Friday, May 29, 2009

The Fun and the Sun

Sorry for the absence. I've been distracted by the summer weather, and also busy carrying 168 pounds of cat litter up three flights of stairs. That's a true story, and you should all watch out, because the buy one, get one free sale on cat litter this week at the Teeter will make you temporarily forget where you live in light of the Unreal Deal. No cats? Doesn't matter. It's such a good deal, you'll probably buy six boxes anyway, at least, and then have to carry them a mile uphill to your cabin with no road access.

Lately I have been getting exercise, which I think is making me too tired for blogging. Last Saturday I went on a great, muddy hike with Jen from church at the Whitewater Center. (I still haven't cleaned my shoes.) (Another bright moment!: I left my wallet in her car without realizing it until she was halfway home -- and there I was in the Arboretum parking lot with the gas gauge on 'empty.') The next day, I went on a bike ride with my dad and husband, and it poured -- again with the mud?! (I still haven't cleaned my camelbak.)

Yesterday was gorgeous, and we went kayaking. (There's much less to clean.) (Also kayaks were on sale at Dick's last week, so Abe bought two with his bad self.) We went to Lake Tillery in Morrow Mt. State Park, and I turned out to be a remarkable kayaker (undiscovered athletic talent? or intense fear of falling out and being eaten by the alligator gar? We'll never know). My kayak is yellow yellow yellow - so maybe alligator gar are afraid of bananas. Or yellow fever.

I have also been working out with Kathy Ireland, which is an amazing video I used to do in high school with my sister and her friends (and by "do the video," I mean, we would put on our shorts and sports bras and lay on the cool tile floor in the living room with the tape playing, laughing hysterically). I think the most amazing thing about this workout isn't the exercise, or the results: it's that Kathy actually wears those socks for the entire video. Wonderful. You also have to wonder who matched her big red hair with her little hot pink work-out bra/top. Her colorblind stylist? Her arch-nemesis? Or maybe she picked it herself: a person can only take so many crunches and butt squeezing exercises before they just crack.

On that hilarious note, I think I'm done here for today. Hopefully this blog won't turn out like "my current project" (see below), for which I have lost all motivation and enthusiasm.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Current project

my current embroidery project, which will someday be a pillow, and my housedress

Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy Ending

Today I spilled all over myself as I was trying to walk out the door for work, so I threw on my house dress, which happens to look like the dysfunctional child of Little House On The Prairie and my mother's closet from the 1960's. When I say it is loud, I mean you should cover your ears. Self-conscious? Maybe a little.

I stopped at the library to pick up some books they were holding for me.* In line, there was an old man behind me, wearing short old-man shorts, with his knobbly old-man knees. "I like your dress," he said. "That is a beautiful dress."

It was a good day.

*Friends, don't let this friend drop by the library and drive. I was hoping to hit stoplights so that I could start reading my first book. I am 100% certain this is a safety hazard.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Waste not? Want less" (A guest post by Franc)

"Look! I can recycle, and I don't even have hands. "
Today while my mom was jamming in the bucket shower (she says you can't help but jam in a bucket shower), I decided to sneak onto her computer to see what she has been telling y'all about me. Of course, I was shocked to see that she has not even mentioned me for almost a week! And lately even her pictures have not been of me. OR FOOD. So I'm staging an intervention, because I know you've been lonely for me. This is my big chance to show you how clever I am, so I'll be sure to talk about things that are important and deep.

I've been thinking about my life so far which is almost one year long! If you'd like to send a birthday gift, I'll give you a hint: I like food. I guess Mom got me thinking this morning by making a big deal about Kina and I graduating to adult cat food. Of course Mom is ridiculous, because I would eat anything, and I tried to tell her by eating all of Dad's rubber ear plugs, but she still insists on buying purrina. ...What was I saying? A bug went by and boy, was that distracting. Oh. I was remembering all the things that I've knocked over, eaten, and learned since my family adopted me from the Humane Society, where I was so cute I seduced the whole place, and they called me "Roly," although it is not too humane to make fun of a kitten with a little baby fat if you ask me.

But People do lots of things that are crazy to me. (Eating salad? What is that about? Where's the tuna? Mm, it's in tuna salad! That's a salad I could talk to.) "Waste not, want not" is one of those things People say that I don't exactly "understand," so I just try to look adorable to distract them from their nonsense. Anyway, I decided just now what to write, because I saw that Karissa wanted to know about recycling and garbage, and I happen to be an expert at minimizing waste: just eat it!. Also, as you can see from the photo, my Mom and Dad taught me about recycling when I was just a tiny kit. Here are things that they do about garbage and not making so much of it:
  • Use empty wine bottles to store water in the fridge; I think it makes them look like drunks, but Mom thinks it's cool. (Ha!)
  • Shop at thrift stores. Mom and Dad are obsessed with leaving Kina and I by ourselves so that they can go to "Goodwill." I call it "Goodriddance," because I don't need them, anyway! I'm grown now. Just please leave out the food and send someone to clean the litter box, would you please?
  • Buy or pick up from the Curb secondhand furniture. This is one of my favorites, because it means we don't get yelled at for scratching the furniture like we do at Gram and Gramps' house. I would like to see the Curb someday, but Mom is scared because she sees cats get run over on Park Road. Maybe when I'm braver, I'll sneak out with Kina sometime so I can see for myself.
  • Reuse containers. Mom still feeds us out of a plastic container that she got when we were tiny kittens. She's not fooling me. I know we were downgraded from expensive vet food to the "nurturing formula" months ago. So I'm a big fan of that container, because it helps my lunch crunch! (do you like that? I thought of it myself. Crunch, lunch! Beats soggy old food from the bag every time.) My mom saves all kinds of jars that food comes in and even washes out plastic bags, which are fun to play with but only if you don't get caught, and Dad planted all thAdd Imageose baby plants I knocked over in containers that would have gone in the garbage (like old soda cups, plastic bottles he cut the tops off of, and tin cans).
  • This reminds me, what time is lunch?
  • Get mad and talk about why Trader Joe's -- that's the place that makes ginger cookies shaped like me! which I hope isn't giving people the idea that I am also edible -- sells everything in non-recyclable plastic containers
  • Recycle what they can, although my mom suspects that secretly our apartment complex trashes everything, even the stuff People put in the recycle bins.
  • Be creative! My crazy mom pretends her skirts are dresses and wears them around her armpits, cuts up old clothes to make new clothes, and made Mother's Day gifts from old artichoke jars and sheets from Goodwill. (I guess no one told her that the best gifts are edible.)
  • Try to get by with less.
  • Take their own bags to the grocery, and reuse the plastic/paper ones. They use the plastic ones for trash bags in the bathroom, and Mom turns the paper ones inside out and wraps presents with them, if Kina and I don't tear them to shreds first. See? Recycling is fun!
  • I read in one of Dad's gardening books about composting, and I don't know why they don't do that, because it seems like it would be fun to have all those worms to play with. I think that maybe they are just too lazy.

I hear Mom getting out of the shower, so I need to go meow and act cuddly so that she'll spend time with me before she leaves for work. (Don't tell her I said she's ridiculous.) (And I was serious about those food presents. Mail to: Franc the Cat Kovach in Charlotte, NC. My mom had to register me with the county, so they'll know how to find me.) (I promise to recycle the packaging.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

if you licked a dirty bicycle tire after wiping it on the bottom of your filthy City garbage can after a hot summer rain

I should never have started that Craigslist thing, because now I can't stop. It's not my fault. This stuff is pure gold! (In spite of his bizarre idea of salesmanship, it's surprising how much this seller and I are alike. He's mad his salad tastes like "piles of crunchy bugs," and I would be too! Someone should do that man a favor and tell him that images of "cowboy butt sweat" are not going to entice people to buy his table. Also, $1900? This is Craigslist, friend, not "Ashley Furnishings." Anyway, he could be a millionaire if he kept his magic table, realizing its enormous potential to revolutionize the weight loss industry.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Craigslist furniture we will NOT be buying:

"This shelf unit is super cute!"

"Primitive bench - $75"
(I tried to find a picture like the one of this bench, but all of google image's "primitive benches" were awesome. The craigslist bench wasn't "simple, unsophisticated." It was more "the first or earliest of the kind or in existence, esp. in an early age of the world," left out in the woods to halfway decompose.)

"Pine bench - $35 - I have to get the measurements"
(Do you think?)

"Bar Table and Swivel Chairs - Duke Theme - $100"
(The sad thing? That is actually a good price.)

"Concrete MOTORCYCLE Saddle Garden Bench UNIQUE - $125"
(Unique was a very kind way to describe it. I won't traumatize you with photos, but I will tell you: it was painted with pink flames.)

And maybe my favorite: "beautifull leather elephant 38 W X 36H bought from ashley furnishers good condition too large for house "

Sunday, May 17, 2009

raining, cats, and dogs

On Saturday I was caught in the craziest storm. It rained earlier in the morning, but seemed to be clearing up by the time I went into Trader Joe’s. Wicked clouds brewed back up while I was in the store, but it wasn’t raining yet when I got to the door. In the short time it took me to get to my car (and if you’ve been to that Trader Joe’s, you know I mean short, because their parking lot is smaller than my apartment. Also, I am an expert on being short), the rain came down so heavily that my grocieries and I were soaked. I jumped in the driver’s seat, turned on the wipers, and checked my rearview mirror. I could only laugh when I saw my soggy mop (Freak rain storms are clearly not the ideal stylist for my short haircut). I had a couple other errands to run, but decided it would be better to head home. I'm a busy lady -- I have no time to argue with all the well-meaning strangers who might think I was lost and take me to the pound.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I like to move it, move it

The things we love about our new apartment:
  1. Everything we own, left out on counters is stress to me, but all games to Kina. So many things to knock over!
  2. Trying to run away from it.
  3. The food
  1. The parallel litter boxes. We haven’t set them up yet (by which I mean, found a way to hide them from the average visitor but leave them convenient to the kitties), so right now, the two litter boxes are sitting side by side in our special-olympics-sized bathroom.** Today, Franc learned he could stand with his front feet in one litter box and his back feet in the other, and pee. This is the cat equivalent of overseas travel, or visiting the Four Corners Monument.
  2. Easy-open cabinets, which give him 67% more area in which to hide.
  3. The food.
  1. ME! I asked him what his favorite thing about the new apartment was, and he actually said “you.” (No, not you. Me.) He was (a) being a romantic fool (b) suffering from short-term memory loss and forgot that I lived in the old apartment, too (c) about to ask if he can go on a month-long hiking/fishing/hunting expedition to Alaska. (I'm going with a) (and the answer would be no, because I can't operate the bucket shower without him).
  2. The bucket shower. (We DO have plumbing available to us, even in the South. We just choose to try not to use it.)
  3. Our porch, which also happens to be the plants' favorite thing about our new apartment. Abe loves that the plants can enjoy the “musical sun.” (His words, not mine.) (Ed, I still maintain we are not growing weed, in spite of any evidence to the contrary.)
  1. **The special-olympics-sized bathroom. So I guess now it’s time to tell that story. In college, I lived near an evil corporation coffee shop. It was tiny (even to me, and I was living in what I think was once the maid’s closet of a historic Charleston home at the time), and to use the bathroom, you had to squeeze yourself down a hallway to a door marked with a handicapped-accessible sign. And inside was the biggest bathroom of your life. So our joke (and you should close your eyes and skip a line, if you’re especially sensitive to insensitive jokes) was that they held the special olympics there. And that is now how I judge the size of a bathroom. (I did learn other things in college.) (like statistics, as I'm sure 98% of you have noticed.)
  2. Exercise: Third floor apartment + chasing after runaway Kina + hide and seek with Franc + 60 steps to the front door, as opposed to 30 before. I am going to be a beast.
  3. Potential to start over in a new life with a place for everything and everything in its place
  4. (I get the most because this is my blog; also Kina is not that talkative) Doing laundry in my own home, which I turn out to love secretly, because it makes me feel like a Responsible Adult.
  5. An excuse to look at shelving and small sofas at Goodwill.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Secret garden

Baby tomatoes on our old porch
(Our straight-laced, retired neighbor asked Abe if we were growing pot. Just to be smart, Abe said we were, and asked if Ed wanted some. Ed said yes. Sorry, Ed.)

These days our baby tomatoes have a slightly better view than this one - still a parking lot, but a smaller parking lot, and with trees! They also get a little more sun, and they love it! Abe's balcony gardening is a smashing success -- maybe even literally smashing, once all the plants grow big and heavy enough that our third floor balcony collapses. So today we found a solution.

There's a tiny forest around the back side of our apartment complex with a trail that runs through the woods, along a creek, and eventually into a park. We found the trail today, and walked as far as the creek. We were so excited. We were going to have a secret garden! Out of curiousity, Abe asked at the leasing office if the complex owns that land, and the manager told us no, but did we know about the sweet walking trail? She walks there all the time.

So much for a secret. Still, yesterday Abe and his friend Josh went on the hunt (Abe: "We'll take our hammocks, water, and knives.") for a little clearing off the path where we can plant our garden - okra, tomatoes, carrots, squash, watermelon, and beans. I'm nervous about sending our baby beans out into the big world, where they'll be at the mercy of opossums, deer, rabbits, slugs, drunken high schoolers (who might mistake our slug traps for their liquid refreshment) and curious leasing managers. But I guess bush beans have to grow up just like anything else, and a good gardener has to know when it's time to let go.

(Why bother with DIY vegetables? Funny you should ask. Also, it is very gratifying to see a little seed make its way into the sunshine)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's white and red and pink all over

Today's just not a good hair day. Franc tried to warn me. While I blow dried, he sat on the bathroom floor, staring and looking concerned. I ignored him, because that's not really an unusual look for Franc (who is chronically concerned about things like What Is For Dinner). I put down the hair dryer, and he licked my leg.* (He's a Mamma's boy. And *don't worry, it was clean.) Then I realized that the back of my head was still 47% too damp, so I plugged the hair dryer back in. Franc stepped up his intervention, and started to paw the air, No Mommy, no! But I still ignored him (because I secretly fear that if my hair is a little too wet, my hair product will dissolve instantly into nothing, and then I will look like a fluff. Obviously that is not science, because today I got my hair a little too dry, and it looks exactly like a fluff. So, sorry, Franc. Mommy should have listened. You are an expert, being 100% fluff).

Then, to show his disdain for my bad hair, Franc kicked litter all over my feet.

* * * * * * * * *
Now I'm going to talk about something else.
* * * * * * * * *

Are you feeling restless? Would you like a bigger/newer/fancier apartment/house/rock to live under? Do you dream about higher ceilings/energy efficient windows/nicer neighbors/newer appliances/a larger yard? ABANDON THOSE DREAMS. You'll get hungry unpacking the kitchen, and realize that while you have plenty of dishes, pans, and silverware, all of the food is in the other apartment. Moving can lead to starvation!

Or worse. Today I left the house wearing pink from neck to ankles and a sweater that is white and red. Somewhere in the 300 feet between our old apartment and our new apartment, I seem to have misplaced my ability to match things (and accidentally picked up the nicer neighbor's very pink clothes). Moving can cause you to dress like you're four!

Also, our bathroom cabinets are 100% easier for cats to open (or else, in this new environment, our cats are somehow 95% smarter), so it takes me 86% longer to find them. Moving can lead to inefficiency and tardiness!

The other problem with moving is that it sounds like it's a simple displacement of boxes (into a place that is bigger/newer/fancier! With high ceilings! And energy efficient windows!). And so you're tempted. But what you need to know is that when you're moving, the moving is nothing. After the moving, there's the cleaning, and finally the unpacking, which may or may not be done by Christmas in our apartment.

In the meantime, today I could not find my dresser. (And this after the Fluff, and spending 86% longer looking for the 95% smarter cats, making me feel 37% dumber and 67% later for work.)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Is your mom great? Exfoliate!

Your mom is hot! And she deserves to be pampered.

If you've been procrastinating this Mother's Day, I am here to save your hide. Having celebrated my mother a bit early, that's a guarantee. (My mom liked it enough to make the server at lunch read the label and smell it, which is actually more embarrassing than it sounds, because we were eating at Ilios Noche, where I used to work) It is also appropriately priced if you are saving for an earthship or an expensive exotic pet, and if you make a mess like I did, you'll get to enjoy some before you give it away.

If you've ever bought organic bath products, you're probably still poor, so it's pretty awesome to be able to make your own. (You're welcome.)

Hot Mama Sugar Scrub
You'll need:
  • a small jar
  • sugar
  • almond oil
  • aloe - I used as much as I could squeeze from a medium leaf
  • vitamin E - I have the capsules, so I just poked them with a pin and emptied the juice into the jar.
  • essential oils for fragrance - I used lavender and sweet orange (you can buy these at health food stores like Earth Fare or Whole Foods)
  • and, if you want to be fancy, paper and clear packing tape to affix an artsy label.
In the jar, mix equal parts sugar and almond oil (which you can buy at any grocery store). Harvest the aloe, add the vitamin E, and several drops of each essential oil. Add one drop at a time, alternating the lavender and the orange, until you think it smells delicious. And stir!

Wait - you aren't finished yet! And you'll need to pay especially close attention here if you are OCD.
I printed my labels on the computer, but they could be written by hand (or not at all. But what are you, ungrateful? Your mom gave birth to you. You can make her a measly label). You'll want to make sure your label isn't too tall for the jar, or you risk causing the universe to spontaneously combust by offering a less-than-perfect Mother's Day gift, ending up in tears at 1 AM, and possibly alienating your husband. (I have personal experience with this - do you see those crinkles? I think they caused the humanitarian crisis in Pakistan.) Be careful who (it probably should not be the husband you just alienated) and how (it probably should be very nicely) you ask for help taping the labels on. If you are too crazy about making them just right, you have no business being around clear tape (what? oh, that was just My Experience talking). If you can handle the imperfections (which are inevitable, but also INVISIBLE. Clear packing tape has all kinds of tricks up its sleeve), the tape will make your label at least marginally water resistant and also very shiny in photos.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Time for a break from healthy relationships*

Coworker/fellow teacher: "When I was a teenager, I had a crush on God. He's the perfect man; he has all the attributes I was looking for."

17 year old class participant who happens to have a 30 year old baby daddy: "But he's so old!"

*by which I mean the WMR Healthy Relationships class we've been teaching at NYM's Maternity Home, and not well-functioning and mutually beneficial relationships in general life
My doctor in high school was Dr. Krippner, and he worked for the German embassy. His son was in my grade - his son Jochen, who I was secretly in love with in 6th or 7th grade. With Dr. Krippner, I had very awkard appointments on Thursdays. He was a very good doctor, but that didn't change that I was a teenager in my underwear in front of my classmate's dad. My nerves showed whenever he asked me to walk a straight line across the tile floor (Aside: What was that for? DUI? Was I being tested for a DUI? Because I was there, and I wasn't old enough to drive). I've never again in my life walked as crookedly as I did across that office.

These days, when I see the doctor at Carmel Family Physicians, I walk straight. I have been seen by three of the four unusually attractive female doctors there, and it's been pleasant enough (as pleasant as it gets with anyone who's holding a speculum). Also, none of them are old enough to be my classmate's father (or mother, as the case would be but isn't). But seriously, take another look at those doctors. In particular, notice the significant overall attractiveness gap between the gentlemen and the lady doctors.

So you understand, nice lady doctors, why this is no kind of medical pratice for Abe to go for stripped-in-his-underwear skin cancer checks. I would be happy to recommend J. Byron Walthall Jr., MD, who also appears capable to handle any medical concerns of Abe's Beard. Or this guy, who may date back to the 1900's, making him the world's most deceptively-young-looking doctor.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Just like I promised

Do you see that? Check out his left leg (it's the one on the right in the picture, which may be confusing for those of you who are left/right-challenged like me). It is as high as an SUV. (Also, click on the picture for the full-size version, featuring How Big Abe's Beard Has Become, and his belly button.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Sometimes at work, when it's slow because NC ran out of maternity funding so I only have five clients, I read other people's blogs. I think it's entertaining enough to pass the time until I try to write in my own blog. Surprise! Reading the blogs of people who are hilarious (and coincidentally - or not - paid writers) is highly discouraging and humor-dampening.

So if you have high hopes here, move it along. You can come back the day when I post pictures from our weekend trip to Greenville, SC, where I posed with a number of statues and took The Best Funny Picture of Abe jumping in the air next to a sign about hot dogs. (It seems impossible to get that kind of air from a standing jump. But I saw it, and if you know Abe, you know he's genetically-athletically-metabolically some kind of superhuman.) That's not actually why we drove to Greenville; he can be good at sports from home. We went to A Weekend to Remember, and I forgot to take pictures of the cool hotel elevator, which moved so fast I thought I had morning sickness all weekend. (We all need to hope more than ever that I didn't, since I completely tuned out during the session about How To Be A Godly Mother When You'd Rather Be Singing Karaoke. or On Laundry Day When The Washing Machine Just Broke.) That session was my second least favorite thing* about the weekend.

I told Alexis about my first least favorite already. They had set up a "resource center" right outside our meeting room. In every session, the speakers would reference 3-10 books/games/DVDs/Bible studies/family packs that we could and should purchase at the resource center. So by the end of the conference, when they would say "Another key ingredient in a strong marriage is Extravagant Love," or "So what we really need is Enthusiastic Encouragement," I would whisper to Abe "...which is available in our resource center for $49.95." (We also joked a lot about swine flu.)

We came home, and it was so hot in our apartment I think my aloe plants were sweating. Determined not to put on the AC the first week in May, we went to Target and spent an exorbitant amount of money on a fan powerful enough to claim responsibility for all of the world's Wind Chill Factor. And maybe tsunamis. As a warning, in case you are also buying a fan this spring/summer, they have: (1) become very expensive, and (2) remote controls (because when you're hot, you're lazy!) useless until you remember to buy AAA batteries at the store.

Buying AAA batteries at the store is one of those things that none of us ever remember, until we become like my Dad, who carries a post-it stuck in the inside of his wallet where he can list things like AAA batteries and peet moss, and whatever else it is that his heart desires or his remote control needs from Walmart or Home Depot or Lowes or Harbor Freight. It's always with him when he thinks of something to buy, and since it's already in his wallet, he can't accidentally leave it on the fridge when he goes shopping (or at least, it would be hard). This is a great idea and organizational tool that I plan to adopt, as soon as I can remember to buy the post-its.

*Lest you think it was a spiritual waste of a weekend, I actually had many favorite things about the conference, too, which happen to be more, um, personal and less, um, funny. But I can tell you that my most favorite thing about the conference was coming home, feeling ready to do the work to make the marriage God wants me to have. (Also the gallon of strawberries we bought from an old man at a gas station on our way home.)