but were rather mankier than I wanted to explore under to see what was REALLY in the box
- an assortment of plastic Solo cups that did yeoman's duty as seedling starters for the garden but were past their prime (read: cracked, dirty, and prone to flinging themselves all over the place, especially where a body wanted to step at the moment)
- two large and still needed boards that allow us to get the mower up onto the back of the truck without herniating a body part by trying to lift the dang thing
- an old trash bin that has been re-assigned to recycling duties
- the broken microwave that Someone futzed with on principle, and fixed, although the cover may have been a little...er...compromised in the process
- the broken vacuum that I loved but was beyond my abilities to magic or mend (I tried, truly, but no matter what I did it still smelled like it was moments from bursting into flames whenever I turned it on)
- a bunch of items that belonged in the trailer and finally made their homeward journey

Since the van migrated into the garage, I guess we'll let her Winter there...who knows, we may even start a trend...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Odd Critters

You never know what sorts of things you'll catch...

When you leave the critter carrier out...

And no one's looking...

Don't get used the the view, kid.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Is It Friday Already??

Holy carp, how did this happen? It's Friday!

I don't know where this week went, but it went there without me.

Not much of note going on here at Casa de Crazy -I should have been cleaning house in preparation for the upcoming holiday, but I haven't been. Instead, I've been jaunting about town doing this and that, running errands, and spending Someone's hard-earned dosh on baby clothes.

Yep. Poor man, he made the mistake of giving his pregnant girlfriend a handful of cash and saying it was for the baby. I warned him I would spend it...I mean really...I'm a girl, I'm knocked up, I'm hormonal, and the consignment shops were singing their Siren songs...

Honestly, I was just teasing...I didn't actually mean to spend all of it. That just sort of...happened...but good grief, have you ever been into a children's clothing consignment store? All those sweet, wee, ruffled things with ribbons and bows. I think they play subliminal messages in there.

All I can say is, I lost my head a bit...and K helped. Hey, one should always have a wing-woman on these kinds of excursions.

I showed Someone my finds when I got home, and he seemed pleased with the purchases, so I guess I get to live this time.

Last night at Borders, he scored a Dr. Seuss collection, six stories in one book. Sweet! While Bird has plenty of books he could share or hand down, I really want Sprout to have a few that are all her own. If you were a hand-me-down kid, you'll understand...and oddly, it's the same sentiment that drives my desire not to have her during the holidays - her birthday should be hers, and not lumped in with a bunch of other hustle and bustle. Being a holiday baby sucks.

Today, I have more errands to run, and we are going to clear enough space in the garage to get Rosie the Mule my beloved Astro van) in out of the weather. It's much nicer getting in and out without wrestling the elements, dontcha think?

Most of what needs moving is stuff from our Summer camping/gathering season that just didn't get back into the trailer. Cue the Tetris music - packing bins and whatnot back into the trailer sometimes feels like a puzzle game where we need to make all the pieces fit just so or they'll fall on my head whenever I open the door. Hey, it's happened...many times...ow...

With any luck, I will be able to order Bird's gift from the Holly King, too...I'm hoping to have it shipped to Mum's house so we don't have to haul it up there in secret. Once he's asleep on Yule eve, we'll do any assembling required, so when he gets up it'll be under the tree and ready to play with. It's an extravagance...and I have to admit, while I'll be sad when he finally decides he doesn't believe in the Holly King any more, I'll be kind of glad that I'll finally get some credit for giving him something he's really been wanting.

Funny of the moment: Bird just said he didn't want to be a Capricorn, he wants to be an Aquarium. Hah!

OK...now that I have cured your insomnia...I really need to get a move on the day...whee...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


It's not even noon and I'm ready for a nap!

I had an early morning appointment with the specialist - nothing to worry about, they just didn't have my usual time available this week.

Yesterday I signed papers for voluntary sterilization after the baby's born...a fancy-schmancy way of saying I'm gettin' my knitting knotted. I also chatted with the OB about delivery dates...but he said that would really be the specialist's call.

So today, I asked the perinatologist about delivery dates, telling him my preference that Sprout not make an appearance before January 21. He asked my due date - January 24. When I told him that, he grinned and asked if he could give my phone number to his other patients! It seems many of the women who see him want to have earlier deliveries, not later (carrying to term is uncomfortable, and these days more women are just as happy to have c-section rather than wait it out)...and I have just become one of his favorite women because I would carry longer if I could (I know it's silly, but I always wanted a February baby...)!

I was delighted to learn that, as things stand, we will not have to have an early baby. Woo-hoo!! Fluid is up...still on the low side of normal, but within the normal range, and the baby's size is still average.

She's a wriggly thing - yesterday she actually punched the Doppler wand. She doesn't like being pressed in there. The nurse and I both laughed...we heard the punch on the monitor. I have a wee boxer on my hands.

After the doctor's office, I popped by the grocery store and did the shopping for next week - I prefer getting it done earlier rather than later. I managed to score a nice, small turkey that hasn't been injected with brine (allegedly for flavoring and to keep the meat tender, but really I think it's to add weight)(also, I KNOW how to cook, I don't need some chemist mucking about with my poultry and making it fool-proof, thank you)! We do a small bird here - no need for pounds and pounds of leftovers, as I turn it into soup a day or two after Thanksgiving anyway. I got everything I need to have a busy few cooking days...the pantry's a little crowded, but I ain't complaining.

I'm tired, even though I haven't done much of anything today...staying up late and waking up early will do that to a body..so I'm going to take advantage of a few quiet-ish minutes and go take a snooze before the afternoon gets busy again.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eassy, Peasy, Mac and Cheesey (With Neither Peas nor Mac and Cheese)

Someone got home last evening. There's laundry to do, and unpacking, and then we start getting Casas de Crazy in holiday order (because I would like NOT to have to do a bunch of cleaning after Thanksgiving to be ready for Yule, I'm lumping it all into one hellish delightful week of dust-bunny hunting and eradication and cleaning induced asthma/allergy attacks).

I figured I'd do an easy post today and show you the menu for next Thursday. If you want a full-on recipe and it's not on the recipe page, lemme know* - I may even try to oblige, although there likely won't be any pictures. Unlike Pioneer Woman (who rocks the house, yo), I don't cook for weeks in advance and do lovely photo-recipe blogs about it all. I'm shiftless that way.

So - what's for eats at Casa de Crazy on Thanksgiving day??

Dinner is a fixed menu...I like to keep it simple and easy, a few things I can make in advance and a few things to fix on the day itself. That way, it doesn't get out of hand with elleventy-million tons of leftovers and pants six sizes too small after one meal. I do ask everyone what they'd like best for dessert and will either make or buy it for them. I figure, if I don't give 'em a coice about what's for dinner, the least I can do is bribe oblige 'em with the good stuff after...

Turkey - because, hello? I think there's some kind of law about that, and I wouldn't want the poultry federation coming after my hide for dereliction of turkey duty. I stuff it with sage, thyme, rosemary, garlic, and sometimes onion.

Dressing - a Thanksgiving without dressing is just unAmuricun, dang it! I don't stuff the turkey, though - I can get more into a baking dish, and if the turkey's stuffed it takes longer to cook, can get dry, and the dressing soaks up all that delightful juice that really ought to go into the gravy. The dressing here is simple - I bake bread a few days in advance, tear it to pieces, and let it sit out to get stale, then season it, add onions and celery, pour on some melted butter and turkey stock, and let 'er bake until fluffy with crispy edges.

Mashed Potatoes - because Mum is a pip and let me glom onto her ricer, I can now make satisfactory mashed potatoes without the involvement of a box and directions I don't follow anyway. Some potatoes, a little cream, a pound or three of butter... There are always leftover 'taties, which will make Someone happy, I think.

Gravy - oooh, if there's a better use for pan drippings, I don't know what it is. I use homemade turkey stock (but no giblets - I don't do innards, sorry) and make as much of this as I can because it's fabulous with leftovers...and really, is there such a thing as too much gravy? I think not...

Mashed Turnips and Carrots - this is one of the things that must be on the table for Thanksgiving. I won't do without it...even if I'm the only one who eats 'em! I won't be, though - Mum likes 'em too, and I try to make enough so that she can take some home (along with a few hundred pounds of other leftovers) and still have a fair lot here, too.

Green Beans Sauteed in Butter and Garlic - I don't do green bean casserole. I know, I know, I ain't right on the head...but the stuff has never agreed with me! Something about the texture, I think, although I am fond of those little fried onions on the top... I was delighted to learn that Someone is a green bean fiend, so now I have an excuse to make plenty of these - they're terrific for snacking on later, and less guilt-inducing than some other leftovers.

Bread - I will bake a second batch of bread for the table. Fresh bread, warm from the oven, with butter melting into it...ooooohhhhh...

Cranberry Jelly - can shaped, just like it's found in nature. Someone doesn't like this stuff, so I'll take one for the team and eat his share.

Mrs. Smith's Dutch Apple Crumb Pie - because Mrs. Smith's is a family tradition, and she makes a better pie than I do. I'm not afraid to admit it - my filling is fine but my crusts are tougher than I'd like them to be, and have you ever baked a pie from scratch? Yeah...not so easy. Whoever coined the phrase "easy as pie" was a smart Alec. Also, I like the crumbly stuff, and have never managed to make it even passable from scratch. I have aspirations, though...

Keylime pie - this I will make here, because nothing says "Pilgrims" like keylime pie, right? I will cheat and buy a shortbread crust for it, though. I like shortbread better than graham cracker. Try it sometime.

Vanilla Ice Cream - Breyer's can do the work for me, and you can't have pie without ice cream. No, really...I saw it in the rule book...

Coffee, Tea, and Fixin's - we'll need the caffeine after all those carbs...groooaaaannnn...

So...what're you having?
*Regarding recipes - hey, I figure if you're reading this you're a grown person with traditions of your own and you don't much need me bossing you around the kitchen...but I figured I'd be nice and offer to let you plan my blog posts for me anyway. I'm not pressed if you aren't, but I'm happy to share.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Aw, Dang, You Mean I Have To Cook?

Someone's coming home today! Squeeeee!!!


So next week is Thanksgiving, in case you just woke from a coma or have been living in a cave for the last little while.

I have been making my menu and the accompanying grocery tome list.

My usual "thing" is to set the dinner menu but to ask guests what they'd like for dessert. I will then make or buy that dessert depending on my culinary abilities.

Someone's mom is coming down, and we're tickled to have her visit again. Mum's delighted at the prospect of meeting her...uh...what do you call the mother of your daughter's baby-daddy? Whew...Emily Post needs to get right on that!

I was thinking about Thanksgiving traditions and thought I'd ask you...what food, drink, or activity makes the day for you? What is it that you can't do without on Thanksgiving??

And hey, because I know you're holding your collective breaths, I'm going to post the menu sometime later this week...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rookery and Whatnot

An update on Rook - she's still not one-hundred percent, but I feel a little more optimistic about her well-being. Yesterday, I wondered if maybe part of the not-eating trouble was the food. The vet sent home some special canned food, which Rook didn't seem awfully interested in. I was reduced to mixing it with warm water and using a syringe to feed her.

Yesterday morning, she still wouldn't eat the wet food...so I medicated and fed her and got some water into her as best I could, then decided to try something - I came upstairs and grabbed some dry food.

She went after it like a hyena after a crippled wildebeest.

Well...maybe not so much, but she did eat some.

She also used the litter box, although I had to lift her into it again. Sigh. At least she was peeing.

Slightly heartened, I got the Evil Genius dressed and hauled him off to a photo shoot with the Man Dressed as Santa.

When we got home, I checked on her right away. Poor thing, she'd wet her blankie again, but she'd also eaten!

I got her cleaned up and put her in the litter box...and she pooped! Only a parent or pet owner will understand my joy at those three tiny little nuggets. Anyone else will be shaking their head right about now and wondering how far around the bend I've really gone.

I fed her some more of the wet mixture, and she ate more dry food, then jumped up on the bed and hung out with the Evil Genius for a few minutes - he's HER boy, and I think she's missed hanging out in his room with him. He came down to visit her while I fed her, and she seemed quite pleased.

Later, during another visit (I go down every two hours or so to check on her and keep her company for a bit. I also turn on the TV at night. It's on Animal Planet. Yeah, yeah...), she ate some more...and drank water from her dish! Until that point, all her water came through my efforts with the straw (used as a dropper) or the syringe.

If she eats, drinks, and uses the litter box on her own today, I'll let her back out into the rest of the house, which I think will be to the benefit of all - the other cats know something's not right, I miss her slight weight parading across me at night, and the kid misses her stepping on his head in the morning. Of course, we still don't know what's wrong...and may never know, as the kind of testing that could tell us costs an arm, a leg, and a kidney...but I'm hoping that she will fully recover and won't have a relapse when the medication is finished.

Meanwhile, we're heading off to the jungle...or at least, to Chuck-E-Cheese's to meet some friends for a few hours of slightly contained mayhem. Someone has a long day ahead of him - finish out the Faire then pack out, driving home tomorrow. It seems like he's been gone forever, and I will be very glad to have him home again! Sprout misses him, too - I would swear that she knows he's not here, and when he calls (several times a day), she gets extra wriggly.

What're you up to today?