Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Alex and Bella

Alex first, because right now there's more material. For instance, on tonight's episode of "Lost," regarding the mysterious black horse who appeared in the jungle and appears to be tame:

Me: "Well, there's a great opportunity for a beast of burden, which would come in pretty handy...or, in your mind, probably a meal."

Alex: "Yep. Eat 'im."

Me: "But he's mystical."

Alex: "Mystically delicious."

AND RECENTLY, discussing school days--I actually wrote this gem down so I wouldn't forget it, and then passed out laughing:

Alex: "We had this teacher--he looked like a nose--who would do the Big Fig Newton dance..."

And on school lunches--my high school had multiple choice "lines"--salads, hot plate lunch, candy/snacks, and junky fast-food stuff, which is what most people ate. Alex's had no choices, just a hot lunch and milk, which I think is a much better situation for growing teens. Anyway, a couple of things stuck with me from that convo:

Alex: "On Fridays, there were hot, fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls, and the whole place smelled like sweet, yeasty baking rolls all morning. By the time lunch rolled around, you were a slobberin' idiot."

"But oh, nothing compared to WACKY CAKE day. You were allowed to buy an extra piece, and if you played your cards right and traded and bribed other people, you could get their extra pieces too. You could conceivably get about 6 pieces of Wacky Cake, but you really had to get your hustle on." The concept of "gettin' your hustle on" for something called "Wacky Cake" just destroys me.


And Bella today, upon examining a can of Green Giant peas, particularly Mr. Jolly G.G. himself, declared, "He is a great, great man! He is my Daddy! He is STRONG and GREAT and AWESOME, and his name is Alex!" Sheesh. Not a word about the greenness or the leafy one-shouldered minidress.

The Fascinating Physiology Of The Male Brain

This one's an oldie but a goodie...and I still don't want to have surgery under the urinals.

In Amsterdam, the tile under Schiphol Airport's urinals would pass inspection in an operating room. But nobody notices. What everybody does notice is that each urinal has a fly in it.

Look harder, and the fly turns into the black outline of
a fly, etched into the porcelain. It improves the aim.
If a man sees a fly, he aims at it. Fly-in-urinal research
found that etchings reduce spillage by 80%.
It gives a guy something to think about.

Here Ya Go!


Yup--THIS is the "ribbon" magnet I wanted. Now, everybody click the dove and go order some, and encourage these folks to expand into t-shirts and whatever else they can to help get the message out. Although, actually, the t-shirt thing was an idea that had already occurred to me...I wanted to have this same logo printed on RED shirts that we could all wear on Fridays in response to the "initiative" proposed in the mass e-mail I mentioned in the final paragraph of this post.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

DONE Deal!

OK, everybody get in your Wayback Machine--don't worry, we're not going far. Remember the house we got so excited about a couple of weeks ago? And then the owners accepted another offer instead of ours? Well, our offer was held as a "back-up," and wouldn't you know that the other buyers' financing fell through? I remember telling Alex at the time that maybe it just wasn't meant to be, but that if the other offer fell through, we'd know that it was for us.

SO--our loan is approved, our offer has been accepted, and we will head into 2006 living in over 3 times as much house as we're currently smooshed into! No more sharing ONE bathroom! No more turning sideways to pass by each other! No more storing out-of-season clothes out in the storage buildings! Wheee! (But seriously, if there are any single gals with a horse or two out there looking for just the right place, this is it. It's a beautifully-built, adorable house on 5 acres with an 1100SF barn and 5 more optional acres adjacent. It was perfect for me when I moved here with my horses and dogs...but then I got married, and it got crowded. And then we had a baby, and it got...well...tragically [or comically, depending on your point of view] crowded. Now we have an active three-year-old, and something's gotta give...it was about to be Mommy's sanity.)

Anyway, some features that only someone like me would get silly over:

The driveway is at least 750 feet long, and the whole 5 acres is enclosed in 6-foot high chain-link fence. It's like you're driving into a compound. Hee, hee! The following picture was taken 250 feet from the entrance of the drive, where the fencing starts: You can't even SEE the house, even from here! No casual drop-ins or Jehovah's Witnesses! Gotta love a house down in a holler.

The huge, finished basement already has a kitchenette and doggie door. Perfect for preparing and storing your dogs' raw meals! Extra 'fridge and freezer room! Whee! And room for the poodles' Speedee stand dryer and grooming tables! and the Edemco dog-bathing tub! Triple-wheee! I don't know what Alex plans to do with his half, but I kind of suspect the bowflex might live there.

The aforementioned (and pictured) koi-pond/fountain.

Hardwood floors. siiiiigh

A fireplace in the kitchen--er, "hearth room." I may roast things over a spit! Where does one buy a mid-sized spit nowadays for personal use? I suppose I'd also have to get one of those little terriers to run on that wheel and rotate it...

Annnnd...there is even a rear drive to a back gate, just in case we had to make a quick getaway (this route also solves the death-on-the-highway scenario descibed earlier). Ha-HA!
There's a shedrow barn that has not been used as a barn, so we'll have a bit of converting to do, but not a great deal.
Below is what will become the chicken yard and coop for my Araucanas! Yaayyy! And Buff Orpingtons! Wheeeee! (This space was apparently used previously for whelping puppies, judging from the sign.)
And for Alex, an 850-SF shop. Seriously. Every time I ask him what he's going to DO with an 850-SF shop, he gets this weird glint in his eye and says dreamily, "Oh, I'll think of stuff to do." Yikes. Oh, and those things bolted to the walls? Next to all the windows? Duck decoys, sawed in half. Hmmmm. A decorating challenge.
There's more, but I'll wait until it's "BEFORE/AFTER" time, and let you all play HGTV with me. Painting! Borders! And the arrangement of our entire 3 pieces of furniture in all those rooms! (Notice me studiously IGNORING the spectre of the much-bigger mortgage, the work ahead of us in moving and cleaning this place, selling half of the horses, etc. etc. etc...My fingers are firmly in my ears and I am loudly singing, "LALALALALALALAAAAAAH!!!!")

Monday, November 28, 2005

Keep On The Sunny Side Of Life

Setting: In bed, late at night, about to go to sleep:

Me: "Why do I smell hot dogs?"

Alex: "It's probably a brain tumor."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Google Images MeMe

Tagged via Margalit, here is a Google photo meme attempt. The assignment is to find and post an image from the first Google Image page for each of the following 7 queries:

1.The name of the town where you were born

2.The name of the town where you live now


3.Your name


4.Your grandmother's name (pick one)

5.Your favorite food



6.Your favorite drink



7.Your favorite smell.

I'm not gonna tag anyone, but this was kinda fun. I love random image searches anyway. If you do it, let me know where to look!

Lazy Weekend Movie Reviews

The weekend is lazy, and the reviews are lazy. But we've recently seen a couple that we might have missed, and were worth watching. That's pretty much my review criteria: Waste of Time or Worth Watching...unless it's exceptionally good, in a "The Usual Suspects" or "Godfather II" or "North By Northwest" kind of way, or exceptionally bad, in a "Meet The Fockers" or "Cemetery Man" kind of way.

First up, one I had to beg Alex to watch with me, but I think he was glad he did. "Elephant" is a Gus Van Sant film (written and directed), so it's no surprise I liked it. It's the story of a school shooting, told in a very spartan manner from several viewpoints, in a purely observational style. It's one of those films that makes you think, but I really liked looking at it as well. Things are often awash in a white or warm yellow light, which lends a beauty and optimish that is in direct conflict with the plot. There are no actors you'd recognize, except for Timothy Bottoms in a very small role. Some of the kids, especially this one, should get more work in the future, I'd hope. A simple little film like this illustrates what makes Gus Van Sant and Larry McMurtry such a compatible pair. There's no moral, no real "ending," no whys and wherefores, no closure. That ticks a lot of people off, but I've always been fond of the "voyeuristic" films, where no one is telling me what conclusions to draw.

And here was a surprise-- "Equilibrium," starring Christian Bale and Taye Diggs. I don't know how this one missed attention during its original run, but I'd kind of suspect it was due to some similarities with "The Matrix." It was kind of like "The Matrix," if "The Matrix" had been good, you know? Borrowing heavily from 1984, Brave New World, and Farenheit 451, among other "bleak future" tales with which we're all familiar, "Equilibrium" sets itself up on a pretty shaky premise: a future in which the population is forced to drug themselves in order to do away with all emotion...for a more orderly society and all that, don't you know. Of course, books, art, etc. are all illegal and "sense crime" is punishable by death.

The reason the whole no-emotion bit doesn't work is that people have to be able to feel something to drive them to accomplish even the most mundane menial tasks, even if it's only fear or anxiety of losing a job. And there are several times throughout the film when the "sense police" or whatever they're called are showing definite signs of such emotion as anger, pride, righteous indignation, and the like. But OK, get past all that, throw your suspension of disbelief into high gear, and you're in for a fun ride. No super-special-effects for the fighting, just really good choreography, and a yummy Christian Bale and Taye Diggs to look at, as well as the cool Hugh Ferris-inspired architecture and backgrounds.

If anyone wants to join our Netflix "friends" list to swap movie info and recommendations, drop me a line. It seems we find our best movies through word of mouth.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Family--Our Two Thanksgivings

Uh...First of all: Bella's GREAT-Grandmother, y'all. That's my Grandmom. Hopin' for those genes.

And Mom. Again, the genes. I think I already look older than this.

The BIL, Sis, and Nephew. Eh, I have her genes. Just wish I had her metabolism. Dang. I swear, she was a fat baby.

Never underestimate the power of the recessive genes, either. You've seen me, you've seen my mother, and you've seen my sister and her husband. Now, behold our Nordic children, with the blonde hair and blue eyes.

And the next day, in another part of the state, we ate and frolicked with Alex's family. And voila, another bunch of Viking children. Bella got much attention from her Dallas cousins, who allowed her to boss them around mercilessly. She instructed everyone on how to play Monopoly--here with Cousin Anne and Aunt Alison;

She advised her poor cousin Sam on proper headgear (bless his heart, he willingly wore that Goofy hat for most of the afternoon at Bella's insistence)--pictured clockwise from the left, cousins Will and Sam, Grandmommy Lynette, Anne, Alison and Bella;

And she "helped" Will build a house of cards...repeatedly. These are some lovely, good and patient young people, these cousins. We love them.

On the way home, exhausted and well-fed and happy (Alex's mom pulls off a mean dinner), I thought of JenB as we passed through one of the little towns between there and home, and that maybe this would cheer her up. I also attempted, but was too slow, to capture the "Welcome to Bald Knob" sign on film, but I know she'd have appreciated that as well.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Slightly Starstruck

Well, I certainly would have done a better job on this post if I'd had any expectation that its subject would ever actually be reading it! Let this serve as a cautionary tale for the rest of you! (Check out the most recent comment on the post. Coooooool.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hope, Pain, And Timing


It's that time. It's that time again, and it's getting to be "that time" for good. I spent today wrapped in a fetal position around a heating pad, full of ibuprofen, narcotics, and whatever chocolate I could get my hands on, which was precious little (fortunately my wise and good and survival-minded husband came home with foods from the salty, crunchy, cakey, chocolate, and cola families).

As has been mentioned here before, I have, like mega-stupendous endometriosis. That's not the technical term, but the world-renowned specialist who did what I refer to as my "GOOD" surgery (the one that lasted 6 hours, actually got RID of the tumor and all the rest of the endo down to clean tissue, and oh, incidentally, saved my LIFE), said that while there are only 4 recognized "stages" of endometriosis, 4 being the most severe...mine was a "stage 5."

Anyway, it hurts like a son-of-a-gun. I've had 3 surgeries, had one oofrectomy, done progesterone therapy, taken continuous birth-control-pills, and seen a pain-management specialist who basically had me on "walking Demerol" every day of my life. It became normal, if that makes sense. I just hurt. Every day, but especially during periods and ovulation.

SO...winding finally down to the point of this self-centered rambling is this: My GOOD surgery was in July of 2000, in New Orleans. Dr. Cook told me, at that time, that my case was so severe, that even this intensive operation would probably buy me 5 years of "remission." And...we all know what year it is now.

Alex and I were married at the end of 2000, and I stopped the CBCPs the summer of 2001. (The continuous birth-control-pills help to keep the endo from growing by keeping you from having periods.) I got pregnant in January of 2002 (after being told by every "regular"--by which I mean not Dr. Cook--doctor I'd seen that it couldn't happen, not with my extensive disease and only one ovary), and Isabella was born October 20, 2002. Pregnancy and breastfeeding are also supposed to keep the disease under some control, but then, breastfeeding exclusively is also "supposed" to keep you from cycling--not so with me. I breastfed that child for two and a half years, never using a drop of formula, but 28 days after she was born--bingo--right back into "circulation" I went. I figure I have have super mega-hormones--the evil ones, anyway--and they can overcome anything, and that their ultimate goal is to kill me before I can have a hysterectomy.

So, ladies, if you've lasted this long (I'm assuming the guys dropped out somewhere around the first mention of "periods" or the graphic of the flashing uterus--comment and tell me if I'm wrong, fella[s], and I will respect you as a he-man forever), this is the issue before us now. The pain, by which I mean THE pain: my old, familiar, onetime omnipresent companion, is coming back. It's not anywhere near what it was before the GOOD surgery, when I could count on at least two days a month of lying on the floor screaming and clutching my abdomen (think I'm exaggerating? I'm not), but the cycles are getting shorter (24-25 days, currently), and I'm also having pain--equivalent to what most women probably experience during their periods--during ovulation.

We're pretty sure the Beast is back, or at least steadily on its way. To stop it, or slow it down, at the very least I'd have to go back on CBCPs, and the most radical action to take would be hysterectomy. For me, and all the places my endo was, hysterectomy would most likely not be a flat-out cure, but it would be the most I could do in my own defense against the Beast.

We have been trying for a year now for child #2, and did in fact have a pregnancy of about 2 months when I miscarried last December, and zero luck since then. So the question becomes, how long to keep trying, what measures to take to improve our chances, and when to "give up" and just take care of me, and treasure the little family we have. My sister, who is 5 years younger than me, and has an 8-year-old son, has also had no luck at a second child, and has been through the mill trying, for years now. Bella talks about "a new baby" all the time, and as much as I adore my sister, I'd hate for Bella not to have a chance at that relationship. I just don't know what to think, say, or do, but thanks for letting me go on. And on, and on. I just hate the pain, but if I could somehow know there was a reward waiting, I could take it for awhile longer. The years of suffering before Bella came along just melt away when I look at her.

And if this ridiculously long post were reduced to one sentence, it would be: "I WANT ANOTHER BABY, and then I'll be ready for the spork."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Lunchtime

My child, the Human Air-Fern, on what she'd deign to put into her stomach today:

"Mommy, will you fix me something for to eat?"

"Of course, Baby--what would you like?"

(Hopefully, with the big eyes and the captivating grin) "CHOCOLATE?"

"No, we don't have any chocolate."

"No chocolate?"

"Nope."

(Decisively) "OK. Tartar sauce."

"You want tartar sauce for lunch."

"YES!"

I finally talked her into a roast beef and cheese sandwich, but not without much talk of the lack of tartar sauce.

Fall Cleaning And Fashion

Bella dressed herself today. And she's getting better at it--the days of ensembles consisting of one shoe, a diaper, a ball cap, safety goggles and a purse are getting fewer and farther between. Sadly. Anyway, here was today's outfit:

She's actually very good at coordinating. Note the leopard-print trim on both the jeans and the jacket (which MUST, a la "Rain Man", be zipped up ALL the way, with the hood up, at ALL times), and cute black Mary Janes. There's only one tiny problem with this get-up, and that is that (whispers) she's not wearing a shirt. I guess if you never unzip your jacket, that's not a problem.

Now on to fall cleaning. How much of this you do depends on your level of devotion, and how much time you have on your hands, I suppose. As I was unloading the dishwasher this morning, I noticed something dark-colored in that little bin in the silverware caddy--you know, the one that has a lid on it, so you can wash small parts and lids of sippy cups and the like, which would otherwise get thrown around in the dishwasher during the cycle? Well, I opened the lid, and found this:Me: "Bella, did you put this leaf in the dishwasher?"

Bella: "Yes. It was dirty."

The moments that cause you, as an adult, to go "DUH" in the face of the perfect logic of a 3-year-old are truly priceless. Treasure them.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hair Of The Dog?

I have a friend down in Australia who loves to "collect" websites that offer useless baby products...so here's my first entry in what may well be a series of the most useless products I've ever seen marketed toward dog-owners. "Happy Tail Ale" is basically beef-flavored malted barley-water. There's nothing harmful about it, and for a dog on a typical commercial diet, could even be a beneficial supplement. Here's an idea...give your dog some meat to eat. It's kind of what they were made to consume anyway, but that's a separate rant of mine.

Daddy Is A Grandma Princess

Bella just put her blonde curly hairpiece from Halloween, along with a Cinderella crown, on her daddy's head, and proclaimed, "Now Daddy is a Grandma Princess!" Uhhh...OK. I would have posted a picture, but then I'd be divorced, and that's not what I want.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Puppy Break

Just because. J.T., our current Top Ninja-In-Training, struts his stuff. At five and a half months old, he's almost old enough to show, and I think he knows it. He's doing his best to live up to his registered name, "Impulse Bad Intentions," and we hope he'll live up to his namesake, Jermain Taylor.

Anyway, at this point we are thrilled with this boy, and so glad we picked him for our "keeper" from his litter. He's bold, outspoken, and just arrogant enough. He self-stacks (sets himself up, as in the showring pose, naturally), is put together according to the breed standard, has a great bite, a gorgeous head, two testicles (hey--it's a concern with boy puppies!), a thick, heavy coat and tight little feet...and moves like a dream. He will be going out with a professional handler in January or February, but we may show him a time or two ourselves between now and then. Or not. (For a similar puppy-fix, in a larger package, go see Erin's boy Happy!)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Because "Kinda Creepy" Is Forever


I'm not sure how I missed this, since it has apparently gotten some press lately, but fortunately my ever-vigilant friend Sue picked it up from a discussion on the Chronicle of the Horse forums.

Pretty, eh? Is it a gemstone? Cubic Zirconia? Costume? Nope, it's a diamond. An honest-to-gosh diamond. Like a cultured pearl, it wasn't formed the conventional way, but it's no less "real" than its compressed-under-megatons-of-hot-earth-for-eons counterparts. You probably know that before a diamond is a diamond, it's carbon. So it is with these. What unusual in this case is the source of the carbon: (Charlton Heston voice) "LifeGems are people! They're PEOPLE!" It's not Soylent Green--it's a "LifeGem--because love lives on."

Yup. Dead, cremated (in that order, one would hope) people, to be exact. You send this company 8 ounces of your cremated loved one, and in six to nine months, you will receive it back in the form of a beautiful yellow or blue diamond in the setting of your choice. (A note to the ladies here--discussion of the "8 ounces" requirement with your husband/boyfriend should be avoided. It only results in juvenile, bawdy speculation about where those 8 ounces should come from, and what manner of jewelry could be made from it. Trust me.)

How does it work? Well, first of all, carbon is "captured" from the remains of your loved one. [shudder] "Once captured, this carbon is heated to extremely high temperatures under special conditions. While removing the existing ash, this process converts your loved one’s carbon to graphite... we now place this graphite in one of our unique diamond presses, which replicate the awesome forces deep within the earth - heat and pressure."

After 6 (for yellow diamonds) or 9 (for blue diamonds) months, you have a "rough" diamond, which is then cut, refined, and polished...even if ol' Earl never really much was when he was alive. It was observed among the "discussion group" that was examining this site along with me that most of the testimonials were from women, and it was further postulated among this (all female) group that this was because men would probably just as soon get a new woman as preserve the old one. This soon disintegrated into some morbid scenarios such as a man giving a diamond made of Wife #1 to Wife #2 as an engagement ring...it was all downhill from there.

Oh, and as discussed on the COTH board, you can also "gem-in-ize" your departed pet. "Oh, these earrings? Why, thank you--they're my dead Guinea pigs, Alfred and Hitchcock."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Slightly Scatological Vision Quest


I can't believe I'm even blogging this, but then again... of course I am. This is Alex's story, and it relates to our recent experience in making an offer on a house that seemed to fit us perfectly, and losing it, all in the space of 24 hours. The only real problem at this house was that access to the highway at the end of the lane was, well...risky. Even leaving our showing, we had to peel out, and just barely missed a car coming up the hill on one side. There is just no visibility in either direction, because of the position of the road at the top of a steep hill. So, here is my husband's mystical experience, as it was told to me. You've heard stories of the Native American sweat lodges and peyote-induced vision quests...this is in that vein.

Alex was at work, just back from lunch, I think. He was thinking about the house, and how he regretted that we didn't get it. Then he started thinking about that intersection and how dangerous it was. At this point, nature called, and these philosophical ruminations were relocated to the um...facilities. As he sat and, um, pondered, he said he had a sense of leaving his body. (I've had chance to be in the vicinity of these ponderings, and I've wanted to leave my body, too--at least the part that was attached to my olfactory system.)

And as he floated, non-corporeally, he was able to see the whole property--the house, all its rooms, the outbuildings, then the acreage. He continued, in this disembodied all-seeing way, up the road to the intersection with the highway, where he was horrifyingly confronted with the sight of my vehicle, totalled. It had been t-boned by a car speeding up the hill out of sight. He could see and hear Bella crying in terror in the back, but couldn't tell if I was alive or dead.

It was his moment of clarity, and peace about not getting the house. And now, my friends, for the best, the very best part of the story, and the only direct quote that really stuck with me:

"And then, POOF! I was back on the toilet."