Thursday, October 30, 2008

Knot a Good Idea

I was up the other last night, unable to sleep and I'd read pretty much everything in the house. I trawled through my magazines: October "Vogue"? Can't find it. October "Real Simple"? Boooring. This week's "Entertainment Weekly"? Feh - I blew through that fifteen minutes after it arrived in the mail.

And then I found it - a fat summer edition of the bridal magazine . . .

"The Knot." And I started flipping through.

It was innocent enough at first. "I'm just bored," I thought to myself. "I'm just going to look at ads and hairstyles . . ."

And then it started. The articles. Their demands and insinuations. Wait, I have to tip everybody? Omigawd, I can't afford that many flowers - but it will look so tacky if I don't . . . What? I'm a bad daughter if I don't have my mom and mother-in-law out for a spa day with me? I really do need boutonnieres? What? Ack! Omigod, this wedding is going to suckandeverybodyisgoingtoblamemeandmaybeIshouldspendalittlemoneyImeanafterallit'sthebiggestdayofmylifeandIshouldhaveitexactlythewayIwantitbecauseI'maprincessandnowIneedZoomwhiteningand
Yeah, that's what looking at Satan's bridal handbook will do for you.

I threw the magazine into the recycling bin immediately.

The weird part is, I don't get that looking through "Martha Stewart's Weddings" magazine - why? While I don't think I'm in the socio-economic market for this magazine, I think I like it because it focuses on quality, DIY elements and true originality, whereas "The Knot" seems to be about reinforcing bridal stereotypes, even as it supposedly "breaks the rules" (do we really have to send out "save the date" cards? Of course - but you can be daring! Put your photo on it! Ooooo.... daring.) Don't get me started about the weight loss articles. Pathetic.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Uncle Kyle and Aunt Jen Get a Visitor

Kyle's nephew Logan came for a visit last evening while his mother went to a birthday dinner. She left a pumpkin with us as well, so that Uncle Kyle could help him make a jack-o-lantern.

I decided that I should probably cut Logan out of the photo until I ask his mom how she feels about showing her five-year to the blogosphere.

Kyle put down some kraft paper and got to work - Logan got to pull the guts out (yay-slimy!). Note my good Henckels boning knife:

Logan got to draw the face. We started out with a "Scary bloody monster" design in mind, but once he was done with the Sharpie, we all agreed it looked a lot like a scary spider instead.

We took it out to the front porch to test it:

Pretty spooky, huh?

This is with the flash, so you can actually see the pumpkin.

He took it home with him (candles out, of course), so we're left with my Gardenridge ceramic one again.

It's not that big of deal to be so unspirited, as we're never home for Halloween anyway. The "World's Largest Cocktail Party"*, aka The Florida-Georgia football game, always lands on the Halloween weekend, so we're off to Jacksonville for tailgating. Hopefully we'll dress up and go out and I'll bring back photos.

(*Yeah, yeah - we're not supposed to call it that anymore. I know.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stretch, the cat who does not belong to us

We have this adorable black and white (mostly black) female cat living next door. I don't know if she's just unappreciated at her own home or what, but this cat loves us.

The minute one of us walks out the door, there she is, running up to us and then lolling around in the grass - which is cat for "Dude, I am giving you the most awesome opportunity right now - do you see how I'm inviting you to touch me? This is an amazing honor for you!"

Kyle was calling her something else for the longest time, Boots or something, and one day, sitting in the grass with her, I saw her collar. It has a tag on it - why had it never occurred to us to look at it? It's been a month or two.

I turn it over, the little heart-shaped metal tag:

"Stretch." Along with her address and owner's phone number.

Stretch? Really? I look at this plump kitty, who was now struggling to pull back from my grasp ("Dude, this is completely invasive. Do you see me clawing your earrings out? What the hell?") and ponder this.

But I suppose it doesn't matter what I think, she's not our cat. Even if she spends every possible minute with us and tries to squeeze into the house when we're bringing in groceries.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pretty flowers and a funeral

We're going to Kyle's grandfather's funeral tomorrow. So no more from me until Monday.


The flowers out by the office building were so pretty, one of my coworkers brought some in as a bouquet:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

That's okay, I LIKE sleeping like a squatter

After considerable delay and annoyances, the bed I ordered from Home Decorators was delivered yesterday.


I noticed one of the boxes was smashed on the end.

But it was taped up - so someone else had already seen this and decided it was fine and sent it on its merry way anyway.

I waited for Kyle to get home; I just couldn't bear to look. And this is what we found:

It's a shame, really. Color's nice.

I am done with this bed. DONE.

Okay, not really done. But I'm tired of this hassle and I'm ready to be done with it. So off goes an e-mail with photographs to Home Decorators.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Office garden and a correction

First off, I must make a correction: Kyle's grandfather, who passed away Sunday night, was not his last grandparent. His grandmother is still alive. In a nursing home and unaware of her surroundings, but alive nonetheless. I'm a little embarrassed. I guess I was thinking about how his grandfather would be the only grandparent in attendance at our wedding. I feel guilty forgetting his poor grandmother.

With that faux pas out of the way, onto the pictures!

I was leaving work last night just as the sun was going down, and the lighting on the garden around our building was beautiful. I couldn't resist taking a photo of this odd stand of very tall, yellow flowers which stands alone and a short distance from the rest of the garden:

I should have taken more, but I was running late (as usual). I did snap a picture of our garden gnome, though:

This was mainly for one of my coworkers. She is strangely enamoured of gnomes, and I don't think anyone had photographed "our" gnome for her.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Butterflies, beds, and another goodbye

After all that talk about grandparents, Kyle received a call last night - his grandfather had a heart attack. He passed away some time in the evening. He was Kyle's last grandparent.

Our frustrating efforts to get a bed continue. After ordering a bed from Home Decorator's in August with the expectations of an end-of-September delivery, we got an e-mail stating that it would be early November before we'd receive the bed (evidently it's one damn popular bed). I sent off an angry e-mail and got a miniscule discount along with an apology.

Then I get a call last Friday - to schedule the delivery of the bed - this week! Turns out Home Decorators (owned by Home Depot, by the way) doesn't make the bed, and there was some confusion between the manufacturer and them. A happy mistake.
I had explicitly asked if they could call an hour before delivery - I don't want to be sitting on my ass at home for four hours waiting on these people. They assured me it would be no problem. So when my phone rang this afternoon, I was not expecting the testy dispatcher, who was wondering where I was. Someone forgot to tell the driver to call me. "Can I come now? Will the driver wait?" I ask. They say sure, and I rush out of the office.
As I'm pulling into my neighborhood, I see a delivery truck pulling out - my bed! I call back and the (still-testy) dispatcher says I took too long, they had to move on, and it's the manufacturer's fault anyway, for not telling the delivery people in the first place. I'll have to reschedule. Keep your fingers crossed for me; we're going to try this all again tomorrow.
Did I mention that we're having our wedding reception at the Florida Museum of Natural History? We had considered it, and then decided it was too much. But Kyle changed his mind - the convenience of it being literally down the road from the ceremony site was too appealing to him.
We are saving a bit by not purchasing tickets to the Butterfly Rainforest for people, but I still hope people check it out before the wedding. Seriously, if you have kids, you've got to go see this. When they gave me a tour, I thought I'd see one or two flitting around. No - you walk in and it's like the IBM commercials about going green - it's like landing in technicolor Oz after being in sepia-toned Kansas. Butterflies are everywhere. They land on you. You have got to take your kids!

In fact, they're having a ButterflyFest this weekend, October 18-19.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Regrets and Memories

I was thinking about my grandmother.

If there had to be a downside to my age at the time of this wedding, it would be that none of my grandparents are still alive.

At one time, I was incredibly close to my maternal grandmother. And I wish like hell that she could have been here for my wedding. That part of my family lives far, far away from me, in Maine. When I was little, I, along with my baby brother and my mom, would fly People's Choice Airlines to Maine for the whole summer (People's Choice being the cheapest airline at the time, and there's a very good reason why they're no longer in business...). While my poor father toiled away in Florida, the three of us stayed with my mother's parents, who lived in the middle of nowhere - there's a lot of that in Maine. Did I mention that my mother doesn't drive? Needless to say, I spent vast amounts of time with my mom and my grandmother, going wherever my grandmother wanted to go.

Those were formative years. I learned a lot from her. She wasn't some old fuddy-dud; she still worked as a legal secretary, wore an ear cuff (remember those?) with a silver feather dangling from it. She loved dolls - she gave me two of my mother's childhood dolls, that I try to discreetly display, much to the consternation of my fiance - and she loved Roger Whittaker and Tennessee Ernie Ford.

She would try to sneak grapes into desserts just to torture my lovely, patient grandfather, who for some reason, really hated grapes. She loved the tinny sound of her Japanese car's horn, and would honk at cows just for the hell of it.

I don't know why - I'm sure money was involved - but we stopped going to Maine altogether around the time I was in grade school. And we didn't go back for over ten years. Of course, my grandmother still wrote me and I her, but we lost of lot of time. I lost of lot of time with her - oh, to be so young and foolish; to not realize that the clock doesn't tick forever for those older than you.

When I got my first "professional" job and had a little money, the first thing I did was fly me and my mom up to Maine for my grandparents' 50th anniversary. I think it was shocking to both of us - how grown up I was to my grandmother and how much older she looked to me. A lot had changed. She had stopped dying her hair, she had gotten religious and was teaching Sunday school (!!!). She had spent years raising one of my uncle's two boys during turbulent times.

It was such a blessing that we went on that trip, because a few months later, she had a stroke. And it demolished her. There was a body that still needed to be fed and bathed, but it was not my grandmother. I cannot tell you the relief I felt when she passed away, free from that prison at last. At the funeral, I was a stranger. No one knew who this woman was. "Oh, that's the granddaughter from Florida?" My cousins, two wonderful young men that she had help raise, were the "children" everyone comforted.

People got up and spoke, lovingly and respectfully; I just sobbed. And they were selfish tears. All that time. Gone. All those years I could have had with her, learned from her - missed. I was mad at all these people for not knowing how important I was to her at one time. I was (irrationally) jealous of my cousins for having those years. (Never mind that they would probably have rather had their parents together and happy instead.)

I know I sound like your mother, or some old auntie, but I can't help myself from writing it: if you still have your grandparents, or other older relatives, be glad. Be thankful that they love you and are there. We have no idea how important these moments are to them, seeing their grandchildren become adults, marry, have children or publish a book, start a business. I wish my grandparents could share this time with me.

A rather self-indulgent post, I know. But I expressed similar sentiments in a wedding forum, and the reactions were positive, and incredibly touching - so many women had stories of grandparents loved, never known, lost. Reading over this, I have to say, it's bittersweet; at least I had time with these wonderful, loving people. I can't imagine the hole that might exist for those who never knew their grandparents, or had cold, unloving grandparents.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pretty in Pink

We have two Gebera daisy plants in our front yard, and they've been surprising me with consistent blooms since we moved in. It's usually one at a time, so each time a bloom dies, I always think, "Oh - that was that." And damn if there isn't another little bud uncurling beneath all those heavy, lettuce-like leaves.

This one came out . . . well, squashed. I thought as the petals unfurled it would round itself out, but it looks unlikely:

Just to the right of the bloom you might make out the new little bud that coming up next.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Not too cool

I am, by nature, a timid person.

At first glance you wouldn't think so. I talk - a lot. Sometimes loudly. And I got my blog title the hard way - I earrrrrned it.

(John Housman just rolled over in his grave.)

And I've accomplished things of which I'm very proud. I worked my way through college. I bought my first home as a single woman on a public salary.

But I'm afraid of so many things.

I'm afraid to go into my own attic alone. I'm afraid to jump into water from even the slightest bit of height. I hear every noise in the house at night, and sometimes they keep me up.

But it's my fear of change that's the most frustrating - my fear of doing something wrong, different, embarrassing, "not cool."

I rely on the people around me for acceptance.

There is a certain style of dress that I've always loved: a printed, empire-waisted hippie-type cotton number. And I would try them on and someone would always say, "No - that's not flattering on you" or just "Really?" with an arched eyebrow.

And I would always put it away. Even if I loved the swishy-ness, the wild floral, the silliness of it. And even when I thought it looked nice on - it felt nice on. I put it back on the rack.

I was afraid of looking different than I always look, of looking like I'm trying to be something that I'm not, of trying too hard. That arched eyebrow stayed with me, and I cringed at the idea of people thinking badly of me. Really, I'd rather not be thought of all than be thought of with disdain.

I wish it was only a dress. But it's not. There are classes that I've signed up for and never attended, races I registered for and never ran. If it was something different, something people like me don't do, I was afraid to do it. And more often than not, I didn't.

I think about this now with my wedding. I've looked at so many pictures, web sites, magazines, books. And I've seen some amazing, fantastic stuff. Check out these shoes:

I'd love to show you the whole bridal outfit for context, but that's a little invasive. But I love these shoes - they're like ruby slippers!

And isn't this one of those very few moments in life where the event is supposed to be an expression of you and your spouse-to-be? Where you get to really do what you want to do?

Would I ever wear those shoes? No. Why? Because nobody else I know wears those shoes. And I know, for a fact, that certain people in my life would roll their eyes. "Please. Who's she trying to be?"

I don't know. Maybe this post is my way of chafing at the bit. Stamping my feet and saying, "I'm going to wear what I want wear, damn it! I'm going to go to that concert - if I have to go by myself. I'm going to that 'flaky' seminar on meditation, f*ck you." Maybe not.

Maybe I could just start with the shoes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Too Hot to Blog

The AC is broken in my office, and it's 82 degrees - in the office.

Me and Emily are dying, while the rest of our coworkers are trying to make the best of it (easy to say when you've got a fan, adorable-coworker-who-shall-remain-nameless!).

I don't mind heat. Hell, I grew up in Florida with no air conditioning. I love the beach. I like working up a good sweat. But sweating at your desk while you're supposed to be thinking - that's not a good sweat. Usually when you're sweating, you're enjoying yourself, be it exercise, outdoor activities, lounging about in a bathing suit, engaging in, you know, a loving moment. Looking up information on shallots as a plant for your fall garden? Not so much.

Add the hassle of evil, sneaky Best Buy credit card minions and a bed that won't be showing up for another month, and you've got misery. Seriously - imagine the hell of trying to find a human to speak with on the phone, and then that person's first language is obviously not English and their whole job description is "Whatever you do, don't let them drop the 'credit protection plan.'" Now add stickiness and heat.

Yeah, it's that kind of day.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cooked-book and the new flat screen

After a protracted battle with Best Buy (let's just say we're not big fans anymore), the new stand for Kyle's flat-screen television finally came in.

This is one of those "Venus-Mars" things. Seriously, you would have thought it was Christmas around here when the stand was delivered. It's as if the kick-ass television wasn't enough; it just wouldn't be whole without its special stand.

He had to assemble the stand (it came in a pizza-flat box), and every so often he'd call me out to the front room to check out the progress. You should have seen the disappointment in his face when he realized I wasn't appropriately thrilled.

I mean, it's a TV stand. It's not like it's a . . . oh, I don't know, a car or a puppy or anything.

I don't get it. But he loves it, and it makes him happy, and that's a good thing. I thought now would be a good time to take a photo:

Less exciting, but more amusing (at least in my definition of "amusing"), is my little accident a few nights ago.

I was starting dinner, and due to the poor lighting in the kitchen, was trying to do everything on the stovetop, where there's an overhead light in the exhaust hood. This included referencing my favorite cookbook of all time, "How to Cook Everything," by the incomparable Mark Bittman.

Apparently I have stovetop dyslexia. On our stove, each burner's dial is marked with four circles, with the circle representing that particular burner darkened. Instead of turning on the back right burner for the potatoes I wanted to boil, I had instead turned on the front right burner, upon which was resting - my cookbook.

Thank God the slight scorching caused a bit of smoke, or who knows what would have happened?

Ah well; as my friend Kim said, it's just a sign of a well-loved cookbook.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wildlife on the Job

Our building has a nice swath of nature around it. Thanks to our fabulous landscape instructor Erin, we have a beautiful garden right outside the door. We haven't taken photos since it got gorgeous (just installation photos of guys in jeans and camo hats with shovels and dirt). But I did take a photo of a butterfly feeding from our firebush plant.

Most of our flowering plants are popular with butterflies, which means there are days when walking up to the building is a lovely, Disney-like experience.

We have a bit of wildlife, mostly squirrels and birds. My coworkers have been entranced by a huge hawk that frequents the pine trees. I'm not much of a bird person, so I've been blowing them off: "Pfft, you guys are obsessed with that thing."

But yesterday the hawk sat on a pine branch long enough for everyone to start talking about it, for such a time that finally, I figured I should at least be social and go look at the thing. Having a chance to size it up, I have to admit I was impressed. It's HUGE! And it's a beautiful golden brown color.

He (they've decided it's a "he") was obviously stalking something or chilling, because I actually had time to grab my camera and ease outside for a photo. I really had to zoom, so it's fuzzy.