Monday, October 30, 2006

Can't Sleep; Ants Will Eat Me

I spent Saturday afternoon in the front yard trying to clean up some of the landscaping. I was particularly annoyed by a patch of weeds growing next to our garage and made it my goal to clear them away. In pulling the weeds, however, I managed to unleash Satan's own army of ants. They were everywhere and they were pissed.

Jay had insisted that I wear shoes and socks rather than my flip-flops, but it wasn't long before the ants were climbing up my shoes and into my short socks. I went inside to change into long socks, but that didn't help much. Pretty soon they were crawling up my pant legs and biting me everywhere, all the way up to my back.

It's a good thing our neighbors are too far away to see into our yard because I panicked. I left a trail of shoes, socks, pants, and yes, even drawers, from the driveway through the garage and into the house.

I decided to leave the ants alone and work on our flowerbeds instead, but I itched for the rest of the day.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006

Where Have I Been All My Life?

I seem to have spent all of my creativity (and there wasn't that much to begin with) on writing a book review for my church newsletter. So I will continue marking time with some relatively mindless trivia, in this case a map, stolen from Darby. The states in red are those in which I have spent at least one night. If I included the states that I had driven through, there would be five more (OK, VT, RI, CT, and IA)

create your own visited states map

How about you?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

100 Things

No, it's not the usual 100 Things meme because I couldn't possibly think of 100 things about myself interesting enough to share. But I stole this from Jen 'cause the hard part was already done. The things I have done are in orange.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink

02. Swam with wild dolphins

03. Climbed a mountain

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid

06. Held a tarantula

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone

08. Said “I love you’ and meant it!

09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped

11. Visited Paris

12. Watched a lightning storm at sea

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise

14. Seen the Northern Lights

15. Gone to a huge sports game

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa

17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

18. Touched an iceberg

19. Slept under the stars

20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon

22. Watched a meteor shower

23. Gotten drunk on champagne

24. Given more than you can afford to charity

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight

28. Bet on a winning horse

29. Asked out a stranger

30. Had a snowball fight

31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb

33. Seen a total eclipse

34. Ridden a roller coaster

35. Hit a home run

36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day

38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment

39. Visited all 50 states

40. Taken care of someone who was drunk

41. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

42. Watched wild whales

43. Stolen a sign

44. Backpacked in Europe

45. Taken a road-trip

46. Gone rock climbing

48. Midnight walk on the beach

49. Gone sky diving

50. Taken a train through Europe

51. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love

52. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table, and had a meal with them

53. Milked a cow

54. Alphabetized your CDs

55. Sung karaoke

56. Lounged around in bed all day

57. Gone scuba diving

58. Kissed in the rain

59. Gone to a drive-in theatre

60. Started a business

61. Taken a martial arts class

62. Been in a movie

63. Crashed a party

64. Gone without food for 5 days

65. Gotten a tattoo

66. Got flowers for no reason

67. Performed on stage

68. Been to Las Vegas

69. Recorded music

70. Eaten shark

71. Buried one/both of your parents

72. Been on a cruise ship

73. Spoken more than one language fluently

74. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over

75. Been to the Statue of Liberty

76. Had plastic surgery

77. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived

78. Wrote articles for a large publication

77. Lost over 20 pounds

79. Piloted an airplane

80. Petted a stingray

81. Broken someone’s heart

82. Broken a bone

83. Eaten sushi

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Parasailed

86. Skipped all your school reunions

87. Shaved your head

88. Caused a car accident

89. Pretended to be "sick"

90. Surfed in the ocean

91. Saved someone's life

92. Fainted

93. Been in the room while someone is giving birth (Yeah, me)

94. Hitchhiked

95. Adopted a child

96. Been caught daydreaming

97. Been to the Grand Canyon

98. Called off a wedding engagement

99. Donated your blood

100. Become a follower of Jesus Christ

I've done over a third of the things on the list. I don't know what that means. Probably nothing.

I'm not going to tag anyone, but feel free to share your own list in on your own blog or in my comments.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Until Next Year

I've officially squeezed as much as humanly possible out of my 32nd birthday.

It started last weekend when my dad came for a birthday visit. We worked on the yard all afternoon and then he grilled steaks. He even brought birthday cake for dessert! Yum!

Jay and Joshua gave me a gift certificate to a local day spa, and Jay took Joshua duty so that I could cash it in. I spent Friday afternoon getting a one-hour massage, a one-hour facial, an eyebrow wax (my first ever!), a manicure, and a pedicure. Ah...

By the time I got home, the birthday cake that Jay's dad sent me was ready for consumption (it had to be frozen overnight). Yum...

Then on Saturday we took off for Nashville to call upon Gran's babysitting service so that we could go out for birthday dinner. I chose Radius 10 and couldn't have been happier. I had a gourmet version of shrimp and grits, and Jay had duck on a bed of dried cherry bread pudding. We split an order of gnocchi with wild mushrooms. Sweet potato ice cream with toasted meringue was the perfect finish.

Two birthday cakes, two birthday dinners, lots of family, massage, facial, manicure, pedicure...

It's been a good birthday.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Put a Cork In It

I was sitting in Jason's today having lunch with my friend R. Our friend B and her two charges had just left, so R and I were sitting on the same side of the table facing the door.

Out of the blue, R said, matter-of-factly, "There's Bob Corker."

"What?" I asked incredulously.

She nodded towards the door--"There's Bob Corker. I knew he was campaigning in town this week but I thought he'd already left."

For those of you not keeping up with Tennessee politics, the senate race here is tight. So tight, in fact, that I've actually heard it covered on NPR several times over the past few weeks.

We sat and waited for him to approach us. As he walked toward our table, R, knowing my political leanings, leaned over and said, "Now, be nice."

He held out his hand. "Bob Corker."

We introduced ourselves.

He told us he hoped we'd consider voting for him in the election.

"Indeed!" I said. (Sure, I'll consider it one more time, when I step in the voting booth.)

He started to walk away and then came back.

"So," he said, obviously uncomfortable, "what's the talk about the election around here."

I answered, "I was just telling R here that I'd heard about the race on NPR several times over the last few weeks. I guess it's pretty close if they're covering it on the national news."

"Well," he replied, "I hope I can count on you to help put me over the top."

R and I smiled.

We noticed throughout the rest of out lunch that he spent considerably longer with the other patrons than he did with us. We also noticed that most of the other patrons were about the age of our parents. At some of the tables he sat down, and at most of them he at least engaged in some sort of conversation.

Jay's opined that he assumed R and I were a lesbian couple out with our child (He didn't even mention Joshua or even look at him, by the way).

But my dad confirmed my suspicion, which is that Corker's pretty certain he doesn't have the 30-something female vote anyway, so there's no use wasting time trying to convince us otherwise. And dad said that if Corker had any hope that he might have our vote, my mention of "NPR" killed it.

You'd think he'd at least engage us in some conversation. It was obvious that at least one of us was a mom. Why not tell us about his position on education? On taxes? On something? But, as my dad said, "He's worried about getting my vote. Not yours."

To tell you the truth, I'm going to be holding my nose as I pull the lever on election day anyway.

It was interesting to watch and to be part of. Jay and I both decided my dad was right about why Corker was so standoff-ish, but Jay's suggestion made us laugh a lot.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Fall After All

I'm not much of a seasonal decorator. Granted, I always drag out piles of decorations at Christmas, but that's about as far as I go. I figure nature does the best decorating of all, and that I certainly have nothing to add to the beauty that I can see outside. But now I've changed my tune.

Sarah and her mom brought me a gorgeous fall wreath that's now hanging above my fireplace. And then yesterday I attended an Auxiliary luncheon at the university. They were giving away the cute table centerpieces as door prizes and I actually won one! I never win anything! It has taken its place on my own dining room table, displacing the fall candle collection that was originally the extent of my fall decorating.

So despite my complete inability to do anything creative in my home, it is fall after all.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Mission Accomplished

My grandmother's house always smells unbelievable. No matter what time of day you walk in, it always smells like she's just cooked a five-course meal. Ever since I've lived on my own (not including grad school, when it was a major accomplishment to feed myself anything), I've wanted to enter my own home to a smell as luscious as the smell of her house.

Last night it finally happened.

I put on the green beans (cooked with ham hock, of course) at noon. I put the baby back ribs in the oven at 2:00 p.m. When Joshua and I returned from the doctor at 4:30 (it seems we are being visited by a lovely case of roseola or some other viral infection), my house smelled so good. In fact, it smelled almost as good as my grandmother's house. I don't know how many more meals like that I'll have to cook until my house smells like that all the time, but I'm just happy that it worked once.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

City Mouse, Country Mouse

I recently received an e-mail from an old friend. He was shocked that I live in Tennessee now and said that he pictured me "at home in the city, close to culture and activity and all the other things that come with it." While I wouldn't trade anything for my life now, I ran across some pictures that made me nostalgic for my old digs.
It was the weekend before we moved from downtown Chicago to Joliet. I was twenty weeks pregnant. My mom had come up to help me pack and, by luck, she was also able to attend my 20-week ultrasound. Just a block away from my doctor's office (we rode the bus to get there, of course), in the Chicago Cultural Center, a group of monks were creating a sand mandala. It was unlike anything I've ever seen before.

That's colored sand. In one hand they hold a small metal cone filled with colored sand, and in the other they hold another metal cone. They tap or scrape the top of the cone filled with sand so that it comes out in miniscule amounts, making lines as fine as you can draw with a pencil. You can read more about it here.

That day is so vivid. It was hot, especially for me. We walked across the street to hang out in Millenium Park before my appointment, but it was too hot to bear so we just went to the doctor's office. The doctor was running hours behind, so my mom walked over to Marshall Fields to see what sort of damage she could do while we were waiting. After the appointment we headed over to Greek Town for dinner and stopped at Artopolis to get as many desserts as we could decently carry home. We decided to forgo the bus trip home and took a cab instead.

I guess I remember so much because it was my last real jaunt around town as a bona fide city-dweller. Anytime we drove into town after that we felt like frauds, like the suburbanites we used to make fun of, trying to appear that we belonged.

So while I love my home, my job, my life, I do in fact miss the city, the culture, the activity, and all that goes along with it.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

How Not to Get Repeat Customers

I thought that I had experienced the worst in face-to-face salesperson interaction earlier in the summer when we went to the fabulous mall here in our new hometown. I went in to Christopher & Bank to see what they had on sale while Jay and Joshua were amusing themselves elsewhere. They came in to the store to find me a few minutes later. The saleswoman, whom I had discovered in a previous interaction had very limited social skills, saw Joshua and Jay come in. She laughed and said, across the store, “I have never seen a man look so uncomfortable in a store.” Mind you, I almost never go shopping without Jay. He usually picks out my clothes. Needless to say, we turned around and walked out.

Yesterday’s trip to Stride Rite may have topped that, though. I went in looking for some shoes for Joshua. He’s not walking yet, but it just occurred to me that we keep sending him to the nursery at church without shoes and that the nursery staff may be wondering just what brand of redneck we are that we don’t put shoes on our kid to crawl around on tile floor. But I digress…

The saleswoman and I had already gotten of to a rocky start. I asked for “9-12 month shoes,” but she apparently had no idea that their baby shoes were sized by month, yet kept acting as though I were the idiot. Anyway, we finally found some shoes. I took them to the register to pay and she started to fill out a “Buy 7 pairs of shoes, get the 8th pair free” card for me. Then she stopped.

“You’re not local, right?” she said.

“Actually I am,” I said. “But I’m wondering why you made that assumption.”

“Well, your car has Illinois plates…” she trailed off.

I nodded, encouraging her to finish her thought.

“…and you talk like a Yankee.”

There isn’t another Stride Rite within 50 miles. That’s the only reason she got my money.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It's Not Easy Being Greens

At least not at our house. They don't last very long.

When we first moved here Jay conducted a very rigorous experiment to determine what we should plant in our garden...he went to the feed store and watched what other people were buying. The answer? Kale and turnips.

Of course at that point our garden didn't even exist, so he headed out with his hoe and his seeds and made one. This is what it looks like today, complete with the world's best gardening-helper.
You can see my pile of greens that I cut on the left.
And here's what happened to them about five minutes later.

I'll let you know how they turn out.