Saturday, February 28, 2009

-- my nephew's first haiku

So I may have already mentioned I have the greatest neice & nephews. My nephew Michael, who just turned 12 a little over a week ago, sent me this story about his experience writing a haiku in class. I loved it! I made a blog for him to log future stories and then added the haiku one:

Pop by and take a look.

I'm still fighting the darned cold. It's getting old now.

Friday, February 27, 2009

-- happy birthday to my beautiful sis!

There she is on the left with her daughter. Known to fill rooms with sunshine, she's one of the most thoughtful people I've ever met. Happy birthday sis!! Now go get some sleep! lol

Thursday, February 26, 2009

-- because a picture is worth 1,000 words

Me, today. Except substitute bathrobe for professional attire. And the box of tissues for a roll of toilet paper. (Classy.)

I normally hate being the plague-bearer at work spreading disease but was co-teaching a class today. The only excuse for missing it would have had to involve an ambulance. And so here I am.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

-- the elephant seal is a sight to behold.

The knives in my throat have ceded to the elephant seal transformation taking place on my face. My current nose is too small to transport the rising river of mucus within and so my face, my friends, is turning into THIS.It's very attractive. I feel totally hot sitting here slackjawed blowing my nose loudly like a bellowing elephant seal in heat.

And what do elephant seals in heat sound like?

A great undulating belch.

I learned this while reading a story about elephant seals and how Lady Clairol helped students bleach the fur for identification purposes:
"We used to have contests at night to see who could most realistically imitate the normal and special mating calls of sea lions and elephant seals. The best way to perform the mating roar of a bull elephant seal was to drink 3-6 cans of beer real fast (any carbonated beverage would do though) and then urp up all the C02 in one long belch, modulated by the larynx. Dorm Seven sounded really strange at night during the elephant seal mating season."

Look, people change at night. They become all kinds of things: werewolves, vampires, zombies, alcoholics... (same difference). I just prefer the elephant seal.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

-- my new nightlight watch

Dear Timex,

Thank you for making a watch that can light up any hour of the night so I can see how little sleep I am actually getting. You have no idea how much I love this feature. I went to Macy's tonight to see if they carried you and they didn't, wtf? I stormed out in a huff. Faithful me will only buy a watch if it works in the dark. No one seems to do this but you. (At least in my price range.) You rock!


Score! $17 from Sears; found and purchased in 10 minutes.

Of course the fast shopping time was partially due to the knives I swallowed this morning that have been stuck in my throat all day, rasping at it and making it more and more raw by the moment.

Yes, I am sick, but at least I'll know what time it is when I'm tossing all night.

Note to self: two-year warranty,
the countdown begins today.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

-- how important is eating really?

Right now I'm sitting here in a hotel room listening to the soft rythmic sounds of springs creaking on one side, dogs bugling in misery on the other and trying to digest all the apartments we've seen today. Yes, the Drury Inn is pet-friendly. And yes, it sounds eerily like "The Dreary Inn" -- I made endless jokes about it until we arrived and I saw how swank it was. If you visit Flagstaff, you MUST stay here.

Here's an apartment we liked. But of course we love it. It's CLEAN. And decorated by someone with a huge wad of cash and no requirement to actually taylor the furnishings to its inhabitants. No computer desk, no tv, no cd tower, no drying dishes.
apartment hunting

How come apartment models are never decorated to suit the way people actually live?

Small rattan tables flanked the bed; barely sufficient surfaces to set down your tea, let alone store vibrators*, heel exfoliating cream and toenail clippers. (*of course the back massaging kind.) And not a single bookshelf. If you live there, you must not read. Ever.

The woman showing us around was beautiful, sweet and impenetrable. A cross between a nursery school teacher and a tobacco company spokesperson, her words were slow and deliberate, carefully rehearsed and eloquently enunciated, the way you might address a scared child (only we were scared adults). Not a single expression passed over her face, her pleasant manner a cloak concealing any hint of an actual personality. She was our apartment avatar. But she did her job.

Ok so I've been mentioning agonizing decisions facing us. Here's a snapshot of the last few days.

We flew out Thursday from Maryland and landed in Phoenix where I saw this piece of art in the airport. It wins my award for Longest Most Obscure Title Ever award.

Longest Most Obscure Title Ever: Paris Journal (Linking and Fusing) No.5 "7 avril 1993, mercredi, Palais Royal (Daniel Buren's sculpture, daffodils, quiche and steamed endive)." By Linda Foss Asakawa.
I swear I am not kidding. See?
Proof of longest most obscure title ever

I am adding this to my "This is Art??" web collection.

Then we drove from Phoenix to Flagstaff, elevation 7,000 feet. This is not the hot Arizona most people know. Winters are cold and summers beautiful, not sweltering.
About to get off at the exit.

Ate dinner at a great Thai place where everything on the menu sounded like it should be in my spam folder. You know those spam emails that aim to thwart filters by including random non sequiturs? "Goong Tod Lard Prik," "Goong Pad Num Prik Pao" is perfect. It could almost sound like my 7th grade nemesis muttering sweet nothings under his breath before throwing all my books off my desk in one final act of love.

I got hot & sour soup which I spent 5 minutes ordering like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. "Does it have any veggies besides mushrooms? Can I add veggies? How about more mushrooms? And shrimp, but no chicken or pork please. And can you make it not that spicy?" (YES I know I am a spice wimp.) It arrived, flaming, in this fancy bowl:
We explored downtown Flagstaff a bit. I was envious that there was so much art & culture in a town with roughly the same population as my own bland city back home.
Dan, soon to be hammered with life-altering decisions.

We explored Flagstaff some more, but not nearly as much as we'd like. This week we will have to decide what to do. Stay or go? There's that whole money thing that we have to figure out, mundane things like how will we eat and stuff. I just can't seem to cut bodily needs out of the budget like I wish!

Friday, February 20, 2009

-- video of a 2-yr old smoking

Nothing like starting young! Video from

-- maybe a wee bit ambivalent

So I'm in Arizona now, here with Dan to investigate possibly relocating.

I dreamt this morning that we were driving on a road right in the middle of the ocean in a camper, whipped by terrible gusts on both sides and perilously close to tipping over into the water. The waves were coming fast and furious on both sides but the sky was a beautiful clear blue.

We eked along slowly and carefully with much trepidation but we were so far along there was no turning back. I couldn't see our destination or even where we'd started, the road stretched into infinity.

Then the scene changed and we were no longer in the trailer but instead out, unprotected and walking along the narrow road, increasingly being swept into the water by waves. I was carrying my dog, trying to keep his head above water. The ocean intensified and sometimes waves would sweep over both our heads. I realized he was thirsty, surrounded by water but unable to drink. I offered him clean water and then woke up.

Yeah, I might be a bit ambivalent.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

-- galavanting around DC (well, a little)

Today Kellygo and I went to a forum in DC for the day:

It was on Social Media in Government:

It was awesome! We took tons of notes.

I only had a little caffeine:
And practiced looking like a complete dork trying to take pictures of these glasses:

And now I am pretending I am not really leaving for the airport at 5am tomorrow and that I really don't need to be packing instead of posting...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

-- short update

Tomorrow Kellygo and I are heading to a conference in DC on Social Networking (like Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Fun! (Except for the waking-before-dawn part.)

Then Thursday Dan and I fly to Arizona to explore the possibility of relocating and how I can go gray even faster than I already am.

Hoping to get caught up on email & blogs, I want to see what you're all up to but life's conspired against me the past couple of weeks. I haven't forgotten though....

Monday, February 16, 2009

-- how low would I stoop?

There's a piece of chocolate on display in a cutesy valentine's theme in the cafeteria. I seriously considered defacing entire setup by eating it. You can trust me with your life savings but not your last Hershey bar. (sent from my phone.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

-- to Bubbie

I'll just point you to Dan's eulogy to his grandmother...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

-- head is spinning

Too much to think about. I have no time to write properly so I will steal JeepGirl's meme (From MamaKat's writing assignment) and just list everything:

Top Ten Things on Spleeness's Mind:

1. Funeral Friday for Dan's grandmother, leaving tomorrow night to drive back up to Philly.

2. A good friend's baby nephew died. I wrote about her sister dying way too young at 31 and now the little baby boy she fought so hard to save has succumbed to the complications that surrounded him since birth. My poor friend is numb with grief. How could one even process this much senseless tragedy in such a short time.

My heart aches.

3. Dan has a possible job prospect in AZ, we're planning to fly out next week to investigate.

4. Holy crap, relocation??

5. My internet connection just went down, is it even worth losing precious sleep to write this list anymore?

6. Am thirsty as hell. Too bad I'm not going to do anything about it.

7. We're getting new carpeting at work which requires my entire cubicle to be packed, including work I'm doing RIGHT NOW. So I am furiously trying to get stuff off my desk so I don't have to pack unfinished business (and what if they lose it??).

The timing of this is super extra bad as I have seminars to take and a class to co-teach next week, and I can't be sitting on a bare floor with not even a single pen at my disposal. Ok I'm being dramatic -- I'll at least have a pen. But I don't even know if I'll have a computer while this is going down.

8. No wonder my neck is always sore. I really shouldn't be sitting like this, neck resting on chest, while I write. What the hell is wrong with me.

9. I'm overdue for an oil change and I can hear that the car needs it.

10. Little progress on my Lincoln book (in honor of his birthday) because I put it down to read engaging mommy blogger book ("Sleep is for the weak!"), but now neither are getting read because of meager housework, travel prep, Arizona research and half-assed blogging.

11. BONUS! Because I adore you, I'll include one more gratuitous whine.

If you know me and have commented, emailed, twittered, facebooked, Hi-5ed, Tagged, messaged, pinged or sent lovely condolences about item 1 without an equally thoughtful response, know that I am thinking of you and will respond as soon as I pick the pieces of my head back up and glue them all together.

12. ANOTHER bonus! Score! (That's how much I love y'all.)

If this list is truthful and I really am supposed to list what was on my mind today, then I should mention this.

I went jogging today (for the first time ever, basically, since 6th-grade soccer practice) and noticed my rear hurt afterwards. Not in a "wow, that was a great workout" muscular kind of sore, but in a "wow, I forgot my sports bra" kind of way.

And I realized that I have a triple D ass.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

-- (photos) of dogs and gulls

I've been wanting to learn more about photography, taking pictures like mad ever since I got a small digital point & shoot for my birthday. So today Dan offered to take me to the dog park for an intro lesson using his old Nikon D70, an "SLR" camera which I've learned means "Single Lens Reflex," meaning you can switch lenses. (I may update this definition when my photography guru friends read my simplified understanding and elaborate.)
Dan, prepared with water, dog toys and
camera equipment: all the necessities.

And the dog's airborne!

He still has the energy of a pup
despite being 5 years old.

Posing in the sun.

Maybe the only thing I really hate about dogs...

Seagulls standing on a thin patch of ice.

Gulls taking flight.

And the moon tonight; large and beautiful, still low
in the sky. I took this from a supermarket parking
lot, aiming the lens above the urban landscape.

Friday, February 6, 2009

-- slowly pulling away from shore

We're home, but only temporarily. Dan's lovely grandmother, someone I love as if she were my own, is now mostly sleeping. Yesterday she held our hands and told us she loved us even though the effort of talking was almost unbearable, but today she rests, her ship slowly pulling outward from the shore.

There are so many complicated emotions when dealing with the edges of death and I don't really want to go into all of them right now. But one thing surprised me earlier.

My biggest fear of getting old has been this moment. The margins of life where we must reluctantly rely on others for caretaking. The whole idea of having another person (a stranger!) change my clothes scared the living daylights out of me.

Until today.

Until I helped the hospice nurse gently lay Bubbie into a more comfortable position. I thought it would be hard to see her wrapped up in the sheets as we repositioned her but I didn't. She was beautiful. I don't know how to explain it. I could see how really this is all part of life, the ease of caring for one another however we can.

Maybe someday I will do volunteer work to help people at these edges. It seems like a beautiful cause, mankind serving eachother in our most vulnerable moments.

And so while we sit and wait for the dreaded call, I read these words from a comforting booklet, Gone From My Sight, that hospice provided on the process of dying:

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!" there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: "Here she comes!"

And that is dying.

~ Henry Van Dyke

-- the snow dog in his element

Tycho in the snow earlier today. (Sent from my phone.)

-- because I needed this

Sorry about the blurry pic, still blogging by phone. My car was hit by a trash truck this morning, but my annoyance was replaced by gratitude for their honesty and responsibility. Will deal with it when I get back to Maryland.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

-- unappetizing, and update

When Dan saw this (chocolate with lemon and pepper), he crinkled his nose and said, "isn't that supposed to go with fish?" heh. Chocolate cod, mmm. In other news, we're driving to philly now, emerg trip 2c Dan's sick grandmother. Blogging from phone.

Monday, February 2, 2009

-- sure, makes perfect sense.

Sat in special "High Performance Organization" training today, the first of a 3-day seminar. It actually was pretty interesting -- the speaker is good and made his points in a well-thought-out manner. Still, I could not resist the urge to capture the moment when he finished scribbling furiously and gazed back at his nonsensical doodle, asking, "Make sense?"

Um, makes perfect sense. Isn't it obvious?

Because we saw him draw all the various parts as he was telling stories, it's not as bad as it seems but still made me laugh.

And then because I only got 5 hours of sleep (1-6am), I sketched out a rough cartoon of my state at that exact moment, hunched over coffee:
Um, suuure...

Actually it wasn't that bad but I loved the first photo for the nonsensical look to anyone from the outside.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

-- cats don't like cold feet

Dan just posted some pix of Sita's first encounter with ice. Really we should have just done a video. And yes, this was a sadistic attempt to get her to reject the outside since she's always darting out the door. She's not supposed to be an outside cat -- doesn't have the right vaccinations plus I'd worry too much she'd be hit by a car -- but she was, for 37 seconds, an outdoor cat who quickly ran in. See Dan's pix -->

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