Friday, March 31, 2006

The Little Grill

One of my favorite restaurants in the world has a creaky wooden chairs, mismatched silverware, and boxes of old Trivial Pursuit cards on the tables. If you ever find yourself in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, head to Harrisonburg and take in a meal at The Little Grill.

It's a small, worker-owned restaurant that's open every day except Monday. On Mondays it turns into a community soup kitchen where "everyone in the world" is invited to help cook, serve, and eat a meal.

Now they've gone and gotten themselves a fancy website. If you go for breakfast, may I suggest the banana-walnut pancakes? They are delicious.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dean Scandalous and the Contraceptive Penguin Barter

I admit I'm totally stumped. I just got a spam email that reads like this:

Overhear or ardent, erudition,
dean scandalous plus in at tactfully entitled with bell pepper, it point-blank, and excommunicate, alcohol, as artistry infinite glorification, rhubarb
dunk sherbet NC-17 the fossil fuel and northeastward rickety, articulate paranoia interval to real-time pyramid and clapper as contraceptive penguin barter and bison paltry miracle at sensibly of rancor flat planetary centerpiece sling,. itself, corresponding the and it checkup with hereafter, civil rights enthusiastically, celibate, a profane incorporate with patrolman, conjure with befit burner accordance amphibian chairperson fantasize rapidity contagious a pop quiz cattle uninhibited the versus hexagon, of spoonful and one-sided the hypothesis it an gibe playground amply pensive an deranged that treatise enthusiastically seesaw ground rule hither, the Pope: to of cartel the in porcelain battlefield an analyze.



Any guesses? I'm thinking it might be from an embittered spelling bee loser.

Spelling Bee Loser: What? I'm getting kicked out of the competition for misspelling the word "chrysanthemum"? Spelly don't play that! You'll all be sorry. S-O-R-R-Y, sorry! Will seek revenge by plastering the ether world with wordy spam! MWAH HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

(shudder)

This is one of the scariest things I've seen in a while.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My shadow and strawberry wine

I've been working on the computer with Alex warming my feet under the desk. When I got up to use the bathroom and he followed and curled up on my toes as I sat on the toilet.

Do you think he's too dependent on me? I really want to make sure I'm raising a confident, spirited dog. You know, so he can excel in college and corporate America one day.

(it probably doesn't help that I actually carry him on walks sometimes. M shakes his head and pretends to be disgusted, but inevitably laughs at the blissful grin on Alex's face. Hey, he was abandoned at a shelter. He's entitled, don't you think?)

I've been in a little bit of a funk lately. There's been lots of thinking and reflecting involved. And guess what song just popped up on my shuffle? A song that always makes me think and reflect. Dammit.

So here's the low-down. A while back I got in touch with my first boyfriend, Dan. We met in sixth grade. I had my first slow dance with him in seventh grade. We went to the 8th grade graduation dance together (you should see the picture. I'm actually wearing a cast-off pink, puffy-shouldered bridesmaid dress. My mother shortened the sleeves and hem for me. Hey, in 8th grade you could hardly expect me to be the fashion plate that I am now. Heh.)

Anyhow, in ninth grade my father was transferred from California and that was that. His father was later transferred to New Mexico. We wrote to each other for a while, but that petered out. Until the day years later when I found his email address and decided to say hello.

After sending emails back and forth for a couple of weeks, I got a shocker. In a mass email, Dan announced that his girlfriend was pregnant and they were getting married.

So what did I do? I turned off all the lights, lit a single candle, and dramatically collapsed on the floor to listen to Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine" over and over for two hours.

I wasn't devastated because I'd lost my chance to reunite with him. It was just that there couldn't have been a more obvious sign that my childhood was waving goodbye. I didn't know anyone who was married, or who had kids. And here he was, the boy who slid a corsage of pink roses over my wrist with sweaty hands, getting married? Having a baby?

Even when the first of my good friends to marry walked down the aisle at 22, I remember thinking it incredible that we were, in theory, old enough to marry and go off sailing through the Caribbean on a honeymoon vacation. To have a house with things in it. "Wait!" I wanted to call out as she passed by on her father's arm. "Does this mean that we aren't using backpacks or our mismatched dishes anymore?"

To this day I feel that way sometimes. I look around and think, is this house really mine, do I really have a career? Because that sounds very grown-up. And I always thought the grown-ups had everything figured out.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm really a child in disguise.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Blunking again... sorry

It's time for everyone's favorite passtime... blunking! Or was it "drogging"? Help me out, Vernicious...

Anyhow, blunking, or "drunk" "blogging" is great fun. You type many random thoughts and make many typos. You may or may not catch them before you hit the publish button.

By the way, have you ever noticed how many people overuse quotation marks? Like ME, perhaps? Like sometimes you see signs at restaurants that say:

Hamburger "Special"!
Only "$3.99!"

Now I will ask for help from editor Lisa. Was my use of quotation marks for the purpose of sarcasm appropriate in the above paragraph? I used quotes around "drunk" to indicate that I am most certainly NOT drunk, while I most certainly AM. But I also used quotes around blogging, for what reason I cannot say. Because I am most certainly blogging.

So tonight my husband is at a bachelor party. I waited too long and when I called my friends they had plans. So I am at home entertaining myself! Which involves a cab-shiraz blend, an excellent movie titled "The Sperm and The Whale" (starring Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney) which I just finished (I loved this movie), and now, all of you! And later there I may throw a caramel-walnut brownie into the mix, which I have only been thinking about ALL DAY.

I was flipping through a magazine from one of our area hospitals a moment ago when I saw an advertisement for a class titled, "Thinking of Having a Baby?"

"HI!" I said to the magazine. "Yes, I have been THINKING about having a baby for the last six years! You are very timely."

Then I saw that a portion of the class focuses on having a baby "after 30."

I'm sorry if I'm a quotation mark abuser, but I was a little taken aback. After 30? What the fuck?

I thought 30 was the new 20. Heck, I've heard people say that 40 is the new 20. In fact, I heard someone on the metro say that very thing on Friday. And I believe that stranger!

Is "after 30" so old that there really needs to be a special class about it? Sheesh. I'm feeling old and wrinkly all of a sudden. (I even put anti-wrinkle cream under my eyes tonight. Do not laugh.)

I guess I'll go get another "glass" of "wine" and think about my eggs turning into dust.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My purple power glasses

(Bearette, I think you asked for this. Well, not all of this, but the pictures. They're below the five yards of text, I promise)


A while back I shared that I have a little crush on Lisa Loeb. Actually, I think she's so adorable that when I needed new glasses a few months ago, I set out to find some just like hers.

That doesn't make me a stalker, right? I can't recall ever deliberately trying to look like a celebrity. Even when I rolled my cut-offs and wore white Keds I didn't know I was copying Jennifer Grey... it just sort of happened.

I couldn't really look more different from Lisa Loeb. She's brunette; I'm blonde. She's got olivey skin, I'm very fair. Her eyes are brown, while mine are green/blue/gray. (I use all the slashes there because I really don't know what color my eyes are. That's somewhat unsettling, you know? Like did I lie on my driver's license when I said they were blue? Because today they're very green. Once I stood naked in a white bathroom so I could find out once and for all. But even then I couldn't tell.)

What? Oh yeah, Lisa Loeb.

So anyway, she's just so adorable and I thought that if I had those chunky black-framed glasses then I would look adorable, too. But I just look like a stern librarian when I wear chunky black glasses. And as my husband helpfully pointed out, I'm really too pale to wear such dark glasses as they tend to "overwhelm" my face.

Pale and overwhelmed is not adorable.

I finally found some purple frames that I thought looked good, but I was so traumatized by the process of trying on glasses for two hours and finding out that my face was too timid for any of them that I was afraid my judgment had been obliterated. But when the nice frames specialist came over and saw them, and smiled, and said she liked them, I wearily plunked down my credit card and said, "Thank God."

You know what I like best about them, besides the fact that they're purple? There are these little lavender rhinestones on the sides. Just between you and me, I sometimes pretend that the rhinestones give me special powers. For example, if I have a stressful presentation or class to teach, I wear my purple glasses and the rhinestones give me brain power. You want to ask me tough questions? Ba-bling! Ask away! I am genius!

Sometimes I wear them in the car and the rhinestones protect me from road rage. What, you're mad because I'm only going 85? You want to gesture rudely and flash your high beams? Za-zing! My rhinestones deflect your irrational anger! Move along!

See? You can tell that they are very powerful glasses.











Do I look as adorable as Lisa Loeb? Please tell me I look as adorable as Lisa Loeb. And yet no one is as adorable as Lisa Loeb.

Alex Live

Alex loves to play. This video stars Alex, his "Mafia Dogs" toy that growls "How you doin'?" (and which I named Uncle Vito), and my hand.

(don't you love how Uncle Vito has a big stogie in his mouth? I'm hoping this will encourage Alex to smoke when he's older. Alex already ripped up the plush machine gun that Vito originally held in his right paw)

(kidding)



Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Every instinct has an opposite and equal deliberate thought

Today I made plans to meet a new co-worker for lunch at a conference in Dupont Circle later this week. This is part of my continuing effort to resist my instincts. Not the good instincts, like the one that told me not to pick up the phone last night (it was a politician), but the ones that that reinforce personality traits I don’t always like.

Instinct:
Since you can’t have lunch with friends or colleagues you know well, you will go to that little salad bar down the street from the hotel and read a book while you eat lunch alone. DO NOT SOCIALIZE. DON’T YOU DARE.

Deliberate thought:
I should get to know new co-worker better. She is new to area and probably lonely. I will contact her and invite her to lunch. I WILL SOCIALIZE WITH A STRANGER. YES I WILL!

Or take the other day, for example. I had just gone outside to walk the dog when I saw my neighbor come out of his house.

Instinct:
It is sufficient to give a friendly wave. You do not need to walk over to him. You do not need to start a conversation. PRETEND LIKE THE DOG NEEDS TO BE WALKED PRONTO AND BE ON YOUR WAY, WOMAN.

Deliberate thought:
I like my neighbor. I will go talk to him. Okay, heeeeere I go. YES, I’M ABOUT TO HAVE A TOTALLY UNNECESSARY CONVERSATION WITH MY NEIGHBOR.

Right now my instinct is to skip the gym and go home.

Deliberate thought:
How much do you pay for that gym membership every month? GET THY ASS TO THE GYM AND WORK IT HAAAAARD.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I knew I hated parking garages

On Saturday night M and I and a group of friends went to see the Blue Collar Comedy Tour at the Warner Theater. M and I decided to drive, and after fruitlessly searching for street parking, reluctantly decided to cough up the $12 for a garage.

After we had paid the parking fee and were just about to drive off, M asked the attendant, “What time does the garage close?” The guy said, “Are you going to a show?” We nodded. “Eh,” he said, “Come back ½ hour after the show.”

“Is he crazy? A half hour after the show?” I snorted. “That’s way early. That can’t be right.”

[THAT’S THE PART WHERE LIZ BRILLIANTLY ANGERED THE PARKING GARAGE GODS BY OPENLY CHALLENGING THEIR EARTHLY PROPHET]

[Plus there was a sign saying that the garage closes one HOUR after the show]

[I BELIEVE in signs!]

Blah blah blah, went to the show, laughed a lot, went for a quick drink. Drank, said goodbye, walked back to parking garage. Arrived well within the post-show hour.

Garage is closed. Locked. CLOSED AND LOCKED.

M and I are visibly upset. Enough so that a nearby security guy asks, “Is everything ok?”

“Um, no. Our car? Is locked in there.” I pointed at the garage, which was closed and locked. (I thought about adding, “And I have a baby at home that needs me! Oh no, my precious baaaaaaaby!” Except that I was afraid he’d ask probing questions and find out it was just a dog baby, not a real one, so I kept my mouth shut.)

The security guy (who happened to have the most beautiful head of braids I’ve ever seen) ran off to see if he could find help, returning with a friend in tow. The friend told us he could get us to our car but couldn’t promise that we’d be able to get out. He took us through back entrances and rooms that we were clearly for STAFF ONLY and I briefly fantasized that I was a double agent on a mission, until I remembered that our car was trapped in the garage and I hadn’t used the bathroom in three hours.

The guy opened a final door that went into the concrete wasteland of the garage. “Good luck!” he said. And we were on our own.

We found our car. We got in the car and drove up, up, up to the gate.

Gate closed. Arm down. Garage door still CLOSED and LOCKED.

“Look! A phone number!” I pointed to the sign that said “For assistance after hours, call this number...”

We called…and called… and called. Finally assumed it was a cruel joke and gave up. Bastards. M got out of the car and started poking around. He walked over to the garage door. He heard voices, and someone banged on the door. He looked to the right and saw a large black button that said: OPEN/CLOSE.

As he walked toward the button he tripped an alarm. But it was a puny sounding alarm, and there didn’t seem to be cause for…ahem…alarm. So he pushed the button and the garage door opened.

(cue Handel’s Messiah!)

Some people rushed in. “Thank GOD!” they said, “HOW DID YOU DO THAT?”

M was humble. “I just pushed that button.”

The happy people/angels told us to get in the car and said they would lift the mechanical arm for us and push the OPEN/CLOSE button so we could get out. They did so, and we victoriously exited the garage. M jumped out. “Wait!” he called, as the garage door was closing. “We’ll wait for you guys and help you out!”

“That’s okay!” our angels called back, “We can do it!”

And the door slammed shut.

Beautiful Braids man came over to us. “Everything all right?”

M smiled. “It is now!”

“Cool, man.”

And off we went. I was never so happy to be speeding down the road in that old Toyota.

(and if any of you hear about a parking garage heist on the news and you see surveillance footage with a long-haired guy in a leather jacket and some weird blonde with a scarf wrapped around her head, pretend like you don’t know it’s us. Because it’s not us.)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Only the Good Stay Until 5:00

Tonight I am going to see the one… the only… BILLY JOEL!

He’s the last name to cross off on my “must see” list. I’ve loved him for years, and his songs are a big part of the soundtrack of my life. When they chose A Time to Remember for my high school prom theme I thought the universe was speaking to me in a deep and meaningful way.

And tonight, finally, I will see him in person. From an incredibly distant, acrophobia-inducing seat, but I don’t care. The only trick has been staying at work until 5, when I really want to run all the way to MCI Center to make sure no one takes my seat.

On Saturday night we’re going to see the Blue Collar Comedy Tour with a group of friends. M and I saw Bill Engvall do stand-up about 8 years ago and my face ached afterward from laughing so much. I really need some good belly laughs, so I'm glad we're going.

And a random aside: Last night I was driving on the highway, in the dark, and a motorcycle sped up and went BETWEEN my car and the car that was directly to the left of me. While we were going 80 miles an hour. I mean, MY GOD, what was he thinking? All of a sudden I heard a motor racing and a huge headlight was filling up my side mirror. It wasn’t until he passed me and I saw him speeding up the road that I realized what had happened. It was all over in two seconds, but that was long enough for my heart to stop and for mini lightning bolts to shoot through my arms, legs, and eyelids. Does that ever happen to any of you in a moment of intense fear? I think it’s the body’s way of preparing itself to run away. EXCEPT IT DOES NO GOOD WHEN YOU’RE IN A CAR AND CAN ONLY WHIMPER AND CLING TO THE STEERING WHEEL.

(I also thought I’d wet my pants but soon realized that the spreading warmth beneath me was caused by my seat heater)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Baby remember my name

Last night I went to my usual step class at the gym. At the end the instructor announced, “Don’t forget the new dance aerobics class that’s coming up next- it’s so much fun!”

And I thought, hey! I like to dance. Why not? (I felt very brave and spontaneous!)

So I put my towel and water bottle back down and took a spot three feet to the left of a giant column. For step that would have been okay. For dance, not okay. But I’ll learn that lesson in a few minutes.

The instructor bounded into the room, full of energy. “WOOOOO HOOOOO!” she yelled. “My name’s VICKI!! Who’s ready to dance?”

“YEAH!” I yelled back. A few people looked at me.

She bounced from foot to foot. “Is this anyone’s first time?”

First time? Wasn’t it a brand new class?

I raised my hand. Some people clapped for me. I heard a couple of girls say, “Awwww!” in an affectionate way. What, I thought, am I starting kindergarten or something?

“OKAY!!” Vicki yelled, “LET’S DO IT!”

I very quickly realized that the class had already met several times working on the same routine, because almost immediately I was three steps behind everyone else. But I gamely struggled along and tried to copy what Vicki and the lady in front of me were doing. Vicki yelled out little clues to help us remember the moves, like “MAMBO CHA CHA!!!” and “SEXY HIPS!!!” And eventually… I was getting it! Suddenly my arms and legs were doing the same thing as everyone else’s! And it was fun! And then...

SMACK!

As I was stomping backwards and doing my “FUNKY TRIBAL ARMS!”, I smashed my right hand against the column. Tears sprang into my eyes, it really did hurt, but I kept going. No one saw what I’d done. Or maybe they did see, but they thought I was some hard-core dancer. I thought maybe someone would try to copy me and slam a foot or a head against the wall, but no one did.

We finished one part of the routine and started on another part. I was catching on to that one pretty quickly, until suddenly Vicki yelled something like, “TEN LORDS A-LEAPIN’!!!” and suddenly everyone was leaping across the room like they were in Fame.

Now I’ll have to go back next week, if only so I can keep my arms firmly at my sides when Vicki asks if it’s anyone’s first time. I take comfort in the familiar, as much as that annoys the heck out of me.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Summer in the City

Okay, not quite summer—but it was darn nice. All the high spirits and sunshine with none of the humidity.

This weekend we headed to the St. Gregory hotel in Dupont Circle (M St, between 20th and 21st), a hotel I chose largely because it has a life-size statue of Marilyn Monroe in the lobby (think famous grate scene from The Seven Year Itch). Okay, that’s not really why, but I like Dupont Circle and there are a lot of great restaurants near the hotel. The idea was to have a nice weekend during which we wouldn’t have to make the bed, do laundry, or cook. And we didn’t do any of those things!

Oh yeah-- until we went home on Sunday afternoon. Then I did all of the above, plus caulk the tub. But let’s focus on the wonderfulness that happened before the drudgery, shall we?

It was such a gorgeous day on Saturday. We abandoned any plans of structured activity and simply wandered around and people-watched for hours. We took an outside table at Foodbar DC and eavesdropped on the conversations around us while we ate salads. I ordered a tomato mozzarella salad even though I knew better.

“How are the tomatoes?” I asked the waiter. “Red and juicy, or hard and pink?” (yes, I know) The waiter had a good giggle and then assured me, “The tomatoes are great!" Even so, I wasn’t surprised by the anemic slices that arrived on my plate. What can I say? Something about the warm weather made me go a little insane. Everyone around us seemed happy with the gift of a gorgeous, t-shirtable, early March day.

For dinner that night we went to Al Tiramisu, a little Italian place on P St. When we walked in I told the hostess that we had a reservation for 8:00. “Wait!” M said, “I want to tell her in Italian!” He repeated my statement in Italian and the hostess beamed. As she led us to our table we laughed about our first hotel experience in Italy. We walked in with our luggage, M all excited to use the Italian he had learned over the past year. As we approached the front desk he puffed out his chest with pride and in perfect Italian declared, “I am lost and I need directions!”

Ah, well.

Dinner was great. Al Tiramisu is small and cozy. It’s been billed as a “romantic” destination, but I’m not so sure. The décor could use some work, and it’s noisy. But the service was excellent, as was the food. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We had a Verduzzo/Pinot Grigio wine that was aromatic and delicious (and marked up to about four times what it would cost to buy it in a store… ouch).

On Sunday we walked to Firefly for brunch. I really wanted French fries but felt juvenile ordering them with my mushroom omelet. The waitress assured me that “everyone does it” (the French fries are really good there, served in a paper cone). As we were eating I noticed that almost every table had a cone of French fries perched in the middle. Everyone does do it!

And then… back to life, back to reality.

But that's okay. Reality is pretty darn good, too… just with more dog hair and less fat.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

A little brief relaxation and I'll be breaking free

Okay, I am kind of drunk blogging tonight. Well, not totally drunk, but, you know, tipsy. I mistakenly drank some wine on an empty stomach. Well, not 100% mistakenly, but I frequently misjudge my tolerance (doesn't take much). To be honest, I had to type my password three times before I got in. And if I escape this entry unscathed by spelling or grammatical error? It's only because the backspace key is so nice and fat, it's impossible to miss.

And just so you know, I am listening to the Frank Sinatra Greatest Love Songs CD. In case you want to listen along.

(Why do I have a feeling I'll regret surfing the web under the influence? Judge if you will. Otherwise, let's have a toast to one of the rare moments of irresponsibility in my life.)

Here! This is a very smart quote:

"To get away from one's working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one's self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change."
Sociologist Charles Horton Cooley

We're going "away" this weekend. Only so far as Dupont Circle, but still- away. Just for the weekend. We'll stay in a hotel where we don't have to make the bed or wash the towels, and go to a good Italian place for dinner Saturday night where the cooking and dishes will be done for us, and maybe wander over to the zoo to see Tai Shan for a while. Have Sunday brunch. Then head home and let Alex guilt us with his big liquid chocolate eyes, then smother him with kisses and pats to make up for it. I can't wait.

And in the meantime, here is a recipe I promised to post, and a bonus:

Eggplant-Tomato Casserole
Vegetarian Times magazine, March 2006

Ingredients:
1 T. plus 2 tsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, halved and cut into thin slices
(I went a little crazy with Mammy, so I ended up chopping versus slicing)
2 medium red bell peppers, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed (I omitted this since I typically dislike fennel)
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 medium-sized eggplant, timmed and diced (about 5 cups)
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup fresh chopped mint

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Warm 1 T. oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onions and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, 8-10 minutes, or until onions are golden. Stir in garlic, fennel and oregano, and cook 1 minute. Transfer to bowl.

Heat remaining oil in Dutch oven over med. heat. Add eggplant and cook, stirring often, or until lightly browned. Stir in tomatoes and onion-pepper mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cover casserole and bake 50 minutes. Top with feta and mint, and serve.


BONUS RECIPE!! (Rated by Liz: 10,000 stars!)

The best bruschetta I've had outside of Italy:

Cannellini Bean & Rosemary Bruschetta

1 cup cannellini beans
1 can diced tomatoes
3 T. olive oil, plus some for drizzling
2 sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed (I use 2), plus one clove peeled and cut in half
2 T. chopped fresh rosemary (fresh is highly recommended!)
salt and black pepper
8 slices Italian-style bread, such as ciabatta (you can use a baguette, even, slice diagonally)
Fresh basil

Heat oil in saute pan, add canned and sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and rosemary. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to soften.

Add the tomato mixture to the cannellini beans in a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper and mix well. Keep warm.

When ready to serve, rub both sides of bread slices with the cut sides of the garlic clove, then toast lightly (if you're like me, you'll get bored with watching them toast and let them burn occasionally). After toasted, spoon the cannellini bean mixture on top of the toast. Top with fresh chopped basil and drizzle extra olive oil on top. Use extra basil leaves to garnish serving platter, if you like a pretty plate. :)

I made this bruschetta the other night and it smelled so good that we couldn't even wait to sit down. We ate it standing at the counter, dropping bits and murmuring "Ohhh.... mmmm..."

Try this at home!
(will edit tomorrow morning to add a pic of the bruschetta. Tonight? Cannot figure out picture loading thingy... sorry)

3/10/06:

And here it is:


Also, the original recipe I adapted this from called for fresh tomatoes, but I think the canned ones have better flavor (especially in March). Does anyone else think so? It also called for soaking dried canellini beans instead of using canned, but my feeling about that is... why? Is there a strong case for using dried beans versus canned??

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My eyes are leaking...

xx
x

"I used to wake up at 4 A.M. and start sneezing, sometimes for five hours. I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness."
James Thurber
The seasonal allergies.
They're back!
I want to pluck my head off and bowl with it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Easiest paycheck I ever earned

My wonderful boss decided that we would close the library on Tuesday and each of us could spend the day in an activity of our choosing. Wasn't that nice of her? (yes, I asked, but she said that if I wanted to drink wine in a bubble bath I'd have to use vacation time)

I decided to go see the Cezanne in Provence exhibit at the National Gallery. It was a glorious day. A bit chilly, but the sky was blue and the sun was shining. Here you can see those blue skies above the capitol building, looking down Madison. Also, walking toward me on the right are two tourists who asked me where the nearest McDonald's was. I wanted to pretend like I didn't hear them, but I didn't.



When I got to the gallery I had to wait ten minutes for it to open. Across the street, the driver of this black SUV was becoming increasingly agitated at the school bus driver. Why, I have no idea, but in true DC fashion he was honking his horn and yelling things through his window until a police officer drove up onto the sidewalk next to him and told him to shut it. I was immensely pleased.



I was tickled to find these beautiful flowers growing in the indoor garden of the gallery. Now how do they do that? One of my plants at home is close to looking like this, despite lots of TLC, and it's just a basic houseplant.







When I left the gallery I decided to walk down Pennsylvania to the Farragut area. Some Japanese tourists stopped me in front of the White House and asked me to take a picture for them. I felt the urge to tell them that I was sorry, I hadn't voted for George Bush, but I doubt they cared. Then I made my way to a delicious restaurant called Breadline. They have wonderful sandwiches, soups, and desserts. Has anyone been? I had a piadine sandwich with grilled vegetables and fontina cheese. Mmm....

As I was leaving Breadline I crossed the street against the signal and almost got hit by a metrobus. For the record, he was stopped and picking up passengers when I started across, and I think he floored it just so he could honk at me and draw attention to the fact that I was not supposed to be in the intersection at that moment. When he honked I muttered, "Oh, why don't you bite me," and as I hopped up to the curb I saw a woman with a horrified look on her face. "You almost got hit by that bus!" she said. I thought about it for a moment. "Yes, but I didn't."

Monday, March 06, 2006

In mourning

Edited to add an artistic representation of my love:


Did I ever tell you that besides being in love with Madonna and my food processor and kale, I have also been having a torrid affair with Old Navy's Perfect Fit Long-Sleeved tees in size M?

They are the best long-sleeved tees I have ever known. So soft. So comfy. Not too tight across the chest. With just enough stretch thanks to 5% Spandex. I bought two the first time in white and raspberry. Loved them so much, I went out again and bought two more, in lavender and pink.

I've thought of them ever since. I told myself over and over that I should stock up on this treasure. Because how often do you find THE PERFECT item of clothing? And at $14.50 a pop?

This weekend I finally went to the Old Navy website to see if I could order them online. And lo! I saw its image there, with a slash through the regular price of $14.50. $2.97, it said.

$2.97! And notice-me orange text announced, "Available in tons of colors!"

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After a few heart palpitations I clicked to see the tons of colors I would choose from. That's when I was reminded that life can be very cruel indeed.

Black. White. XXL.

That's it.

Now I'm not an advertising genius, but when did they decide that "tons of colors" was a good substitute for "More than one. Okay, to be brutally honest, only two."

I had an awful feeling that the Perfect Fit Long-Sleeved Tee was facing extinction. I raced out to the nearest Old Navy store where I darted frantically from table to table until a headset-wearing sales associate asked if I was finding what I needed.

"Perfect? Fit? Long?" I panted, making a sweeping gesture up and down my arm, possibly hoping that it was the official sign for "sleeve."

"Oooooh," she said. She clucked. "If we have any of those left, they'd be over there." She pointed to the wasteland that was the Old Navy women's clearance rack.

I think actual tears welled up in my eyes. I stood there staring at her, still gesturing at my left arm.

"That's right," she coaxed, "Go look over there. You never know what you might find!"

I knew what I would find. Those skirts from last season that were so low-rise, it was impossible to imagine how you could wear underwear with them. Maybe a scarf belt or two. Rejected polos and tunics that were in weird sizes that only one percent of the population can wear. A white ribbed turtleneck with some other woman's foundation all over the neck.

Stunned, I left the store. How could I have let them slip through my fingers like this? Clearly, someone as stupid as me does not deserve to own more than four Perfect Fit Long-Sleeved tees in Size M.

I need a cookie.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Lost puppy update. Also, Liz analyzes herself.

Thanks for the reassurance, all. I've had some time to calm down now. :)

The puppy is fine. He's an adorable beagle/Jack Russell/something else mix. And I'm glad M brought him home. But after I'd cleaned doggy pee off the floor for the second time in under an hour, and broken up a fight over the last peanut butter rawhide chew, I realized that I like our life the way it is, and I'm not ready to add more members to the unit. It may also have been the pleading look in Alex's eyes that said, "You still love me, right?"

The puppy had a tagless collar on when he was found, so M is out searching the neighborhoods near his school to see if he can find the owners. And if he doesn't? We'll make other arrangements. He's a sweet pup, and he'll make some family a good pet. But that family won't be ours.

This whole situation last night just presented me with further evidence of a personality trait I don't like, which I think was adding to my anxiety: I favor planning and order over spontaneity.

Shouldn't I know that by now? After a lifetime of being myself?

But a spontaneous person seems like so much more fun. Let's fly to Tahiti, right now! Let's run over to the neighbors' for drinks, they just called! Let's adopt another dog today!

But I'm not like that. And I sometimes really hate that about myself.

Coincidentally, I was finishing Anna Maxted's Behaving Like Adults last night, and this bit resonated with me:

"When rabbiting on about understanding and forgiveness, it never occurred to me that the same princples might apply to myself. I've always been harder on myself than on others. I presumed that if I wasn't, I'd never get anywhere. I didn't realize that the opposite is also true. If you don't tolerate error in your life, you eventually wilt in the heat of your own self-loathing."

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Excuse me, but I believe your neuroticism is showing

I got a call from my husband a short time ago.

"Welllll...." he said, "I kind of did something...."

I could tell by his voice that he was smiling.

I laughed. "You did something?"

"Well, there's something waiting for you at home."

I could hear some of his co-workers giggling in the background.

"What?" I asked brightly. "Did you fix the toilet?"

He laughed and repeated my answer for his co-workers. I could hear them laughing.

"No... I kind of brought home a lost puppy."

It was so clear that he expected me to be excited about this, but to be honest my heart had plummeted to the floor.

"It followed some of the kids to school today and we were afraid he'd get hit by a car, so we tied him to the flag pole until animal control could come. But he was whimpering and crying, and I just couldn't stand the thought of him going to a shelter. So I took him home and gave him a bath-- because he was really smelly and dirty-- and he's in Alex's old crate in the kitchen right now..."

Okay, let me hit the PAUSE button for a minute.

I was horrified. And I was horrified by my horror.

I am an animal lover, absolutely and completely. My pets have always been like family members to me. I cry when I see strays on the side of the highway, for godssakes! So you'd think I'd be thrilled that my equally compassionate husband brought home a poor, skinny puppy that was about to get crushed on a busy street.

But no. I was immediately wondering how much time I could kill after work so I wouldn't have to go home and see. it.

What I'm slowly realizing is that it's not a lack of caring. It's the exact opposite of that, to such an extreme that I'm afraid of it. I hate shelters, they just make me too damn sad because I don't have the means to save every animal in them, and now it feels like a shelter has moved into my kitchen.

M actually wants to keep this dog, I can hear it in his voice. And he's not the type to be spontaneous when it comes to big things like this. But of course, within a second of hearing the news I'm already freaking out about

what if we can't keep him?
what if it's too expensive?
what if our house is too small for two dogs?
twice the work
twice the cleaning
twice the vet bills
I wanted to adopt another dog
but we decided not to!
what if Alex likes him?
what if Alex hates him?
what if we keep him and he barks all the time?
what if the neighbors get mad?
what if we want to keep him but we can't?
we'll have to take him to a rescue league.
but what if none of them have room?
we'd have to take him to a shelter.
but I would rather DIE than take him to a shelter

I'm trying to do therapy on myself, but all this running from one chair to another has got me exhausted.

I'll understand if you don't understand. Welcome to my head.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

CSI: Librarian

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present to you the following evidence collected from my mechanical adventure. Any comments you leave may be used against you in a court of law or could result in the abolishment of the 18th Amendment of the Constitution.

Pssst!

(What's that you say, counselor? No kidding! You can even buy it in the grocery store? I had no idea, because I never drink.)

Okay, you can just scratch that last lawyerly-sounding part about Amendment 18. Let's proceed!



Real investigators don't wear latex gloves.
(Missing: photo in which I folded up my other fingers and fully extended the middle one)



There was some oil on the scene.



I'll just circle the whole thing-- it all looks suspicious.



Investigators may not wear gloves, but mechanics do.
Even the ones with tattoos.



Probably on the pavement.