Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Call of the wild

I'm going to be in the Houston area this holiday weekend, so expect a lovely recap when I get back!

Fun pre-turkey-day facts:

1) I went to work this morning with wet hair tied up in a bun and my boss said that it looked "cute." This means that I will definitely be coming to work with wet hair more often!

2) It seems that the mornings that I need to get to work early are the ones that the cats decide to vomit all over the place.

3) One of our nearby chicken friends is kind enough to come by and check on the chickens while we're away. What she doesn't know is that in return I'm knitting her one of the most awesome sets of fingerless mittens ever and giving her all of the eggs our gals lay while we're away.

4) As with any trip to see the family in Houston, I may be inebriated for most of the trip, so I may or may not have fun pictures to post. Let's hope I do!

5) I'm going to get to hang out with my sweet, adorable neice!

Y'all have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A dose of my own medicine (Episode 4)

We woke up late on our first morning in Manhattan, but we were in bed late only because we couldn't sleep all night, and it wasn't from excitement. In our ridiculously over-priced hostel the only furniture besides a useless bedside table was a single mattress with no boxspring that had a wallowed-out center. But what upset me the most was that there was no minifridge and 18 billion Norwegian kids in the house, usually smoking and drinking malt liquour on the front porch.

We tried to get started as early as possible, since we wanted to go to MoMA, shop in SoHo visit with Olivia and make it to Shea Stadium in time for the Mets game.

This schedule, as it turns out, made the entire day into one big tragedy.

Olivia ended up having an engagement that she couldn't miss, so we weren't able to meet, which was a real bummer, because it would be the second time that we were in the same city but our paths didn't cross.

There are people who spend entire days in New York's Museum of Modern art, and we had to cram all we could into just a couple of hours. People spend days window shopping and peeking in at different SoHo stores, but alas, we didn't have the time. We windowshopped, just breezed by a lot of them. I grabbed a coffee and a muffin. Dave did, too. We decided to grab a cab and head to MoMA.

I love that place. Not to mention the fact that they had a ridiculously awesome exhibit on Salvador Dali. Also, a cool architectural exhibit on prefabricated housing through the ages. And the permanent collection was amazing (what I saw of it, that is).






This couple (the blonde and the guy in the blue button-up) seemed to tail Dave and I from room to room. She stood with him in front of most of the abstract paintings and sculptures, explaining history and concepts, like an art student dying to impress a date.


And then there was an empty suit, which reminded me a lot of politics. And I'm sure that I missed many very splendid things because there just wasn't enough time.

We really had to hoof it from MoMA to get to Shea in time for the game, so we caught a train from Grand Central Station (which is really both Grand and Central) and headed to Queens instead of heading back to the hostel to change clothes first. It had started sprinkling rather deliberately, and we were wondering if we were going to get to watch baseball at all.

Grand Central Station was amazing, and ridiculously organized. What impressed me the most was the walk-through market where you could buy fresh fish and scallops and then take two more steps and buy a Dutch chocolate cake! You could also buy beer to drink on the way to Shea stadium (!) which is a fantastic idea.

By the time we got to Shea it was gross and rainy, and the gates hadn't opened yet. So Dave and I ducked into the gear shop and I got a Mets hoodie to wear because I was freezing my bejeezers off. We ran in to Shea right when the gates opened, and immediately I could tell why this was its last season standing. The place is a dump! Since it was drizzling, there were puddles everywhere and there were leaky spots all over the place. It smelled like one of my dead grandmothers' closets, too. Good thing the beer stands were open, though, because it was going to be a long wait to see if we were going to play, and the tarp was still covering the diamond.


Here, Dave is double-fisting since we weren't sure how much longer we were going to have to wait to see baseball.


Here you see one of the natives measuring the rainfall, looking out to the Astrodome-ish stands of Shea Stadium. Notice the tarp covering the infield...

So, we got to go to Shea before they tore the sucker down. No baseball though. They had already completed the new park, which is right next door. It looks a lot like Ebbets field from back in the day. Maybe we'll get to see a game there sometime.

We were tired, hungry and a little tipsy, so we took the train back to Manhattan, switiching to the red line at Times Square, but instead of hopping on a train we decided to take a couple minutes and check things out before back to the Upper West Side to grab some grub before turning in.




(kinda fuzzy, but still awesome!)

We quickly had enough of Times Square and we made our way back to the Upper West Side in pursuit of grub and booze.

After way too much searching, the only thing we found that was still seating was a tiny little tapas restaurant called Luzia's. So, as we start to make our way inside to get a bite, a fight broke out across the street at a pub called Jake's Dilemma off Amsterdam near our hostel. People started rushing in there and you could hear glass breaking from across the street. Then all of the sudden four or five men are carrying this guy in a white shirt out of the bar and they drop him on the pavement. Then, the cops show up. Very interesting.

Two beers and some very interesting coconut curry scallops later, we headed back to the shitty hostel to turn in. Nothing may have gone well that day, but I wouldn't say that it wasn't interesting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Big, big hope and some self indulgence

First: Thank you all for your support. Every drop of kindness and every hug has meant so much. I'm still learning that it's OK to admit that you're overwhelmed sometimes, and that you don't have to be invincible to be strong.

Second: My mom is still in the hospital, but she is doing a lot better. She's gone through a barrage of tests and treatments, and although they're taking a shotgun approach to a hunting rifle problem, she's starting to sound like herself again. Everyone was hoping that she'd be out of the hospital on Monday evening, but her white blood cell count is elevated, so the docs aren't comfortable with discharging her yet, which is frustrating. More tests today, and more treatments. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

She's just too much fun to be out of the game.

My friend that was injured in a car accident is also on the mend and in physical rehabilitation. I'm so excited at how much he's progressing, and I'm so glad that there are literally tons of people supporting him through his recovery.


I want to acknowledge that for the first time EVER, DrivingMissDallas is a two-time award winner!

Thanks to the Tex-Pat, a lovely former-Texan-current-German (who knits and feels like I've known her for ever), for her very official Tex-Pat Blog Award 2008!

Also, big ups to the lovely Sequined of Sequins and Glitter for the fantastic kudos of being on her short list of must-reads!

I will soon be doing a couple of awards myself, considering that I've become quite the bloggy connoiseur lately. Keep your eyes peeled right here!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hold it together

Those who are close to me or work with me know that I've been going through a bit of a rough patch lately. It sounds so self-centered to make this about me, when it's been about all sorts of people in my life dealing with crazy circumstances, and me feeling powerless to do anything.

About three weeks ago I was really, really sick. I had a very severe cold, much like pneumonia, though not as bad. The fatigue, the headaches, the congestion and the overall dreadful malaise made me feel so weak. It made me feel like anything but myself.

When I returned to work, I found out that a friend had suffered a terrible accident, and that he faced an uphill battle in recovery. I was in shock when I heard. This is the guy that I saw in the elevator the Wednesday I tried to soldier on and come in to work, who said that I should go home and take care of myself when I told him that I was feeling awful. He and his wife are two people that care so much about others.

And after what was supposed to be a routine outpatient surgery, my mom is back in the hospital, weak and in pain, and I'm 300 miles away and powerless to help her. I feel like superman, who knows he can do anything, until he is confronted with kryptonite. Not being there for my mom, trying to go on with my life as usual, is really very hard. It's making my periphery crumble and thusly, unexpectedly, I've been bursting into tears.

I hate the fact that this all seems so selfish to me, and that it's my mother in the hospital, and it's my friend battling to recover, not me, but it has become so immensely difficult for me to just hold it together, make it through one more day, and do it all over again.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Endless poppies

My job is all about connections. Specifically, making connections between people. A lot of people read the stuff that I produce, but it is actually written by a horde of different people. Each person has such an amazing, unique history. Sometimes I am blessed to get to know their history. This is a story about a shared history.

One of my contributors wrote about a Veterans Day many years ago, long after the name of the national holiday was changed from Armistice Day, which was actually a day that people recognized the end of World War I. A longtime symbol of the armistice is the poppy, which signifies the vast fields of blood-red poppies that bloomed among the most horrific battle sites.

The contributor, an American military veteran, was looking for some artificial poppies on Veterans Day, but was very dissappointed when he found that there were none offered by any of the florists near him. He was disabled, so it was not an option for him to travel across the city to find poppies to memorialize the day. He then lamented what appeared to him as a loss in shared national history, that the greatest known memorial for our heroes of World War I could be forgotten is a very real tragedy.

Several weeks after his missive was published, I received a large padded envelope inside a mailer box with a note asking me to forward the envelope to the contributor. No problem.

Later that week I received a call from the contributor. Another reader had been so moved by the disabled veterans search for a personal memorial to those fellow vets that had died in World War I that the reader, a World War II vet himself, procured some artificial poppies for the contributor and sent them along with a note describing his memories of the armistice. The poppies and the note had meant so much to him, and he said that with future Armistice Days, he'll never forget that so many men died on battlefields to preserve the freedom of others.

This is our shared history.

Let us not forget.

Monday, November 10, 2008

No one could care about your life that much

One of my friends just sent me an e-mail about plans for Thanksgiving. After we were done with our back and forth she sent me a link to find her on Twitter. Part of me was able to supress the compulsion to e-mail her back and tell her that no one could possibly care enough about what you ate for breakfast or how big of a dump you took this afternoon to not be able to wait and read it on your blog.

I had yogurt and Fiber One for breakfast, but still nothing to report this afternoon...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Truth hurts

Nothing is more painful than making a budget.

Nix that.

Nothing is more painful than actually scrutinizing how very little money you have left over after paying to keep yourself sane and alive.

Dave and I hash out a relatively modest existence. We don't do any crazy traveling. We don't exactly spend exorbitantly. We do drink a lot. We don't have extensive credit card debt (but the little we have makes me uncomfortable, nonetheless).

We eke out a living. We're happy. Things are OK.

But we pay a lot of taxes. We pay a lot for our healthcare. We pay too much for (unreliable) cable internet and (ridiculous) satellite TV.

Sitting down and budgeting, though, is depressing.

So, instead, I prefer to admire the fruits of my frugality...


Here's a recession-proof recipe to ease the strain on your wallet:


Easy Peasy Pea soup

1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large bag frozen peas, defrosted
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup half and half, milk or soy milk
1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup water

In a heavy-bottomed stainless steel soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and then add onion, sauteeing until translucent. Add garlic and continue sauteeing until the garlic is light brown. Add peas and stir vigorously.

Once peas are coated, add chicken broth, reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or until peas are very soft but not mushy. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender or blend in batches in a standing blender until a creamy consistency. Return peas to pan, and milk, continuing to stir. Then add corn starch.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Think, thin and the occasional hairball

A chicken friend of mine recently adopted a shelter dog. This same friend at one time bought an AKC German Shepard only to turn on a dime and take it back to the breeder because, holy cannoli, the dog required more investment.

These same people got chickens soon after visiting my sweet lay-dees. Now they have a sweet shelter dog. Unfortunately, that same sweet shelter dog got Parvo.

If you are unfamiliar with parvovirus, consider yourself very lucky. I remember my first encounter with parvo. It was my first stint as a veterinary technician. I was working at a very tiny clinic in a very tiny strip center in the small Houston-area town in which I was born and raised. There was a miniscule area in the very back-back-back of the clinic for isolation, and in one of those tiny cages was a Great Dane puppy, whose name escapes me, though I wish it didn't.

The puppy was in the top right hand cage of the two-by-two cage block. It was so small and fragile, so scared and weak. I remember the dog well: all black except for a small triangular patch of white right at the tip of its breastbone. It also had little white tips on its very tip-toes, but you could hardly discern them because he was rarely on his feet.

He was on IV fluids for most of the beginning of his life. Parvo is especially hard on larger breeds, and usually only puppies are gravely afflicted. Most older dogs are already vaccinated for it.

The poor thing. Constantly evacuating a messy pool of smelly goo, too tired from being drained dry from the virus to even stand or to whimper. No tail-wagging. Hardly a breath of a dog.

But the sweet little Great Dane eventually got over it. Lots of dogs don't make it through parvo, so he was very lucky since most odds were stacked against him.

I remember seeing him for check-ups after his recovery, and he became the epitome of a good dog: kind, loyal and obedient, and never straying from the young family that pulled him out of that hell.

I've had the pleasure of loving many animals in my life, but they were always cast-offs. The abused, the hurt, the abandoned and the unwanted. Sometimes they were trouble, but they were always forgiven. These animals are the ones that make pet ownership look deceptively easy. They are the ones that know you were there to save them when they needed it, and they are working so hard to repay your kindness.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A tonic, a distraction

If you weren't aware (and I'm sure that by now the world is watching with baited breath), the United States will elect their new leader today. I voted. I'm pretty proud of that.

But today marks the end of what has been a long, turbulent and emotionally taxing campaign. One of which I have been a sometime captive spectator. I've never felt such relief at having the end in sight when it comes to politics.

Now, my blog has never really been too political, other than to skewer some of the morons in Dallas' municipal charade, and I don't intend to start spewing about national politics, but all Americans should take a deep breath tomorrow, take a look outside the window and see that the world, in fact, did not end, no matter who is elected tonight.


I've been rather ill for the past week, and I've finally found the right cocktail of drugs to get me through the workday. Our autumn has arrived in Dallas, and I'm desperate to roll in the leaves that cover our drive, though Hornsby has already beaten me to the punch.

Also, if you can muster a few drops of solitude or energy, a friend of mine has been in a dreadful accident, and I'd appreciate it if you can send any thoughts or prayers you can spare here.