Sunday, January 31, 2010

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

I have a bird in my bath tub.

Gloria Steinem, one of our more attitudinous Delaware hens, has a serious case of the runs. This can be dangerous when it's below freezing outside. So, she's been camping out in the chicken sick-bay since yesterday. Here's hoping she can go outside tomorrow.

So, the other five chickens are still outside. It's been pretty cold the past couple of days.

(Side story: I was headed to the parking lot after work on Friday and I saw these two dudes taking pictures of buildings downtown. They looked like tourists, not terr'rists, so I asked them where they were from. They said Austria. I immediately thought that they must be so disappointed that they came to Dallas and the South in the middle of a cold snap (it was snowing). One of the men said, "We are going to Las Vegas. There will be warm sand there." I didn't have the heart to tell him that it might be just as cold there as it is in Dallas. Poor dudes.)

Anyway, I feed the chickens in the morning and give them fresh water. I had to bundle up to make the trek outside this morning. I had my hat pulled down tight, my fingers warm in my mittens, and my scarf tucked into my pea coat. I was mostly focused on not freezing my arse off.

So I opened the coop, and a few of the girls hopped out and ran out of the run. On the weekends I normally dump a few cups of chicken scratch on the ground, since they like to forage more than they like to peck at lay pellets.

Just as soon as I dumped the scratch and Effa Manley came running, out from over the roof of our house comes this huge effing bird. At first it didn't seem that big, but that was because it was far away. As it approached, and seemingly aimed for one of my girls, I could tell that it's wingspan was between 8 and 10 feet. It was either a really big hawk or it was an immature eagle.

Whatever it was, it was hoping for a chicken dinner.

Effa managed to escape unharmed, but as the bird beat its wings while trying to take off from the backyard, all manner of leaves and dust went flying. In the confusion, I panicked and I screamed, "HOLY FUCKING SHIT!"

Gradually, the chickens came out from their hiding spots, and the eagle did return later to survey the yard (the hens were safe by then).

We'll probably put up some kind of net over the yard to keep this from happening again, but boy was it exciting to see something that big and dangerous that close.

In other news, I finished a hat.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A perfect explanation, and discovering a part of yourself that you may have forgotten.

I think it's hilarious that I have like, six posts that I haven't finished. I'm not big on quitting, per se, but I'm totally OK with hitting the pause button. Which brings me to my big issue:

I haven't knitting anything for about two weeks.

This could be a pretty good respite. I mean, It is still January, and I am still reeling from Christmas knitting. I like to knit, and I'd like to still enjoy knitting for years to come instead of getting burned out. Then again, I also like movies, music, and the Internet. I like reading, talking, and drinking coffee. I like hanging out, sleeping in, and goofing around.

So, I'm cutting myself some slack.

Which is good, because I think that everyone deserves some credit. Some slack. We all have shortcomings, and no one likes to constantly hear about how they don't measure up all the way.

I'm used to not measuring up, too. Being deaf makes a lot of usually simple things very difficult. That's why I like knitting. It's simple in and out, and it doesn't involve hearing.

Which brings me to my second point:

I'm considering cochlear implant surgery.

I had an appointment with my ear specialist yesterday, and the picture he painted was pretty bleak: My hearing is getting worse, and after the steroid therapy, my tinnitus is much more advanced. The constant ringing in my ears has made it impossible for me to get restful sleep and to understand conversational volumes.

It's kind of debilitating.

And what makes things even weirder, is that for the longest time I was told that my kind of degenerative hearing loss made me an unlikely candidate for the implant surgery, which kind of resigned me to the fate of going deaf over a long, drawn-out period. It's depressing.

But now, there might be hope, which is great. But it's also terrifying. I've never had so much as stitches before. THIS IS SOMEONE IMPLANTING SOMETHING INTO MY HEAD.

That's fucking scary, people.

But, it's hope for improvement, which is something I didn't have before. That's pretty awesome in itself.

Look, there I go cutting myself some slack again. You should try it, too.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Three days


When you came to visit me in Dallas on Friday, I'll admit I was a little nervous. I love houseguests, you know, but the preparation for guests sometimes seems daunting and I often feel incapable of keeping a clean house. It's just dull, the vacuuming and dusting. But I wanted to impress you.

And not only did I plan on having an impeccably clean house (it wasn't) I also planned on taking you to see the sites and taste some of my favorite foods while you were here. It's too bad that it was overcast on Saturday, and rainy, thusly shattering my plans.

But we made good on it. Photo safari or not, I'd like to say we had fun while you were here. We went to a thrift store, and I scored an awesome new sweater and a cool mug to store my knitting needles. Then we bought provisions for that night's party in honor of your visit.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed meeting and hanging out with a few of my favorite people in Dallas. The food was tasty, and the wine and beer was flowing, and I reveled in every last bit of the party until the last couple of people went home. I had too many champagne cocktails, but you know the details about that.

The next day, well, I had the worlds worst hangover, and we had a DVD marathon planned. It was the first time in a long time that I got to make omelets, drink coffee, put on several pots of tea, munch on homemade granola and let my ass get to know my couch better. It was awesome.

Seeing you leave this morning was terrible. Going back to work after that much fun and festivity was worse. But I must say that for those three days, while I was laughing as hard as I could and savoring every moment of your company, I didn't once wish I was anywhere else.

Thanks for being a great big sister,

Miss Dallas

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's just a number

Marrying someone who was born in a different decade has some distinct advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are obvious: No matter if the decade is more or less aged, you're marrying into the right amount of maturity for yourself, regardless of how old you are.

There are a few less obvious disadvantages: If you marry someone older, just go ahead and resign yourself to the role of tech support.

Tonight I had to help my dear husband with his blog. I do admire him for having a blog, considering that, when we first met, he was doodling on my computer and asked if he could be on the internet and play music at the same time. It was cute.

My husband, however, doesn't know the first thing about how the interwebs work. He can Google with the best of them, but he doesn't know the first thing about HTML, ASP, what a host server is, or even what an ISP is. That's OK, too, because I've resigned myself to tech support.

I figure that it's easier to just fix the problem than to teach him to fix it himself, which would likely be far more complicated than it's worth.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The easy way

I think it was one of those really crappy Kurt Russell action movies that coined the oft-used phrase.

"We can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way."

You hear it all the time now. No matter the situation, two sides often find themselves with two choices: "the easy way" or "the hard way."

When it comes to headache-inducing circumstances, I often choose "the easy way." And I look at those who choose the hard way as complete morons. Why? Because they don't have the sense to do things "the easy way."

Right now, a couple that we've been friends with even before Dave and I got married are going through a ridiculous, nasty divorce. It's an epic battle of he-said, she-said. The worst thing is that there are three children hanging in the balance.

There are many people who choose to go through divorce that take "the easy way." There are all different kinds of divorces nowadays, many of which are used to avoid expensive legal costs and protracted decisions that make no one happy. These are good options.

Unfortunately, my friend's wife has fallen off the deep end. Any shred of dignity or sanity she had left has been washed away in the wake of her own scorched-earth campaign of a divorce. In what I've heard of what's going on, she is the kind of woman that gives women everywhere a bad name, like Courtney Love, only with worse taste in lipstick.

It's bad enough to fabricate situations that paint her soon to be ex-husband as an asshole, but in all of this, she's using their children as weapons so that she can get what she wants. It's all awful, and it makes you look at your own life and what measures you can take so these things never happen to you.

And make no mistake -- there is room for "the hard way" in some situations. However, I wish she had the sense to see that in this instance, where her family and friends hang in the balance, there is a reason that "the hard way" is the path less taken, and that going that route is no badge of honor.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The only people you can't choose

The person that says they have an effortless relationship with their family is full of shit.

It's taken me a long time to get to the point where I am with my family. It took a lot of hard work and compromise, and most importantly, forgiveness. Lots and lots of forgiveness.

My sisters and I used to divide ourselves like political factions, and we were just as cutthroat. There was so much infighting and backstabbing, and physical and emotional harm that seemed beyond repair. My brother had his share of bad judgment calls, too, when it came to dealing with the very delicate dynamics of sibling rivalry.

My father and I have our share of differences (we agree more than he realizes, only I don't think we speak the same language all the time). My mom and I are super close, but I think that's mostly because we have an understanding: she doesn't take any of my shit, and when she thinks I'm being an ass, she says so, to my face. With my mom, there is no drama.

But when you get older, things change. Priorities change. I left my hometown to get a degree, and that distance made my relationships with my siblings and my parents a lot easier. I also helped me find my convictions and the courage to fight for them.

And then later, when you get even older, you get married. Then, your family grows like bacteria on a toilet seat. All of the sudden you have twice as many siblings as you did before, albeit there is a different dynamic. In-laws don't have the same shared history you have with their spouses. They will never experience the things that you've shared first-hand.

And then even later, when you're freaking ancient, you or your siblings might have kids. Then you're like a bunch of fucking lemmings. You're seemingly inescapable. Family is everywhere, and like I said before, family relationships need a lot of water and sunlight.

Eventually you'll have a disagreement with a family member, like I had today. It could be one of those knock-down-drag-out fights that end in a family feud. It could also be something less severe, something that stews. I have more experience with the latter than the former, especially considering how many sisters I have. (My dad encouraged his girls to settle disagreements "like men" on the condition that we took our glasses off first. Cuts and bruises heal, but glasses are expensive.)

Needless to say, I won't be settling this argument with a brawl. Instead I'll opt for forgiveness.

That and plenty of water and sunshine.

Plans for the weekend

How sad. It's only Thursday and I'm talking about the weekend. And even sadder is that I'm not even talking about this weekend, I'm talking about the weekend after that.

What makes it an occasion worth planning for is that my sister K will be visiting. Every time she comes to town I try to take her to someplace special in Dallas. Last time we went on a photo safari, and that was fun. So we'll do it again, and of course eat, drink, and shop while we shoot.

Some sites I have in mind include:

The Traveling Man installation at the Deep Ellum DART stop.

The Arts District

The Bishop Arts District

The Design District

And Overlooking the Trinity from Oak Cliff.

Any Dallasites out there with suggestions?

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm lazy, so here's a list of FOs

Completed in 2009:
Baby Antennae Hat


Basic Earflap Hat


Zig-Zag Scarf


Basic Chunky Watchcap


Cozy Vacation socks


Trendy Beret


Vine Lace Baby Hat and Baby Monkey Socks


Noro Stripey Socks

Noro Stripey Socks

Ishbel Shawl


Traveling Woman Shawl


Green Leaf Hat


Half of an awesome pair of Broken Cable Socks


Another plain pair of socks, two Lambswool cowls, and a partridge in a mother effing pear tree.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

There and back again

It's easy to remind yourself why food is so satisfying, especially the food you make yourself.

You consume it, you really get to enjoy and taste it. You can savor it. It is quantifiable.

I have several recent culinary adventures I've wanted to share, but all of the knitting (which I still haven't posted about!) took precedence.

Tonight we dine on green beans amandine in a white wine and butter glaze with this amazing baked macaroni and cheese.

Bon apetite!

Friday, January 08, 2010

When looking for a job, beware of Facebook

So, I can't remember if I mentioned this, but I ended up getting my current job through Facebook. This was before their recent privacy fubar. I adjusted my settings so that the only thing people saw about me was that I reside in Dallas and that they could send me a message. Too bad they changed the options.

If social networking via facebook wasn't such a critical part of our media these days, I would probably have deleted my account the moment they changed the settings. I think they know that they have us by the balls now, and that's likely why they made the change.

In any case, if you're looking for a job, be wary of how your profile appears on facebook. It's a lesson the idiot discussed by alexa at cleveland is a plum never learned.

Monday, January 04, 2010

A-list vacation

-I had a boot crisis a couple of days ago. I had lusted over this wonderfully plush and yet affordable pair of boots at (by the way, I love, and I'm not getting paid to say that. I also dig Zappos and PiperLime, but DSW has a spectacular rewards program AND good clearance prices!). The only problem with it is that someone else apparently had their eye on the same pair of boots, and they sold out before I could snag them.

I was, in a word, dejected.

Lucky for me, my wonderful mother-in-law dropped me a c-note for my b-day so everything was A-OK (see what I did there?).

I went to REI and got the boots I was trying to find a discount substitute for at DSW (why all the acronyms, retailers?). The thing I love about REI is that if you're a member, you get a dividend each year based on your purchases. That means that my boots were a flat $100 after our dividend.

Without further ado, check out the awesomeness.

No break-in required. Cute and comfortable. I love them! I was happy for all of like an hour.

-Then, I had a closet crisis.

I had worn all of the clothes in my closet to the point of exhaustion, and even more sad is that none of them really reflected my style. I wanted some cute and flirty outfits that weren't pencil skirts, or trousers, or suits I had worn so many times I was sick of them.

Also, now that I'm working, I needed some outfits that could transition easily between work and weekends.

I should also add that I'm not exactly rolling in the dough. I would be impossibly expensive for me to go to a retail or even discount store and refresh my wardrobe.

So, we went to the thrift store and got three skirts, a dress, and three sweaters for $27. It doesn't get better than that.

-Then, after washing up, we headed to the Avett Brothers show at the Granada. Seriously, it was amazing.

-Also amazing is The Saffron House. Now that's an Indian restaurant that easily won me over, and I'm pretty picky. I had the Shahi Paneer Makhana, and I have to tell you, the paneer was perfect. I've had some bad paneer before, but this was wonderfully creamy and firm. DEEEELicious. The mango ice cream was great, too, but the only disappointment was the roti. It was overcooked and very stiff. 

And today I went back to work, and I am going to shock the shit out of y'all: I missed going to work. A lot. 

Also, I don't give a crap what the CDC says, kombucha is amazing.

The End

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Am I a planner or a worrier?

Yesterday I was mapping out our spending for 2010. There are going to be some significant financial changes for us this year, and I want us to be ready for them. When I think budgeting, I think about spreadsheets and calculations, but it can be simpler than that. It can be as easy as making a list of necessities and luxuries and deciding what you can live without.

Because we have never taken the time to really look at our discretionary spending, our list of luxuries is pretty long. I didn't realize it, but we do go out and spend money on concerts, bars, restaurants, travel, and yarn.

But our expenses are going to increase this year. I bought a new car and our income taxes are going to be ridiculous, too, because my unemployment benefits weren't taxed. Not to mention that our insurance premiums will likely go up.

Dave says that thinking about all of this stuff on a vacation day makes me a worrier, but I'd consider myself an expert planner. What do you think?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Out of the Gates

So, I'm promising myself a few things this year. I'm not going to call them "resolutions," per se, but they're things I want to commit to this year and I'm going to work on them and share my progress on DMD (Driving Miss Dallas).

You all may know that I am an expert goal-setter. However, I am very amateur with the follow-through. I didn't do ANYTHING on my 2009 resolution list. As a matter of fact, I went backwards. I drank more beer, ate more cheese, slacked off from the gym and have love handles and chub of epic proportions. I didn't commit to my yoga practice. In fact, I think that in making an effort to commit I turned myself off to it. I did knit a lot, but I made several false starts when it comes to sweaters. I now have enough yarn to make about 8 or 9 sweaters, but due to a bad combination of pattern and fit, none of them have been completed.

Oh, and getting organized? We did a little of that. Now our house is less of a huge mess, but we have a lot more animals than normal people, so I'm good at cutting myself some slack.

But, I don't really want to sound like I'm blaming myself on missing the mark on many of my goals this year, because 2009 was a real doozie for me. I lost my job at the beginning of April. That turned my whole world upside down. I spent six months on unemployment, feeling worthless and tired and very depressed.

I finally got a great job, though. Finally doing what I wanted to do in the first place, which is write, photograph, and edit.

Did all of this change keep me from meeting my goals? No. It didn't help, but I know that there were several days that, after doing interviews or applying for jobs I just sat and read blogs and baked bread and sat around. I should have taken that time to focus on making myself a better person, a more employable person. I didn't. I got a great job anyway, though.

This year is going to be different, obviously. Every year has it's share of challenges and complications. This one will be just like that, only hopefully easier. So, I'm going to commit to only a handful of things:

1) Knit

2) Run

3) Be happy

I'll let you know how it works out.

Also, make sure you have your hop 'n' john and cabbage. See you here again, soon!