Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I love a good snout! (dog & cat pix)

(Time to clear out my camera's card.) Some photos from around the house this weekend:

I love a good snout!

My, what big TEETH you have, mr. white wolf.

Tycho gives me a sidelong glance. Um, what are you doing??
(with my camera all up in his face)

Laughing sammy - samoyeds are known for their wide smiles.

Tycho helps me unwrap.

Aaand it was a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. Nice.

Free cat! Anyone want?? She's REALLY affectionate, as you can see. (lol!)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

the aftermath

So you remember the pix of household wreckage I shared? And how I had only one day to overhaul the entire house? Well, we rocked it. But only at the very last possible second!

5pm Christmas day, I stood, wild-haired, in front of the washer feeding copious amounts of bedding into its yawning mouth, wondering, "WHEN is my dad going to call?"

I'd asked him to call me when he crossed over the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Only I didn't say it like that. I said, "Call me when you get over the bridge so I have enough time to start dinner."

At dinnertime, the lightbulb went off. Oh no. Maybe he's *not* heading down I95? Maybe he thinks I meant the Chesapeake Bay Bridge? Which means the two-hour lead time I'd requested would effectively be whittled down a third.

I texted him. "Are you taking 95? Or eastern shore?"

He immediately called. "Yeah, we're going down the eastern shore. We're almost at the Bay Bridge!"

I choked. Guests would be arriving in a little over half an hour and here I was unshowered, the house wasn't done and parts of dinner were still frozen.

I thundered up the steps. "He's almost at the Bay Bridge!" I yelled and hurled myself into the shower while husband began frantically throwing potatoes in the oven.

Inevitably they arrived too early. So we just cooked while they were here.

I'm a crappy hostess. I cannot effectively hold a conversation while stirring a pot. But they love me anyway, even when I am crazed. Now I am recovering from the frenzy! (Note to self: next time I'm expecting to host Christmas dinner and sleepover guests, maybe don't take on enormous task of painting room. Just make the damn bed!)

Here are some before & after pix, since some of you asked. A good "before" one of the wreck that I called a bedroom:


before & after

office before / after

Another view of the office, after. Ok, so we don't have the fanciest furniture. But it works!

Friday, December 25, 2009

laughing this Christmas (have a merry!)

"The one thing women don't want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband." Joan Rivers.

"Christmas at my house is always at least six or seven times more pleasant than anywhere else. We start drinking early. And while everyone else is seeing only one Santa Claus, we'll be seeing six or seven." W.C. Fields

"I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included." Bernard Manning.

"Christmas begins about the first of December with an office party and ends when you finally realize what you spent, around April fifteenth of the next year." P. J. O'Rourke

"Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year." Victor Borge

This year, in our household:

Happy holidays, everyone!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I. Am. Freaking. Out.

My dad is coming Christmas day. That means I have exactly ONE day -- tomorrow -- to deal with:

1. Fridge wreck. I need to fill the fridge so there's more than hummus and mustard (neither of which go particularly well together).

This also means that I should figure out a Christmas menu. Aren't I supposed to make a ham or something?

2. Gift wreck. I have not started my Christmas shopping yet. It will all have to happen tomorrow. This means I'll be bringing things home which will need to be wrapped and THAT will require that I waste $10 of gas shlepping to a store 30 minutes away to retrieve a $10 roll of wrapping paper I bought last week and instantly forgot. I refuse to buy a new roll when a store in Riverdale, Maryland has a silver snowflake pattern with my name on it.

3. House wreck.

I need to clean. Not your typical "ohhh the DOGhair!" lament, but instead an overhaul which will require that I play a particularly intense and long-winded game of "which of these things does not belong?" while running up & down the steps 7,000 times to return each odd item to its place.

Witness this wreck of a bedroom.

It is supposed to be clean, crisp, restful and smell nice for guests who will arrive weary on their way to Florida from NJ on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

They will want to fall into bed immediately after dinner. And they will not want to trip over an exercise bench, a pile of curtain rod rings (with sharp drapery pins mocking their bare feet), or a new rug meant to replace one defiled by feline fecal material (just last week):

3. Room wreck #2: still finishing touch-up paint in the room across the hall (now the office but also where we'll be sleeping). The furniture is in complete disarray and painting tools are strewn everywhere:

Have you ever seen an uglier floor?

4. Hallway wreck (between these two rooms):

The bookcase belongs in the closet but will not fit until cleared. Meanwhile, paper and office supplies claim ownership to half the floor in the living room.

Also, we need to throw out 5 garbage bags full of painter's tape and other prep detritus but a snowdrift still blocks side access to the trash. So now they are hanging elegantly from the banister.

5. Bathroom wreck: the bathroom, the only one available right now (because roommie uses the other), busted a handle. Flushing the toilet has now become a major ordeal.

Behold the joy of flushing the toilet:

(zooming in to show water streaming out the top)

Note how water sprays out? This is me, demonstrating for you (because I love you so much) exactly what my life is like 10x a night. How I get to heave off the heavy lid and paw around the nasty water to find and yank the flapper valve chain.

This is a BLAST, especially at 4:00 A.M.

Note also the added joy of doing this if you are a germ freak like me. At the faintest tug of nature's whisper, an internal struggle of cleanliness vs. practicality begins. The Howard Hughes center of my brain is quickly bludgeoned by primal need to not wear a diaper or pee like the dog on a fire hydrant outside, and so I must end every session maniacally washing my hands like a mental patient.
This dialogue is best represented by a comment from There I fixed it: Epic Kludges and Jury Rigs about this very awkward request in a public restroom:
The sign says "Please push to flush."
One of the commentors aptly responded,
"The brain knows it's clean but the hand isn't so sure."

I tried to buy a handle but the local hardware store only sells front-facing handles, not side ones. And so it does not fit! I ordered one online last week but because of holiday shipping madness, it has not arrived yet!

So, my life is a wreck. My house is a wreck. I have no food or presents, and somehow this is all going to change tomorrow. Even though I've only had 4 hours of sleep last night!

Monday, December 21, 2009

why do we have a spleen? (article in NY Times)

An article just for me! lol

Finally, the spleen gets some respect, from the NY Times.
"Scientists have discovered that the spleen, long consigned to the B-list of abdominal organs and known as much for its metaphoric as its physiological value, plays a more important role in the body’s defense system than anyone suspected.

"Reporting in the current issue of the journal Science, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School describe studies showing that the spleen is a reservoir for huge numbers of immune cells called monocytes, and that in the event of a serious trauma to the body like a heart attack, gashing wound or microbial invasion, the spleen will disgorge those monocyte multitudes into the bloodstream to tackle the crisis.

"“The parallel in military terms is a standing army,” said Matthias Nahrendorf, an author of the report. “You don’t want to have to recruit an entire fighting force from the ground up every time you need it.”"
May your spleen be rich!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

hammered by snow!

DC is getting hit with the worst snowstorm in years. It started snowing around 9 last night. By 6pm there were 16 inches and the storm is only HALF over. It's supposed to stop around 6am tomorrow.

I would just like to ask the universe... couldn't you have done this just a wee bit earlier? Like on a weekday?

But I love snow. (Driving in it and shoveling not so much.)

View from the street

Taking the dog out for a walk. You can't see his legs, they're buried!

Snow dog ready to catch a snowball.

Tycho and Dan horsing around in the street.

Tycho's prize! He loves to carry around snowballs.

I started shoveling off my car (YES, I said shoveling... it was too deep for anything else) when I thought wow, I need to see exactly how much is piled on it. I ran inside for a measuring tape: 16 inches!!

Another view from the street (somewhat obscured by the big thick flakes caught by the flash).

1 minute video of Tycho plunging into the snow depths!

we all look out for eachother.

Actual conversation:
coworker: Hey spleeness, I hate to leave stuff in your box while you're out but this came in. I thought maybe it was better to leave it with you, esp. as it didn't appear to be time sensitive. If it's any consolation I will refill the M&M jar when you get back.

me: haha. Yeah, any of that stuff, just leave for me. You thought correctly. Can you lick each M&M before filling the jar? Then maybe I will stay away. This time of year wreaks havoc on my willpower.

coworker: I have licked one M&M and put it back -- how's that for a disincentive?

me: Don't forget to hit up M's candy jar. The task won't be really complete until then.

coworker: I have already opened, sneezed on, re-wrapped and returned one piece of candy which I will not identify.
Thanks, man. What would I do without you?

--> This brought to you by MY office,
but if you want more, visit
Overheard at the Office -->

Friday, December 18, 2009

Philanthropy Friday: today featuring the Center for History of Physics

The sun, shown in the invisible infrared light emitted by hydrogen.
(From the History of Early Cosmology web exhibit)

I've been toying with the idea of using Fridays to feature a good nonprofit. But my reason for doing this is less of a "donate money!!" take (because everyone needs money and there are so many worthy organizations out there) and more of a "here's what they offer" and "what you can do to help (even if you are broke like me)."

Today's Philanthropy Friday star:

The Center for the History of Physics (part of the American Institute of Physics).

What they do:

An organization dedicated to the history of physics! On their website, you can:

That's just a glimpse of what they offer!

How you can help:

Want to join Philanthropy Friday? Feature a nonprofit on your blog on a Friday (doesn't have to be every Friday -- it can be once a month, say). Together we can raise awareness for great organizations in a noncommercial way. Try to include info on how your readers can help with commodities other than money, like feedback, donation of goods or services, volunteer time, etc. -- concrete things people can do to support your cause. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Let's talk about food, bay-bay

More food photos.

We had our office holiday party yesterday and I found myself once again hulking over the shrimp. And dip. Dip is something I never allow myself to eat in real life* (obviously at parties I am in my fake life) but will eat gobs of if no one stops me.

I am like this with eazy-cheeze too, (sp?) that cheese-colored viscous fluid in a whipped-cream-style can. Last time I ate it may have been high school but wow. It makes every salt & fat screaming neuron of mine fire on sight.

To stop myself from overeating, I ran around taking pictures of the food:

Veggie tray (with "palette knife" Photoshop filter applied)

I just learned veggie trays are also called "crudites" (and not pronounced "crude" "ites" as in rhyming with "mites" but the more elegant French "croo deh tahys"). I am very high class now. (Having rejected all attempts at socialization with the elaborate knives and utensils associated with sophisticated place settings, it makes perfect sense that I, a full-grown woman, am only now learning how to eat in public. If you are six and happen to be reading this, pay attention to your parents. Especially in boring fancy restaurants. You will be glad many decades later.)

pumpkin loaf (palette knife filter also applied)
(hey, I was having fun)

Gum drops. What good is a holiday party if it doesn't give you cavities?

Fruit! (Palette knife filter applied)

Deviled eggs.

What are your food weaknesses? Do your knees get weak at the sight of certain dishes or treats?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where can I get a good salt lick? (on food and random photos)

I read somewhere that when you get older, your taste buds get duller and you start to crave more intense flavors.

Maybe that explains why I've been devouring hot & sour soup and running low on my salt lick.

Or why I need to make such rich chocolate milk:
Making a chocolate milk treat in my cubicle at work

What?? I'm just following directions. The label says "heaping tablespoon" -- anything less would be blasphemous!

So, speaking of food, do you live in Maryland? I had the most amazing seafood stew at Rustico in Stevensville (across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge).

Seafood stew at Rustico, an awesome
Zagat-rated Italian restaurant & wine bar.
(Stevensville, MD)

It's worth the drive.

Before the stew, I nearly had an out-of-body experience when I tasted their bruschetta. (Yes, I just discovered bruschetta. Never had it before.) I thought I loved salsa but when you meet your soul food mate, you know it in your bones. (Or maybe I should say buds.)

Bruschetta is like salsa except not spicy -- no jalapenos. And basil instead of cilantro. I ate it straight with a spoon. Bread only dilutes it. It was so damn good that on the way home, I picked up half a pound of tomatoes and made a huge batch immediately upon walking in the door.

me outside Rustico (a couple weeks ago).

Some other random photos:

I spent this past Saturday night hulking over a fancy crystal bowl of marinated shrimp hoping no one noticed that I ate about 7 pounds worth.

S threw an amazing party and prepared all the food herself
(including said addictive shrimp) (Oh! And rum balls!)

Her kitty approved!

What's your favorite food or treat? Is it different this time of year than usual? Most importantly, what do you think of FRUITCAKE??

Monday, December 14, 2009

it's your birthday, it's your birthday!! (cue incongruent but earnest white rapping)

He's not sure which to open. What came first, the chicken or the egg?

And the tiniest present came last!

I also tried to surprise him by entering a photo into the art auction 140hours. Here's how successful my surprise was:
me: "So can you send me a high-res version of that red photo with the starfish?"

him: "sure, why?"

me: "um. I just need it, that's all."* (*I suck at lying)

him (curiosity piqued): "For what?"

me (stalling): "Just to try an experiment."

him (Jedi radar instantly lasers into my brain, dismantling flimsy hidden motive): "You're not putting it in that art auction, are you?"* (the thing I have been talking about nonstop for 2 weeks .) (Note to self: that was not great forethought for the reconnaissance birthday mission.)

me (instantly caving): "um. Yes."

Anyway, here's the photo, online:

Brittle stars on top of a brilliant red sponge

"Earth and sea are polar opposites. The Mayan pyramids were devoured by the jungle, a relentless verdant wave of plant life. In the sea, the roles of plants and animals are inverted; animals cover all. Everything you see in this image is an animal. The red background is a sponge, the multi-armed creatures are brittle stars, and everything else is coral in its diverse forms, from rocklike to delicate fernlike structures.

"The animals in this photo were found on the hull of a large tropical wreck at a depth of 80 feet. The brilliant colors are not normally visible; at this depth, the color becomes a drab camouflage unless illuminated with manmade light. The inverse nature of land and sea is complete; neon colors become uniform shades of obscure blue."
(see Dan's blog-->)

The auction ends tomorrow, but the birthday celebration shall last the rest of the year. :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Yellow Wallpaper (actually, nice yellow) and my sunny yellow flower

I love this photo. It feels like the sun rises in my chest when I look at it, I love the cheery yellow hue. I took it in a sunny field in northern Arizona, in the Coconino National Forest. It's going up for auction in 140Hours, bidding starts at $5.

Final piece is a big 23 x 16" work of art on canvas.
Visit auction

Yellow is one of my favorite colors. When I was a kid, the first time I was old enough to pick the colors of my bedroom, I chose yellow. My mom papered the room with a fuzzy yellow & white swirly wallpaper that I would trace with my fingers as I fell asleep, forming stories in my head about the shapes and patterns.

This was pretty wallpaper. It wasn't like the awful stuff in the short story The Yellow Wallpaper, that short tale by Charlotte Perkins Gilman about a woman's descent into madness whilst locked in a room lined with hideous yellow wallpaper. Here, the main character describes that yellow wallpaper:
The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
...I never saw a worse paper in my life.

One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin.

It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide--plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions.

The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight. It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others.

No wonder the children hated it!

(read more: The Yellow Wallpaper)
No, my yellow wallpaper created a sunny haven in my room, and that is what I remember when I look at that sunny yellow flower of the fields of northern Arizona.

Lots of other great artwork is online at 140hours too, take a look. -->

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Crocodile Hunter meets Ross the Intern (video)

Remember Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter? I love this video where he meets Ross the Intern:
"Hi sweetie! Who's a pookie pookie," says Ross to the hissing croc. Freaking hilarious.

I would sound the "PINEAPPLE!!!!!" alarm bell far sooner than Ross (in the spider incident)!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I knew it! I knew I wore a shower curtain once.

I just found this old photo, the only proof I have that a distant memory of being strapped to a drapery rod and forced to wear a shower curtain wasn't actually a dream. Good god. How did they let me out of the house like that?

That was the last day in my life that I ever believed anyone when they said I looked great *against* my better judgment.

Do you have any mortifying photos of yourself as a wee lad or lass? (I can't possibly be the only one!)

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