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Archive for the ‘Married Life’ Category

that my husband thinks it’s my job to do the housework. Any clues? Because I’m baffled.

This has been an ongoing problem throughout our marriage. I go to work, and usually have a bit of a commute. I come home exhausted. (I mentioned the constant fatigue a few days ago, right?) 

What really frustrates me is that I can get a room cleaned up and tidy. Like the living room. And then he comes home from a trip and plops his suitcase in the middle of the floor. He piles up blankets and covers and pillows for the dog. He leaves magazines all over the place, guitar and music equipment all over the place. He puts our printer and his laptop on the dining table. And then says something snide like, “You’re not capable of keeping a clean house.”

He shot that at me last night, and I was so angry I didn’t say anything.

So yeah, tomorrow morning instead of participating in the 24-hour readathon, I will be cleaning our tiny apartment and cussing either under my breath or out loud. And his music and guitar crap are going into the front closet, along with the printer.

It just annoys me to no end. I don’t mind doing housework. I mean, it’s not on my top ten list of favourite things to do, but I don’t mind it. I do mind being expected to do it all, while he feels free to strew his crap from one end of our home to the other.

Grrrrrr.

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It does appear as though the direction we’re taking is rebuilding the house. Joe was there yesterday evening with the adjusters and mooring company, and they’re going to be gutting the house either tomorrow or Monday. And instead of it taking 2-3 months, as they originally estimated, it’s now looking more like 4-5 months. In other words, we’ll be lucky to be home by Christmas.

Joe got my wedding ring out for me, as it had been left in my jewelry armoire that will have to be replaced. And he got SGB’s manuscript off my brand new dresser that will have to be replaced. Are you sensing a theme here? Yes, the furniture is going to have to go. Even the brand new stuff that we got last Saturday. Less than a week ago, it was, and yet it seems a lifetime.

On the positive side: the hotel is just 10 minutes from my office. I can only hope the apartment they put us into next will be as close. Another perk of being in the hotel: free breakfast. Someone else doing the linens and making the beds. Clean towels every day. That’s good, right? And we get to have the dogs with us. (Poor babies–they’re so discombobulated they don’t know what to make of things. And how do you explain it to them? I’ve tried, but you know, they’re dogs, probably not understanding anything I say.)

Other positives: I get to go buy new clothes. And shoes. And at least one more handbag. My house on the inside will be all new. I get to buy new furniture. Yes, I’ve already started looking. (Hey! Stop laughing! Yeah, it may be 4 or 5 months until I get to go buy that new furniture, but if I start looking now, I’ll have a good idea what I want and where to find it when the time comes.) And new makeup. Sephora, here I come! And a new piano.

It’s just that when you try to sit down and think of everything that you’ve lost, it can be very overwhelming. I was making lists yesterday, and they only covered the bare minimum of what was in any given room. All my junk jewelry–cheaper to replace than to try to clean. The 3 or 4 fascinators I never got to wear–will the smoke smell ever come out of them? A basketful of scarves. My books. Notes from my Shakespeare & Chaucer classes (just in case I ever decide to teach English). Journals. Blank books. Note cards, stationery, books where I’ve scribbled down favourite recipes. Cookbooks. Beautiful leather-bound very expensive books about the Crusades and various medieval writers. All my numerous copies of The Canterbury Tales. Notes from my Dante class. My grandmother’s journals (which I devoutly hope are in our storage unit but I’m afraid they might not be). Photographs. Holiday decorations. Mostly things that others would attach no value to, but to me are priceless. The clothes that I was planning to pass along to the incomparable Izzybella or Sarah-bear. The clothes I’ve been saving as I’m on my journey to smaller sizes.  All my beautiful shoes–the cream brocade grannie boots, the black lace guess do-me heels, my bitch boots, all the wedges and heels I’ve been purchasing over the last 6 months or so. And my handbags–most of them comparatively inexpensive, but still hard to replace.

Heck, even my bathroom scale! I don’t know how I’m doing weight-wise, because I haven’t been able to weigh myself since last Sunday morning! I know I’ve been doing some stress eating, but compared to what it would have been pre-banding, it’s absolutely nothing. But I like seeing the numbers on the scale every day. It keeps me focused.

The ugliest bridesmaid dress ever, that I was going to take to the cleaners and then sell on e-bay. Now I guess I’ll just stomp on it and let it be thrown away. The most beautiful formal that Izzybella got some years ago, and that I swore I would someday wear. The baby christening gown and blanket made by my grandmother years ago, that I was planning to pass down to my niece when she’s old enough to have children, that my stepsister’s daughter was blessed in, that Izzybella was blessed in. That I won’t throw away, of course. I will make every effort to have it restored because that, too, is priceless.

And the most treasured things of all are the memories. Memories of Molly, when we first brought her home, with her adorable afro, lying on the floor doing the Molly Flop. Stan gnawing my shoe that was bigger than he was. Molly burying full bags of Joe’s Christmas candy in the back yard. Chase putting on Joe’s heavy gloves and heading for the fireplace, startled when he was stopped, and explained, “I Joe!” Chase seeing me pour out the dregs of a milk carton for his brother, and started bellowing, “Milk! Milk!” and not calming down until he saw me take a full milk carton out of the refrigerator. Alannah and Kyle climbing the tree in our back yard. Chase wandering around nakey after his baby pool-soaked diaper fell off. Christmas Eves with Ben & Janine and their kids. Clover coming to give me a shot in the butt when I was doing IVF trying to have kids. Danny and I, staying up all night after watching Blair Witch Project because we were too spooked to turn the lights off. Crying my heart out in the long days after the IVF failed. Molly peeing on an area rug right after we told Joe’s friends from Australia that she was a good dog and never tinkled in the house. Christmas after Christmas after Christmas. Joe making huge pots of mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner. Joe making huge pots of mashed potatoes for the two of us, and danged if we didn’t manage to eat every bite. Molly being incensed at Mom’s being allowed in the then-yellow room, when she wasn’t, and defiantly going in there to tinkle the day Mom left. The bathroom door constantly coming out of its hinges. That Christmas morning when I sent Molly in to wake up Izzybella, and she enthusiastically complied, jumping onto Izzy’s stomach and kissing her face. The day I drop-kicked a multi-pack of Wolf chili because I was in a snit, and dang near broke my toe. Joe playing guitar so loudly that I could hear it from the inside of my car as I pulled into the driveway. MoMeNTuM meetings. Jehara bringing me my beautiful awesome wonderful zen box that’s now smoked out. Dancing in the living room with Joe. Dancing in the living room with Molly. Having Molly join me when I was practicing yoga in the living room. Spending three months sleeping on the recliner in the living room after having had knee replacement surgery. Laughter, tears, arguments, hugs, kisses, joy, sorrow–the soon-to-be-torn-down walls of our home are replete with the emotions and events from the past 13 years. Those things can’t be replaced. But the new walls will be erected, and in 13 years, we’ll have 13 years worth of memories to look back on.

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The Canterbury Tales

 

On Saturday afternoon, after we’d been working hard and then running errands all day, Joe graciously agreed to go to Barnes & Noble with me. Well, strictly translated, “can we go to Barnes & Noble” really means, “will you please buy me a book or five?” That’s what I mean about his being gracious. What I didn’t realize when I made the request was that since our Barnes & Noble is moving to a new location, a lot of their books are marked down to 40% off. He was happy; he got one of those BN University courses on CD about the history of ancient Rome (I got him interested in that, I’m proud to say–he’s been studying ancient Rome along with me for some years). I browsed and browsed and browsed, and then I saw my holy grail. A nice hard-bound copy of The Canterbury Tales with illustrations by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. Mmmmmm.

Yes, I already own at least 3 copies of the book. What?

It’s a measure of his respect for my obsession that he didn’t complain about buying me what is at least my 4th copy of the book. But, but, Morris & Burne-Jones!  I love the pre-Raphaelites.

Joe’s back in Chicago. He wanted to fly me out there next weekend, but there’s just so much we’ve got to take care of at home. I hope he’ll be able to get back here instead. Otherwise I won’t see him again until the 25th. It was a good weekend, for the very most part. My monster even decided she likes my blue hair–surprised me, I must confess!

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When I was young, if I heard the phrase “blue-hair” I have automatically followed it up with the word “biddy.”  You know the ones I mean. They have all silvery white hair and they wash it with bluing and it takes on a blue hue.

I went to the stylist last night for purple hair. Streakes of purple hair, to be specific. She persuaded me to darken my hair colour so that the purple would stand out move. I asnt harrd o persuade. (It’s a this point II should ell you I ook my ambien about half an hour ago). So she did the foils with the bleach and then did the colour. It took for-freakin-ever for my hair to bleach to the right shade so that i would take the purple. But i did at last. And then she did the rinse and dried the portions that needed to be stained purple. And she stained them purple and left them on a long time. And when she looked at them, lo, my streaks were not purple! They were blue. Way cool looking, by the way. T was a litle dismayed; she said usually the red tones of the purple are picked up but not the blue tones, so she added in extra blue. And my hair, being as cintrary as I myself am, pulled in the blue but nto the red. So I don’t have purple streaks, I have blue streakes. Oh, she could have fixed it last nigh, but I’d already been there 4 hours and was tired, and I though thte blue looked cool, so I told her to leave it. She did give me a  bottle of purple hair stain and said that when he blue stars fdaing, to saturate the places with he purple and leave t in a good lon time. So I hsould have purple streaks in a few weeks. And hen she cut my hair. It’s really cool and short in the back, and longer in the front, with a nice swept bang.  I looked 10 years youngerl. It looks totally hot!

Yesterday and today were incredibly busy days. I worked mu tuchus off (not literally, alas). Got out the old furniture so the trash cojmjpany will pick it up tomorrow. Got out a lo more trash. Cleaned out my car. Scrubbed floors. Went through the piles of papers an shredded a lot of things that needed to be shredded and trown out.  Washe ddishes. Have a roas ready o roased tormorrow night when I get home afer art therapy. I sill need to finish cleaning the dinign area and put te new dinning able set in there afer I get te old one out.

I’m not leting he dogs get up on the new furniture. Mollyy was laying on the floor giving m dirty looks. Then she gave liz a dirty look. So I told Molly she was welcome to go to the bedroom and get on the bed. So she did. She very defiiantely and cutely posed for me when I came in.

I put up my magnetic spices oday (finally). I need to get another set from Spicy Bitch. I just ahng them on my refrigerator. It looks totally cool and cleans out some space of my cupboards. 

Joe called me las night froom Chicago. He injured himself by smacking his face in a glass door. He’s really sore, thinks he miht have broken his nove. We’ll see how he heals up. Gota be careful!

Okay. It’s time to go to sleep now. adieu. Adieu. Adieu.

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Allmost Asleep

Today was a marvelous day. I was off work with every intention of sleeping in. But my body clock and my dog had other plans in mind. The body clock woke me up at 3:30. It was 4:30 before I managed to go to sleep again. It was about 530 when Molly came to wake me up becase she had to go tinkle. I successfuly ignored her until her need grew so great that she put her paws on my bed and started licking my face. See, I don’t feel bad when I don’ ge up to let her out, becuase we always leave “tinkle pads” for her emergency needs. But sometimes she says, hey! That isn’t good enough, and I want to go outside right now. It’d just be nice if her immedite needs took place during dayligt hours. Not when I’m trying to sleep in.

Once up, however relucantly, I amused myself with emails and  blogs and hings fo a bit. And then I decided I couldn’t live with this soccer mom haircut for one more hour. So I got dressed and eaded out to the salon. i was very pleased wih the newsylist who did my hair today. It’s choppy enough o satisfy me bu tame enough to saisfy Joe. Plus he dude gave me a 10-minute scalp massage. Wha’s not to bliss out about that? Seriously!

Then I picked up the rember books for Amehyst, Jehara, Izzybella and L-Squared and met with my Daddy at his hoouse. Liz got there shortly thereafter. We viisited with Dad for a while. I was crurious about a memmory I have of a car that apparently gave him a lot of trouble. I remember it as “the son of a bichin’ Chevrolet,” and the particuarl memory ivolves a day he was drivin me to school and the car just sa dow and decided it would go no further. After trying unsucessfully for some time to resart it, Dad told me to get out my bag and we were walking the rest of the way. “But you can’t leave the car ther!” Apparently he could. I don’t recall ever seeing the sonofabitchin’ chevrolet again. Amusingly, I work for a GMAC company and drive a chevrolet. But it’s not an sob chevrlet. She’s the Grey Lady, and she’s very lovable.

And Izzybella and I went to get the bread and salad and (yum) fatatistic roasted red pepper hummus for dinner tonight. And we went back to my house and watched an episode of Dexter and did a little you-tubig, and had a frozen CPK pizza, and cleaned a tiny titch. And we shopped at a store and got some cute cheap junk jewelry and a lovely blue paisley handbag for Liz that I plan to borrow first chance I get. And we went to the mall to fid a coat for Izzybela. but she ultimately decied to borrow my spare coat for the rest of the winter.

And then we came back to my house long enough to pick up the food and then headed oer to Jeharas. We had just a truly delightful evening.   Anway, now i’m at home listening to Elaine Silver’s clear voice and falling asleep post Ambien.

Joe’s coming hom about noon tomorrow, ad has to leave Monday for a job hat could last a month. So we’ll celebrate his birthday (which was Thursday) and go out to Fogo de Chao for dinner in Addison. And ‘ll do his travel expense report for him, and we’ll get his laundry done and get him packed up for te next trip. It’s hard on him, bu the’ve promised him 7 days of comp time after the California job. He’ll be pretty near his brother’s famly, which will be nice. He’ll spend his weekends with L & J and the kids. He’ll enjoy that a lot.

Izzybella and i ae working on our book, and feeling like we’re truly making some progress. The plan is to have it finished by the end f hte year. We’ve had to revise our writing approach after finding that what worked beautifully for the first novel we wrote toegether works not a all for this one. And it’s got teheh creative juices flowing, and we can pull things together as they need o be puleld together. It’s going to be great bok. The characters are awesoome!

Okay, so I’m through typing now. If you’ve made it this far, I congratulate you. I’ll try to fis errors, but you know ow I am after I take the Ambien. So don’t laugh if I’ve levft 50 rrors ‘caus I probably caught 235. Bisous, mes amies!

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Yep, I survived the holidays. Barely. I’ve been severely congested in both nostrils, which, oddly enough, makes breathing incredibly difficult.  I’ve been taking several different OTC remedies in an attempt to (a) thin the mucus and/or (b) knock me out so I could get some rest, to no avail. The OTC nasal spray helped for a while, but the instructions state clearly that it should not be used for more than 3 days, and yesterday was day 4. So I caved and made a doctor’s appointment for later on today.

Joe got called out of state, and had to catch an early morning flight today. It kind of jacked up his holidays, since he spent half the day on Christmas Eve and much of Christmas Day preparing for the trip (making travel arrangements, packing, studying up on the system he’ll be working on). So he’s been really stressed. The combination of his stress, and all the chocolate he ate, and my being sick made for a rocky Christmas.

Saturday with the incomparable Izzybella, L-squared, and Jehara was just lovely, though. They came over around 3ish, and we had a LOT of fun. A couple of pictures will be posted as soon as I get them uploaded. We feasted on turkey and all the trimmings, courtesy of my office, and played a game, and blabbed and opened gifts and just generally had a great time.

I went to do a bit more shopping on Monday, and also ventured out at last to see Sweeney Todd. Spin Doc wanted a review of the movie, so here’s my stab at said review: You’ll probably want to wait quite a while before eating a pasty or a meat pie again, for starters. The scene where Mrs. Lovett sings about the worst meat pies in town was just disgusting, and it got worse from there. The sets, costumes, and makeup were utterly delightful. Everything, with the exception of Mrs. Lovett’s fantasy about life by the sea and the lovely Johanna, is grim, dirty, and very unpleasant. The acting was fantastic, as was the singing. Johnny Depp–wow!  And Helena Bonham Carter was made to play this role, so I’m glad she got the chance to do so. Alan Rickman was as yummy as ever, despite his sleazy domineering character, and Timothy Spall was as ratlike as ever. (On a sidenote, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to see him without thinking of Wormtail/Scabbers.) The young woman who played Johanna was so poignant in her role, particularly when she was expressing her sure knowledge to the naive innocent Anthony that life doesn’t go on happily ever after. So if you’ve got a strong stomach, go see the film. You’ll enjoy it, in a twisted sort of way. It was just amazingly well done, so Tim Burtonesque, and I really am glad I saw it.

And Izzybella came over early on Christmas morning for stockings and gifts, and, again, it was truly lovely. We had a great time. All the gifts were a great hit. Dinner with Dad and the Monster yesterday was nice, but we had to leave sooner than usual so Joe could continue preparing to leave this morning.

So all is well in my corner of the world–or will be, once I can breathe clearly again–and I hope it is well with you.

By the way, kudos and many thanks to Izzybella for seasons 5, 6, and 7 of Buffy! Woot! I watched Once More With Feeling and Tabula Rasa last night, and once I get home from the doctor’s office, I plan to fully immerse myself in every episode of Buffy that I’ve been hungering to watch. Expect lots of Spike-y goodness. Rrrorwl!

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Or perhaps it’s a toy store. I’m not quite sure which. If it is a menagerie, it’s one from a galaxy far, far away. As I sit facing my computer, to my right is a monster I’ve named Selma; she sings, in a very gravelly voice, Let Me Call You Sweetheart and Mah Na Mah Na. Normally Norbert sits to her left, but he’s visiting L-squared right now. Then atop my monitor, starting from the left, is a small stuffed Buffalo, Humphrey (with Patrick Star sitting on his left paw), and a tiny purple gr-arrgh Mutant Enemy Monster. Behind my monitor is a stuffed Grumpy. Mr. Bill (oh no!) is on my desk, and to finish things off I have a beautiful life-sized stuffed Border Collie puppy that Joe brought home for me last night.

Molly was enchanted with the puppy, and Joe opined that she’d think it was a real puppy. Nope. She just wanted to rip it to shreds and pull the stuffing out and strew it all over the floor. I know my Molly!  One of the managers came by to ask me for some supplies, and nearly freaked out when he saw the puppy. He said it was so realistic that he thought it was a real one. It’s not that realistic, IMO, but very cute and adorable nonetheless.

Oh, and I also have a lovely ceramic dreidel music box on top of my desk right now. It plays the dreidel song, which drives me nuts as I catch myself walking arounding singing, “I had a little dreidel. I made it out of clay. And when it’s dry and ready, dreidel I will play.”

I spent my lunch break at the library restocking on library books, since I’ve read all but two of the last batch. Somehow I managed to inadvertently put one of my own books in my book bag, but caught it just before I was about to slide it into the book return chute.

Among the other things Joe brought home from Buffalo, he got me a half-pound box of Christmas chocolates from Antoinette’s. Antoinette’s makes the most divine candy imaginable. He ate half of it last night after I went to bed, which as I’m typing it out makes me realize why he and I have been picking at each other today (chocolate turns him into a crazy man, and not in a good way), and I brought the rest to work to remove from his temptation. To my credit, I’ve only had one piece. I encourage anyone who comes in to take one. The rest I’ll take with me tonight when I meet up with my peeps.

Yes, the inimitable V. is back in town for the holidays, and she texted us this morning to see if we wanted to have dinner at Spiral Diner. To be honest, if Godzilla texted me and asked me to have dinner at the Spiral Diner, I’d say yes, as long as he understood that the Spiral Diner is a vegan cafe and I am not on the menu. But I’m really looking forward to seeing V.–she left for Ohio & grad school the day after we closed the Juarez show in August.

My boss is providing lunch for everyone tomorrow. It’s not every day I get to call and order 55 large pizzas and 300 wings, let me tell ya! But one of our collectors has a contact at a pizza place, so we get a really great price. I haven’t had any of their pizza yet, as I’m always either out or out to lunch when we’ve had them brought in. But maybe I’ll have a slice or two tomorrow.

Molly was so excited when Joe got home last night that she was spinning in circles with a huge grin on her face. He knelt down on the floor to give her some loves, and she jumped up on him and put her paws on his shoulders and put her face by his face. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. She’s been dealing a lot better with his absences than she was at first, but she is overjoyed beyond belief when he gets home.

Chicory has her spice tins up for sale. I ordered a set for myself last Friday. Take a look, and while you’re there, buy a set. Buy two and give one as a Christmas gift! She has worked long and hard to develop a high quality product, and you will fall in love with them when you see them.

So that’s all I have today. Be excellent to each other!!

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Last night I introduced Joe to the joys of tofu.

He remains unimpressed.

Okay, he did eat a few bites of it. Next time I try serving him tofu I will (a) press it for longer so it will have a more firm consistency; (b) not tell him there’s tofu in it, although I couldn’t have gotten around it last night, because the only thing in the refrigerator besides two things of yogurt and some juice were the veggies and tofu; (c) cut it into smaller pieces so it mixes in better with the veggies and noodles.

Last night’s dinner was veggie-tofu stirfry over noodles, another no-brainer. I used half a package of extra-firm tofu (froze the rest–I heard that changes the texture in a pleasant way), chopped it into about 1″ squares, and marinated it in some garlic-sesame sauce and pressed it while I was doing the other prep work. Got the noodles cooking (the rest of the angel hair pasta box from Sunday). Sauteed onion & garlic in sesame oil; added the carrots & broccoli and cooked until those were as tender as I like. Then I took them out of the pan, put in the tofu, and sauteed until it was sizzling hot. I put the veggies back in the pan with the tofu and added the rest of the veggies (snow peas, sugar snap peas, squash) and sauteed a few minutes. Then I added some more garlic-sesame sauce and kept cooking it. I wanted a slightly sweeter sauce, so I put a little agave nectar in, and that perked it up beautifully. I’m eating the leftovers for lunch today. And Joe did eat two plates of it last night, so he didn’t hate it all; he just wasn’t crazy about the tofu.

I’m in rather a bad mood today. The car still wasn’t ready yesterday, and the $800 in repairs has shot up to $1K. So Jehara graciously said she’d pick me up from work at 4 today and take me over to pick up the Rodeo. I was planning to take her to dinner afterwards to thank her for her kindness–and we will still do dinner–however, Joe called me totally pissed off this morning when he got to Dallas.

I have to backtrack for a moment here. When we first got the Chevy, our gas mileage was just abysmal. Joe was convinced that someone in our neighborhood was siphoning gas; I thought we just got bad gas mileage. But he insisted on putting a locking gas cap on, and when our gas mileage continued to be abysmal, he finally conceded that we’ve just got a bit of a lemony car here. One of the keys to the gas cap went missing, so I put the other on my keychain so it wouldn’t get lost as well. Now fast forward back to Joe’s phone call.

He’s out of gas. He had enough to get to the school this morning, but not enough to get back home tonight. Where’s the key to the gas cap? On my keychain. Here. So now instead of having a nice relaxing evening with Jehara and the incomparable Izzybella after I pick up the Rodeo, we’re taking Jehara’s car back to Izzy’s house and leaving it there, and I’m taking the two of them out to Dallas with me so we can drop off the gas key for Joe (who has decided that we’ll just put a non-locking gas cap back on. Good idea, in my not-so-humble opinion.). And we’ll get something to eat out there. I’m thinking Cosmic Cafe, since I had to miss it AND Regina Spektor (mumble-grumble inaudible swear words) thanks to the stoopid strep throat.

Thank heavens that we’d built up a bit of a contingency fund over the last couple of years, because this last 30 days or so has completely used it up. If we didn’t have it, we’d be using credit right now, which would be a very bad thing. We had to buy the refrigerator last month (I forget right now, but seems like it was around $600), plane tickets for 2 to Buffalo ($1000), and now $1000 to replace the clutch in one of our vehicles.  It’s not that bad, though, because Joe will be in Hollywood for 6 months for work. That means our living expenses go back down; I spend a lot less on groceries, gasoline, etc. when he’s not home. So we’ll have that contingency fund built back up again pretty soon.

We still haven’t closed on the sale of part of our property to the state; I contacted the person who was working with us to find out what the hold-up is. He said they’re awaiting the partial release of lien from our mortgage-holder, after which we’ll close. I still don’t know if the cash will come to us or to our mortgage-holder. I hope it will come to us. We have pretty much decided to funnel it back into the house and get some truly necessary repairs and improvements done. That will include–I hope–replacing the furnace, replacing the outside doors (we’ve bought one, but will buy the other and hire someone to hang them both), painting the trim on the outside of the house, and redoing our kitchen including cabinets, floor, range, dishwasher, etc.  I don’t know how tightly we can squeeze this money to get all that accomplished, but it will definitely improve the quality of our lives and the value of our house.  We agreed that getting a fixer-upper when we’re not particularly interested in performing the fixing-up ourselves wasn’t the wisest course of action. The next house will not, I repeat, NOT be a fixer-upper.

Speaking of money, I have to take a moment to brag on myself.  I got a catalog in the mail, a new one, one I’d never seen before in my life and have no earthly idea how I got onto their mailing list. It’s got all kinds of Victorian-style tchochkes, clothing, housewares, etc., and I was drooling over it. I have a little extra cash, since I have spent less than half my allowance for the past pay period, so thought I might go ahead and get myself a few things. I decided on an absolutely darling hat, a box with 3 or 4 bottles of ink and 2 blown-glass dippable pens, and a Christmas card assortment. I figured out how much everything would cost, including shipping and the $5 discount on orders of $35 or more if I ordered it online. $71 plus some change. And I sat there and looked at it. Okay, the hat was absolutely adorable, but realistically, how often would I wear it? I don’t know. And do I *really* need that cool ink and glass pen assortment? No, not really. I want it, still do, but cannot even claim to needing that. And Christmas cards, well, I can get equally cute Christmas cards for the same cost or less without having to pay shipping. So I threw the catalog and order form in the trash. Go me!  And since I’m taking credit for being financially virtuous, I’ll go ahead and point out that I’ve brought leftovers for lunch every day this week. (Yeah, I don’t have a car at work this week. What’s your point?)

I did get caught up at work yesterday. It’s amazing how being out for a day and 2 hours can get me so far behind, but it happens. Fortunately, with my having been dependent upon Joe for transportation, I was at work for an extra 2 hours both days. Yesterday I broke my own personal record for the number of credit bureau reports pulled in one day. Pretty impressive, although it’s not going to get me any extra money or anything. Being the one person in this department who’s not eligible for performance bonuses or anything truly sucks. I know I could apply to transfer over and be a collector, thus becoming eligible for bonuses as well as guaranteed overtime, and possibly make more money, but I don’t know if I’d be any good at it. And being not good at that job means one doesn’t last long, nor does one get those bonuses. Of course, the overtime’s still there, but when things are crazy busy for me I can get 3-4 hours of OT a week as it is.

The incomparable Izzybella has the blues today as well. Why don’t you stop by and tell her hi, okay? Thanks.

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The V Word

There’s a new dirty word at our house. It starts with a V.

No, not that one! Please! vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina la la la la la

That’s so not a dirty word.

No, the V word I’m referring to is . . . duhn duhn duhn . . . VEGETARIAN!

Yes, Joe squirms or twitches every time I say the word vegetarian. If I use that word to describe myself or my diet, he freaks out. “Say meatless, or that you don’t eat meat. I can deal with that.”

“It’s tomAto and tomAHto,” I said breezily.

“It matters to me!” he said, more than a little testily.

OK, then. So I’m not a vegetarian; I just don’t eat meat. The problem with that is when we’re at a restaurant and I ask if the beans were cooked in lard (frequently the answer is yes) or if the rice was cooked in chicken broth (frequently the answer is yes). He either doesn’t get why that matters or refuses to try to understand. I don’t just abstain from meat–I don’t eat food that was cooked in animal fat or broth made from the carcass of a dead animal (and ugh, just writing that is squicky!) So I’m wrong in saying it’s tomAto and tomAHto, since using his words allows him to bypass the bigger issues surrounding my choices.

I don’t like having to justify my decision in this matter. For once and for all, for any of you who might be wondering, it is not contrary to the Word of Wisdom for a Mormon to decide to become a vegetarian.  In fact, I believe that it fits in just fine. I’m not making judgment calls on anyone else’s diets, and in fact when he was sick I got him fresh-made chicken soup twice and that smelly roast chicken I wrote about yesterday. Only because he was sick, though–normally I will not buy meat and I will not cook it at all. I’m not sitting at the restaurant judging him because he’s eating chicken or steak. I might be revolted by the thought of eating it myself, but I’m not calling him a murderer.

Why does the word vegetarian have to be any more a hot-button than vagina? They’re both words. They have meaning. And whether he likes it or not, I am a vegetarian. I think it’s partly how he pictures it in his mind. I’ve certainly cooked and served plenty of delicious vegetarian meals over the 16 years we’ve been married, and he’s loved most of them. But when he thinks of a vegetarian, he thinks of some tofu-raw nut-emaciated person with long straggly hair and a beard down to his knees who eats freaky things that Joe doesn’t even perceive as edible. Maybe that’s part of the reason he has such a problem with the whole concept.

But I’m really and truly tired of having the same argument over and over. So I’ll keep him happy. When we go out to eat, I will just eat food I know can’t possibly have any animal products in it. I’ll get the salad (no bacon, no chicken, no meat whatsoever, thanks very much) with vinegar and oil dressing. I’ll get a baked potato and eat it with salt and pepper. If we’re not at a restaurant where I don’t already know if the rice and beans are vegetarian-safe, I won’t bother getting them. And when I’m with him, I won’t use the V word. 

But check out this recipe I’m going to try next week, courtesy of Vegan Planet:

RIBOLLITA (4-6 servings)

  • 1 small head green cabbage, quartered and cored
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, hcopped
  • 1 medium carrot, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 small white potatoes, peeled and diced (except I probably won’t peel them)
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste blended with 1 cup warm water
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or one 15-ounce can borlotti or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 to 6 slices Italian bread, toasted
  1. Cut the cabbage into 1/2-inch-wide strips and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, potatoes, diluted tomato paste, stock, bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 45 minutes. Add the beans and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, then taste and adjust the seasonings.
  3. To serve, place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl and ladle the soup over the bread. Serve hot.

It’s not about deprivation, trust me.

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Reading, Reading, Reading

Ah, the joys of a library card! If I can only manage to keep myself going often enough and keep the books together where they’re supposed to be and turn them in on time so that I don’t have to pay any money!

I read lots and lots this weekend.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party – M.T. Anderson.  I don’t really know what to say about this book. I kind of hated it. It went on and on and on and on. I was intrigued and disgusted and infuriated all at the same time. I appreciated the teeny bit of good that happened at the end on Octavian’s behalf, but there was so much vile filth that was done to him and his mother that made me want to retch. Do I care enough to read Vol. 2 if/when it comes out? I don’t know. I guess it depends on if I’m ever in the mood to read it if/when I happen to see it on the shelf. Right now I’m guessing the answer would be no.

I honestly don’t even know how much to say about it here without giving too much away. It’s set in pre-Revolutionary War America in a most extraordinary household. Octavian has been brought up amongst a group of scientists who conduct the most cold-blooded experiments; they train him in the types of subjects in which one would expect a young prince to be trained. His mother is treated like the queen she tells her son she once was. But then one day Octavian learns that he is not a prince. Things start to change for him, albeit slowly at first, and not necessarily unpleasantly. Then one day he learns the great secret that has been kept from him by Mr. 03-01, and things really start snowballing from there.

Hot Lunch – Alex Bradley.  This was a fast and dirty fun brain candy type of book. Two girls are assigned to work on a flash assignment together. They don’t so much get on, and end up doing the assignment on their own. The D’s they receive for the assignment don’t sit too well with one of them, and she tries to persuade the other to redo the assignment as per the teacher’s original instructions so they can get a good grade. This leads to a really nasty food-fight in the cafeteria of the hippie-like private school they attend. The consequences are hilarious. Do the girls ever learn to cooperate? What do you think? I liked it, not the least for the photo of the blue-haired girl on the cover, seeing as how I always wanted to have purple hair.  Hmmmm.  I wonder what they’d say at work if I showed up with grape jelly coloured tresses one day.

My Secrets: A PostSecret Book – Frank Warren. This is a book of postcards created by teens and sent to Frank Warren, who runs the vastly popular PostSecrets blog. The secrets are moving, horrifying, delightful, universal. I loved it. I’d buy this book–and the other 3 PostSecret books as well–if I could justify the expense. The PostSecret blog is one of my Monday morning pleasures (they update every Sunday), and I definitely look forward to it. Have I sent a secret of my own? You may never know.

The Name of This Book is Secret – Pseudonymous Bosch. I liked it, but I’d have liked it better had I never heard of nor read anything by Lemony Snickett. It appears to be the first of a series. I like the protagonists, and I loved the exploration into synesthesia. The antagonists were delicious, and I enjoyed them much better than Snickett’s vile Count Olaf. I’ll read the next one, and hope that it doesn’t go down Snickett’s revolting path to nowhere. Give it a go.

The Wright 3 – Blue Balliett.  This is the sequel to the charming Chasing Vermeer.  Calder’s friend Tommy is back in town, and jealous of Calder’s friendship with Petra. Their teacher, in the last few days of school, brings the class’s attention to The Robie House, a Frank Lloyd Wright home that is scheduled for destruction. Because the university that owns the property cannot afford to renovate it, it has decided to divide the house into three portions and donate each portion to a different museum. Is it murder, as the teacher claims it is, to destroy art? Can Tommy, Calder, and Petra learn to work together? What’s the deal with the thing Tommy digs up on the Robie House property? And what’s going on with The Invisible Man?  It’s a fun read. I don’t think it’s up to the quality of the first book, but it’s still very enjoyable.

The Spell Book of Listen Taylor – Jacklyn Moriarty. This is a very peculiar book. I read the whole thing and could never decide whether I liked it or not. The Zing Family has a Secret. It’s a big, all-encompassing Secret and they meet every Friday night to discuss it. The narration jumps slightly back and forth in time and narrator, which can be slightly confusing as you’re trying to figure out just when the action is taking place. And based on the content of the novel, I was a little disturbed to find it in the YA section of the library. I don’t really think this is a YA novel. Yes, Listen Taylor is a teenager, but other characters in the book are a 2nd grade teacher who for a good portion of the book is having an affair with another (married) teacher; the two Zing sisters, one of whom lives with Listen and her father but is having an affair (well, it wasn’t an affair at first, but she slept with him, and couldn’t quite figure out why, because she truly loves Listen’s father) with an aeronautical engineer, and the other of whom is deeply dissatisfied with her husband and keeps a book of the myriad ways in which her husband annoys her. The book is full of quirky characters, which is all well and good, but quirky characters and writing style do not necessarily add up to a good book.

Start Late, Finish Rich – David Bach. Smart Couples Finish Rich – David Bach. I grouped these together because they’re almost the same book. I’ve read several personal finance books lately, and have gleaned a lot of good information from them. Bach makes a lot of good points, has a lot of valuable tips and information. But for me and where I am right now, one of his books is enough. I think I’m doing better with branching out and reading with others have to say instead of continuing to reread the same author. Don’t get me wrong–I do recommend his books if you’re getting started on trying to straighten out your personal finances. The first book of his I read, Smart Women Finish Rich, really got me going. But since then I’ve read three other books by different authors, and the combination of advice and strategies has helped me put together the strategies I’m using now.

Vegan With a Vengeance – Isa Chandra Moskowitz. If I ever find this at Half-Price Books, I’m buying it. If you love me and you ever find it at Half-Price Books, please buy me a copy and I’ll pay you back for it. Of course, it’s a moot point because anyone smart enough to buy this book is too smart to get rid of it. I LOVE this book!!!! It’s got some incredible-looking recipes, so I plan to write down a couple of my favourites before I take the book back to the library. Isa Moskowitz is the founder of the Post Punk Kitchen, and also wrote Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (and yes, the same request stands–if you find it at half price or less, buy me a copy and I’ll pay you for it). I adore her.

Linda’s Kitchen – Linda McCartney. Why’d I read this one? I dunno, probably because Joe watched a movie about Paul & Linda McCartney a few weeks ago and kept going on and on about it. So when I saw it sitting on the shelf next to VWAV, I grabbed it out of curiosity. Yep. Good recipes. What did you expect?

All those books have been returned except for the cookbooks, which I’ll keep for a few days longer, and I have a lovely pile of books in the bag in my car, just screaming to be read. And my to-be-read list is growing longer now that I’m not insane enough to think I have to try to just buy books instead of check them out.

Yay! Books!

In other news: Joe has strep throat. 😦  The poor guy never gets sick. Truly. I think in the 16 years (as of the 8th) that we’ve been married, he’s only been sick maybe 2 or 3 times. So I’m thinking he’s not going to be going to see Regina Spektor with me on Wednesday night. That’s probably okay with him, since he doesn’t like her anyway, and was just taking me because I love her and it’s for our anniversary. So L-squared is going with me because I was a naughty girl and got her hooked on Regina Spektor. I’ll have to think of something else for our anniversary, once he’s feeling better.  The doctor would have given him a penicillin shot, but, wouldn’t you know–he’s allergic to penicillin. So oral antibiotics it is.

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