Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Clone Me A Chili-Dog

First, if you haven't heard about it, scientists have successfully engineered meat by culturing tissue cells, in vitro. Really. You can read about it in an article at The Slate, which I first found out about here. The implications are amazing--the possibility of eating meat without killing anything to get it. The idea that beneficial cells could be added in the process, like putting Omega fatty acids into lean meats. Heck, if they can do that, then my dream of hunks of chocolate with the health benefits of cruciferous green vegetables can't be far off, right? RIGHT?

And knowing Alex and me as you do, I'm sure you can imagine the highly intellectual and philosophical debate these articles spurred between us. During the part of the discussion I'll call the "But would you eat it?" segment, I made the very unscientific remark, "Well, lots of kids are born through in vitro technology, and you sure can't tell them apart from any other people." (And yes, I understand that THAT process and the culturing of tissue from tissue cells is not the same thing. No boring biology lectures, you eggheads.)

To which my husband immediately replied (really, it's the instantaneousness of these responses that disturb me), "Yeah, but they don't ever taste the same." You see my mistake there? See, I thought I had already made the joke (comparing artificially-made hamburger to people--HA!), but it turns out, I was, once again, just setting him up for the real punch-line. This is my life.

And to illustrate both why I love Arkansas and how beautiful my nephew is, a couple of pictures, taken on Greers Ferry Lake this past weekend. Seriously--the lake and the boy--they are beautiful, no? I love this boy. He is my Heavenly Consolation Prize for not having a second child of my own, perhaps. And he'll do nicely. He just turned 9. Ahhh...good times. (click to enlarge)


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Is My Husband Still Macho...

...if he is spending the holiday today wrapped up in a blanket with a snuggly puppy, watching the "Romantic Getaway" movies on the "WE" network?

Friday, May 26, 2006

My Mind Is A Snarl Of Tangled Events And Ideas

First--Soap: Done. I have the newly-printed stack of receipts here in front of me and will be emailing everyone individually. If you don't hear from me by tomorrow, email ME, please! List of soaps sent here (link active when list is completed).

Frogs freak me out.
They just do. And we're crawling with 'em out here. There have been times, sitting in our living room trying to enjoy a movie, when the din of the horny frogs has been deafening. When you live out in the country, and there's no other ambient noise, frog-serenading can really get annoying. I have asked Alex to go out and shoot one, on occasion, but he refuses. And what really creeps me out is, no matter how many of them you can hear, you can almost never manage to see one. Until now. Alex caught a couple of bullfrogs in the koi pond last night (so much for my comforting theory that my pond full of tadpoles will grow up to be cute, small, green tree-frogs), and got these pictures.
I seriously, seriously, do not want to look at bullfrogs. I think it's childhood trauma from a time when some anonymous person put an ENORMOUS, ugly, hideous bullfrog in our mailbox. Dad wasn't home when we discovered him, and none of us (me, my mom, my sister) wanted to touch the thing--it wasn't the frogness of him, but the big, fat, squooshy SIZE of him. Finally my mother, genius that she is, went and got a giant spatula and extricated the frog from the mailbox like it was some giant, mutant amphibian pancake. The experience left scars.

Next--I am sick to death of "Lost." I know we'll wind up watching the next season, because Alex is still a fan. I know that there are groups of people who are SO into this show that it borders on cult status. And yes, I see the draw, the fun of speculating, trying to figure things out. But seriously--this would have been best, in my opinion, as a mini-series. Something that moved along faster and provided satisfaction for its viewers, doled out a bit at a time until an ultimate conclusion that answered at least most of the questions. Am I the only person in America who feels this way?

Also under the category of television-induced nausea: We TiVo'd the finale of "American Idol" just so we could skip to the end and see who won. The "real" winner had already been eliminated, so we didn't much care, but of the two that were left, yes, Taylor Hicks was the obvious choice. That said, I am SO sick of this guy since the end of the competition, I could throw up. He is foisted upon us on television, in magazines, on the internet, everywhere we look, and here are three of his frequent utterances which I can only interpret to mean that Taylor Hicks needs me to punch him in the face: "Soul Patrol." STOP THIS NOW. Referring to himself as "Tay-Tay." Holeeee Schmoley. And finally, talking about taking a song and "Taylorizing" it. Seriously, America? You blew this one, big-time. Now this insufferable egomaniac will be in our faces for months to come. Or maybe he'll just face quietly and politely away, like Carrie Underwood (who?).

Continuing in the television category, there is a commercial currently airing for Six Flags' 45th Anniversary Celebration. In the commercial, there is a short scene toward the end, in which children rush forward to greet superhero figures--Batman being most prominently positioned on the screen. I had seen this commercial two or three times, and something kept bothering me about the "send the little children unto me" superhero sequence. It flashes by in an instant, but still--something in my subconscious mind registered a something disturbing happening. So I used my trusty TiVo to do a frame-by-frame analysis. Here is what I found--you be the judge. Creepy?Unfortunately, the final shot, as you can see, is obscured, so documented proof of any superhero pedophelia is not to be had...unless that little girl in the foreground could be reached for questioning.

One last thing, while we're talking television. In the promo for the FOX show, "So You Think You Can Dance?" they show a horrific image of a guy totally blowing a flip and SMASHING his face into the floor. This produces, in me, a gasp, grimace, and covering of my eyes, while I say, "OOOOOohhhhhhhh!!!" When I open my eyes, I look at my husband, who is SMILING! When I point this out, he just laughs and says, "Hey, he had it comin'."

We are truly from different planets, this man and I.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Since My Babbling Breakdown...

I've pulled it together a bit. Not a lot, but some. I'm taking steps--action--and that always helps a little, gives at least the illusion that you are affecting your destiny, whether you really are or not. First off, thank you all for the kind comments and support in my stupid pity-party. I love and appreciate you all, more than you could know (and is it sexist to say that I'm especially touched by those men who put aside their "macho card" to leave sweet, caring comments for me?), and anyone who thinks that internet relationships and friendships are not "real" are very much missing out.

I've been in contact with The Amazing Lifesaving Miracle Doctor, and have a telephone consult coming up. This because, when I was talking (sobbing pathetically) to my mother, she asked me, "Where is Dr. Cook practicing now?" (He had left New Orleans shortly after my miracle surgery.) I wasn't sure, except that it was in California. So I looked it up, and he's at the Vital Care Institute of Health, which is in (drumroll) San Jose. The location of the BlogHer conference. Where we're already going, and where we're arriving a day and half early already. Hello, God? Listening. Thank you. I have started the process to consult with him again, and will see how far I can go on this route. The first surgery I had with him cost about $80,000, (I'm still alive, so it was worth every penny, thank you) and that is just out of the question this time...but surely, SURELY, I can't be in as bad a shape now as I was then. And those were multiple surgeries. My husband (then fiance) encouraged and pushed me to pursue the treatment that first time, my parents made it happen financially, it saved my life, and we fought the HMO to get them to actually cover a lot of it, after they'd denied it all originally.

So. I will keep you posted. The dream come true would be if, somehow--some miracle "how"--I could have Dr. Cook perform the microscopic ablation of all the present endometriosis and the hysterectomy (the idea of which I am still having HUGE struggles with), so that I could have the peace of mind that the lurking killer inside me is really gone--that I am no longer a ticking timebomb of pain and fear. Pray for me all you want, internets. I love you guys.

NOW: On to the good news of the day, the blessed distraction from all the angst--today, a little Ninja is in the air, on his way to a wonderful new home all the way across the continent to Fairbanks, Alaska with Erin and Ian and new "big brother" Bobby, where he will be their second poodle and their first showdog! Honestly, this dog may be the best we've ever produced, and while it's killing Alex to have let him go, I think it's really the right thing to do, and that he's got everything it takes to give Erin and Ian a booming start in the showring, and that they will do us, as breeders, proud by him. It feels like a match made in heaven.

So, this morning, loaded up on Motrin, I packed up Bella and Ryder (Impulse Midnight Glory, name pending), and headed to the Delta cargo terminal. It was a twitchy trip, with me watching the thermometer on the rearview mirror flicking back and forth between 84 and 85 degrees--at 9:30 AM. If the temperature is above 85 degrees at dropoff, they cannot take the dog, because it will be too hot on the tarmac, even though the dogs are the last things to be loaded onto the plane.

We got there, and Bella immediately asked me, "Are we going to see Jacy?" How do kids remember these things? Upon going in, we found out that his flight to Atlanta, the first connection on his trip, had been delayed due to mechanical trouble, so there was no way he could go on that flight. My heart sank, because it's only getting hotter and hotter here each day, and I knew Erin and Ian were so looking forward to getting their new baby today. But then, the lovely counterperson asked me what my final destination was, and I told her Anchorage, and after about two minutes of clickety-clacking on her computer, she had our boy re-routed on a flight that was leaving right then through Cincinatti, where he would have a 4-hour layover in their climate-controlled "pet lounge", and then catch a direct flight to Anchorage. It did have him arriving 4 hours later than originally planned, but Erin was unphased, and Ryder has a rock-solid temperament, so I know he'll take it in stride. Once we knew he was really going, Bella got in some last-minute hugs.She was sad, but I had been talking to her for weeks about Ryder being "Erin's puppy," so she actually handled it pretty well. Especially when I gave her a Bad Mommy Sugar-Filled Orange Soda from the vending machine.

I was really proud of our boy. Other dogs were making all kinds of racket, stressing and fussing, while Ryder calmly sat with Bella on the waiting-area bench, looking highly dignified. Then we settled him into his roomy crate, bedded on towels, over a pillow, on top of tons of shredded paper. Having to go pee in the crate is pretty much an inevitability with so young a puppy on so long a trip, so we at least want him to be dry and comfy. Once in the crate, he just chilled out, watching the goings-on and licking the supply of ice cubes in his Winnie-The-Pooh cup.When I set him, in his crate, up on the scale, during the time it took me to sign the shipping paperwork, he was racked out on his side, sound asleep. Real bundle of nerves, that one. He is the ideal show and performance dog.

As Kim noted in her comments on Erin's site, we are well on our way to world domination by the Ninja Poodles...they are here, in Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Maryland, Canada, and now Alaska. We almost have North America covered. Bwahahahaaaaa! We do have two remaining puppies who will be available to pet homes, and that will be our focus next. It's the "little things" that can make the difference between a show/breeding prospect and a stunning companion/performance dog. The black girl has an off bite that would preclude her from being shown, and the silver boy has a soft coat that I think would present a major challenge to any but the most experienced exhibitor...which is a shame, because he's a well-made dog. But both will be fabulous furkids for some lucky people, and that is the main thing.

Oh, and in between the pathetic pity-fest and the Flight of the Ninja, this happened:That is the back of my daughter's head, and many of the dog people viewing this will recognize the object firmly entwined in all that hair. That is a metal finetoothed greyhound comb. In the years B.S.P. (Before Show Poodles), if presented with this predicament, I'd have gone straight for the scissors. But years of detangling show coats with the goal of not losing a single hair allowed me to extricate the comb in just under an hour, without having to cut any of her hair. According to Bella, she will "never, never, never" do this again. Here's hoping!

*UPDATE: Got a happy phonecall at 2:44 AM (11:44 PM in Alaska) from Erin, who gushed and giggled and said the magic words: "He's here, he's doing great, and I love him!" Precisely what I needed to hear. They were going back to the hotel to get some rest, so it will probably be much later today before we hear an update from pupsickle headquarters.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

stupid worthless

Stupid disease, stupid treacherous body, stupid doctors in a stupid medical establishment that doesn't even understand stupid disease, stupid hopelessness and stupid, stupid, worthless crying. Stupid faking like it doesn't hurt or nothing's wrong.

Stupid dismal treatment options. Stupid last resort that puts an end to my hopes of ever having another baby not even being a sure thing.

Stupid nobody to blame.

Stupid pointless whining, and stupid, stupid, stupid crying.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

You Know There Might Be Challenges Ahead...

...when your three-year old tells you her puzzle is too easy, so she's using the pieces to "build a room."
She was working on that project while I was right beside her, busy with this project.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Taaahhrd, I Am

We did have a big, big day today. Worked 8 hours non-stop at the old house, and learned, primarily, that moving is best done when you are young and childless. We are neither, and now we hurt and ache and need to enter a state of hypersleep to recover. Fortunately Mom was able to come by about halfway through and get Bella and whisk her away for an afternoon of fun and frolicking with cousin Grayson, who was celebrating his 9th birthday. Happy Birthday, Grayson! (*sniff*)

We got through both the "moving" moving, involving the professional movers, from yesterday, and the followup moving, wherein we went back today and cleared out what was left (all right, so there is still a closet that's stuffed to the gills, but we're not talking about that), and cleaned up, and discarded a lot of junk. So after two truckloads and a trailer-load of boxes, and more stuffed contractor garbage bags than I could count, the house is, for the most part, empty. And with the assistance of a lovely, hardworking, and very skilled professional house-cleansing woman, it is clean and smelling lightly of lemons. We managed most of this without coming to blows (although I think it was me who threatened, at one point, to stab my husband with a fork if he didn't "get out of my way," but to my credit, I didn't follow through) or filing for divorce.

Oh, and the giant dumpster...let me just say I wish I'd thought of this WAY sooner. Giant Dumpster is a Good Thing. It will be filled up alarmingly quickly, though, especially with new countertops and a bathtub going in before the house is listed, and the barn being cleared out. But OH, how good it feels to throw, say, a ratty piece of old broken furniture into the Giant Dumpster! The satisfying CLANG!
I knew we were done for today when, after I had collapsed, face-down, on my freshly-scrubbed lemony floor, I called out, weakly, for Alex. He answered, equally weakly, from somewhere behind me. I was able to barely turn my head and cut my eyes enough to view his feet, toes pointed up, indicating that he had fallen out, flat on his back, on the same lemony floor. After a few minutes, I said, "Come on, we gotta get finished up and get out of here." He answered, "OK. Just help me up." Long pause. "I can't. You help ME up." I'm not sure how long the standoff lasted, but somehow, at some point, we did both manage to regain our feet and move slooooowly about to finish up our day of hard manual labor.

We still have a TON of work to do over there, and of course, now tons more to do over HERE. Except for a few of pieces of furniture that we hadn't already moved ourselves, like my favorite odd little chair (with which my house becomes more of a home),and most of the books (yes, there are more, and this after I purged a good half of the ones I had),everything that was brought over from the other house was boxed up and put directly into the shop building. Our plan is to systematically sort through our belongings out there before bringing them into the house, and whatever we deem non-essential to be sold or donated. Then again, out of sight, out of mind...NO! We will be disciplined about this! This photo was taken by me from just outside the back door, right before I disappeared into the bedroom for the duration of the movers' visit.
We rewarded ourselves last night with a casual dinner out at Bella's favorite restaurant, the Dixie Cafe, which is where she'd been begging to go for three days, and where she ate practically nothing.And just so you know, this is the guy who sat in the booth behind Alex, facing me. I'm not sure, but he appeared to be repeatedly giving me the stink-eye, and I have no idea why.So if you are this guy, and I have offended you in some way, please allow me to apologize.

Also, Internets: Do you know what this plant is?It has sprung up suddenly and in force around the koi pond, and I don't know whether to weed it out or encourage it. Any help from the green thumbs?

Friday, May 19, 2006

FREE BlogHer Tickets!

Courtesy of MINTI. If you'd like to attend the conference this year but can't quite swing the ticket price, hop on over here to find out how to register to win a free ticket. Deadline is May 25, so hurry! Many thanks to Clay and minti.com for such generosity.

psssst! it's happening again!

Yeah. Locked in the bedroom with the child and the dogs, because there are strange people in my house, again. Only this time I'm doing it drug-free, so it's a toss-up as to whether J.T. the poodle or myself is the more upset. I'm thinking me. He's barking and pacing more, though, so I dunno. Anyway, just wanted to check in with a status report. The movers are bringing in the big heavy stuff now, and since I can't bear the stomping about of strangers, no matter how nice, all over my house, I'm hiding like a headcase...which I am. When they're done, we'll go back to the other place and see if the dumpster has been delivered, and start cleaning...in preparation for the cleaning lady who's coming tomorrow, and to whom I will be apologizing profusely every 15 minutes or so. Because I hired her to clean, and empty houses are her specialty, but I just feel bad that it's my mess, you know? Yeah. Sure you do.

More later. Agent Fruitcake, Out.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Because I Am Organizationally Inept, And A Bad Wife

I seem to still have several soap packages that have NOT gone out. All they have in common is that, with one exception, they are the "small" or "A" packages, which I put together last. I'm not sure what's up with that. After Leslie and Judy let me know they hadn't gotten theirs, I checked it out, and sure enough--them and many others like them.

So, hold tight, all you "A" package people--I'll get your goodies out and throw in enough extras to make it worth your wait. I'm sorry. Really sorry. (sad, pitiful face-making) And if anyone out there is an "order fulfullment" genius, with tips to offer me on this aspect of home-business at which I so mightily suck, NOW IS THE TIME to chime in! I love making the stuff, I love the whole process...and then I get a pile of orders in and something goes "kablooey" in my head. I lose orders, I forget orders, I carry packages around with me, forgetting to MAIL them...it goes on and on. I'm like a one-woman self-sabotage crew.

And speaking of my organizational challenges, this is actual, real, MOVING week. As in, movers coming on Friday morning bright and early. I'm spending every day over at the old house packin' 'er up. I do this until my back aches, I'm cramping, and I'm dog-tired and bored (there's no T.V., radio, or even a chair over there, for the love of Pete's sake), and then my husband comes over to join me, and lets me know just how pitiful a job I've done, and points out all that I've NOT accomplished! Wheee! Not directly, you understand, but passive-aggressively, because that's more FUN! We then work together for 3 hours or so, and come home pissed off at each other. I get a book, or the computer, and ignore him while he stomps around looking for dragons to slay or something, all while noticing how miserably I'm failing our family over HERE, too. See how great marriage is, what a partnership? Please, God, let this be over AS SOON AS POSSIBLE (the house stress, not the marriage). Everyone pray for a quick listing and sale of that house, before one of us here kills the other, um, accidentally. Or, more realistically, does or says something really hurtful to the other. Because the vibe I'm getting right now, just under the surface, is of the "What did you DO all day?" variety, and that is a soul-killer.

There's also the confusing jumble of emotions I have, all bound up in that little house. It was mine, all mine, the first thing that ever was, and I lived there for several years, just me and my dogs and horses. Some of the best memories of my life were made while I lived there. And also, some of the worst experiences of my life occured while that was my address. It was also where Alex and I lived when we got married, because it just made the most sense. He was in an apartment, and I had this little place that I owned, with acreage, and the animals I couldn't just pack up and leave with. I always knew that my little house wasn't good enough for him--not big enough, fancy enough, whatever. And even though it wasn't his intention, that hurt, you know? Because it was mine. It was what I brought to our marriage. I was proud that I had my own house, my own vehicle, my beautiful horses, and I KNOW that's part of what attracted him to me--the fact that I didn't "need" a man in any conventional sense, but loved him and wanted to be with him. And I was proud of that little house. And I loved it, all 1,050 square feet of it, and the barn too. I mowed, I put up and mended fence, I mucked stalls (and hired help when I could), I fed, I worked, I played with my dogs...and I was happy. Dang it, I laid 4 tons of grade 4 fill sand, shovelful by shovelful, alternately soaking it and rolling it flat, in that barn aisle and the stalls BY MYSELF, and it took forever, but it was beautiful work, and I showed it off to anyone who got within 4 miles of the place. And that fence? The one that went up in the stallion pasture? Me and my small friend Kerri, the one Dad called "Herculite" because she's such a tough little booger...WE did that. Just us girls. And oh, SO much memory of my dad lives there, because he was my "go-to" guy for everything. Giving it up is giving up a place where his memory lives, where I inherited a series of John Deere lawn tractors as he upgraded, and mowed faithfully three times a week, with the blades on a "high" setting, during the summer, because that was just what you DO in Lawncare According to Zane. And this new house? Well, Dad never even saw it. I never got to ask his opinion, I'll never be able to show him all the work we've done, and how we will make it "ours" over the next few years. He won't be coming to dinner now that I can finally seat more than two people at the same table. I'll be hanging on to that last John Deere legacy like grim death, and come the day when it stops running, I may make sculpture out of it.

I know there were things Alex liked about that house. He must have. He had the most beautiful vegetable garden that first year. Before I had my horrible surgery, he spent hours and hours tilling and planting an amazing flower garden all around two sides of the house, just so that I'd "have pretty things to look out the windows at" during my long recovery. He revelled in yardwork, even including baby Bella in it from time to time.He had a stocked pond to fish in, anytime he wanted, and that always made him peaceful-like. It was the house we brought Bella home to when she was born,and yes, that's what finally made it too small, but still, I was happy. What made the house "not enough" for me, finally, was that it was, for so long, not enough for him.

And so, we have this nice new house, which Alex moved heaven and earth to make ours. You've seen plenty of pictures, you know it's pretty, and that I've really enjoyed painting and decorating it, even having done a lot of it with hand-me-down furniture, since everything we owned wouldn't have half-filled this space. Do I like this house? I do. I really do. Did I give up some things I'd rather still have? Yes. Primarily, pasture. A bit of flat, sunny, land where the grass will grow. I will have to give up half of my horses in order to support them here, where there is no grazing. And yes, I had too many horses anyway, so that's not like a mortal wound. I also really loved the location of where we were before. More than I think I've even ever told Alex. We now live just on the other side of the highway that marks the county line, which puts me in a "foreign land." It's not like we're in Mexico or something, but dang it, all my frequently-called numbers are long-distance now! And our chance of getting called for jury duty went up precipitously with the county change. The rooms are laid out oddly, the kitchen is tiny, and we'll be painting for the next several months. The room that I really like, is, it turns out, not insulated. Yaaay. The bathrooms are plain and cramped. These are things (the bathroom and kitchen) that only bother me because the house, overall, is so darned big and expensive (for us, anyway). For this much house, you should have a gourmet kitchen and a luxurious master bath, is my feeling! Plus the appliances here are crappy, and we're leaving behind some pretty sweet kitchen appliances. *sigh*

So now, I am aware of my hot/cold feelings about this "new" house, and trying to be aware of how those feelings might affect my husband, especially since I know how his feelings about "my" house affected me. This house, for a number of reasons both vague and specific, feels more "his" than "ours" right now. And I know that he wants me to love it, because he loves me. And, well, I'm getting there. He's made the outside absolutely beautiful, and he does that for me more than for any other reason. He's pitching in and helping more inside than he did before, but at the same time I feel like I will never be able to keep up, in this bigger space, with his bigger expectations of me as far as housekeeping goes. If I could make it my full-time job, maybe...but I can't. But maybe that can be one of the things we work out in therapy. Oh, yeah, we're back in therapy! Whee! Because I don't cry ENOUGH on my own without that scheduled 50-minute sobfest each week. Yes, each week right now. Ugh. But that's what you do when you're married. You work it. And sometimes it's fun, and sometimes it's painful, and sometimes it's an amusement-park ride, and sometimes it's HARD. And sometimes you need help, and if you're smart and committed and want to STAY married, you GET help. So yeah, we're getting some help with this whole "perfect storm" of issues that comes about from bringing both of our individual issues together in one place, a place where there are external stressors GALORE. Sounds fun, no? Yeah. But healthy things hardly ever are, or brussels sprouts and jogging would be as popular as chocolate truffles and playing video games. Right?

Oh, but the fun part of packing? For real? Is Bella helping me pack and clean. She is seriously, actual, useful HELP. Go figure! Especially with the forty-leven books being packed. We had a real assembly-line partnership going. She'd pull them from the shelf, blow the dust off, and hand them to me, while examining the cover and proclaiming what the book was about, based on that. Sometimes she got a fairly accurate one in, like on Howells' A Modern Instance being about "houses and people." True enough, that if overly simple. But the more creative guesses were more fun--like the conclusion that The Damnation of Theron Ware is about "birthday cake," and the perfectly logical assumption that John Irving's A Prayer For Owen Meany is "a book about baby armadillos."

So now it's evening, and Alex and I are doing that familiar occasional dance of married people...I'm not sure what it's called, but the steps are carefully choreographed, and the pairing is that of two people who are extremely sunburned and trying hard not to be touched. Right now we're not even on the same floor of the house, so it's not too tough. I think, from the sounds, that he's trying to hook up Bella's InteracTV for her, which is sweet. We didn't find all the components to it until we started moving.

Oh, and just how much crap do we have to throw out at the old place? Well, we're RENTING A DUMPSTER. Seriously. I feel like I'm on "Flip This House" (which has become my favorite show since I've had a house to sell--I want to put in granite countertops and hardwood floors and flagstone landscaping and list it for $420,000), except, um...I'm not. We will be replacing kitchen countertops and a bathtub, and refinishing kitchen cabinets, but aside from slapping a fresh coat of paint on the whole thing and hanging lots of pretty, pretty plants all around, that's about it. If anyone has any magic house-selling juju to share, NOW IS THE TIME to do that, as well as the above-mentioned things I'm begging for help on.

I'll turn out all right one day, I swear. You know, when I'm all mature and together and organized, and perform brilliantly enough at my "outside" job as to be irreplacable to my boss and co-workers, mother my daughter with never a self-doubt, keep a spotless house and beautiful garden, have a perfect attendance and participation record at church and in the choir, keep my dogs and horses in top-notch condition and imaccuately groomed, plan, shop for, and cook healthy and delicious meals that are just going to the table precisely as my husband gets home, manage a sideline cottage business so that it pleases its customers, brings in much-needed extra income, and does not inconvenience my family in the least, and, oh, yeah, am the "always there" daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, etc...That should all kick in anytime, right? Right?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Announcing...


SpyMajorWin (3)
Originally uploaded by ninjapoodles.
Our very first homebred CHAMPION! Meaning that this is the first of our "babies" to finish his championship.

Pictured here, you have "Spy," who is now officially known as Champion Impulse Shhhh I'm In Disguise. Spy is owned by Joy T. in Alabama, and was shown exclusively by professional handler, Miyuki Ueno, who finished him in high style as a puppy. Spy is the litter-brother of our own J.T., who hasn't even been shown yet! We'd better get on the ball!

Spy is a son of our Hope (CH Renaissance Hopeful Impulse) and Melissa D.'s Mason (CH Myriad Moonstruck NA OAJ). Melissa has the third puppy from that litter, a girl named Danica (Impulse Hot Wheels), who also is still waiting to be shown. Now we are inspired to get our own youngsters out and show them!

Click the photo to see the entire picture. (Louis Sosa Photo)

Oh, and a word of relationship advice, guys, if I may, or "How NOT To Earn Husband Points."

We had lunch yesterday with Alex's mom--remember how I was just recently talking about how great a mother-in-law she is? Well, she surprised me today by giving ME a Mother's Day gift: a lovely ivory negligee', just beautiful.

On the way back from lunch, I jokingly said to Alex, "Gosh, this is so pretty...I'll have to shave my legs tonight and wear it." (He had been commenting on my, um, failure to keep up with this chore for the last week or so.) His reply?

"You gonna contract it out, or try to do it yourself?"

Ha. Ha, ha. Watch your back, Sweetheart.

Her Idea Of Heaven

The bridal shop. I thought Bella would lose her mind when we got there. The gasping! The shrieking! The hand-clapping! And that was all before we even got in the door, just looking in the windows.

My precious young cousin Zack is getting married next month (*sniff*) to a beautiful, sweet, smart, and delightful young lady, Angela. Bella is to be their flower-girl, and she will be dressed to "match" the bride. SHE IS STOKED ABOUT THIS, to put it mildly.

We walked into the bridal shop yesterday to try a couple of dresses on her, and she ran, breathless, right up to the first employee she saw, and declared,

"HI! I'M ISABELLA AND I WANT A WEDDING DRESS!" I think she was sincerely in danger of passing out from excitement a couple of times. Each wedding dress she saw on display was described in hushed, reverent tones: "Sooooo preeeeeetty...." I especially liked what tumbled out when she saw the bustier-top gown on a dress form in the center of the store.

"Oh, that one has boob tops. See? For you to put your boobs in! I need one with little boob tops."

And when she saw herself IN the dresses? Oh, my. I don't think she'd ever laid eyes on anything quite so captivating. "I AM a princess!" She looked like a tiny little Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly, I swear. She turned all around in front of the mirrors, never taking her eyes off the wonderment that was this most amazing dress of all time. It was during one of these turns, while gazing back at her reflection over her shoulder, that she asked, "Can I wear this home to my house now?"

"Oh, no, honey--remember what we talked about? We're just trying on today. Your dress is being ordered, and isn't here yet. We aren't leaving here WITH a dress today."

"Oh." (still gazing at reflection) "Then can I stay here?"

Go figure. ME, raising a diva. Who'd 'a thunk it?

I caught a couple of hasty pictures with the cell phone, and sent them to her daddy, who I think had heart palpitations at the images. Alex has those pictures up at his site.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

'M' Is For The Many Things...

Listen, I've been a wreck for the last week. Stressed, anxious, overly sensitive, and highly sentimental. And I've dwelt quite a bit on mothering, as my child has been sick, has been disobedient, has been loving, and has been affectionate...sometimes all at once. And I've had occasions aplenty to play the child role myself, and to think about it all.

Bella and I had a very bad few moments of downright defiance today, and at one point (when I couldn't get her DRESSED so I could go to work--seriously, she was running around the house naked telling me that I was "making her head hurt") I called my mom's cell phone, interrupting her busy work-day, and said, among other things, "HELP ME." Sometimes I feel so clueless, and especially so when I reflect on the fact that although I was my mother's first child, and she was SIXTEEN YEARS younger when she had me than I was when I had Bella, AND that she was far away from her own mother for the first time in her life...that, despite all that, she somehow always, always knew just the perfect way to parent me. And I was NOT an easy child. I wasn't bratty or spoiled or defiant, but I was...complicated.

So today in my ineptitude, when my naked hellion was running roughshod over me (this after I'd even forcibly dressed her, only to have her strip again), and I had exhausted everything in my arsenal to impose my will on her to no avail, I did what any mature, educated woman of the 21st century should: I called my mommy. She listened to me whine on about my predicament (probably thinking, "I can't believe my daughter is this clueless," although she'll deny that) for a bit, then said, "Well, if it were me, I'd just tell her that if she wanted to be naked, she'd have to stay in her room, but if she wanted to be out with the rest of the family, she'd have to get dressed."

Me: "Bella, if you won't get dressed, you need to go to your room and stay there. If you want to be in here with me, you have to put your clothes on."

Bella: "OH. Okay." (Gets dressed)

Holy. Cow. I am a not-seeing-the-forest-for-the-trees idiot of a parent. I got a few more tips this afternoon, but I'm not sharing any more because I think I look stupid enough in your eyes already. Suffice it to say that my mom has parenting instincts that are pretty darned impressive, even when the child in question isn't hers. I'm thinking that raising me was the equivalent of Mommy Boot Camp, and that having lived through that, she can parent anything.

I'd say I'd like to BE my mother, because she is so amazingly competent at every single thing she puts her hand to (except for drawing; She can't draw a straight line, but I think that was just God's way of making her HUMAN), but honestly? Thinking of myself shouldering the responsibilities of my mother makes me...well, tired. It's a tough act to follow, a difficult legacy to try and live up to, but on the other hand, I kind of hope that people who know her give me the benefit of the doubt, using that apple-not-falling-far-from-the-tree logic...however inaccurate that assumption might be in my case. I once sat silent in a group of women who were bemoaning all the ways in which they were "turning into" their mothers. When someone finally noticed my silence and asked me if I was experiencing the same thing, I think I threw some of their brains into vapor-lock when I just answered, "I wish."

Heck, as recently as yesterday, she had Alex and I in her office, SCHOOLING us on some practical matters that we're dealing with right now, and while some of it stung a little at the time (doesn't it always, when they're RIGHT?), by the time we went to bed last night, we were both energized, hopeful, and re-committed to our new "plan" Because the thing is, and I know I've mentioned this here before, my mom is nearly always right. You can take her advice to the bank, and I heartily appreciate the fact that she continues to "parent" me. My dad did the same thing. I could not be more grateful.

And hey, wanna know what's really cool? I have an amazing mother-in-LAW, as well. Seriously, how many people can say that? (Well, besides Alex, I mean.) She and my mom have a lot in common. They are both strong, beautiful, spiritual women who have worked hard their entire lives, both inside and outside the home--at least the equivalent of two full-time jobs each. They each raised two children, doing their best to mold those children into strong, capable independent thinkers who would contribute to the world. (Jury's still out on Alex and me, but those women went above and beyond toward that end.) They are gentle, compassionate, smart people who can do anything. A-NY-THING. They both had strong marriages, each to one man who was the love of her life, and who left this earth far too soon. They both seem to have the energy of women half their ages, and expend much of that energy on behalf of others.

Alex's mom, Lynette, has lived and worked (teaching high-school English) in the same small town for most of her life. She is universally beloved there, which is no mystery at all, once you know her. I liked her right away upon meeting her--it was the smile that lit up her eyes, her whole countenance. She didn't fake-smile and give an outer "Glad to meet you" while inwardly thinking, "We'll see about you, Honey." I liked her from jump street because she made it clear that she liked me. All she really needed to know about me was that I was making her son happy, and that showed. She has been a source of support, inspiration, and comfort for both Alex and me, and my only regret concerning her is that she doesn't live closer to us. Isabella adores her, and it warms my heart to watch Lynette read to or play games with my little girl, and I wish we could all be together every day. We have additional kinship in the fact that my age in relation to Bella's corresponds to Lynette's in relation to Alex's.

I have saved, for 4 years now, a card that came with some beautiful roses I received on my very first Mother's Day as a mom in my own right; It was a rough time, when we were still very much on the newly-diagnosed-bipolar-disorder roller coaster with Alex, before he got a GOOD doctor and the right medications, and Bella and I were alone, Alex in treatment. The card said, "I am so glad that you are my granddaughter's mother. I love you." I think I will keep it forever. I can't even express what it means to me to have those words to keep in my heart. When I say she has loved me like I was her own daughter, I am not speaking in cliche'.

And when I say that Alex and I have been not just blessed, but saved, repeatedly, by the powerful and unstoppable love of our mothers, I do not exaggerate. They have helped us in every way possible in our many struggles, supported us in times of hard decision-making, and guided us with their deep wisdom and compassion. We are at a vantage point now from which we can see a place where things will be better, and more stable, than they have ever been for us, and I can honestly say that I don't believe we'd be at that point were it not for our parents. One of our deepest desires in life is to make them proud, and because of who they are, and what they've given us over these last almost-forty years, we may finally be in a position to do just that, if we only exhibit half the determination, honesty, dedication, and love that they taught us.

So yeah...I may be waxing sentimental on Mom, Mom, motherhood, and all things maternal for the rest of the week. I'm just really feeling it, is all. I just love and appreciate Mom so much, and hope, through some miracle of sudden maturity and spontaneous wisdom, to become her. Ditto Mom-In-Law.

Make it so, Lord.

(UPDATE: Psssst! Alex actually posted something last night! Could this be the start of something big? Only time will tell!)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Um, No, But Thanks For Your Input, Honey

Filed under "That's what I get for asking," this delightful response from Highly Cultured Husband:

Me: "Hey, you know what song they're playing on XM Kids lately, that I find kind of inappropriate?"

Alex: (with no hesitation whatsoever) "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang?"

Ummm...No. No, so far there hasn't been any Ted Nugent on XM Kids. But seriously, good guess.


Also, I'm wondering how long it's going to take for some enterprising individual to have t-shirts or other merchandise done up with GWB, as Napoleon Dynamite, saying, "I caught you a delicious bass, America." It's an idea whose time has come. Take it and run--it's my gift to you. But hurry; someone already beat me to this one, after all.

Oh, and can I get a hallelujah? (smirkety-smirk-smirk)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Holy Cow, Where've I BEEN?

Tending to this. Poor thing has been running a fever and feeling mopish since Friday. So I'm starting to think maybe I didn't poison us all, after all. I'm hoping the fever breaks tonight. Other than that, she's been eating and drinking well, and seems chipper enough, so I haven't panicked. It's just been hard trying to keep her quiet, and every time she'd run around, her fever would spike. It's unsettling, because this is a kid who is just never, ever sick, it seems.

Mom kept her Friday night so we could put in an early day Saturday at the old house, and was the first to take her temp...Little Bit had told us earlier that her head hurt, but didn't repeat it, and was happy and looking forward to going to Grandmommy's, so we didn't put 2 and 2 together. I think it was my sister who first said, "Hey, she's kinda hot." And bingo, she was.

She's been sleeping between us, and wakes up every few hours saying she needs a drink of water, at which point she sucks down one of the 16-oz. bottles of water I'm keeping beside the bed, and I give her another dose of Tylenol. The upside is that we get to hear, "I love you," approximately 72 times per night. She knows gratitude for good care, does this one. The force is strong with her.

As is her sense of humor, and her knack for a good comeback. On Friday night, when Aunt Andrea and Cousin Grayson stopped by Grandmommy's to visit, Grayson looked at the toys Bella had selected out of Grandmommy's toy closet, many of which are, of course, leftovers from his own toddler and preschool days. He noticed his old toy fire engine, and said, "Hey! There's my old fire truck!" Bella, of course, is in the prime of her life for possessiveness, and immediately yelled, "NO, IT'S NOT! IT'S MINE!" Grayson, ever the pragmatist, of course just looked bemusedly at her through his wise 8-year-old eyes (probably arching one eyebrow and smirking, if I know him), and said, "Well, actually, Bella, no, it's not. It's mine." You can imagine the response, and in giving logic one more go, Grayson appealed, "Bella, that fire truck was mine when I was FOUR."

The response from our 30-pound heroine? "Well, YOU'RE NOT FOUR NOW."

Gotta get out of here and put the computer away before she wakes. Update soon, and that list of soap descriptions I've promised so you'll all know what you have. There are still some packages that are going out on Tuesday, so if you don't have yours, it may be one of those. Some are Priority and some are regular mail, depending on what was the best shipping option for me. I appreciate everyone's patience. I am not the best at the prompt handling.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Roast That Killed

I just came out of a 24-hour nightmare of...well, let's just say "gut trouble which covered all the stomach/intestinal bases." I can only blame my lovingly prepared dinner from last night. It was promising--enough so that I even snapped a picture of it before putting it in the oven (OK, I snap pictures of EVERYTHING, so that in itself is no real indicator).But somewhere between there and dinnertime, SOMETHING WENT HORRIBLY WRONG. Alex got a symptom--I'll call it, um, euphemism--right after dinner, and he was done with it by bedtime. Mine kicked in around bedtime, and stayed with me for most of today, and involved extra symptoms. Bella ate very little, and didn't get sick at all, although she did poop three times today, which for her is significant.

I washed everything...except the carrots, which I'd picked up, to save time, in the "pre-cut, -peeled, and -washed" package. So, yeah. I'm blaming the carrots.

And I still have what looks like forty bazillion soap orders to go to the P.O. I need a pack mule and a personal assistant. And some Phenergan.

Need to vent your spleen? Do it at The Queen's Place, courtesy of dee-LIGHT-ful Concerned Feminist "Anne." Seriously--is there ANY area of life in which women do not tear at each other; nothing over which we can't become a cohesive community? It's head-bangingly frustrating, really. We can't be okay about any decision we make, from working/staying home to breastfeeding/formula feeding to co-sleeping/"cry it out"...do we really hate each other so much, or do we hate and doubt ourselves? Ugh. Be sure to pause long enough to admire The Queen's highly-desirable husband, The Kaiser, in the comments.

Just need a diversion? You can always "TILT" with Michelle and Lisa. They have some good ones up this week.

Oh, and psssst...was that Darla on "CSI" tonight? I think it was!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

We'd Rejoice--If We Weren't So Tired?

Women. We can't win for losing, can we? This New York Times article by Kate Zernike had me shaking my head in wonderment. Go ahead, click over and read it. It's a very short one, really. I'll wait.

OK, you're back? Good. Are you as stymied as I was? I have to admit, I did laugh at the one elderly woman's comment to her husband that he'd already "had assisted living for 40 years."

The point is, it looks like men will be living longer now than before. We should all be thrilled about this. Hasn't it been on just about every married couple's mind at some point--the fact that statistically, he will be gone about 10 years before she? We (married women) are bombarded with dire warnings about providing for our futures and our almost certain long years of widowdom. So, when this news of increasing male longevity breaks, do we celebrate it? Are you kidding, women? Have you learned nothing in your time on earth? You will not be allowed contentment! Really, you should have learned this by now. I mean, you had childhood, adolescence, young adulthood and beyond to get the joke--why aren't you laughing yet? Oh, yeah, that's right--you're usually the punchline, from girl bullies to workplace inequality to the much-hyped "mommy wars" and beyond.

If you look hard enough in this article, the positives, the things of which we could be proud and by which we could be encouraged, are plentiful. Women develop strong friendships and social connections that help us in times when support is needed. We are vigilant about our health, and vocal with our doctors (this, I'd argue, has come about out of neccessity, and generations of being ignored and trivialized by the medical profession, but I certainly have my own bias in that area). More companies "cater to our interests," which they well should, since we do most of the spending and carry the most marketing clout. The message could be, we are strong, we are capable...and now our helpmates, our husbands, may be living on this earth with us longer. But, dang it, that would be a positive spin, and, well...we can't have that, can we?

No, instead we wives get to focus on how hard we work, how little our husbands actually do around the house no matter how equal our workloads outside the home are (and that they're not likely to improve much over the next 50 years in that area), and how little "good" our men do us--"It's not just the extra years; it's all those extra meals to prepare." I'm trying to figure out just who the target reader for this article is, because it's unflattering for men and downright depressing for women. Who does that leave?

One minor, but jarring, for me, detail was the bit about how fully ONE THIRD of married men do not leave their pensions to their wives, and that "that number used to be higher...until wives were required to sign off on the deal." This blows my mind. But I digress.

Finally, we get this cheery summation about how things may ultimately "even out" between the sexes:

"There is a lot of poverty among older single women, so if men live longer, that's good economically, for women and men," Ms. Hartmann said. "Men are generally happier when they're married. The women may not be happier, but at least they've got more money."

Wheee. Money can't buy happiness, but apparently, it compensates for it. This idea makes me want to just puke, because I happen to know just how much financial security that my mother and grandmother would happily sacrifice if the loves of their lives could be returned to them.

I am really interested in feedback about this, from men AND women. Oh, and Honey? Stay with me as long as you can, all right? It's worth the extra sandwiches and laundry. But at the same time...pitch in as much as you like.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Soap Notes and Turtle-Fest

OK, so it took me a month to get done. Everything takes me a month to get done, so no big surprise. Here's the list of soap packages--let me know if you're not on it and you ought to be:

Lisa B.
Marilyn H.
Mildred B.
Jessica M.
Linda K.
Donna S.
Judy B.
Kathy T.
Jo-Ann G.
Leslie G.
Bonnie H.
Susan L.
Dott W.
Erin S.
Kathleen W.
Kim R.
Gladys C.
Daniel W.
Melanie S.
Elizabeth E.
Gloria S.
Jen B.
Andrea P.
Ellen
Marjorie T.
Mildred B.
Michelle V.
Contest Winner K.?
Kelly S.
Bob B.

Tomorrow I will list, or link to, the varieties of soaps that went out and give an idea what's in them, since these went unlabelled, but for a hand-written name.

And after the "flood" this weekend, we have startling turtle news to report. You remember that I recently introduced the turtle known as "Number Two." Since then, Alex picked up another one, of a different variety, on the busy highway, and put it in the Turtle Sanctuary beside our house. During the storms, this is what the Turtle Sanctuary looked like:I actually sent Alex out to beat the hostas, looking for Number Two when the water got high.We never found her or (thanks to a helpful reader, we are now able to gender-classify our turtles) or the one Alex rescued, but we did find THESE surprises!Number Three and Number Four! Still no sign of a Number One. But when the waters receeded, Numbers Three and Four were back in hiding, and Number Two magically appeared again. AND, Alex came in from feeding horses tonight and said, "Hey, guess what I saw in the barn? There were two turtles humping!" He interrupted them, hopefully not at a crucial moment, and placed them in the Turtle Sanctuary, and noted that one of them bears yet another number--it could be a '5' or a '6', and the other is unmarked, but is not the one that was picked up off the highway. SO. Now there are at least six turtles in the Turtle Sanctuary, that we know of.

And have I mentioned the tadpoles? About two weeks ago, bazillions of tadpoles appeared in the koi pond. Bella is beside herself, and we're debating the wisdom of capturing some for the purpose of observing their tadpole-to-frog transformation. Any thoughts, Internets? We think they are green tree frogs, leopard frogs, or a combination. The Froggie Serenade out here after dark each night is DEAFENING, and we have yet to see one single frog.