Sunday, August 31, 2008

Caffeine free and easy?

I think that the key to happiness is balance. Small meals during the day balances out a huge plate of chili for dinner with gingerbread a la mode for dessert. Taking a break from physical exertion for a week balances out the insane amount of walking I'll be doing during my vacation. A liter of coffee in the morning balances out the beer and wine I'll be drinking that afternoon, although, getting a mad case of the mid-afternoon latte shakes isn't all that attractive.

So, on Thursday we awoke to no coffee in the coffee pot. This throws everything out of balance. We grind the beans and pour in the filtered water the night before so there will be coffee ready for the two of us to make it to work without murdering small woodland creatures on the roadways. No coffee, no peace for squirrels.

I tried troubleshooting the damn thing on Thursday night, but still no luck. Something is wrong with the system of tubes that connects the reservoir to the drip basket. All worrying about coffee and no coffee makes Jo a very curiously angry girl.

So no coffee on Thursday morning, but I would be damned if I had no coffee on Friday morning, so I ground up some beans at home and brought enough to make a pot at work, though I staged it as one of those "treats" for your coworkers. "Lookee, everyone! I brought gourmet coffee for the office! Nevermind the coincidence that my eyes are barely open. I have dibs!"

Though, without access to the office pot, I had to get inventive this weekend -- a three-day weekend for me at that. So, I'm using my Bodum press instead of a regular coffee pot. It's not bad coffee. It's actually the opposite of bad coffee. The only thing is, it's very strong coffee. Where it would normally take me a good 5 or 6 cups to give me a decent case of the latte shakes, I'm over-caffeinated in only two or three. Yipes!


With a three-day weekend now half-wasted, I'm looking for things I've been meaning to do but haven't.

(I say it's half-wasted, but yesterday was awesome. Dave and I woke up and drank strong coffee, ate french toast coated in our backyard eggs with homemade wheat bread, hung around doing a few chores until we were hungry again, went to Souper Salad and gorged ourselves with healthy food. I had a nice nap, woke up and watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in bed. Went on a nice long walk just before dusk with the dogs, came home and cooked baked potatoes, had a beer and knitted until I was sleepy. Awe. Some.)

Some things I've been wanting to do:

1) Make an old pair of jeans into a jean skirt.
2) Finish knitting my socks
3) Finish knitting my sister's fingerless mittens
4) Expand the chicken coop's run
5) Yoga, yoga, yoga
6) Start on another knitting project (maybe a hat, maybe a scarf, maybe another pair of socks, who knows!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

All alone in my pajamas

Well, technically here at the House of England, you're never alone. There's always something furry or feathered about.

Just after lunch today I started to feel sick to my stomach. Not the vomity kind of sick, but the real, painfully pervasive, I-can't-stand-up-straight-because-it-hurts sick to my stomach. After running through a few things with a coworker, I went home to dive into my flannel pajama pants and a T-shirt.

Still, I have no idea what I ate or did that would do this to me. I'm still very much in an blerg-y state, and have only been able to eat two pieces of wheat toast and half of a Sprite Zero, totally uncharacteristic for me. Another bummer, I haven't been to yoga this week. I miss my yoga.

Dave is out at the Tom Petty show tonight with our neighbor friends and one of his buddies. So it's me and the furs. As I look around, I realize what awful pet parents we are.

First, there is the state of Hornsby's bed. It is far beyond just unmade:


Then there is the fact that the two of our chickens have fowl pox. I'm sure they'll be fine, and in Texas, it's kind of unavoidable with all of the mosquitoes, but that doesn't make me feel any better for my birds.

And to top it off, Mr. Orange still hasn't learned how to put a wristwatch on properly.


Dawsey, though, thinks I'm just being silly. Here she's telling me that worrying is futile, just take a nap by the window and shut up, you crazy wench.


Oh well...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dear Time Warner Cable,

Hey guys! This is Miss Dallas! Good to talk to you guys again. What? You don't remember me? You have a lot of customers, I'm sure, but I doubt you could forget me. I ordered RoadRunner High-Speed cable Internet from you guys not too long ago. I knew you would remember!

Well, I have a slight problem. I mean, your network is fast and all, but when it rains, well, there is no network. You see, the guys you bought your infrastructure from, you remember Comcast, right? Well, they never really upgraded it, so now when it rains, the network cable takes on water through these teensy weensy holes in its sheath, and voila, no Internet.

Now, I know this is troubling, because every time I call you guys when it rains I have to wait forever to bitch at you for not replacing the cable. I'm sure you missed my rants because it hasn't rained in some time, but we've been deluged here as of late, and well, all this rain with no internet makes Miss Dallas a very cranky girl.

I hope this isn't too much to ask, but I'm paying for Internet access whenever I need it, and that could be at any time during the day, perhaps even all day, maybe even when it rains. To not have that service means I'm not getting what I'm paying for, and that means that you're not doing your job.

There are two ways this can go. I can continue to hound you guys when it rains and you can upgrade your infrastructure, or you can just go fuck yourself and I can take my high-speed internet needs elsewhere like many of your other customers have done once they get sick of your outages when we get even the slighest precipitation.

All the best,

Miss Dallas

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Until the clouds part

Today started out gloomy in more ways than one. This morning I was greeted with more rain. Rain on top of rain that we've had for four days straight. It's like Mother nature left the faucet on while she was brushing her teeth. "Ohmygod! You guys are like, soaked and floating away and stuff! My bad!"

And then, there's the fact that my company is initiating what they call "calculated workforce reduction" and "right-sizing," which means "Hold on to your hats, peons!"

The big boss of the company walks through hordes of peons and lower caste employees every day, and yet he rarely looks us in the eyes. It's good to know, at least, that he feels somewhat guilty for sinking this poor, battered ship.

And, to top it all off, this is what I get to go home to:



We always wanted a backyard pond. Now we have 40.

At least we have some good news:


EGGS! (more on that, later)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Post-modern Emma Goldman

One of my coworkers handed me this far left-wing publishing catalog while I was sorting through some papers. I read through a few descriptions of the publishing house's offerings, but something jumped out at me. It was a book, much like a biography, of Emma Goldman, a famous feminist/anarchist. What struck me was the description of the book, that it was a personal look at a woman reviled for preaching birth control, for being a revolutionary, but didn't mention that although she pioneered a lot of things, she is most known for her preferance toward violent demonstration and the "propaganda of the deed."

Who writes a book about Emma Goldman and glazes over the part where she incited gruesome labor riots, the parts where she helped a friend attempt an assassination, the part where she sympathized with the anarchist that killed President McKinley? That is effing disgusting and entirely misleading. It's one thing to effectively usher in change a la Cesar Chavez or Upton Sinclair, but it's an entirely different thing to barter that change with innocent blood.

What bothered me even more was that my coworker might think I was interested in violent anarchist revolutionaries.

It's cool this morning, thanks to the rain we've had for the past couple of days. The outdoor thermometer says 75 F, which is an amazing respite for the usual parade of 100-plus-degree days in August.

The chickens are LOVING it. They're just running around in the back yard right now, devil-may-care and all. I think the blue jays and mockingbirds are actually petrified of these new, big birds in their territory. Every day I see a recently shed blue jay or mockingbird feather in proximity to the coop, so I know they're at least curious.

I made pizza for dinner last night. It was a really simple creation; whole wheat and spelt crust with a (store bought!) hummus base, sliced roma tomatoes and sliced red onions with low fat mozzarella. It really hit the spot.


It's funny that I broke down and made pizza, since Dave and I always have the Friday Dinner Debate. We treat Friday dinners as the cap of the week, so we like to do something different, whether takeout or going out. Dave had stopped by that hipster mecca that is Whole Foods earlier in the day to pick up a case of mineral water, and I thought that, hey, since he was there he would have the presence of mind to pick up dinner from their prepared food counter. No such luck.

Our pantry was relatively empty since we haven't had the time to make a comprehensive grocery store stop. If I was going to make dinner, I was goin to have to stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things (namely the roma tomatoes, red onions, hummus and mozzarella to make pizza. I also picked up a carton of spicy salmon rolls and brown rice california rolls just in case the idea of holing up in a hot kitchen became aberrant by the time I got home.

But the kicker is that although both of us went to the grocery store on Friday only one of us brought home food.

Let's hope I'm never incapacitated and unable to cook, because we both would surely starve if Dave was in control of the food supply.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Every so often a blind sow finds an acorn

I had a dentist appointment at 8 a.m. Monday morning, but I was really sweating it out on Sunday night. My Friday appointment with the eye doctor went sour (think sitting in an unfamiliar office without glasses or contacts for about 45 minutes, and when you're as nearsighted as I am and you rely on lip-reading for most communication, well, that should be illegal) and I was sure it was an omen for Monday's dentist appointment.

I was sweating it for no reason, though. No cavities, no grave prognosis! Even the cavity I thought I had was all in my head!

So my Monday easy-peasy dentist appointment was the kicker to a pretty decent weekend. Friday night was a work party -- a congregation of Olympic-caliber dorks watching the openining ceremony. Since it was in China, I brought a sixer of Tsing Tao, and I'll be damned if I only got to drink three of them! That's OK, though, because the host sent me home with one of those mini kegs of Bitburger.

It was a decent evening, considering I was 1 for 2 in pool, which was dissapointing since I usually dominate. I suppose I was out of practice. We called it a night relatively early and left at 11 p.m. We had a full weekend ahead of us, so we needed plenty of rest.

Saturday came too early for me, though, so I slept through almost half of it. That'll learn you, damn mornings! When I awoke I had to seriously get down to bidness. Dave and I went shopping and ran some errands. We got cool footstools from World Market for our Adirondack chairs! Yay! Pier 1 was ransacked as well. Great sales going on there.

We hit Lowe's, too, which I think is Dave's new favorite place in the world.

So, after our rash of consumerism, we came back home and cleaned like the wind. Well, Dave cleaned and I played with the chickens. I may have washed a dish or two, but mostly playing with the chickens.

I also had to get ready to go to Denton because one of my dearest friends in the whole wide world, Caff (not her real name), was graduating from University of North Texas. She was on the Dave England Graduation Plan (5.5 years). We were encouraged to skip the actual graduation ceremony, which Caff said would be as pleasant as the vigorous bout of diarrhea she contracted towards the end of her stay in Thailand.

But the highlight was meeting up afterwards for dinner and drinks and drinks and drinks ...


... and drinks ...


... and more drinks. That's Harry (not his real name), Caff's main squeeze.


Dave had a few thoughts he wanted to jot down really quick ...


Awww ...


These people... how could you not love them?


I really missed Caff's mom, who is a splendid lady.


Caff and I stayed up until 4 p.m. shooting the shit and whiskey, talking like we had never been apart. She's going to be working for a winery soon, and hopefully she'll move closer to Dallas so we can hang out more.

Sunday, well, like God, we rested. We needed to recover from the last night's bucket of fun. So did Mr. Orange, who commandeered Dave's leg for a few hours.


I baked bread, I cooked curry, the world rejoiced.

The End.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A swift jab in the eye

Growing up I had the nickname "coke bottles" because I had some of the thickest glasses anyone had seen. When you're a girl, a 12- to 15-year-old girl at that, any kind of derogatory nickname will make you feel like a clump of dirt stuck in between tire treads. My parents said that I had to wait until I was 16 to get contacts, and 16 couldn't come soon enough. I still don't share the yearbook pictures of me in Junior High or High School because, frankly, "coke bottles" still bothers me.

For a year in college I wore glasses full time, but now I almost exclusively wear contacts (at least until I can afford laser eye surgery). But I hadn't been to an eye doctor in a long time until the end of last year, so not only was my prescription wildly insufficient, but I was wearing contacts that were at least a couple of months old.

I knew it was going to be a lot of trial and error trying to get me fitted for contacts. I have a very odd prescription with an astigmatism to boot. And I have a nightmare schedule, making it even harder for me to get into the eye doctors office, which happens to be closed or the doctor is unavailable on days that work best for me. Logistical nightmare, much?

My first visit was in December for an exam and contacts consult, and because my prescription is "challenging" they ordered a trial pair. That pair took two weeks to come in and it didn't work out. Next pair, another two weeks, no dice. Once more (with feeling), another two weeks, and it's better, so let's order 12 mo. and give it a go. But shortly after the contacts came in I had a problem with focusing at a distance. No dice, I say, but the office said that it might be a defective lens, so let's order another trial pair with the same script. OK, I say. A week goes by (we're in July now, for those of you following the timeline) and still, no dice.

I called yesterday to set up an appointment ASAP to get re-evaluated, and they say that because 8 months have passed that I'm going to have to count this as my annual visit, and charge it to my insurance. But I have already planned my annual appointment to get glasses with their office, too. I think to myself, "This is ridiculous! It's not my fault that they are having a hard time getting my prescription right!"

But I can't help but feel bad for being "coke bottles."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Let's not let this get out, OK?

Not too many years ago I was very ambivalent about children. They are expensive, they are a lot of work, they require a lot of your time and once you've got them it's impossible to get your pre-child life back without assessing some kind of criminal charge.

Now, I'm finding myself saying things to the hubster like, "When we have a baby, we'll get this crib," or "When we have a kid, I'll use eco-friendly diapers," and "I'm so excited that my sister is breastfeeding! I'm definately breastfeeding when we have a baby."

Apparently, something has changed.

I'd like to think that buying a house and getting married has made the idea of children a little more accessible. My main issue is that there is SO MUCH I haven't done yet, like I've never been to India, I've never backpacked through Europe, I've never taken a yoga retreat, or taken two solid weeks off for some restorative outdoors time. So much I still want to experience, like Macchu Picchu and the Great Barrier Reef, Japan in spring and Mayan ruins in fall.

But I'm getting more comfortable with the idea of crib midgets.

Monday, August 04, 2008

That's chicken feed

Now I know why I grew up a fat kid. My family is a food family. No, we're not Italian, but we are mostly Greek and all about the food. While I was spending some QT with them this weekend, we all made some fairly interesting observations:

1) When there is a spread out in the kitchen, members of our family gravitate and graze. Entire conversations and gatherings take place around the coldcuts and potato salad. All seven of the J-Clan were in the kitchen munching, while all the other halves were watching TV. For us, food=family.

2) There is always food. Period. What's that? You're hungry? Let me grab about 1 ton of carbohydrates from my pantry on which you can munch. My parents can fill the bellies of a large Bangladeshi township with what is in their kitchen.

3) When my family gathers, the party ends when the food is put away. There could be beer left in the cooler, but it doesn't matter. The crowd will dissapate when you stow away the lasagna.

So when Dave and I arrived home last night from our weekend at S and B's house (by the way, isn't my niece a-friggin'-dorable?) Our dinner consisted of baked chicken breast, brown rice and steamed cauliflower. No dessert, served with mineral water.

I see myself going on a detox diet.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The only time in your life...

... when you're concerned about gaining weight instead of going insane trying to lose it.
... when you can crap your pants and nobody cares.
... when it's OK to eye a woman's breasts and make sucking noises.
... when people will kiss your toes and it's not a fetish.

My sweet niece, T, was born on a Tuesday in July. She's 7 pounds, 15 ounces of beautiful.

We're spending the weekend with my sister S and her husband B in Houston so that we
can soak up as much of little T's gorgeous mug as she will allow.

I was holding her earlier and she cast this spell on me; every fiber of my body knew that everything would be OK as long as she's happy. She's cute when she cries (rare) and sweet when she toots (often). She's got her mother's mouth, her father's eyes and she's every bit as wonderful as God could possibly muster.

Good luck, kid. This world is a doozy. If you ever need help, I'm only a phone call away in Dallas.