Friday, December 21, 2007

Subtle changes in temperature

I am loving this weather. It's brisk in the morning and warms to a pleasant coolness in the afternoon to then drop to snuggle-under-the-down temperatures at night. This weather is perfect for brewing a pot of black currant tea, lounging with the TV in the background and knitting up a storm. Dave and I had a nice little pre-Christmas exchange before our dinner of asparagus ravioli and rye crisps with lox and dill. This is what I got:


Le Creuset 4.5 quart covered casserole and piccolo teapot in red! YAY!!!!

I also decided that wrapping all of those hats was easy enough to do again, so I unwrapped almost all of them to take photos (not Dave's, b/c I know I'll see it on him)


This is for Vicki. It's a rolled brim cap made of novelty rainbow boucle. Never again will I use this yarn! What a pain!


This is the cap I'm going to attach a note with and then take the recipient yarn shopping. I just can't bring myself to like this hat. Poo.


This hat is super soft and knit in a double eyelet rib. I think it's cute and I really hope my sister likes it.


Finally finished the blue hat, so I can tick it off my list. Problem is, the recipient has a larger sized head, so I hope this ribbing will stretch enough to fit him. *fingerscrossed*

I started the decreasing rounds of my mom's cable hat and I'm going to start/finish my brother-in-law's hat today and tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Knit log

Hats needed: 10

Hats knitted: 5

Hats in progress: 2

Days until Christmas: 7

I am so screwed.

Olivia asked to see some creations, most are already wrapped for Christmas or given away already, so all I have are these shots of the Christmas Hats of Death:


This red cabled hat is for my mother, and it is in progress. It is the first hat I have knitted in the round. It is also my first cable project. I love cabling. The yarn was very inexpensive, but it knits up great and is super soft, which is great because my mother has a tragic disposition in regards to wool. The yarn is Caron worsted tweed in Autumn Red.


The multicolor hat is my hat, my first attempt at knitting hats, and is made from a bulky weight 100% wool yarn from Crystal Palace. The gorgeous royal blue rip knit section will be a hat identical to mine, but for my father-in-law, and is also made from 100% wool bulky weight yarn from Crystal palace.


This is a single eyelet rib hat knit in a large gauge with a 100% acrylic yarn that is pretty on the skein but I'm rather unsure of giving it away now that it's knitted up. It's got great texture, but not the elasticity or stretch I was looking for. I think it's all wrong. What I'll probably do is put the hat in a box and give it to the person I made it for with a note telling them that if they don't like it, be honest, and donate the hat and I'll make another one for them from whatever yarn they'd like. Sound like a good idea?

I've also made my last ever novelty yarn item (hat for my mother-in-law to match a scarf I made her last year). I made another really cute beanie in a double eyelet rib that looks 10 times better than the single one b/c it's actually the right gauge. Fancy that. Dave also received my first-ever earflap hat. I made another rib hat for my yoga teacher, Martha.

After all these hats I'll be begging to do socks and mittens.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

What I did last weekend: Illustrated version

Our new deck

Our new deck

After 20 kajillion trips to the hardware store, Dave and Mike finished piecing together our backyard deck.

New project!

I bought two-way stretch jersey for a new project: yoga leggings.


This is the Noro Iro (75% wool, 25% silk) that I'm using to knit fingerless gauntlet-style mittens. I started and ripped down and started again this weekend.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Days are getting shorter

I'm burning daylight under fluorescents these days. I'm here at my desk by 8 a.m. most days and I don't leave until we finish the issue, which is usually around 6 p.m. or so. I don't usually take a lunch per se, though during lunch time I can be found nibbling on crackers and slurping on soup while dicking around on the Internet. At my desk.

I've become fairly aware of my desks surroundings, though all that surrounds me is a four-foot radius of one-third of a wall. People can approach me on all sides. I am ambushed by needy people daily.

Because I'm a cubicle in a sea of fishbowl-like offices, people assume that because they can approach me over my one-third wall that I actually want them to. And because I'm hearing impaired, any time I hear someone around me I turn around to check things out because who knows, they might actually need to tell me something important, though its rare.

So, after 10 hours of basking in fluorescent lights and staring into a monitor I'd love nothing more than to walk out of the dimly lit building to wince at the bright sunshine and smell the acrid, exhaust laden air of downtown Dallas. But, by the time I'm out of here it's dark.

I like the cool temperatures of winter, but this daylight saving crap has got to go.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Variation on a theme

If there's one thing I took for granted as a teenager it was my ability to hear. By the time I was 16 I was already completely deaf in my right ear (I have no idea what caused it, but it was kind of gradual). At this time it didn't bother me that I was deaf in my right ear because I held my violin up to my left, and as long as I could discern pitch changes I didn't care.

I wasn't the most disciplined violinist throughout high school. I didn't practice as often as I should, mostly because I was also trying to be a varsity golfer at the same time, and by not choosing one over the other I was unable to practice as much as most golfers/violinists. I was trying to be OK at a lot of things instead of exceptional at one thing, which was a big mistake, I think.

Now that I'm going almost completely deaf I long to open my violin case and hear the music it once made. It was a crystalline, defining experience to master a techniqe or a piece. It made me absorbed in the moment, it made me want to strive for the next chance to disply my talent. It was for this reason that I joined four or five performance groups: I loved the limelight, baby.

But still, it faded, much because I didn't practice enough. I occaisionally played through college with a performance art group doing more loosely interpretive things instead of the technically exacting concertos, symphonies and themes that defined most of my training.

When I lost more of my hearing I found that I could no longer tune my instrument without a chromatic tuner, I could no longer discern pitch as well. It was one of the most depressing moments in my life: I wasn't a violinist anymore.

Still I am afraid to get hearing aids because I worry that it won't fix the problem, and they will only support a worthless facsimile of the vibrant music I once played. I just don't want to have that feeling of hopelessness, the feeling you get when you've tried everything and nothing works, the feeling of failing with your very last resort.

If I gave up hoping that I could one day go back to the violin I don't know if I could take it.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Only Mr. Magoo has worse mornings

While the tribulation is still fresh, I'll describe to you a morning that only the consistently klutzy might appreciate.

We were a couple minutes late leaving the house this morning because I coudn't find my tumbler full of hot coffee. I searched all over for it, only to find that it and everything else I was searching for were already in the car with my husband, who was dilligently warming up the auto in the driveway while I ran through the house like a chicken with its head cut off. So, I sit down in the car, miserable, thinking that I wasn't going to get any coffee before work this morning (a train ride in the winter without something warm to sip is a nightmare!) and there it was, nestled in the cupholder. *grumble*

I applied my makeup in the car on the way to the train station, finishing my lip gloss just in time. I grab everything and break to the platform to make the next train when I notice an official wearing an orange reflective work vest talking to a few human popsicles on the platform. I ask a woman who is leaving the platform what's going on, and she says that rail service to downtown is suspended. Yay. I call Dave and he does a quick 180 back to the station.

I drop Dave off just before 8 a.m. and head toward downtown, which is a nightmare from Dave's office. It took me 30 minutes to go maybe 15 miles. I kept hitting school zones, which slow traffic to 20 mph, a snail's pace, and every side-street was crowded with perpetual lane changers (you know the type, the lane next to them is inching along only a bit faster than theirs, so they move into it, and soon after they move the lane they were previously in begins to move faster than the one they just moved to, so they change again, ad infinitum).

When I FINALLY arrive at work, I'm pulling all of my stuff from the passenger side to the drivers side, and I think that my steaming hot coffee is lodged securely in the console cupholder, but as I drag my God-awful heavy messenger bag over it, the coffee tips into the driver's seat, dribbling all over, and I don't notice it until I am reaching into the car about 15 seconds later to retrieve it, which means that the entire tumbler of coffee is half spilled into the seat. Mumbling obscenities under my breath I grab as many cheap restaurant napkins as possible, making an effort to mop up as much coffee as I can, which is totally in vain. THis is the downside to insisting on freshly roasted dark brew coffee. Upside: my car smells delicious. I will have to skip yoga tonight in order to clean up my coffee mess, which will fortunately also give me a few minutes to hang my hanging plants in the yoga room.

Friday, November 30, 2007

1, 2, 3, 4 Meme

First one I've posted on here... Let 'er rip!

Subject: 4 Things You May Not Know About Me

Four things about me that you may or may not
have known in no particular order.

Four jobs I have had in my life:

2. Intern at The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M
3. Waitress at Kerri's Stacked Enchiladas
4. Gas station attendant at Diamond Shamrock

Four movies I could watch over and over:

1. Pi (or anything directed by Daron Aronofsky)
2. Amelie
3. The Client
4. Big Business (one summer my sisters and I watched this Bette Midler movie almost every day)

Four places I have lived:

1. Dallas, TX
2. Madisonville, TX
3. College Station, TX
4. Conroe, TX

Four Shows that I watch:

1. Iron Chef
2. Good Eats
3. Heroes
4. How I met your mother

Four places I have been:

1. St. Louis, Mo.
2. Key West, Fla.
3. San Francisco, Calif.
4. Santa Fe/Taos, N.M.

People who e-mail me and text message me
regularly...including myspace

1. Dave
2. Kara
3. Jack
4. Olivia

Four of my favorite foods:

1. Curry (any kind, really)
2. Smoked Salmon
3. Vegetarian chili
4. Salads with lots of healthy goodies

Four places I would rather be right now:

1. On a train in Europe
2. Tibet
3. Pune, India
4. The Pacific Northwest

Four friends I think will do this meme:

1. Sara
2. Ashlee
3. Anna
4. Sara again?

Things I am looking forward to this year: (the year is almost over - this one is hard)

1. Christmas and my birthday with the whole Jemison/England/Fraser/Williams Clan!
2. Recommiting myself to my yoga practice
3. Building the deck and putting up new shades
4. Finishing all of these godforsaken knit gifts!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Butter and yarn

I want to be a housewife. I shit you not. Stay with me here, becuase I know all us college educated ladies have been conditioned to think that housewives are the mailroom workers of the fairer sex. But, how can that be so when I, a Big XII graduate and a corporate ladder-climbing company shill, want to give it all up to stay at home? I'll tell you why: Being a cog in the machine is unfulfilling. I'd rather stay at home, freelance every now and again, bake bread, sew stuff, read philosphy, raise a rugrat and knit all the livelong day. Will I ever do this? Probably not.

The market of human resources has become conditioned to the availability of women in the workplace. Now it's almost expected that women take advantage of the wide array of jobs now available to them, and if a college educated woman were to ever shun the corporate life for one at home, she's a waste, and wasn't worth the educational investment in the first place. I disagree.

Although I've never seriously considered starting a family, I can see why a woman would want to stay home with their children. I'm not going to make any generalizations that it's in a woman's nature to care for kids, but I can understand why a woman would want to make sure that the only indoctrination their kids get is from their home. My parents did as much, albeit I'm sure it was a nightmare with five kids. My mom made sure we understood that there were people out there that were going to say things and do things we didn't understand or we didn't like. We could always ask my parents about that kind of stuff. We ate meals together, we did sports and clubs together. We were all active in eachothers lives.

So I was thinking about how this Christmas will be the first Christmas for all of us married kids to bring our spouses and all be together under one roof. We're so different, and our husbands/wives reflect that. But we're all a family. I don't know one kid or in-law that doesn't absolutely love one another. That's a freakin' family. I hope that we're always like this. That we're always involved, that we're always on good terms. And when someone finally squirts out offspring, I hope it doesn't poo/puke/pee on me and that I'll love it, too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My life as Cathy

A coworker is going through a parallel struggle against fat, and we both extoll the days we've been "good" and haven't gorged ourselves on ubiquitous, easily consumed and seemingly pervasive holiday treats. Likewise, we both verbally flog ourselves with guilt and admittance when we've partaken of said treats. In the refrigerator at work you are faced with a blue pill/red pill choice: Will you go for the bowl of sliced fruit and be proud of yourself or will you sneak one of the brownies/cheescake bites/rasberry bars/cookies and feel remarkably guilty for it? Today it was fruit, but I only did it because yesterday it was a cheesecake bite AND a brownie.

If you've ever seen the long-running American comic strip "Cathy" then you see the obvious parallel between my struggle against my lard-ass genes and Cathy's own flab fight. Though, Cathy is such a poor example -- she hasn't lost weight in almost 30 years! She's gotta be like, a size 16!

Knit one, Knit one, Knit one ...

Year before last it was scarves. This year it's hats. Next year ... who knows! I'm trying to knit as many hats as possible for Christmas this year. If I don't make them all in time I'll just have to take a picture of the yarn and stick it in a box with a bar of chocolate or something. I always seem to get great ideas for Christmas gifts a little too late. I've already made three hats: the first one was for me, the next was for a yoga teacher and the third was Dave's. I'm making Dave's mother's hat, Dave's father, Dave's brother, My mother (hat AND scarf!), my father, my three sisters and my brother. That's nine hats. IN FOUR WEEKS!!! That's 2.25 hats per week! I don't know if I can do it (in fact, I'm almost certain I can't), but I'm going to try anyway. It's the thought that counts, right?

I just hope that knitting all of these hats doesn't turn me off to knitting like all of those scarves did. Granted, the scarves were all garter stitch with novelty yarns, which is really difficult to knit sometimes because they are so uneven and you can't tell if you've dropped a stitch or if you've accidentally increased. This year, with the hats, I'm only making one using a novelty yarn and that's only because it's going to match a scarf I made for the recipient last year.

I also hope that with all of these hats knitted I'll gain the confidence to try something new, like cables or interesting patterns with increases and decreases all over the place. I've also wanted to try sock knitting, but that looks so complicated to try right now, besides that, the yarn is so small and the gauge is so tight. I'm not a very proficient knitter as is, and I've never seen anyone else knit up close before. I'm entirely self-taught, which means that I have no clue if I'm doing something blatantly wrong that an experienced knitter would pick up in a second.

Anyway, wish me luck! If I knit like the wind I just might be able to do it! (And thank goodness for the three-plus hour car ride from Dallas to Houston!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

First Draft

It's finally chilly here in Texas. It's our first winter in the new house and my, my, my is this little sucker drafty. And the furnace sounds like there's a freight train going 80 mph in our back yard. And I don't have a decent set of slippers!

I've been through a cold winter here in Dallas. Last year we had snow that stuck for like, three or four days!!! But in the old drafty house we used to live in I had a nice set of shearling slippers and there were gas furnaces in just about every room.

Now that we have central heat and air conditioning I'm kind of missing the heaters. They were quiet. Heck, they were silent. Just imagine trying to get nice and toasty and curl up in bed only to almost drift off when all of the sudden it sounds like there's a semi on top of you.

The cats are having a rough time dealing with the cold, too. They're warming up by way of double occupancy.


This cold weather has also lead me to conclude that I don't have nearly as many cool sweaters as I though. I guess I should go out and buy more cool sweaters. Nod your heads, people... Thanks a bunch!

Also, I've been working on my scorpion pose a lot. Although it still looks like crap, I just have to take a look back at how incredibly far I've come. At one time I couldn't keep my arms under me, my elbows would always splay and my head would come to the floor, but look at me now!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Weekends (bombs) away

It's been approximately four years since I've seen Betzy. The last I saw of her was waving at her in the back seat of a car as she pulled away from her wedding. I was her maid of honor. I didn't go to the afterparty because I was the only person that couldn't tell that my then boyfriend was an asshole. C'est la vie.

Since Betzy moved to North Carolina (envious) she's settled down like I have: small house, too many animals. Except her husband isn't a bookselling poet. Her husband is a marine, who is now deployed overseas. I have so much respect for Betzy, mostly because she looks happy and blessed to people that don't know her. Most people don't under stand what an enormous accomplishment that is. Life has dealt her many opportunities to give up. Depression (not the rainy-day kind, but invasive, crippling depression)runs in her family. She's had more ups and downs than the roller coasters at Six Flags and now her husband is fighting a war that I've given up railing against because too many people I know have sacrificed to fight it.

Betzy and I were in Kindergarten together. She watched my back and stuck up for me. We always looked to one another for guidance, we went through some of the same struggles and we both played violin. I miss the midnight sessions we'd have laying in bed during sleepovers at her parents' enormous house, or how we'd sit on the bleachers during junior high and talk music and take risks. We were both the kind of people who were bound and determined to take the route less traveled. For that reason I admire her and I can't wait to spend some real time with her again.

Last night I came home after a very stressful day and did some yoga. I've been working on my Scorpion pose more and now I can hold it away from the wall for like, a second. My king pigeon pose now sucks, though.

Here's to back bends -- Because you're bending over backwards during the rest of the day anyway.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

On the verge

Sometimes I have to take a step outside of my body, take a look at what surrounds me and ask myself, "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?" I'm beginning to wonder these days whether or not I really appreciate being the blanket that other people use to cover their asses. Strap me to a fucking post, people. I have turned into your accountability. I am young and susceptible, and you put me in a position to take 40 lashes in every direction? Is this leadership? Yeah, if you call leading a lamb to slaughter leadership, then call it like you see it.

Only time will tell if I can really take all this. I wanted to be in an environment with a lot of pressure a lot of drive to succeed, but it was only a matter of time before I looked for ways to relieve the everyday pressure of being the seive that filters other people's bullshit. The only thing this gives me is a guaranteed dirty feeling.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Personal space

Decorating a room is really hard. Seriously. If you're lazy (like me) and yet a perfectionist (guilty, too) you have to have things done right the first time so you don't have to do them over again, which is a frickin' pain. So, I agonized over my yoga room. I wanted it to be just the right color, I wanted it to be open and accessible but not too fussy. I wanted it to be a place where I can find solace but still have an explicit purpose. I didn't want it to be a room where stray furniture ends up. It is a yoga room, sparsely furnished and open to possibilities. The walls are minimal and the color should be airy. That doesn't mean that it shouldn't be fun or playful though.

Besides hanging the shades, which are on order, it's mostly complete. We're planning on buying a rug to hang on the one blank wall for a foot rest during inversions. It'll be light and airy, too, probably a mix of green and purple, and hang above the chair rail. On the opposite wall there are stencils of lime-green lily pads behind framed photos of water lilies (one of my favorite flowers).




Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stupid neighbors!

I am really warming to our neighborhood. It's small, middle class, has some great views and some really nice routes for jogging/walking the dogs. So far we've met a lot of our neighbors while walking Hornsby and Fitzgerald, one woman that owns a pug is very sweet, but because I can't remember her name for shit, we have resigned to call her "Pug lady." There's also a young pregnant wife down the street with a doberman. She's due on New Years, and her name is Shanna, or Shawna, or Shandra, or something like that. Real sweet gal. Two houses down there is a Mexican couple that doesn't speak any English and has an antique plow painted bright red, along with myriad other tacky yard art not limited to a flower box made from cinder blocks adorned with an orange painted fish. This house we have knighted "Casa de Pescados" or "House of the Fish." With all of this added flavor, we still don't mind the owners becuase they're genuinely nice and they don't bother us.

But, across the street is the Cat Lady. Besides the travel van permanently parked in her driveway with Oregon plates, the house looks normal from the street. But inside there are motives much more sinister. The woman indiscriminantly feeds unneutered feral cats, thereby fascilitating their breeding and their pest status. She scatters cheap cat food by the cupful into her lawn like a spinster feeding pigeons. The cats flock to her front porch for seconds every morning. She's fascilitating the spread of disease and cat poop on to neighborhood lawns. She must be stopped!

I contacted a feral cat service in Dallas and they will soon be working to send traps over to my house so I can trap the cats and have them neutered/spayed and release them. I hate to trap them, but it's for their/my own good. They can't procreate like bunnies and not expect to fall ill from rampant infectious disease. Besides, it's just a matter of time before they vector whatever crap they have onto my cats via their multitutde of fleas.

It is actually heartbreaking to see the litters these cats have that will shy from human touch and be resigned to an early death because one woman was irresponsible.

Stupid neighbors!!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Dallas: Dumbass Central

I deal with skads, literally a force, of barely literate people who can't keep their moronic thoughts to themselves. Every day, as I read the crap spewing from panicked and angry people, I'm reminded of a saying: "Opinions are like assholes -- everyone has one and they're all shitty."

But what depresses me even more than reading these diatribes and bullshit is that these people vote. They vote without thinking, without reading and without knowing what they are voting for/against. They vote randomly, they vote haphazardly, and worst of all, they vote early and often.

It's people like this that often complain about confusing ballot language when so many websites, newspapers and magazines have spent so many hours and dollars spelling it out for them. If they would only pick up a copy, read about it and THEN decide ... This, however, is asking far to much from the barely literate people of Dallas.

I, on the other hand (that is attached to a body with feet firmly planted in reality), did so much research into my vote. I spent oodles of time looking into all of the state constitutional propositions, into Dallas' Prop. 1, weighing both sides and sometimes even debating with friends. I made my decision like it was a crucial one, one that deserved the respect and intention that our civic duty implies. In this case, I am rare. Shit, who am I trying to kid? I'm facing extinction.

As a matter of fact, I feel that uninformed voters, the confused ones that were unsure of how to vote on Dallas' Prop. 1, the Trinity Referendum, were the deciding factor. There was only a 6 percent margin in the election. If the vote-yes-against-the-toll road campaign had better informed 4 percent of the voters, if they had kept these morons from bubbling in the wrong oval, then they would have won.

Heck, I don't know if I really care about who won or lost in the Trinity vote. It was a poorly planned but well-executed campaign of confusion. The engineering group designing the contentious toll road that was to pass through the levees of the Trinity River (a dicey situation at best) hadn't even finalized the plans. Their estimates for what the road would cost had margins of error at 20 to 30 percent! That's insane! Why are we voting to approve a plan for a road that doesn't even exist?!

There is a chance that the establishment's preferred road design between the levees will never get government approval, and it might never be built. but by golly, we're going to spend $2 million that Dallas can't afford to have an election on a road that hasn't even been fully designed yet! We can't afford a $2 million election on a road that doesn't exist when we're spending so much money on administrative costs for a city council that can't repair the roads we already have!

I really wonder if any other cities are so frustrating. I wonder if there is anything such as common-sense politics.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Good news, bad news and just news: An update.

I've been away too long, folks, and if there are any readers left to wonder, I've been so incredibly busy at work. In fact, I'm still busy, which is why I feel guilty for posting when I should be working on some seriously deadline-sensitive stuff.

Those of you who've e-mailed me to make sure I still have a pulse, thanks. I mean it!

On to the news ...

Hornsby has made a full recovery, and much to our delight he doesn't mind being at the veterinary office, probably because he's already spent so much time there. We took all of the little bastards to the vet last month, which cost us almost $500. Everyone's healthy, and Dawsey surprised us by losing a pound (that's a lot to a cat!), though she needs to lose one more. You can do it, girl!

Speaking of weight loss, I've dropped a pants size! Finally I can go to a department store and look at single-digit pants! Now, I'll probably never be a size 4 or 5, but an 8 is great when you've been a 10 or larger for most of your life. My goal is to get down to a size 6, but that may not happen considering my insanely huge child-bearing hips. DAMNITALLTOHELL!!!

In yoga related news, I'm killing my inversions. I did a wall-supported scorpion last week. It looks like this, but my feet were against a wall, which kept me from falling over myself:

We're painting the yoga room this weekend, which will be fun because after the trip we took to St. Louis I got the most awesome idea for one of the walls, which was to paint large cirlces that represent lily pads on the wall and hang enlargements of some of the water lily photos I took at the Missouri Botanical Gardens on our trip! Should be fun!

Also, if you're wondering how awesome our trip was, check out our photos here. Just to be a tease, here's a sample:

a shot of Dave from his best side:


We're planning a trip to NYC, Boston and Chicago next year, so that's probably the last bit of traveling we'll be doint until then.

Also, Dave and I took my twin sisters and my brother in law Brent to the State Fair of Texas, which was a blast! We walked around, rode a few rides and ate tons of great food (and by great, I mean fried cheesecake, Fletchers corny dogs, fried guacamole and Cuban sandwiches!).

Anywho, there's been a lot more than that, but that's all I have time for, for now at least!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Update soon

Things are slowing down, and I really will update as soon as I can! Until then, admire the incredibly cute photos of the kitties!!!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Lazy Day

My brain is still fuzzy from the 3-day weekend. Yesterday was Labor Day, but it was raining through midday, so instead of just hanging about like we had planned, we cleaned the house. Bummer. The cats did this:


And this:


And this:


In case you couldn't tell, they love the new chair. Later that evening we went to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to watch the Rangers get pummeled by the Kansas City Royals.



And now, I'm back at work... :(

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Backyard trim

I've had my hair cut in a salon only a handful of times. The kitchen, now that's where business is done. I can remember the times I've spent training my eyes on my mother's tchotchke-clad walls easily. Her accosting me to stay still even though I had bits of hair in my nose, in my eyes and wedged between the cutting cape and my irritated neck. Only once has anyone besides my sister Kara and my mother cut my hair, and it was a disaster.

I was still living in College Station, waiting tables at Kerri's Stacked Enchiladas. I was poor (waiting tables does that to you) and one of my closest friends was also the spawn of a hairdresser. Her mom cut her hair, and it was cute enough, so I decided that just getting my bangs trimmed would be safe. So my friend and I stopped into the salon where her mother worked just for a sec or two and I left so incredibly upset, though I couldn't tell my friend because I didn't want to seem ungrateful for the butcher job her mom did on my hair. I swore after that that I would never again get my hair cut by anyone besides my mother or my sister.

Fast forward to 2007 -- I hadn't had a hair cut since February when my sister Kara came to visit, so I asked my mother to bring her scissors when she came up last weekend. My hair had become an unmanageable mop, my bangs were beginning to graze my lips and I had 3-inch long split ends. These are the perils of swearing off salons. But Sunday, just hours before my parents and I were to leave for brunch and their departure, my mother set up a station of sorts in the back yard on our deck and went to work on my tresses. The birds were singing and it was a rather pleasant summer morning, so I'd have to say that it was one of the more enjoyable hair cuts I've had. Maybe more salons should be outdoors...

Of course I'm balanced!

I'm a Balanced Yogi!

A Balanced Yogi

You love your friends unconditionally and accept them for who they are no
matter what their yoga style preference, religious beliefs, or spending habits.
You focus on the good in people and would never try to change them. Almost
everyone feels comfortable in your presence. You live your yoga. You are an
inspiration to yoga students everywhere!

Take the Yoga Journal Yoga Snob Quiz!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A visit all too short!

Sorry about my absence. Liv is right, things have been kinda crazy at the House of England. Besides trying to go to all of the home games possible before the Rangers' season ends (like hell they'll make it to October), we've been burning the candle at both ends, taking puppies to the veterinarian, getting $650 tires for Dave's Jeep, working around the house and cooking, though not as much as I'd like. We're still figuring a lot out about this homeowner stuff.

Though, through all the hectic days, it was nice to take a breather when my parents came up to Dallas last weekend. They are so great, except when my father and I talk politics. As long as there is red wine, single-malt scotch and good food, we're a complacent bunch.

Mom and Dad mainly ventured up here to drop off an antique dining table that I'd been pining for. It's a low-back, hand carved mahogany dream, and fully expanded will sit around 10 people! It'll take some cleaning and dressing up, but it's a fine piece! We also got Dave an armchair this weekend, a nice plush, deep-seated job. I've been inhabiting it for the most part!

We had an awesome time going to a minor league ball game, having brunch at our favorite little cafe, and checking out some of our regular haunts. Dad might be up here for a spell this weekend, he's gotta pick up a rifle being delivered in Fort Worth.

I'd post pictures, but I'm a moron and forgot to put a card in my camera, so this weekend was stored on the internal memory, and I've no connector cord with me. But I'm alive, and well, and really freakin' tired if you were wondering!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I'll never leave home!

It is beginning to take so long to take care of everything and get out the door in the morning that I'm beginning to think that the house would rather have me there! Not that I'd mind, you know, staying home and tending house, freelancing when I can, but as long as I have to commute this is beginning to become very cumbersome.

Dave picked up Hornsby from his progress check-up at the Vet yesterday, and they prescribed him ANOTHER treatment. The myriad pills, creams and drops are killing me, and taking a toll in the morning which is when I have to:

-Make coffee
-Water the plants/lawn
-let the dogs out
-feed the dogs/cats
-get dressed
-do my hair/makeup
-pack my lunch
-give Hornsby whatever eye drops/ear medicine/pills the vet prescribes





Tuesday, August 07, 2007


So, Hornsby is a real mess right now. I'll have to take pictures of his mutilated eye. It's incredi-gross. He had surgery yesterday on his eye and he was neutered at the same time. Poor guy. He's getting along OK. We had to put the E-collar back on, which means that he can't navigate the house for shit. He takes more medication than a retiree.

They shaved his eye and he has some stitches around it, which doesn't look too appealing, but overall he's doing OK.

As far as I can tell he had some kind of kennel cough that has cleared up since I last hyperventhilated about it. He's out of the cough medicine and we finish the antibiotics tonight so we'll see what happens. It doesn't look as though Fitzgerald caught whatever he had, so I guess we're lucky in that respect.

Now, this past weekend I went to Houston to spend some quality time with my dear sister Sara for her birthday. She shares a birthday with her twin, Kara, who was vacationing with our brother and sister-in-law in the Rocky Mountains. So, I couldn't leave Sara to party without some kind of family representation. Boy am I glad I decided to come along! It was a blast. From hanging out with some of her good friends and people I knew like, forever ago, it was just a fantastic time! The copious beer didn't hurt either!



Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bump in the road

Hornsby was due for his eye surgery/neuter yesterday, but it seems that he may have developed a case of Kennel Cough. Worst Case Scenario: Canine Distemper.

We're really hoping it's just Kennel Cough, though we're taking every precaution, keeping Hornsby quarantined to the guest room and crated throughout the day. This is especially hard because he's a puppy, and puppies don't like to be isolated, therefore we are getting very little sleep.

Hornsby isn't a fan of the crate, like, at all, and no matter how many treats/toys/hugs we give him, every time we put him back in the crate he freaks out and starts crying for like an hour. Imagine that you put him up after taking him out for his evening potty break at 8 p.m., you're in bed by 11:30, he's gotta go to the bathroom at 3:30 a.m., and you don't get back to sleep until 4:30 a.m. to wake back up at 6:30 to get ready for work... it's a nightmare!

We're just praying that he gets over this and we can move on. I'm getting to the point where I just want to get back to everyday life, get back into a routine that I can rely on to ground me throughout the rest of the day. Because things are unpredictable at home, work has becom more strained. I'm trying to meet deadlines and tie up loose ends on projects but I feel like I'm grasping a straws, as if I'm climbing a mile-high mountain with no toe-holds for the first 20 feet.

Here's hoping I can get some momentum...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Turning double plays...

If you didn't see it, Hornsby was featured on yesterday! If you need to reaffirm your belief that there are genuinely good, caring, outstanding people on this earth, go to that site and read a few bars.

In other Hornsby-related news, the pupster is doing good, getting along well with the kitties and Fitzgerald! He's doing great with the housebreaking, learning the ropes with the crate. He's enjoying his bed and new family, as far as I can tell. You be the judge!





Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Face-licking good!

So, I think we're pretty set on keeping the puppy, who we've named Hornsby. Doesn't ring a bell, strike a chord?

His namesake is Rogers Hornsby, arguably the best secondbaseman in history with a .358 career batting average, the highest of any righty and only 9 points behind Ty Cobb. Born in Winters, Texas, Rogers Hornsby was twice a National League MVP and led the league in RBIs and home runs.

(This is all gleaned from Dave, the walking baseball encyclopedia. He can remember all this junk but forgets to do the dishes... peculiar.)

Hornsby (the dog) is still in recovery. He isn't putting much weight on his bum leg, hopefully he'll re-learn how to use it. He's on pain pills and muscle relaxers, and he's back at the vet this morning for a progress report. Hopefully he'll get to keep his leg. Not that three-legged dogs aren't cute, but I'd much rather him be a happy, four-legged puppy that can run, play and live a long life with his mom and dad!

And now, to the main event:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pupskerdoo Number Two!

I have been hounding Dave about getting another dog (Get it? HOUNDING?), and we've talked about getting a larger one this time, adopting a retired greyhound or something. But Dave took a crash course with fate yesterday and stopped on his way to work to help two women who were huddled around a puppy that had been hit by a car. Dave said the poor dear was slouched and shivvering despite the 90-degree heat, the pup was scared out of his mind. The three of them ushered the little boy into a carrier and escorted him to a nearby veterinary hospital.

Dave called and was in hysterics. He'd stopped to save the dog and ended up at work an hour and a half late. After visiting the hospital later once they had done x-rays, he reported that the chap had a broken leg and would need surgery immediately. Of course, we're suckers, and he's just a puppy, so we OK'd the surgery knowing that we'd be dealing with a short future of poverty: The bill could be as large as $1,300.

I made a b-line to the vet hospital after work yesterday to meet the poorbaby and I'll admit it here that I really fell in love with the guy (he was heavily sedated, so it was easy). Poorbaby's on an IV with a broken rear right leg. He's got the look of a Saint Bernard to him with a little Great Pyrenees. He's about 6 months old, they think, and weighs about 33 lbs. He's got the biggest ol feet, so I think he'll be a sizeable kid!

Anywho, we're running through names right now. I like Leonard, Dave likes Salinger. Both abbreviate well (Lenny and Sal).


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New zip code, same old bullshit

I am not moving again for a very long time. Very long. Like a decade. About a week into packing up all of our belongings, which by the way seem to multiply exponentially while we're not looking, I was ready to quit and hire a pack of movers to finish the job. And there is truth to adage that "real friends are the ones that help you move." This is a shout-out to my sister Kara, her boytoy Veeeektor, my brother-in-law Marcus and the illustrious Vicki and Bobby, the mom-and-dad-in-law super duo. Thanks bunches!

So, after too much takeout and lots of cleaning/painting/unpacking, we're finally settling in. I've made bread at the new house, which I think is a pretty decent indicator that we're moved in (if I'm unpacked enough to bake then we're at least technically moved in!).

We've already been to IKEA twice, which I have to say, is arguably the best furniture store on the planet. I know there are going to be folks that would disagree with this, esp. Liv and Matt, who beyond all their virtues are still British (love ya, I swear!). Why do I have a thing for IKEA? I'm disorganized. Bad. Every time I waste the money to drive up the Dallas North Tollway to Frisco and run screaming like a Beatles fan into that big blue box I always leave hoping to recant my messy ways. Storage boxes, closet organizers, dressing chests, a new bed, glass-door book cases, a TV bench, a new coffee table: all of it is going to make me more organized, less cluttered and substantially easier to deal with. I just know it.

The worst thing about IKEA? The late-night assembly marathon. Dave's parents stuck around until after midnight on Saturday/Sunday to get our chest of drawers and bed put together. It was an awesome experience, mostly because Dave's dad is really handy with a Phillips-head screwdriver and without his help I would have never gotten that damn bed put together. Seriously.

Another highlight: Dave's mom, Vicki, who is an absolute saint, said "Shit!" when she couldn't get the attic fan to turn off in the new house -- she thought she broke it. A-W-E-S-O-M-E! Dave started hyperventhilating, half-yelling at Vicki for turning the fan on in the first place, when Bobby sternly announced, "IF YOU TWO DON'T QUIT THAT YELLING I'LL SEND YOU BOTH TO CHURCH TOMORROW -- TOGETHER!" That got everyone to chill the fuck out!

Now, this marks the greatest difference between Dave's family and mine: You can put money on the fact that someone will drop an f-bomb at a family gathering, whether mom, dad or the Jemison brood. We're extremely laid-back. We drink on all occaisions we are together, even when they aren't technically occaisions. Expect a good 15-year-old scotch to be poured when I'm in town. Cigars may be smoked, but scotch will definitely be consumed. You can also rest assured that meat in some form will be charred over an open fire, someone will fall asleep in a recliner and that a person that no one likes will be referred to as a "cunt." That's just how we roll. (That's also why Brent, my sister's Scottish husband, fits in with our family so well!)

Also, tragedy struck our house not long before we moved. My computer, which I purchased the summer of 2001, went kaput. We're now trying to replace the old bastard, but it's not looking good. Then, shortly after we moved, Dave's battery for his old ThinkPad went on the fritz. Seriously, when it rains, it motherfucking pours. I may only be able to blog intermittently because of the difficulties at home. I hope that this mini treatise holds you folks over until I can post again!

Much love from the 75228, suckers!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hacking it

I look around the perimeters of my cubicle into the windows of coworkers offices. It's depressing. As my higher-ups meet in secret, I always wonder if they talk about me, and I think back to what I might have done lately to upset the delicate balance in the office politics equilibrium.

Who hates me and would throw me under a bus at a moments notice? Who would go to bat for me when they aren't sure if I'm as right as I say I am? Who's on my side, or working in an interest that will keep me in the black?

I bet a lot of people think that working as a journalist (even though I am really not a journalist yet, although I secretly wish that people would consider me as one) that office politics and backstabbing would be less of an issue, if not marginal. I'm afraid that it's even moreso a problem. We operate in a public sphere, so perception is everything. I've found that there are some people that idolize the way others perceive them, and would sacrifice another person to that idol if necessary. That's just the way it is.

But even more discouraging is that I am uncertain whether or not I have the talent to do this. I don't know anymore. Am I leaning on my deaf ear more because I just can't produce? Am I making excuses for myself? Can I hack it?

I must've used the word "fair" around 40 kajillion times yesterday. "I'd rather be fair than want people to like me," I said. But that's not totally true. I've been careless. I've said things to people before I've had time to take them to heart, an advantage you have on the page but not socially. I've unintentionally singed a few bridges. If only I had the opportunity to proof my conversations prior to publication... alas.

All I can say is I'm sorry, but what's going unsaid is that I lack faith in myself. I make quick decisions every day that I constantly doubt. There is a three-person-deep backstop behind me that should absorb my crashes, but it fails me. Who do I have to blame but myself?

(sorry for being so cryptic, but that's just how it is.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Family bonding

Last night as we finished dinner, which is consumed in front of the TV most days, the orange kitty snuck up into Dave's lap and perched on his stomach. Then, as if not wanting to be the odd-doggie-out, Fitzgerald sandwiched himself between Dave and I, and then began sniffing and nuzzling Orange, who shut his eyes tightly and pretended not to mind for the sake of his parents.

Dawsey, the other cat you don't see much of, has been reclining in various strange spots throughout the house. Last night she camped out to the side of the stove, lately she's been spotted in the shower, on the bathroom floor, in my closet, under the desk and behind the chairs in the living area. I suggested that it's because she's taking naps in all the places that she had been wanting to before we moved. Logical enough, right?

What lovely kids we have! Below are a couple of photos of our sole non-reclusive kitty, Mr. Orange.

A Backyard Orange

Orange angry ears!

Monday, June 11, 2007

And all I cooked was this cake.

It was a balls-to-the wall weekend for me and my sweetie pie. I made Angelfood cake in record time, despite my mother's skepticism. See for yourself:

Angel food batter

Angel food cake from scratch!

I took that gorgeous, spongy creation to dinner at one of our friends' homes with some white wine macerated fruit. The lesser half of the spousal pair had made dinner, at great lengths, too. He made falafel, hummus, eggplant relish, an antipasti plate, tabbouleh and served it up with warm pita bread. Very tasty!

After dinner and conversation, which was repeatedly interrupted by an enormous and hyperactive border collie named Billy, we went home and crashed.

Saturday morning (i.e. mid afternoon) was a blur. We walked down to the local storefronts in Lakewood. Green Living is this great little shop that sells environmentally sustainable goods. We went to the local hardware store and bought two unfinished Adirondack chairs and some red enamel paint for them.

Then it twas off to the Rangers game against the Brewers. After a spectacular rally in the 9th inning, I practically bolted for the car so I could get home and catch up on my reading some more, and Dave wanted to pack for our move (WHAT A FREAK!).

Sunday was sedated, Dave went for a matinee movie and I took the dog out for a run, which he made halfway through before he petered out. I had to walk him home, and when I got back Dave had returned from the movies, so we both went out and ran together, which made me so freakin' hungry and tired. We were both starving, but we decided to go out to Home Depot and check out stuff for the new house.

By that time we were both about ready to consume each other. So we headed in the direction of Kalachandji's, which was open. Dave said that he didn't want to go into the restaurant all grubby after our run, so we went home and changed and went back to the restaurant. Best. Indian food. Ever. (at least in Dallas).

We came home in food comas, I pulled the linens off the drying line and Dave packed some more (FREAK!). Productive weekend, no?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Utterly embarassing

A lot of kids yearn to make a difference in the world, to have one of those rare opportunities to be heard by a global leader, to be understood by someone who has real power to affect change. I wonder how painful it is to be completely disregarded by that powerful leader. Want to know what it looks like? Here you go.

I have a lot of respect for Tony Blair, and although I'm unfamiliar with a lot of the intricacies of why he is so hated in Britain, he sure beats the hell out of President Bush. At least Tony Blair appears to care what the youth in this screwed up world have to say. At least he's not intently studying the nutrition facts on the back of a bag of candy. At least he looks like he's taking notes, instead of making sideways glaces at a girl who's pouring out her concerns and dreads as the state of the world she will inherit lies before her in ruin.

Only 600 more days until we elect a new president. I hope that we get it right this time.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

while on the subject of food...

... I have to gush about the most perfect foods I've found lately:

1) Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla almond milk: I love soymilk, and this is better WITH LESS THAN HALF THE CALORIES!

2) Fiber One Cereal: Lightly sweet, mixes with Almond Breeze or fat free yogurt for the perfect breakfast/snack!

3) Quaker 90 calories granola bars, Chocolate chunk: All the yumminess of a regular granola bar in a crazy-good snack-size bar, with chocolate chunks all over the place!

The perfect burrito bol

I don't get out much during the workday. I'm pretty much anchored to my desk, reading email and wasting my youth. So, on the rare occaison that I do take lunch, I make an insanely huge deal about it. I tell everyone on staff that I'll be out to lunch, and then I ask them if they want anything.

Originally, I was going to trot a short distance to a Subway sandwich shop and grab a low-cal, tasty sammich (6" turkey breast on wheat all the way with mustard). But then a co-worker asked if I wanted to go with her and her husband to Chipotle, which is a bit further, but not much.

Chipotle, which most people don't know is owned by McDonald's, has become the worldwide ambassador of the oversized burrito. Before Chipotle's genesis, though, Freebirds World Burrito dominated the Tex-Mex wrap-em-up market. Freebirds originated in College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University, my alma mater. Needless to say, I've always been a big Freebirds fan, and I guess I always will. But Chipotle has won me over where Freebirds couldn't: The Burrito Bol.

Now, the worst part of a burrito (at least the part that's worst for you) is the tortilla. The most fun thing about Freebirds is their selection of tasty tortillas, which are loaded with fat. This version of a burrito is best for those like me and my coworker that still dream of actually looking good in a swim suit.

How to build the perfect Chipotle Burrito Bol:

-Start with Rice. Always get the rice.
-Next, get both black and pinto beans.
-Then, add red salsa (just a smidge for the weenies).
-After that, pile on the pico de gallo (for those who don't know, it's a mixture of chopped tomato, onion and cilantro with lemon juice and black pepper).
-Then add lettuce and cheese.

You can add the fajita veggies insubstitution for one of the kinds of beans, but then you're missing out on lots of fiber and protein.

Anywho, this combination is filling, tastes AWESOME and has fewer fat and calories than any other selection on the menu. Take that!

Coo-kie? Me want Cookie!

Since the beginning of this year I've started to reform my commuting habits. I'm rising earlier to get to work in a timely fashion, and in order to do something good for the environment (and head off the unsightly sagging of my derrier) I'm taking the stairs up four floors to our offices every morning and descending them every afternoon.

For the past two weeks, though, it's been kind of a game of will. At the foot of the stairs there has been a massive chunk of a partially eaten cookie (oatmeal raisin from my observation). I know now that the stairs are serviced by our janitorial crew twice a month at most, because just this Monday the cookie had vanished. Either that or someone skipped breakfast and was desperate on their way up the stairs one morning (SWEAR TO GOD IT WASN'T ME!).

But really, the cookie's not the half of it. There's also a Ritz cracker sitting on top of an electrical box in the stairway, another victim of a misplaced, half-eaten stairway snack.

I guess eating while climbing stairs is just as bad as chewing gum while walking.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I wanna go back ...

... to the island,
where the shrimpboats tie up to the pilin'.
Give me oysters and beer,
for dinner every day of the year,
and I'll be fine.

So, we made it back from Key West Sunday morning, 7 a.m. It's a 22.5 hour drive, half of which is just Florida. Dave said that the drive from the southernmost point of the U.S. to Pensacola, which is the westernmost point of Florida was "surreal." I said it was boring. Honestly, I slept from Shreveport to East Texas.

If you were wondering, yes, there are photos, almost 100 of them. Check them out on Flickr.

Here's a taste:


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Our Top-Down Future

No, I'm not talking about convertibles here, but about a method of organization that is entrenched in American culture: top-down management. I can't really think of a branch of government or an economically successful organization that doesn't use a top-down form of organization, where the final word rests in a board of directors and a CEO, with the board being a kind of mirage of stockholder autonomy in a bought-and-sold-by-the-share market. Many people may own a publicly traded company, but in truth only one person really controls it.

Same with our government. In the press you see the president take the heat, World-Bank chief Wolfowitz get an ouster over bad management practices and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi getting sound bites left and right, telling conservatives "Whoa there!" but posing no solutions to our problems. All this makes our government look like a circus ruled by apes -- entertaining, but going nowhere.

So, in this system, where power is veritably concentrated and corrupted, nothing really changes except vacuous, self-serving laws. Most change that happens on a large scale is engineered by demographic shifts and market changes that are almost independent. These changes are large-scale differences in mentality, the mentality of citizen consumers.

So, lately people in my neck of the woods have been all atwitter over immigration problems, a problem so entrenched in society that our government has no real answers to. At least, answers that have any real hope of working. One side says, "Build a fence!" but fences can be climbed over and tunneled under. Another says, "Deport them all!" but splitting families of legal-born citizens from their illegal immigrant parents creates a burden of orphans and wards of the state, and they knew this when they had children here. "Penalize companies that hire them!" cries someone else, but when companies have to increase wages to attract another labor pool, this will cut into profits and thus, prices for goods and services will increase.

So, all of these top-down, federally mandated answers seem a little silly when you think about it. Though, how do we solve the cultural, societal and economic woes that are wrecking American culture without causing more damage than good? I think the answer lies in the proposed solutions. If the strategy leaves much to be desired, then the strategy is lacking. Change strategies.

Something happened last week in North Texas. A small community called Farmers Branch, very close to Dallas, approved an ordinance that would restrict illegal immigrants from renting apartment in the area. All apartment managers would have to verify that the lessors in the complex were legal citizens.

This seems fundamental enough -- community tires of negative impact of illegal immigrants and decides to prohibit them from living in some areas, thus reducing the resident population of illegal immigrants. But this doesn't keep illegals from living in rented houses, or keep them from working in the area, or keep them from having a market impact. It just says that they can't live in apartments in Farmers Branch.

This is an examptle of democracy, or the opposite of top-down managment, or even more liberally, Populism. People that voted wanted a change, they formulated a very calculated rule to have a specific impact on property owned in the area, a protracted attempt at immigration reform. It passed.

Too bad we'll probably never know whether or not it would have worked.

Too bad that today, Federal Judge Sam Lindsay overturned the ordinance, saying that immigration is a federal issue, an issue that should be solved on the Congressional level, which happens to be cluttered with top-down, power hungry sycophants.

Too bad our social experiment of democracy isn't what our democratically elected leaders want.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Blogging on holiday

So, Matt blogged while he was on vacation in the Pitts. I don't know if I'll have access to a computer while I'm away, so I don't know if I'll be on here for a week! I really want to post updates and piccies, but we'll see what happens. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that the hurricane season is staved while I am on a rather tiny island.

Otherwise, the weather is here, wish you were beautiful!


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Center of the Universe indeed

We were supposed to crash at a friend's house in San Antonio on Friday, but because plans with them fell through we stayed in Dallas and left for the Texas Hill Country on Saturday after Yoga class. The drive was bumpy; I-35 is the worst interstate highway by far, worse than I-45 only due to it's condition because there's plenty to look at from the road.

When we arrived at our friend's digs, we unloaded and headed out for a beer or two (or three) at a wonderful, mystical joint emblazoned with a bold sign toutint "HILLS & DALE'S -- CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE!"

We walked in from the overcast afternoon to a sparsely lit ice house with a concrete floor. The spartan main room was decorated with plank picnic tables and a billiards area in back. But the main attraction was covering the side of a main wall: AN ENORMOUS BEER REFRIGERATOR!

The wallside cooler was stocked to the gills with any and every kind of imported beer and malt you could crave. They even had St. Peters and our favorite Oatmeal Stout!

I started off with my pint of Guiness and then had a couple of bottles of St. Peters and one of Sam Smith. I was so full of fuzzies that I barely ate dinner! From there we went to Floore's Country Store, Dave's favorite music hall. We listened to Jay Farrar and Son Volt play, had a frozen margarita (or two) and headed back, where I crashed and burned!

The next morning we washed off the previous night, had biscuits and country muffins and washed it down with copious carafes of coffee, black. Well, I washed it down with black coffee, but Dave has to have frou-frou in his cuppa joe, you know what I'm saying, sugar cream and all that! We swapped cds to upload to iPods, gushed about our vacation and then we were a gonner!

Hours later we were back in Dallas again, with laundry to do and loose ends to tie up. I love weekend trips but the reality of the work week is a bummer, especially before an all too short vacation in the American Caribbean!

Making my vote count

Today is the final day for early voting in the May 12 election. Because I'll be on the beach May 12, I need to vote today.

Earlier this workday we were running down predictions on what the Sunday headlines would read the day after. My wager:

Dallas Mayoral runoff between Don Hill and Tom Leppert; Farmers Branch passes immigrant rental ordinance; Prop 1 passes by a mile

Any other Dallasites out there wanna take a shot at 'er?

Friday, April 27, 2007

I could go on, and on, and on...

Food is the one thing that I can easily talk about for hours. I'm in love with the stuff. Really, any kind of cooking method, any kind of recipe, ingredient, flavoring or hardware -- I'll gab to the person closest and most interested. Which is why I was likely stunned this morning when I sat down next to what looked like a punky, disenfranchised gal. I chose her because I had inadvertently left my iPod at home (in my godforsaken gym bag!)and she appeared to be the least likely person to bother me on my downtown-bound train ride. I was wrong.

I quickly fell into the seat next to said punky girl, unzipped my case and unsheathed my dog-eared copy of Family Circle, which I subscribe to mostly for the recipes and home tips. As I was leafing to the back to scope out the recipes, Punky queried, "Do you cook?" Flabberghasted by the sound coming from Punky's direction, I slowly turned my face to hers and said "HUH?"

Yes, I love to cook, Punky. She then asked me a whole bunch of questions like, what do I like to cook most, am I married, does my husband appreciate my cooking (to which I registered a resounding "Of course!") and did I learn to cook from my mom (yes and no; I learned a few key things from mom, like how to follow the directions on the box and that to make fluffy scrambled eggs you add water, not milk, but I did not develop my passion for cooking until much later). It was a very pleasant conversation, and to think I would have completely missed it had I remembered my iPod, which is still lodged in my godforsaken gym bag!

We parted ways and she said that she appreciated the tips on flavoring rice and using a slow cooker, and that she was thinking about moving to Austin, mostly for the nicer political climate and environmentally savvy politics. Yeah, I'd move to Austin, too, Punky, but then I'd miss out on experiences like our little chat.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It's a good thing when it's gone

So, I've lost another pound. I just might look decent in a bikini this vacation after all! The downside? I've become a food Nazi. I've been counting calories like Scrooge McDuck appraises his pool of cash. I've been limiting my intake to 1,200 to 1,500 calories daily, 500 to 800 below what is needed to maintain, and I've started running 2.5 miles daily with a healthy regimen of yoga and weights.

I'd almost given up on my goal, which I made in January. The scale was stuck at 150 lbs. and for three months there was seemingly nothing I could do to get it to budge! I was working with a personal trainer to get my cardio routine together and do exercises to tone the hail damaged areas of my mushy physique. All that was left was diet. I abhor dieting. I just love food, and depriving myself of food that I love seemed awful. I didn't think I was going to be able to do this.

But, I then became addicted to Hungry Girl, which is a great resource for fast, easy and healthy substitutions for the stuff that I love. And I really cannot say enough about how important getting enough fiber is to losing weight. You've gotta eat whole grains, raw veggies and suppliment when necessary with psyllium husk powder.

So, hopefully I'll have some brilliant photos when I come back from vacation! Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Weekend bliss, Vacation angst

A weekend among family is always welcome. They're so much fun to be around; my dad is a really unique individual. He loves his daughters, and he loves sharing his life with others. He could talk baseball with Dave, show off his new pistol grips, talk about his trips to the deer lease or go on and on about small block Chevys. And he cares about whatever you bring to the table. Morning debates around a high-fiber breakfast, fresh coffee and blue jays are the best.

It seems though, that I can never make enough time to visit. I'm always eager to get back "home" and reluctant to leave. We have dinner and conversation, watch baseball and hang out, and then all of the sudden they're waving good bye in the driveway as Dave almost backs into one of the nefarious trees that come out of nowhere (I've collided with my fair share of them). Before that, Jessica, Brent, Sara and Kara were drawing figures in the dingy accumulation on my car's hood, and Fitzgerald was relegated to the guest room upstairs because he just couldn't get along with a 100-lb. black lab, an overly playful Jack Russell terrier and Ginger (Zoe), the mutt with a heart of gold.

One thing that I noticed about my family is their love of food in large quantities. My mom opened a container of oatmeal raisin cookies on Sunday around lunch time; they were gone shortly thereafter. The cookies were 140 calories each! That's insane! With some of them eating two, I could see how throwing caution into the wind like they do could be consequential to their midsection. Although I didn't partake, I felt strangely guilty that I didn't grab the carton of cookies and slam dunk them into the waste bin! It's for their own good!!!

So, it's become obvious that although I've been working pretty darn hard to lose the weight before we vacation in Key West, I'm still about 8 to 10 lbs. short of my goal. That sucks, because I was looking forward to finally having pictures that I love to plaster all over our home. "This is a shot of me and Dave sunning on a lovely pier on the island. Don't I look fabulous?" Instead, it'll be more like, "Here's Dave and ... What is this? How did a manatee manage to get into ... Oh wait... That's me! This is where I was in my bikini and didn't lose all that fat I said I was going to... yeah, one too many trips to my parents' house!"

And to top it all off, I can't figure out what to do for Dave's birthday. It'll be while were at Key West. I wanted to plan a super-secret special day trip for him, but I can't figure anything out. There's no baseball in the area, he's already been to the island. All I can think of is hitting a nice restaurant for a romantic dinner and giving him a fabulous gift, which also still escapes me! And 35 is kind of a milestone, so I want to do something memorable (although, we will be on Key West, what's not memorable about that!?). Maybe I can have the kitchen at the Bed and Breakfast we're staying at make him a birthday cake that I can surprise him with on the morning of his birthday... And then have something crazy planned, like I dunno, horseback riding or something... GIMME SOME IDEAS, FOLKS!!!

Also, what do you get a guy that has everything baseball, that he'll absolutely flip for, and won't totally kill my budget!!! ARGH!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So it goes...

Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.
-Kurt Vonnegut

News has just reached my desk that the world's most revered Humanist, Kurt Vonnegut, has died. His fatalistic, morally quixotic and dubiously contrived works, including his most famous novel Slaughterhouse Five, earned him the fame that eluded him early in life.

I remember during our trip to San Francisco, we made a few stops at City Lights Books, a Beat Generation mainstay with poetry and philosophy from every continent a large contingent on its shelves. Vonnegut was the only thing that quenched my literary appetite, and I left City Lights with a new copy of Slaugherhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions. If you haven't read these Vonnegut classics, you're missing out.

Vonnegut was a man that wrote in such a way that compelled you to at least try to understand ideas that would normally be repulsive. His style was dictated by his early years as a hard-news journalist, a reporter at a Chicago newspaper's city desk. That style made his novels easy to read, easy to follow and easily consumed by readers that may not be so adept with philosophy. He's told stories of near-death tea parties with modern icons and has attracted a diverse yet critical following with tales of planets far away and people near and dear.

Vonnegut died due to brain injuries from a fall several weeks ago.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Get green, make green

Sheryl Crow and Laurie David (wife of Larry David, creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm) just rode into the sunset in their biodiesel-powered tour bus to start the "Stop Global Warming College Tour." Kicking the tour off at Southern Methodist University, the soon-to-be-home of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and think tank, i.e. they Anti-Kyoto Monument of Environmental Ennui, may have been a less-than-optimal choice for the sassy duo.

As Crow and David made the media rounds yesterday, people in my line of work started debating just what they could accomplish by handing out energy-efficient light bulbs, doing a slide show and singing a couple new-folk songs. The debate then evolved to a global scale: These two harbingers of the global climate change end-times are trying to motivate Americans to do something for our planet at the grassroots. What if America really started, as a means of necessity, to make our country more ecologically friendly? What if we started to take coal-burning power plants offline and constructed new and more environmentally feasible energy sources? What would that kind of large scale investment (investments with dubious or unknown rates of return are calculated as losses) do to our economy? What if China and India don't follow suit, and for every one coal-fired power plant that we take down, they construct two more?

I kind of stopped listening when somebody asked if we would be willing to bomb China to stop them from polluting. That's a new concept to me: hurting the world to save it? That's like a coyote chewing its arm off to escape a trap, right?

But then I began to think, why are such ecological improvements necessarily a loss? Why would new construction and taking down older polluting plants be economically harmful? Why must ecological improvement and economic growth be mutually exclusive? It seems a bit specious to me.

Look at San Francisco, Calif., or Seattle, Wash., or Portland, Ore., or Madison, Wisc., or even Austin! These cities are striving towards sustainability; abating environmental impact to the point which the environmental gains negate human impact. All of these cities are not only environmentally friendly, but are also economic powerhouses. The investment in their infrastructure to make the cities cleaner, safer and more ecologically integrated has made them attractive, boosting land values and making them sought-after locations for creative-types and progressive firms.

Dallas could do this, too. We could be come the next green-living outpost. Too bad we've got business leaders and council members that would cut their noses off to spite their faces. They'd rather have toll roads running through our greenspace and intruding upon what was supposed to be our own verson of Golden Gate Park... It's too bad that we won't have a dense urban core, afforable multi-family highrises or a downtown peppered with well-manicured parks and recreational facilities. It's too bad that companies come to Dallas looking for a steal, and then they really do, they steal from the communities' investment in infrastructure, developing reinvestment zones that take tax revenue from the city for new bells and whistles for their towers of babel.

What will get us there? What will make us as beautiful and preserved as San Francisco? As ecologically sound as Eugene, Ore. or Seattle? Progressive leadership -- a commodity that we sorely lack.

To make Dallas whole

I fell hard into my uncomfortable chair at work, the recoil of the hydraulic lift making my bean soup slosh gently. The warm bowl in my lap and my cool caesar salad on my desk, I thought about how I hadn't blogged in such a long while. I've been thinking about that a lot lately, mostly while baking bread and doing yoga at the gym. I've been wondering if I really had anything to say at all.

Sure I'd read something that would make my blood boil, but how on earth do you really speak out about anything if your job is the proverbial cat with your tongue? So, I've decided that I'll get back to the nitty gritty of Dallas, what's wrong, what's right and what we should do about our myriad problems.

If you're ever in Dallas and want to have a pleasant trip, do not talk about race, ever. That's like pulling a lion's tail, especially if you're white. It would make what Don Imus is coming back from look trivial. So, it's astonishing that in our Legislature, two lawmakers are asking that the state formally apologize for slavery. Note, they're not from Dallas, but Houston also has a history of racial tension.

So, it's really peculiar that so many racially charged issues are on the floor in the Texas House. On March 21, David Swinford effectively killed a bill from Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, that would disallow the removal of any memorial plaques or statues from state property without the approval of the Legislature, including several Confederate memorials at the University of Texas that have recently drawn fire.

Not that I agree with slaveholding, Southern, belly-up aristocracy, but history is history, even the ugly parts. Will an apology do any good at resolving centuries of ingrained racial dischord? Not really, but if it makes Texas and it's pussilanimous Legislature feel better, then sure, go ahead and apologize for slavery.

But instead of just an apology, a third-rate collection of words officially saying "Gee, we're real sorry about the whole indentured servitude thing, forgive?" How about we do something that will really change the tides of race relations and its associated poverty, something that will wash away the geographical dividing lines that still segregate. Why don't we do something meaningful instead of asking a bunch of completely oblivious white dudes to say "I'm sorry" for something their ancestors did?

With the money the Texas House has wasted debating an apology for slavery we could have gotten started with programs keeping black kids in school, providing their parents with opportunities to start over, to break the cycle of poverty, to end their relegation to Dallas' "Southern Sector" and to dissolve fifedoms of racial inequity through combined community investment.

Nah, that'd make way too much sense.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Four cups to shake the cobwebs

For the past few nights I've been so restless, and I haven't been able to sleep. I'd toss and turn and roll over again and again, but nothing could keep me comfortable enough to make me go to sleep and stay that way. Not even my dashing husband and his loyal mutt!

But last night was different. I skipped cardio at the gym and did Marj's Iyengar yoga class only. We did lots of backbends and a few twists, no inversion, but Savasana, some Pranayama and some chanting. I came home though, to only panic about dinner. I couldn't figure out what to make! It was the end of the week, and pickings were slim. There were a few sprigs of cilantro, some silken tofu, whole wheat tortillas... I got the genius idea to make enchiladas! But, wait... I've never made enchiladas before...

So, I created a whole new animal: The Enchilada Lasagna! Layers of whole wheat tortillas separated a spicy mixture of sauteed onions, red peppers and celery in a tomato and green chile base, with a middle layer of chicken and corn, all laden with a thick, creamy cilantro/tomato/tofu sauce! Baked for 30 minutes and served with long grain and wild rice with black beans... Tasty!

Satisfied, I cleaned up after dinner and retired. My creativity was spent, I had no mental energy left. I crawled into bed and minutes later I was in a peaceful, uninterrupted slumber, only to be stopped by the annoying soliliquy of my alarm clock.

Now, Friday morning with so much junk to do at the office because three key staffers are out today, I'm having to down cup after cup of hot fresh java to get the gears turning in my cranium!

Tonight we're going to Benihana for my brother-in-law Marcus' birthday. Tomorrow, we look for houses, and tomorrow night, Kara is coming to town! YAY!!!

Hope I can blog again soon, with pictures!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Stuff I luv!

I know you're all dying to know what I think about the new Trinity River Project plans for a toll road inside the river's corridor, but until I see a few key pieces of evidence, you'll just have to wait. In the mean time, I'm going to share just a few products that I've grown to absolutely adore!

1) Aveda Blue Oil: This pepperminty oil comes in a roll-on vial that easily and weightlessly smooths on skin in areas that you feel tense or need relaxing. It's cooling and warming, with a divine scent and gentle tingle. A little bit on achy muscles before bed is a recipe for relaxation!

2) Aveeno Skin brightening Daily scrub: Gentle little beads in a creamy oatmeal-infused base exfoliate gently to reduce the size of pores. It's easy on dry, irritated skin and won't clog pores. Admission: I have occasional hormonal acne around my mouth and chin, but using this regularly keeps my face clearer without using harsh chemicals.

3) Aveda Hand Relief: This was a real skin saver this dry Dallas winter. Smooth on just a little of this rich, creamy lotion with an awesome scent and it almost instantly heals hardened little mitts!

4) Bath and Body Works Black Rasberry Vanilla: You've just got to smell it. Oh-so-sweet!