Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Sorry. I look like one of those maniacally happy people. I promise to work on that in 2010.

Q: Wait -- what about the traditional Kovach cat holiday photo?
A: Franc and Kina aren't crazy about New Year's celebrations. Is this because they eat dinner at 11 pm, and therefore have trouble staying awake past 11:2o? Or because their mother can't in good conscience make them New Year's hats to wear for the occasion? (Not yet, with the Christmas hats are so fresh, or I risk becoming one of those ladies who dresses their pets). Or maybe Franc and Kina are bitter that they're too young (and feline) for the champagne. Possibly they're also too busy taking ornaments off the Christmas tree to celebrate the beginning of a new year (True story: The tree comes down tomorrow just in time, because Franc's taken about half the decorations off, and strewn them around the house. He leaves them by my bedside like little dead bird gifts. And he has a point. He tracked them down in a tree).

two excuses

I have been a bad blogger. (Which reminds me, I should tell you about the crazy socks I got from my mother-in-law. They say "naughty and nice" on them, and feature a picture of a decapitated gingerbread boy. Love it.)

Here are my two excuses:
(1) I have been overwhelmed by the holidays and working, two words that should not be in the same sentence ... but that is my sentence, because I work in a residential program.
(2) Our (neighbor's) internet at home has not been working reliably. Sometimes. So that's a bad excuse.
But your holiday gift to me can be to cut me some slack, because I had to work on Christmas. (Is it selfish if I think of that as one more reason for all you kids out there to practice safe sex? Use condoms, and put me out of a job on Christmas!)

And here is a story about how God gives you what you need when you need it.

I have a resident who is mildly retarded and bipolar. Let's call her Princess, but don't feel sorry for her! She is a bully, and I blame her for the fact that I was compelled to top off my coffee with a little Baileys yesterday (morning at 10:00). The past few days, she has been giving me way more than I know how to handle, and with the holidays, there aren't other staff members in the building for me to lean on (or send her to harass). Yesterday two of my sweetest clients were in the lounge watching television, and I got there fast when I saw Princess walk in and heard her start cursing. She was pitching a small fit, and quickly moved to the television and begin changing the channel. She continued to flip through the channels as she argued with me -- she hasn't really accepted that the lounge is a community area, and she has to share it with other people. The other girls avoid it, since Princess resides there almost constantly, and she's not exactly a peach. I told her if she couldn't socialize appropriately, she would have to leave, and living in community means blah blah blah. She argued, she cursed, she continued to change the channel, she refused to leave, she yelled... while the other ladies in the room looked at me wide-eyed. I came closer than I ever have to losing it. So I seized an opportunity to walk away, and happened to check my email.

On behalf the Professionalism Committee we would like to congratulate Karen K. for being selected staff for the December Character trait of Patience- The quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

Maybe there's a little Holy Ghost in me after all. Thank goodness I wasn't the only one working over the holiday.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from meowr house to yours

Holiday news you can use: It takes a couple of tries to get a decent family portrait with two cats and a self-timer.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas funk

It feels like a crappy Christmas. Please, God, help me to celebrate the things that matter.

Monday, December 14, 2009

This and that

Although I forgot to pack any underwear, Abe and I had a wonderful weekend in rural Virginia. (Don't worry. We stopped at K-Mart. I was the crazy person navigating the rental car, lost, and looking for where we were supposed to be going not nearly so much as I was looking for a place to buy panties.)

I am also days behind at work, and days ahead at Christmas presents. Of course, that means I'm taking on one more project, because I might be crazy, and it wouldn't be Christmas if I wasn't stress-crafting!

Oh, and today one of my (African American) clients found out that I was born in Africa, and said that makes me a "half nigger." ARE YOU SERIOUS? Was the African or the white girl in me more offended?

Cheers.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

No shame

I think that my sister is making fun of me (it's hard to tell... she lives in Haiti) because I made Santa hats for our kittens. But I have no shame.

There is a giant, live Christmas tree in my apartment right now, which is proof that putting your cat in a Santa hat will get you whatever you want. This is what they mean when they say "the magic of Christmas." It's the cat in the hat.

When I put little Kina's hat on, I think the grinch inside my (incredibly loving but Christmas-hating) husband ran screaming or melted. Because it was too cute. He couldn't stand it. And surprise! The next day, he took me Christmas tree shopping. (We found a perfect one, and hung all 12 of our ornaments on it last night.)

Even the cats feel the magic, because when Abe tries to put the hats away, they look for them. Abe hid them behind some things on the bookcase last night, and then - what? Franc, where did you get that adorable Santa hat to carry around in your mouth like a dog?

So, Lexi, maybe if you're lucky, little Luna will get a Santa hat this Christmas, and make all of your dreams come true.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How to make a Santa hat : Your furry friend edition

Here is a confession: I have no Christmas decorations in my house. (Another confession: That's sort of a lie. Last night, I hung our Christmas stockings from the top of the TV.) Christmas decorations are problematic around here, because
  1. We already spent all our Christmas money on gifts.
  2. We both have to work Christmas Eve and Christmas anyway.
  3. Abe is a Christmas-hater. He says "Bah, humbug," and sprints past the storefronts where they're selling wreaths, because he knows I want one.
I make do with other round things.

So instead of decorating the apartment, I made decorations for the cats. The tiny Santa hats I came up with are so cute that I'm convinced it was tiny kittens in Santa hats that melted Scrooge's heart, and not visits from ghosts. (Am I right? Ghosts are not even real.)

Here's what you need to melt the heart of your own Scrooge with Santa hats for your pets:
  • paper
  • red felt
  • white feather boa (and white pom poms, if you prefer those for the top)
  • needle and thread (red and white)
  • scissors
  • elastic (I used hair elastics cut in the middle, which was cheap and awesome, since I have a stash of elastics without hair to put in them)
(Also recommended: Trader Joe's Gingerbread Coffee, which is superior to flavored coffee in every way because it's made with real pieces of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.)

Start by cutting a circle out of your paper. This is to create a pattern for the cone of the hat. I recommend tracing something round, or using a protractor to get a circle that's even all around. Make a cut from the edge to the center of the circle, and fold it around until the cone shape is the width and height that you want. Mark a line where that is, and cut a pie-piece out of the circle that's 1/2 to 1/4 inch larger than the cone you want. Now you're ready to cut your felt, using the pattern you created from paper.

At this point, you'll want to stay-stitch, which means grab your red thread and needle, and stitch all around the circumfrance (by which I mean just the rounded side), about 1/4 inch from the edge. This going to help your felt keep its shape as you work. Don't worry if it's crooked - it'll be covered by the trim.

Next, you form your cone. You'll want to pin a couple places to make sure you don't end up with a big hole in the top of your hat, and then stitch from the bottom up to the tip. At this point, your hat should look like this one. (Kina kept tabs on my progress, because she fell in love with the feather boa and couldn't wait for me to get to that part.)
You're ready to attach your strap. (I used dark elastic because that matches my cats best, and it's brilliant - you can't even tell it's strapped on. so I recommend choosing a color that will blend with your pet.) If you want the seam to be in the back of the hat, fold your cone in half, with the seam in the center. Tuck your elastic into one side like so:And stitch the elastic to the felt on both sides. All that's left are the trimmings! Cut a short piece from your feather boa (an inch or a little more) to top the hat with, and measure around the bottom circumference to cut the piece for the bottom trim. (I used fabric glue on the cut ends to try to manage the deluge of feathers coming off the boa, and that seemed to do the trick.) Use your white thread to stitch your feather trim to the hat. Kina got a fitting before I added the final trim.
And ta da! Franc can't wait to (m)eat the reindeer.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Did you ever make out with your cat?

I ask because I did, and I don't want to be judged too harshly. I'm already thinking about the jail time, because I know sexual acts and maybe even romantic gestures involving animals are illegal in some states. Plus it was an accident. And I don't want to go to jail!

Neither does Kina. She's in hiding.

Kina has this thing about toothpaste, a crazy little thing (called love). I discovered it when she was a kitten, and I put toothpaste on my toothbrush, walked away to answer the phone, and returned to find a naked toothbrush and a tiny kitten sitting by the sink. She had her mouth open just a little bit, and she was looking around from side to side, like "golly, surely somebody'll come by and notice how I'm minty fresh!" I freaked out and called the vet, who told me not to worry. Who knew? A lot of cats have unusual tastes. (Just at my house, their tastes require veterinarians.)

So since then, we don't leave our toothpaste unattended. And since then we do this thing after we brush (besides leaving travel covers on our toothbrushes to keep her from sucking on them). I'll open my mouth really wide, and she gets really, really close, and sniff, sniff, sniff. When I let her do this, I am very popular, and since the rest of the time, she could take me or leave me and doesn't seem to care either way, I let her do this all the time. (Shut up. You have issues too.)

Tonight it was just the same old thing. And then she kissed me. She actually licked my tongue. So really, I'm the victim here.

Fa la la la meow

I like pretty much everything about our vet -- except for their insane prices (which I think is fairly universal vet practice) and their recommendation of Advantage Multi to melt the skin off our cats.

I especially like that they send me e-cards for all the important kitty holidays, like Kina's birthday, Franc's birthday, and Christmas. These aren't just any e-cards. These are the e-creepiest cards ever. (Be sure to watch all the way to the end, to see the ultimate creepy kitten Christmas dinner.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Good news is good news

I unexpectedly had an awesome day at work today. Right now, the hall I work on is packed. I've been losing my mind dealing with high-maintenance clients, their unborn children, their abundant baggage, and their developmental, substance abuse, and mental health issues.

But today was the best I've had in months. All my residents got along! I had productive meetings! There was laughter! There was news of a bonus (holla!) that I wasn't expecting! There was an encouraging conversation with my supervisor, when she told me she understands second-shift burn-out, and is willing to put out 'feelers' for me on some potential new grant-funded positions!

On a high from all of this positivity, I agreed to be the agency's Substance Abuse Coordinator. It's not a new job or a promotion - more of a title I'm taking on for grant purposes (I tell myself this over and over to ease the fear that I'm taking on more responsibility without more compensation. Again). I'll continue to do the substance abuse work I've been doing since I started: dragging reluctant and sometimes kicking-and-screaming women to NA meetings, administering a drug/alcohol assessment tool to new residents, convincing (read: bribing, pleading, begging) residents to attend their recommended treatment classes day after day after day.... And pee testing.

So a little good news may be a dangerous thing. But I still want to celebrate.

Sibling rivalry : I lose.

I've got nothing to compete with the cute kitten pictures on Ben and Lexi's blog - just some pictures of brussel sprouts because I was thinking of posting a recipe soon (they're cream-braised! With lemon! And still, not so appealing as a kitten).

And I also have this:
This list is an awesome resource if you're cutting back on expensive gifts this Christmas, and need a few good homemade suggestions, or if you're just at that point in life when everyone you know is having babies (93 maternity/infant/toddler tutorials?! Even I don't know that many pregnant women!).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Decaf is my kryptonite

Abe and I went out for breakfast this morning with an old friend. We went to our usual breakfast place, and ordered our usual breakfast coffee. But it tasted burnt, so I very, very nicely asked our server for a fresh cup. (I used to wait tables on busy Saturdays too. So I mean it when I say I asked nicely.)

I was yawning as I finished my second cup. We all were! That's how we knew we'd been decafed. I got home and slept ... slept ... slept. It wasn't just a litte cat nap, it was a New York City Napathon. I woke up disoriented, with a headache. Like I was drugged! And half of my Saturday was gone. So a lump of coal to servers everywhere who think they're too busy to brew the regular.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Reconstruction

They say that behind every crafter, there is a room full of unfinished crafts. If that were true of me, there wouldn't be room for Abe in our little one-bedroom. So I'm very proud to announce that my number one unfinished craft is complete!
I started this apron last year for Kimberly's birthday. I made some good progress before my sewing machine started "acting a fool".* My dad can fix anything, so he came over recently to help me set my machine aright. And we were off! I finished the apron shortly before Kimberly's birthday this year. (All the good crafts do seem to go to her house.)
This was the first thing I've sewn without any kind of pattern, and I made it from an enormous wraparound skirt I bought at Goodwill (by enormous, I mean like Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirt, in which we could all wear it together for traveling in order to pay much less for our tickets). This was brilliant on my part, because it means the cute details came ready-made: red hem tape! a button! flirty red lining! The key to this project is finding a massive enough skirt to begin with (and one with a cute lining, since it will show). You need enough material for the bottom half of the apron (I used the existing front of the skirt to get the wraparound detail), the top half, those seam allowances, and all the ties. I had enough lining to make a pocket, and just to be cute I reused a little of the hem tape across the top like so:
Fabric and notions - buttons and hem tape - can be a little pricey, so reconstructing an existing garment is a great way to save your cash. All in all, a success, and a project I'd recommend if you're going homemade for your gifts this holiday.

*Do you like that? It's a little something I picked up at work, along with the cough/cold/flu that knocked me out for most of the month.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving from the Kovaches!

I was unable to recruit any turkeys for this picture, because Franc kept giving them the "dinner" eye. So I settled for a picture of Franc thankful for Kina (who's just thankful that my crazy cat lady holiday photo shoot is over), with their Trader Joe's Turkey and Giblet dinners. Cheese!


Here's to your Thanksgiving holidays - may you have a wonderful day with family, and may your turkey dinner not come in a can.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

If all dogs go to heaven, is there a special place for me in hell?

I just gave Franc and Kina their monthly treatment for flea/tick/ear mite/heartworm/hookworm/roundworm/for-the-price-it-should-clean-the-litter-box-too. We have a sort of routine for this by now. Kina is smaller and has more secret places to hide, so I get her first. I have to sneak up behind her and take advantage of her desire to cuddle. (This may be why she's not big on the cuddles.) As soon as the tube is empty, she takes off. Franc catches on to what's happening, and makes a dash for it. He has to take a fat kitty-sized dose, so I sit on him. And then they both hide under the bed to sulk and probably lick it all off.

I thought they were just being difficult about taking medicine, until I dripped a little of the solution on my cell phone case. And it melted the plastic.

So toot that horn, Advantage, for your 100% percent effectiveness, because enough acid will kill anything! And I now I fear PETA may be coming for me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fly away, bird-induced headache! My 'Spool' Bird Mobile is complete.

A few months ago, I fell in love with this. It was the perfect project - I would improve my hand-sewing, and have an adorable birthday gift for my two year old sister-in-law. The sewing went pretty well - so well, I had plans to make another in all white for Christmas, and another for you, and while I was at it, one for every pregnant person I know (which is a lot; it's an occupational hazard). But that all changed when I got to assembling the blasted thing, and turned into this.

Hopefully you'll find the hand sewing therapeutic like I did, because by the time you get to the end, you'll be needing some therapy. Here are the other things you need to make your very own birdmobile:
  1. the bird pattern, which is a FREE pdf, right here
  2. scraps of fabric in coordinating prints. I chose pinks and greens, since those are the colors in AK's room.Tip: I harvested cloth from little girl's outfits from the thrift store. This is clever because they have all the right colors and you won't end up with tons left over.
  3. needle and thread
  4. cotton - to stuff the birds (I bought a terrible throw pillow from Goodwill and gutted it.)
  5. sticks
  6. topstitching or upholstery thread - that's to hang the branches from each other
  7. a dremel tool
  8. fish hooks, straightened
  9. hot glue/crazy glue
  10. the patience of a saint - or my father, since he is the only person I know who can get through (more than) five hours of balancing a bird mobile and still have his sanity
Once you've sewn and stuffed all your birds (I used 11), set aside a long afternoon to assemble your mobile. Since I found that tips about assembly were seriously lacking, here are some of the things that we learned:
  1. Map out which branches to put where, and start at the bottom.
  2. Don't be silly. Sewing the birds to the branches and tying the branches to each other would be simple enough, but because of the weight of the birds on the top of the branches, you end up with a batmobile. This is where the dremel and fish hooks come in.
  3. Use the dremel to drill a tiny hole in your branch(es). You'll insert the straightened fish hook into that hole, and thread your upholstery thread through the top of the fish hook. The fish hook is going to provide leverage, or something else that comes from physics, that will keep your branches from flipping over with the weight of the birds. See?
  4. Use the crazy glue to reinforce all your knots, because trust me - you're not going to want to do this twice.
  5. Hot glue is more effective than sewing in terms of keeping the birds upright on the branches; using both glue and thread will make it all more sturdy.
  6. For our easiest branch, we ran the middle bird straight through so that the topstitching thread runs through him, tying to the branch beneath him and the branch above him. This is an easy way to get your birds and branches balanced, so try to plan so that most of your branches can hang this way.
In the end, it's not perfect, but it's sure cute enough. I take comfort from Odgen Nash: "But a bird in the open never looks like its picture in the birdie books." Producing 11 identical hand-sewn sparrows escaped me, but I like to think that the movement and the sticks ("real sticks!" That's what the five year old at the birthday party liked) distract the eye from noticing my mistakes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Zen then, sore now

Today one of my clients said that I'm "thick as cold grits." And there was general agreement.

It was meant as a compliment, but it's not exactly what I wanted to hear after dragging my tired, lazy bones out of bed this morning to work out.

I went to a yoga/pilates class at 9:15, and afterward I was feeling so zen and great about life that I made a grievous error: I went to shop for yoga pants. I should clarify that while I'm a generally tiny person, I have the hips and posterior of a much larger, more African woman. And I think those hips may be the reason why yoga doesn't come from Africa. They don't make pants for hips like this. Of course I had to try on twelve pairs to realize it, and then I came home and cried over the cats' breakfast that I can't work out because I'm too fat to work out -- which of course was ridiculous. I meant too "thick."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sorry, Mom. No grandbabies.

(Also, sorry, Internet! Most of November whooshed by while I was busy breeding violent strains of a cough/cold/flu virus like the world has never seen before. I'm feeling better now. And I recommend the Vick's.)

Today at work, we kicked off three days of RealCare, which is not a program in which I pretend to actually care for three days in a row (but since you brought it up, we should probably consider implementing one of those). RealCare is that fake baby thing that they do in high schools to promote not getting pregnant, and that we're doing here to "increase awareness about issues related to caring for an infant." Like wanting to leave the fake baby in a dumpster and run for the hills? That's one issue.

As far as the program goes, the RealCare babies have only been activated for two hours, and let me testify! It works. At least, it works on me. And you can trust me: after the last 120 minutes of non-stop simulated baby crying, we are all in a state of dangerously increased awareness about issues related to caring for an infant.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Boo.

Happy Halloween from the Kovach family!

Friday, October 30, 2009

This is how we do it :: Sick Day Edition

This is my one hundredth post. So congratulations, blog. You are a century old.

I admit I had sort of planned a special "100th" post, which was going to feature 100 fun facts about me. I even wrote 20 last week before I hit "save now." And now I wish there was just a "save" button to rescue that idea from the drafts box. Because today I'm too busy making tea for Abe and blowing my nose to think of 80 more things about myself. (80? I think that's the number of tissues I've used in the past two days.)

I'm sick with a cold, and Abe came home from work last night with flu symptoms, so today we both called in sick. So far today we have slept until almost noon, fed the cats, and put laundry in the dryer. Also, we cooked a huge breakfast like this:
but not exactly this, because this picture's from our trip to Tennessee. (What can I say, it's a breakfast favorite: eggs with mushrooms and spinach and breakfast potatoes with onions, garlic, and orange peppers). You can hardly expect me to cook and take pictures, with this rhinovirus taking over my body.

Later, Abe says, our plans include long naps, lengthy movies, and laying back. And I'm considering a butternut squash soup.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Snack of the day

Here it is, and it is so easy that even you can make it at home. Yes, I mean you, Dad, who does not cook anything except in the microwave. And you, college student, who lives in a dorm room with only a mini-fridge and one set of plastic dishes. (No, I don't mean you, Karen! You ate an average of 3 donuts a day over the weekend, so you can't have any ice cream.)

It goes a little something like this: Chop up some salted almonds. Put them on top of vanilla ice cream. Mmmm.

I don't have a picture of the ice cream, because that's what God gave you an imagination for. But I do have a picture of the donuts.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hollenbeck's Cider Mill: homage in haiku

Jams, jellies, fresh pies
Watch them press sweet cider. Yum!
Do we have to leave?

Local apples? Tons!
In crates bigger than me/you.
Also local cheese.

Best donuts ever.
You should smell the apple smell!
Now I am fat-so.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Amusez-vous

You'll have to suffer without me until Monday, because Abe and I are off to New York this weekend for a quick visit with some of his relatives. Since his grandfather owns a cider mill in Cortland, I'm fairly certain that I'll be too busy admiring the fall foliage and eating pie to update.

Til then, cheers!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Me and my bluetooth

I crave presents. See? I can't get enough.

One of my presents this birthday was a bluetooth headset. I was a little surprised when Abe handed it to me, and thought that either my mother bribed him to give it to me, or my husband is under the impression that I am a terrible driver. (Surely not because I told him that I once tried to back out of my parent's garage with the garage door still closed? And it can't be from the time that I got my car stuck in the landscaping at a local shopping center? Hey. It was dark. I was tired.)

Anyway, at first I resisted the bluetooth, because:

  1. I blame my bad driving on genetics (sorry, Mom), not cell phone use.
  2. And I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone under the age of 40 using a bluetooth outside of a cell phone store.
  3. And people who use bluetooths walk around looking like they're talking to themselves.
  4. And I look crazy enough all by myself. (See above).
  5. And my mom used to drive me crazy, trying to answer her phone when her bluetooth was set to automatically pick up. I would hear her faintly say, "hello?" and I would shout, "Mom! I'm on your headseat, in your purse!" and she would hang up on me. I thought, "A bluetooth makes me feel frustrated and small and helpless."
But then I tried it. I turned it on, and this bluetooth voice spoke into my ear. It told me, "Say command." And a whole new world was born. In this new world, I am powerful. I am Batlady!* I speak, and my bluetooth obeys. I imagine that I can tell my bluetooth to do anything, and it will. Cleaning the litter box, taking cough medicine, and working on holidays are no longer things I have to face alone! Because if I wanted to, I think I could tell my bluetooth, "You do it." My bluetooth has empowered me, and so far, I have kept this wonderful illusion alive by limiting my commands to a short list (which appears on my phone when you push the bluetoothy button. Another miracle: My bluetooth can cooperate with technology! This is amazing, since alone I have trouble convincing a photocopier to put out). I say, "Call [anyone]." And it does! My bluetooth asks "Did you say, 'call [anyone]'?" And I say "you know it!"** And it says, "Calling..." I can say "Listen voicemail" (like a caveman, but I don't think they had voicemail. Probably just actual snail mail). I can say "Time and date," and my bluetooth will tell me. I can say "missed calls," and my bluetooth will list who and when. Having a bluetooth is better than having a secretary, because you don't have to pay their wages or worry they'll seduce your partner.

Here are other great things about my bluetooth:
  1. I can call you while I'm washing dishes. Look, Ma! No hands!
  2. I look like I'm crazy, so people leave me alone.
  3. It is the only way I know to make my clients be quiet. They come to the pod shouting, and I point to my ear. Suddenly, their voice drops to a loud whisper. "I'm sorry! I didn't know you were on the phone." (No, Ma, I don't usually answer my phone at work. But sometimes work folk call me on my cell, so I keep it handy.)
  4. It's smaller than my earrings. (I wear big earrings. This is because I am "so native," according to my noisy clients.)
  5. "With the flexible bluetooth headsets, the drivers have no need to answer a telephone during driving. So it makes sure drivers’ safety. So for those business men, bluetooth headsets actually play a key role during driving. It releases drivers’ hands free and enhances extra safety." (New rule! You have to read that article, because it is awesome. Maybe the most awesome thing about it is that it was edited by Cynthia. You catch me? It was edited.)

Now Abe wants his own bluetooth, so we'll have blueteeth! (Don't tell my dentist. I would hate to cause undue alarm. This must be what all those whitening products are for.)

*because of my incredible powers due to amazing technology, not because I'm bats-in-my-belfry crazy. That is just insulting.
** actually, "yes."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

American By Birth. Southern By The Grace Of God.

That, from an actual bumper sticker, and this photo, are proof that I went to Tennessee. You never know when you might need an alibi, so it's always good to have proof. Like when the ASPCA comes a-knockin' on my door, asking if I consider myself to be a competant cat mother when my cats have fleas for the second time in a year. I'll be fine! I have proof. I'll just show them this photo as evidence that I was out of town that weekend. (And then I can go to jail for sure, because I don't think the ASPCA is very pro-coon skin cap.)

The thing about my cats having fleas? That's true. I'm not too worried, because I am basically a professional exterminator at this point. In college I lived in a house where the infestation was so bad that the university paid to put us all up in a schmancy hotel. While we enjoyed the heated pool and complained about the long walk to campus, they built a tent over the entire building and flea-bombed repeatedly. Last year I freaked out when a friend's pet brought fleas into our apartment. Poor kittens. They were more annoyed by incessant searching through their fur for fleas than they were by the fleas. Also, we vacuumed constantly (ah-ha!), and they hate the vacuum. This time, I'm handling the situation like a seasoned professional. (This means that I threw down everything I was doing when Abe found the first flea in order to run to the vet for flea/tick/heartworm drops that cost almost as much as two nights in Tennessee.)

The thing about two nights in Tennessee is Can I Have Them, Please? Because the only thing I didn't like about our mini-vacation to Gatlinburg was the fact that it ended. It was a-maz-ing, and I took pictures of our meals like food blogging's my job. Lucky for the internet, food blogging is not my job, because we ate mostly unoriginal things like pizza biscuits and pecan pancakes and grilled chicken/grilled vegetables. But it was delicious, and I can't spoil Christmas by posting about my Christmas crafts, so you can look forward to reading about it anyway.

I also have pictures of nearly everything else we did - nearly - so you can look forward to some scenic vistas, since I have given up entirely on posting photos on facebook. More like, I-want-to-hit-you-in-the-face-book, because you keep loading all my pictures over and over again like everything's fine, and then telling me "upload failed!" after twenty minutes. Facebook, you are fired.

(I may overdone it with the coffee today. Is it that obvious?)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's my birthday, y'all

Leave me your best birthday wishes, because Abe is whisking me away to a cabin in the Tennessee mountains! When I get back, I'll have exciting stories to tell about how we ate, slept, watched an obscene number of movies, and soaked in the hot tub on the deck of our cabin.

And I'll definitely try to liven it up in here, because I know it's been a little quiet this week. See you on Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Productivity

It's not a great week for blogging. It has, though, been a great week for finishing craft projects. Unfortunately, all of them are gifts, and I therefore won't be posting them here for a while.

So like I said, not a great week for blogging.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dear Jesus,

Thanks for giving me coffee, a loving husband, and a great weekend. I'm so grateful for my weekend, in fact, that it would be fine if You wanted to make it last longer. I mean, since You're God, and if it wouldn't be too much trouble.

Also, please watch over my family on their travels. I trust them in Your hands, because You've been so good to me.

Amen.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My bad

Lately, I've sort of been busy waiting for God to tell me what's next. Or maybe I've been busy telling Him what I'd like to be next (Earthship on a little plot of land, Masters in vocational or school counseling, light-weight Franc, and maybe a trip overseas. Thanks, God, for asking!)
I've been getting impatient. And restless. And grouchy. My bad.
If you want to know how real you are, test yourself by these words - "Come unto Me." In every degree in which you are not real, you will dispute rather than come, you will quibble rather than come, you will go through sorrow rather than come, you will do anything rather than come the last lap of unutterable foolishness - "Just as I am." As long as you have the tiniest bit of spiritual impertinence, it will always reveal itself in the fact that you are expecting God to tell you to do a big thing, and all He is telling you to do is to "come."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Memoir of my weekend

Because I miss it, and I have to survive three more work days before I get another one.

Franc shows Blue who's boss
Mathematically, my cute nephew > your cute nephew. Abe's holding him, and you can see Leslie in the background. Hi, Leslie!
Anna Kathryn, my littlest sister-in-law, playing with Samson's car seat and looking like a doll baby. And look! You can read her mama's blog over here.
Hannah (who is Samson's mom), made more than a bun in her oven.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Apple Blueberry Crisp for one

Here is what I learned on Saturday: Dessert for 20 people is no problem if they gorge themselves on snacks and three kinds of casserole first. It also helps if you are upstaged by your incredible sister-in-law, who somehow manages to pack both a 6 week old baby and two homemade apple pies. Don't worry - this crisp dessert is so easy that if your sister-in-law (and her pie) is as amazing as mine, you won't feel remotely bitter that her pies got all the attention. (In fact, that's actually an ingenius tactic to make sure you get to eat more crisp yourself.)

So here's how to make yummy Apple Blueberry Crisp that will feed 50, if you stuff them full enough first and serve it with ice cream. (Or one, if you leave it alone with me for 5 minutes.)

Peel and slice four apples. Mix the slices with a splash of lemon juice, a dash of cinnamon, and a small handful of sugar. Stir! Put the apples in a 9x13 pan, then sprinkle on a decent cup on blueberries. (Frozen is fine) It should look like this:
You're almost done. Already? Yes. I told you it was easy.

In another bowl, mix a cup of oats, 1/3 cup of flour (whole wheat, please!), another dash of cinnamon, a small handful of brown sugar, an even smaller handful of white sugar, a little lemon zest, and a stick of butter. A stick? Yes. I promised delicious, not low-cholesterol. No one said this was health food. Use a wooden spoon or a pastry cutter if you have it to mix the topping together. Do not get smart and think that a whisk is really just a pastry cutter on a long handle. All the butter will immediately jump to hide inside the whisk, and with one stupid idea, you will have turned this easy recipe into the stuff of nightmares where there are oats eternally glued under your fingernails.

Drop bits of topping all over your berry/apple mix, and bake at 375 for about half an hour. Ta da!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Numbers

This weekend:
Number of warm bodies in my house: 6
Number of bedrooms in my house: 1
Number of warm bodies in the bedroom at my house on four legs: 3
Number of warm bodies that were feline: 2
Number of warm bodies that were 70 pound labs: 1
Number of felines successfully befriended by the lab: 0
Number of meals eaten at home: maybe 1?
Number of potlucks attended: 2
Number of calories consumed: more than enough for everyone who attended, everyone reading this and the 70 pound lab.

And today?
Number of enflamed tonsils in my throat: 2
Number of times the chiropractor adjusted my neck this morning: 4
Number of cookies I was inspired to bake for him: 100
Number of residents on my case load: 17
Number of times I've checked the clock to see if it's 11:00 yet: 1,000

Friday, October 2, 2009

What would Jesus do [for Fluffy]?

Today on my way to work, I drove by a sign posted on the lawn of a church. It said "Blessing of Pets - Oct 4."

Where do I sign up? And would it help with the weight loss?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Atkins Diet for Cats

That's what the vet prescribed for Franc when he went in today for his rabies vaccine and distemper booster shot. (I need them to make that for people.)

"Atkins for Catkins." That's what I wanted to call this post, but I decided I should try not to let on how crazy I am, at least not so soon in our relationship.

Apparently, canned cat food is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, which is just what Dr. Atkins ordered for People. Another bonus? It contains more water than dry cat food (duh! But I promise I'm going somewhere with this), which is good for cats and good for me, because Franc likes knocking over the water bowl to play in it more than he likes drinking from it. And I'm tired of cleaning up.

By some strange coincidence that makes me appear much more organized than I am (so I'll mention it here), Franc was seen at the vet exactly a year ago today. He was a little more than 3 months old, and weighed 2.15 pounds.
Franc with his grandpa Paul, circa Sept. 14, 2008

Today, he weighed 11, which means he has quadrupled in size in 12 months (I think), and needs to lose 3 pounds. (Me too.) It turns out that's the equivalent of a Person losing 30 pounds, so we'll be instituting Fitness for Franc. Maybe on Fridays, because it alliterates so nicely.

Since we're already feeding him the recommended 1/4 cup of dry food twice a day (No more! No, Franc, you really can't have more.), the vet told us to put him on a canned food diet and increase exercise. So of course I told him to chase his kitten sister around the house twice daily and spend more time jumping into the bed with me.

He said, "I hate you, Mother, for making me see the mean cat doctor. And where is my dinner?"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Because I promised

The international festival at UNCC is a big deal. I'm talking live music, traditional dancers from just about everywhere, and more booths than John Wilkes. Abe and I went on Saturday with some friends, and it was highly entertaining. Note to self: bring cash next time! I'm a sucker for some international snacks.

Afterward, we went to dinner with our friends and a whole slew of their friends. I was going to make this whole post about how Abe accidentally hit me in head in front of them, because I thought "ow!" and "this will be hilarious later!" It turns out I didn't know any of those people well enough for it to turn into anything except humiliations galore. (Surprise! Not all accidents are funny.)

So I'm out a good story for today.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Benefits versus risks of napping

I put myself to sleep this afternoon trying to write a blog post. (You can thank me later and in monetary ways that you'll never have to read that one.) The nap was great, thanks for asking. Try back tomorrow.

And in the meantime, here is Franc in the bath!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Get a life

What are you doing here? It's the weekend, and you should have something better to do.

(In case I don't, come back tomorrow! I just may write about the International Festival at UNCC and our delicious dinner afterward, when Abe socked me in the head in front of 8 strangers.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

5 things to love about Google Analytics

If you have a website, you need Google Analytics now. Right now. Why is it my favorite website? Since you twisted my arm, I'll make a list.
  1. It tells me everything about you. (Don't worry, not your social security number.) By you, I mean you people out there reading this. It tells me if you have dial-up or broadband. It tells me your rough geographic locations. It tells me which of my blog pages you most enjoy looking at. It tells me how many "you" are.
  2. It revealed that I have a reader in Pakistan. Hello, Islamabad! I am glad you're here.
  3. How did you find me? Some of you came via Lexi's blog. Some of you stopped by after visiting Joie. Some of you came from Google!
  4. Google led you here when you were looking for "out of office email jury duty," "pool side fun blog," and "worldwide pants" (really?!) This sort of makes my day.
  5. All of this information - and believe me, more - is presented in clever little line graphs and pie charts. And who doesn't like pie?! I remember nothing from school about Cartesian coordinates or x- and y- axes, so it boggles my mind that Google Analytics writes them about me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

There's no place like home

Around 8:30 this morning, I walked through our apartment complex to meet a friend for coffee (Hi, Kendall!). There were five undercover cops in the parking lot - or at least, I'm telling myself they were undercover cops, because they had weapons and radios strapped all over their legs. You ask what kind of neighborhood needs undercover cops before breakfast?

I'll tell you: a safer neighborhood than the one where the guys with guns aren't cops.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How to floss

I went to the dentist recently. I hate the dentist more than other people, because I have rotten teeth. Not actually rotten, but soft and cavity-prone. After my exam, the dentist always looks at me in a disappointed way, and tells me I have bad teeth and four cavities, and then writes me a prescription for toothpaste, never failing to mention that usually, only the very elderly have to resort to prescription toothpaste. And I feel ashamed, like a kid with a bad report card demoted to a remedial class. (When I lived in Portland, I had a hot man-dentist. That made it worse. I hated seeing him - by which I mean I hated him seeing my lousy teeth).

This time, the dentist finished the exam, and said "everything looks good!" Shocked, I said, "weawy?" (meaning "really," because it's hard to talk with someone's hand in your mouth). Surprised at my surprise, the dentist said "yup."

I suspect he may be blind, or maybe just bad at his job. But I'm going to keep seeing him anyway, because he made me feel great about my teeth. And that's worth flossing for.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ignorance is bli$$

Seriously? $849 for a little help studying for the GRE? No thank you, UNCC. At those prices, I'm happy to wallow in my ignorance (also, it's all I can afford).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Unsupervised

Since the Great Commitment of '08 (a.k.a. my wedding), I've hardly had a night alone. That, I hear, is the point. So I considered carefully how I should spend my time when Abe left Sunday on a three day boys-only trip to camp and fish.

I'll give you the run-down for free, because I'm considering adding advertising to this blog, which will obviously result in fabulous wealth (or $1.00 would be fine) that will more than make up for me giving you my two cents for nothing.

Based on my two days of experience, here is how to make the most of a weekend alone.
  1. Meet up with people. You could do this in all sorts of ways - I did via church, since it was conveniently Sunday morning when Abe left. Make sure these are people who care about you and have food.
  2. Make sure you mention you're alone. Even though you are a grown-up person and fully self-sufficient, these people will most likely feel (a) sorry for you, and (b) obligated to take care of you, especially if (a) they are your parents, and (b) you are still sniffling from a cold (fake it if you're one of those people with a functional immune system).
  3. You have already scored. The above actions will result in an invitation of some kind (85% of these invitations will involve free food. Don't ask how, this is science). In my case, I got invited for an entire sleepover, because I took full advantage of all the results-boosting options (listed as (a)'s and (b)'s above).
Of course, it wasn't all that easy. In order to spend the night at my parents' house in Waxhaw, I had to pack up the cats. Those cats had no interest whatsoever in loading themselves into their carrier, which necessitates an exercise commonly referred to as "herding cats." As an expert in the discipline with millions in ad revenue on their way from my blog, I'll offer the following tips pro bono.
  1. You will need at least two and a half* full-grown adults (or one adult per cat, plus at least one half additional adult. Here is this convenient equation, because I took algebra once and then forgot everything: x=y+1/2, where x=adults and y=number of cats) in good health to attempt this.
  2. You may want to wear long sleeves, long pants, long socks, and long gloves, or borrow a beekeeper's suit from a friend. (Also, introduce me to that friend?) Or declaw your cats.**
  3. One adult should pursue each cat. It's wise to shut off any doors by which the cats might try to escape before introducing the carrier(s) to their environment. A frightened cat with any brain waves whatsoever will immediately look for a place to hide. Don't try this in a bedroom! Your cat Will Not Ever come out from under the bed. Even for earplugs (a.k.a. food).
  4. The additional half adult should watch and try not to laugh. Because this is serious business. They should also be put in charge of the carrier(s) - opening the doors and closing them once the cat is contained. Lightning speed is of the essence!
  5. Once the cats are captured, hold on for your life. And stuff them as quickly as you can into the carrier(s). If you have trouble remembering, just think: "hold and stuff."
  6. Then you may need some ear plugs of your own, because the cats will mew and meow furtively, and plaintively, and at first it will be hard to resist letting them out. And then it will just get old. So the ear plugs will be good either way.

*My mother is suffering from a broken elbow acquired in a bicycle wreck. The alleged "accident" involved her son-in-law Ben, who is an experienced rider who has won prizes in bike trials as well as ridden a ten-speed across America. Is this suspicious? You ask yourselves.

**DON'T! I shout because I actually don't at all believe in declawing. Because (a) how would you feel if somebody ripped your fingernails off?, and (b) without claws your Fluffy has no way to protect herself if she ever gets lost or a crazed possum breaks into your house.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Where have I been all your life?

  1. At Charlotte's Greek festival. If the gyros and loukamades and men dressed straight out of 'Troy' weren't enough to get you there, they call it "Yiasou!" A good name for any party.
  2. Accidentally, at a pagan festival - because Abe was trying to read the sign wrong-side front, and said, "it's the Pecan Pride Festival!" And I'm a sucker for a free sample. (Tarot card reading, not so much.)
  3. Riding bikes on the greenway by Freedom Park. They have bridges and creeks and ducks and snakes, but the wildlife mostly leaves you alone.
  4. Bouldering at Crowder's, where they've opened a new area that is all for bouldering! (And by "bouldering," of course I mean climbing around for a little while, and then napping in a hammock.) I should also mention that my climbing shoes have angry monkeys on them. Perfect.
  5. Out for jury duty.
  6. Working, and madly, because I have 15 pregnant ladies and only 8 hours, 2 hands, and 1 brain (possibly less) to deal with all of them.
  7. Out for what I thought was tonsillitis, but turns out to just be a cold. Again. Our friend Josh said, "geez, are you ever not broken?" The answer seems to be a pretty clear "no." (My coworkers think this is hilarious justification to carry on with their crappy eating habits, since I eat more vegetables in a day than they do collectively in a work week, and have used more sick time since I started than probably everyone else put together.)
  8. Making homemade applesauce in my crock pot. (Now you can too: cut up your apples and core them. You can peel them or not. Put them in your crock pot with a little water, a little cinnamon, a little vanilla. You can use a weensy bit of brown sugar, but you don't need to. Cook on low until you can mash the apples with a fork. Mm.)
  9. Drinking tea. Constantly. (See #7)
  10. Reading other people's blogs, and gaining an internet inferiority complex. (Other people are funny! Other people have great pictures on their blogs! Other people's blogs are focused. Some people's blogs are about food! And crafts.) I'm trying to turn some of that moping around, and I'm playing with a couple of ideas to liven it up in here. So stay tuned!

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Civic Duty: unfortunately, not test-driving a 2010 Honda hybrid with a dual point sequential ignition system, whatever that is

I sent an "out of office" email a few minutes ago, because I've been summoned for jury duty starting Monday. (Hopefully ending Monday as well, but that remains to be seen.) Jury duty is one of those things - like amputation or winning raffles - that Happens To Other People. I thought that the district court had surely made a mistake when I got my summons. Don't they know I'm just a college kid? (That's seriously what I first thought. My age has not caught up with me.) Don't they know I'm not just?

People had suggestions for me when I told them I had jury duty I didn't want. "Point out that you've moved to another county!" (FAIL.) "Write and explain it would be a hardship for you to appear." (ANOTHER FAIL) "Fill out the juror survey and say that the last book you read was 'Mein Kampf' and your hobbies are 'KKK meetings and building pipe bombs,' or 'Ridin' dirty and flippin' off the po-po in my hood.'" "Show up for duty in a t-shirt covered in anarchist slogans or remarks about what white people smell like." Actually, no one suggested those last two. I came up with those myself when I was feeling smart.

I told someone at work that I was freaking out about jury duty. I think she was trying to reassure me when she said, "Don't worry, you'll never be selected anyway. They only choose people who are reasonable."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

blanc de blanc

Last night one of my residents told me that she couldn't live with her roommate because her roommate is white and "smells different." I told her I would be happy to address any hygeine issues with her roommate (because I'm plenty experienced with that), and she said, "it's not that. It's not that I'm racist, because I'm not. It's just that white people smell different."

(Thank you. That would be my expensive 'eau de social work.')

I pointed out to her how that was a fairly racist sentiment, and challenged her by saying that sometimes we grow up with certain prejudices or ideas about others that it's healthy to grow out of as we learn more about the world.

(Please, God, help me not to point out how much she stinks.)

Then she said, "They smell like wet dog and spoiled milk."

(Then I said, "You are a brat. You should get over thinking that you are better than everyone else, and to do that, I'm going to move to you a suite of All White People until you smell just like them." To myself.)

I nearly ended it there by saying that I didn't think I should continue the conversation in the interest of maintaining a shred of professionalism. (I have that.) But the good Lord was with me, and so instead I asked if she realized what she had just said.

"Oh, but Ms. Karen, I don't think of you as a white person."

At this point, all I could do was stare at the hand in front of me, and wonder what color she thinks it is. So I beg the question: if you can't tell by looking, how do you know if you're white? Here's the evidence against me:

EXHIBIT A: Last week, one of the minors was describing where her neighbor lives. "It look like a white person house," she said. Everyone laughed, and all the heads in the room swiveled toward me.
EXHIBIT B: People are surprised when I tell them I'm from Africa. They say, "I didn't know white people came from Africa."
EXHIBIT C: As a teenager in Cameroon, men frequently asked me to make metisse babies with them.


In less snarky news, I have another resident who wears a t-shirt that says "Worldwide Pants Incorporated." Maybe when I'm too burnt out to social work, I'll get a job in Worldwide Pants.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Does it make me as old as your mom that I just had a 5 year reunion with friends from college?

I'm back from Boston, and completely exhausted. I should have seen this coming and requested a day off to recover. Instead, on Monday I flew back to Charlotte on a 6 am flight and reported to work at 3 pm. I've been dragging ever since. It feels criminally mean that I have to wait until Saturday for a day off.

Here is a problem with vacation, especially vacation with old friends: it makes work seem even less fun, because it points out what you're missing in all of those hours that you're copying and filing and trying to convince pregnant women to quit smoking and fighting each other. If you haven't taken a vacation in a while, you may be missing:
  1. late night "fast walks" - not runs - to the store
  2. a good Dark 'n' Stormy (HINT: add a splash of bitters!)
  3. hilarious conversations that should definitely not take place in public (...oops.)
  4. photo ops (sometimes photo oops) on street corners and in front of historic buildings
  5. much less sleep than you would be if you were trying to cram five years of fun into less than five days.
Now I am missing those things, too. Today I had to make a quick Fedex run to mail some mail, and I think I got tetanus using their restroom. I'm also convinced that they put receipt printer paper on their toilet rolls.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Boston or bust!

Today I'm off to Boston! It's going to be a fantastic weekend reunion with four of my best mates from college. It only took me three hours to pack a suitcase with a volume of about three cubic inches, because I'm told that it's cold in Boston, and since last winter I have forgotten important skills like : how to layer, how to tuck jeans into boots, how to match, and where is my coat?

In my defense, most of those hours were spent trying on outfits that I didn't pack and tearing apart the bathroom, because when I travel I become obsessed with finding the tiniest containers. Tiniest suitcase? Check. Tiniest face cream? Check. Tiniest lotion? Where is the tiniest lotion?! The size of the emergency is inversely proportional to the size of the tiniest lotion.

So hopefully after all that I remembered to pack my underwear, because in fifteen minutes, I'm off!

Here's hoping that you have a wonderful labor day weekend, and interpret it less literally than my coworker (who will be - you guessed it - working) and my client (who should be in an entirely different kind of labor this weekend).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Please pass the DEET

I've thought of a number of hilarious things to blog about in the last several days. Unfortunately for both of us, now I can't remember any of them.

We had house guests last week, which was terrific. Deb (my most humorous friend from high school) and her mom stayed a few days in the middle of a road trip. They ended up showing us around the city, since I apparently know nothing about Charlotte. Deb (most humorous) took us to Wing Haven Gardens, which is a 3 + acre garden in the middle of Charlotte where the wildlife is supposed to be bountiful and tame. We saw hardly any wildlife, so I can only assume that the "aviary" part was referring to the mosquitos, which were bird-sized.

The Prayer of St. Francis was carved on a plaque in the garden.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

(I think he might have worked at NYM Maternity Home.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How to defeat dust mites and alienate your neighbors

Today I just might change your life, if you
a) have carpet in your habitat
b) hate to vacuum.

In a few short steps, I will now explain to you my proven, evidence-based method to turn you into a lover of vacuuming. THIS INCREDIBLE PROGRAM IS FREE OF CHARGE.

1. Get a cat
-the more, the merrier (and the faster this program will work!)
-bonus for long-haired varietals
2. Carry on as usual for one week.
3. Vacuum. Now bear with me - it's just the one time. You don't even have to move the furniture.
4. Clean out the inside of your vacuum/vacuum bag and filter. Force yourself to acknowledge the vast amounts of pet hair and dander. If you don't immediately feel like vacuuming again, look a little longer.
5. THAT IS ALL. IT DOES NOT EVEN TAKE FIVE STEPS.

Personal Testimonial: This program has so radically changed my life, that now, all I want to do is vacuum. Before, I was the kind of wife who would secretly put off vacuuming for so long that my husband would feel guilty and do it. In the last week, I have vacuumed the floors three times, the rugs, and the furniture. I have vacuumed everything that is not nailed down, and have even discovered this great FREE BONUS TIP: Your vacuum most likely has a hose/brush attachment system that will let you vacuum all over and around those inconveniently nailed down things. This same hose is great for removing pet hair from clothing!

*Side effects may include: worn carpets, soreness in the neck, back and arms, a staggeringly high electric bill, and a drastic reduction in the pet hair, dust, and muck in your carpets. You may or may not find that once you begin this program, you are unable to do anything without vacuuming first. There are currently no support groups for those who are struggling with over-vacuuming, however, one will be starting at the Klekov residence as soon as I figure out how I'd hear you knocking over the sound of the vacuum. This program may also be detrimental to your relationships with neighbors and/or your adopted pets, if they should fear the noise of the vacuum.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Things to be glad for

  1. Franc feels like a million dollars after the bath he had today. (It also turns out he's not nearly as fat as we took him for - just fluffy.)
  2. Tomorrow I get to jet ski at work.
  3. Having plenty.
  4. I overheard a client telling my newest resident how nice I am. (Shut up, Lexi! I am too nice! At least professionally.)
  5. One great husband.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Part of a complete breakfast


Get it? Part? We ate the rest.

If you don't have blueberries in your freezer this time of year, America, you have missed the boat. (Or you live someplace with a late blueberry crop, and please invite me over to pick.)

Yesterday Lexi and Ben came over for an early breakfast, and amazing-because-I-like-sleeping-in, I pulled off a delicious blueberry coffee cake. I am the sloth of kitchens - I enjoy chopping, whipping, sauteeing and all of it, but I'm very, very slow. On Friday night I mixed my dry ingredients and assembled everything else, which saved time Saturday morning (and the coffee cake, because you should never measure baking soda while sleep deprived).

Whole Wheat Blueberry Coffee Cake
Heat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix until blended:
2 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 TBS baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/3 c. oil
1 c. milk (I used soy)
1 egg
zest of 1 lemon
Beat the mixture for 2 minutes, then spread in a greased 9x13 pan. Spread a heaping cup (or two) of frozen blueberries over the top, and sprinkle with streusel made from following ingredients, lightly tossed with a fork:
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
enough oil to moisten - probably 1-2 TBS
(Also, nuts would be delicious.) Bake about 40 minutes, or until the cake is set with lightly browned edges.

Now I'm off to hide in the bathroom, because I am terrified of cicadas, and Abe just gave the cats one to play with. It's another wild weekend at my house....

Friday, August 21, 2009

You get what you pay for

Today I went to Walmart for work. They did not sell whole wheat flour (which I needed), and I felt jealous of all kids shopping for school supplies. The woman getting eggs out from the refrigerator case in front of me said “Be sure to check your eggs. My carton was missing one." When I got home and emptied my bags, my carton was missing an egg. And while I was not paying attention, the cashier put my four items into three bags. Global warming says thanks, Walmart.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Snugglefest 2009

What's new since the last time I blogged? Well, for starters, he is:

It's my nephew, making his international internet debut! His name is Samson, and he was born yesterday morning. Obviously, snuggling his sweet cheeks has taken priority over updating my blog.

Other things have also been more important, like my mystery illness. Symptoms: 2. Doctor's visits: 2. Vicoden prescribed: 30. Kidney Ultrasounds: 1. Referrals made: 1. Calls back from the doctor I've been referred to: 0. Days ago: 3. Sick hours used: 30.

Today I did finally go back to work. I wore mascara and put on a cute outfit to convince myself that I Feel Great. Something in the kitchen garbage was smelling rotten, so I got my things together to take the trash out on my way. I had parked a ways from the apartment because I wanted my car to be in the shade, so of course as I was locking the door and heading down the stairs, it started to pour. And in a moment unrelated to those 30 vicoden (I swear I haven't taken one in days), I stood in the rain for a good 20 seconds wrestling with the trunk of my car before I realized it was strapped shut by the bike rack we had used over the weekend. By the time I put the rotten garbage in the car with me, I was drenched. Which was awesome, since I had taken the time this morning to actually Iron. And I think that when you're wet, you're more absorbant of stenches.

I dried out eventually, and as soon as I did, my pen broke and leaked ink all over my skirt. I curse you now, Sharpie pen that I loved.

Welcome back to the world, little kidneys.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thank you, Pisgah National Forest

This weekend Abe and I had a tremendous adventure in Transylvania County. I checked the weather before we left, when I was deciding whether to take my cute-as-a-button pumas or my water-resistant teva shoes which look like duck feet (so much that Teva apparently erased all evidence of them on the internet. They are a little bit like these, only red and for women. Also, feel free to notice that even one of the reviewers on that website said they "look odd"). The weatherman said there was a 20% chance of rain, so I went with the cute pumas and completely forgot my raincoat, which is so cute, from Goodwill, and has a rainbow zipper.

It of course started pouring less than 2 minutes after we pulled into the parking lot on Turkey Pen Road. Abe and I were 100% soaked by the time we built our own camp site in the woods (don't tell, as I believe that may have been illegal), and there is now a "20%" chance that I'll never return to wunderground.com for my weather forecasting needs (At wunderground.com, see,"20%" apparently means "100%. Look out, weatherman. Now I'm catching on. I'm speaking your language). And a 20% chance that I'll find that weatherman and attack him with a hose on the day he's wearing his cute pumas. Lucky for weatherman, we had a good time in spite of the rain. We "enjoyed the instant gratification of a delicious Cup Noodles," floated down the river on inner tubes, befriended the wildlife (by which of course I mean that I found a tiny frog, and Abe put it on his nose so we could take hilarious pictures), and rode our bikes until Abe's pedal fell off (which was not probably so long as it sounds).

Then we came home without getting lost to a clean house and very grateful kittens (at least until they realized we'd put them back on their feeding regimen. Sorry, fat Franc). We unpacked, did a little yoga (Abe said "Turn it down!" when I started the video, "This is embarrassing!"), and washed clothes using my Highly Successful homemade laundry detergent.

So thank you, Pisgah National Forest, for this weekend, which was memorable, crazy fun, and with my favorite husband.


P.S. This is all about saving water.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bare minimum

I finally got around to reading the minutes from our last Case Coordinator meeting. The first note was that we were praised for our work maintaining a client with dual diagnosis (mental health and substance abuse issues). We were apparently thanked for being "tolerable," which I find hilarious because that's about how I feel toward my job right now. I guess it's mutual.

ps) If you are tempted to adopt one or more adorable kittens, please be advised that they may grow up to eat your yoga mat and leave their hair all over the place. Also, no matter how cute they are, or charming, they will not ever help clean the bathroom.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

first time for everything

Yesterday, someone at work called me a "white bitch." (SOMEONE WHOSE CESAREAN INCISION I CHECKED ON FRIDAY ARE YOU SERIOUS?! It sounds obvious, but I now know it to be true: Mental health issues will drive you crazy.) I'm sure plenty of residents have called me much worse names in the privacy of their rooms, or as they walk away from me down the hall, but I've never heard it. I realized I've never been really cussed out before.

So I can check that off my list of things to do before I die.

The same client also verbally assaulted another resident , who then came to me worried that she would retaliate, stressed that she has to deal with this during her pregnancy, and clearly very hurt. (She said her peer was afflicted by a demon. Should I have argued?) I had to tell her not to personalize, to be the bigger person, and to remember that this is the stuff that Makes Us Stronger.

Then I was so strong that I turned green and sinewy and huge, and burst out of my clothing. (Side note: How do I feel that the Incredible Hulk and I have the same haircut? I feel unoriginal.) And obviously, after that happened, I needed a day off. So hooray! Today I'm celebrating My Sister's 26th Birthday all day long.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cuts

Have you ever seen the incision made for a cesarean section? If you have, I'm sorry, because on Friday, I did too. I'm not talking about the long vertical kind of incision - I'm talking about the horizontal cut they make underneath the belly. Low. So low, I won't even tell you. (Can I go ahead and say that examining cesarean incisions is Not My Job?)

But it was my schizophrenic client, and she came to me so pathetically, and told me she was supposed to check it every day, but couldn't see it over her stomach. And could I please come and look at it? I couldn't say no (really? really, Karen, you couldn't say no? If you had wanted to be a nurse, you could happily be paid a lot more. But you didn't, you aren't, and you should have said no). I went with my client to her room, and she carefully closed the door behind me. It occurred to me to ask what I would be checking for. "Leakage," she said, "or if it's open at all." It occurred to me that if I saw leakage or openings, I would probably pass out. I think I turned two shades whiter. She told me to come in to the bathroom, and closed that door as well. "I'm not going to hurt you, miss," she said, probably noticing that I appeared close to passing out. I reassured her that I'm not afraid of her (just her possible pus or internal organs falling out), and I know she's not dangerous. "I've had a rough life, that's all, miss." She peeled her layers of clothing up and down, and down and down and down, and that's all I'm going to tell you about exactly how low they cut a woman to take out her baby.

And how does it cut to lose your child? Earlier that day CPS took custody of her child (a beautiful girl, just a week old). She sounded angry when she told me she doesn't like the foster mother. She sounded ready to cry when she said "I'm hurting and I'm feeling let down." Then she changed the subject. She told me she had been hit in the head, and if I touched it, I could feel the bump. I asked how it happened, and she told me it was when she was a baby. She said "I haven't been right since. That's trauma." The tears came when she said "That's trauma, miss. It stays with you for the rest of your life."

Friday, July 31, 2009

The return of discipline

When I was in college, I was a machine. I worked two jobs and took mostly full class loads. I walked everywhere. I interned. I exercised. I cooked at home. I stuffed each day til the seams burst, and I got up the next day and did it again.

Since then, I have gone soft. I work one job and take no classes. I drive everywhere. I think about volunteering and going back to school, but have yet to sign up. I get no exercise. I force myself to cook - sometimes. And I get up the next day and I do it again.

So I need to get it together. I need to get busier, and back to the discipline that I used to practice. I think goals are a good place to start (and I don't mean watching soccer).

Goal #1
Plug away on my embroidery project, which one day will be a beautiful throw pillow. Also, master the stupid french knot! (Embroidery is not like kissing. The french version of "knotting" is "knot" more fun than our regular old kind.) (HA! Pun intended, obviously, or I would have spelled it right.)

Goal #2
Make peace with my sewing machine, which hates me.

Goal #3
Clean more regularly, maybe on Friday mornings, so that I'll quit freaking out about what a mess my house is. (Poor Abe. Someone give him a cookie.)

Goal #4
Make jam out of the blueberries in my freezer. Mmmm. To do this, I will first need to actually win an ebay auction for a pressure cooker. Please pray for me.

Goal #5
Exercise!

Five is good for now. Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Happy Anniversary to me

and to my most wonderful husband, who I married a year ago today. As he said this morning, "I've never been married this long before."

Here I am, making the best decision of my life. Cheers!