Sunday, November 30, 2008

Twas the last night of NaBlo

'Twas the last night of NaBlo
And all through the land
Bloggers were sighing
And feeling just grand

Thirty posts over
Oh, what a relief
Finally we're able
To get a good night's sleep

No more waking up panicked
No more sweating in bed
Worried we forgot to hit publish
Feeling scrambled in the head

No more memes, no more surveys
No more deadlines to remember
How many of us won't post
A single thing in December?

But all can look back
With pride and with cheer
And maybe, just maybe
We'll be back next year

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Reintroducing...Regrettable Sweaters

There are a lot of ugly sweaters ( jumpers / jerseys ) in this world, but it seems that Christmas sweaters as a genre are disproportionately unattractive.

Do you have a terrible holiday sweater or sweatshirt hiding in your closet? Do you have a jolly jumper that would put you on Stacy and Clinton's naughty list? Is your under-bed storage hiding something truly cringe-worthy or just plain horrifying? Do you wish that the rest of us could share your pain?

Or have you ever been out shopping, cruising the aisles for that perfect pair of jeans, and experienced the horror of a sneak-attack Santa sweater? Regrettable Sweaters is a place to share your anguish.

Submission Guidelines

Send your regrettable photos to velocibadgergirl (at) gmail dot com. Include your name / alias, blog URL (if you have one), story of the sweater (how it came to cast its tacky pall across your holiday season), and add a caption if you wish. Please don't steal other people's work (from Flickr, etc.) without giving credit to your source.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008


For Thanksgiving, I'm going to borrow a lovely idea from Black Sheeped and make a list of things I'm grateful for today (and always):

seasonal snacks

camera phones

good music

spiced vanilla candles

a fire in the fireplace

Christmas decorations


crisp blue skies

starry nights


a job I love

a ridiculously fluffy cat

a floppity eared dog

friends & family

my awesome husband

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just call me Spaz McGee

Okay, so does anyone else have feast-or-famine library book problems? It seems like I've either got nothing to read, or piles and piles of books. Because of this, I sometimes bring a book home, keep it for three weeks, use up my two allowable three week renewals, and still have to return the poor thing unread. My good friend the bibliophile works at the local library, and she often acts as Library Fairy for the rest of us, putting books on hold that she thinks we'd like. Ages ago, she put All the Clean Ones Are Married on hold for me, and I didn't get around to reading it. She must've been confident that I'd like it, because she sent it over again recently. It sat on my book stack for a few weeks while I read a few other things. I took it to work today and started it on my lunch break, and was immediately hooked. Another score for the Library Fairy!

After work, I went by the library to drop off a big stack of books I'd finished. I also had to find a place to buy firewood and pick up some stuff for cooking tomorrow, so my mind was not supremely focused on what I was doing. I read while I waited for the last of my coworkers to leave, then set the alarm and headed for my car. I had two books in my hand when I got in the car:


When I got to the library, I grabbed Larry and the Meaning of Life and my bag of books, went inside and picked out a few more books, and returned what I had with me. I drove to a gas station near our regular grocery store, went inside and paid for a rack of wood, and came back out to move my car over to the firewood. As I went to put the car in gear, I looked down and saw Larry and the Meaning of Life sitting there on the tray between the seats. CRAP. In the dim library parking garage, I'd grabbed the wrong white-covered book to return.

I called the library, and even though official policy is that a returned book has to sit on the shelf for 24 hours before the same person can check it out again, the clerk said I could have it back if she could find it. I got my groceries and went back to the library, but alas...they had not been able to locate my mistakenly abandoned book. Weepcakes! Luckily I have other books waiting in the wings, but still...bummer!

And, just because it made me laugh:

Reading:  All the Clean Ones Are Married by Lori Cidylo  Deerskin by Robin McKinley

Playing:  Gregory Alan Isakov and the Decemberists

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I babysat for Macduff again tonight, and when it came time to give him his good-night bottle, the batteries in his trusty singing Glow Worm weren't up to the task. I can't carry a tune in a bucket, but I figured Macduff is too young to tell the difference and I was determined to lull him to sleep, so I sang him the lullabies I remember from my own childhood.

I don't know how common they are, because to be honest my mother is the only person I've ever heard sing any of them to a child. I remember her singing "The Ants Go Marching" and "Hush Little Baby," though I'm not sure if the lyrics were standard or if she made them up. Apparently my two favorites are an old African spiritual and a Peter, Paul, and Mary song. Go figure.

Mom's version of "Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore" was a bit different:

Michael, row your boat ashore, hallelujah
Michael, row your boat ashore, hallelujah

Brother, lend a helping hand, hallelujah
Brother, lend a helping hand, hallelujah

Sister, help to trim the sail, hallelujah
Sister, help to trim the sail, hallelujah

The River Jordan is chilly and wide, hallelujah
Milk and honey on the other side, hallelujah

Michael, row your boat ashore, hallelujah
Michael, row your boat ashore, hallelujah

And her version of "Five Hundred Miles" was missing the second verse:

If you miss the train I'm on
You will know that I am gone
You will hear the whistle blow
Five hundred miles

Lord I'm one, Lord I'm two
Lord I'm three, Lord I'm four
Lord I'm five hundred miles away from home

Even for such a poor singer as myself, there's something bone-deep and right about singing a lullaby to a baby. It's easy to imagine humans across all times, all cultures, doing just the same thing. What are your favorite lullabies or songs you remember someone singing to you and still love?

Reading:  Larry and the Meaning of Life by Janet Tashjian

Playing:  Gregory Alan Isakov, via my dear Heather Feather

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Why did you keep the dish rack?

Before we moved into our house, MB and I had an apartment that was technically on the wrong side of the tracks, both metaphorically and literally. In the part of town where I grew up and where we still live, the highway forms the dividing line between the "good" side of town and the "bad." Not that it's all ritzy where I grew up, on the "right" side. My parents' neighborhood has never been better than blue collar middle class, and has sometimes spent a few worrying years dipping down into sketchy. The other side, though, tends heavily toward neighborhoods like the one the bibliophile grew up in -- once beautiful and well-loved, then fading, and nowadays truly hardscrabble. The historic homes near downtown, close to where I work, are slowly being drawn into an urban redevelopment program, but in the middle, between that area and the highway, there is a broad zone of neighborhoods forgotten and often avoided.

Our first apartment together was on the right side of the highway and was only a block or two away from a really nice neighborhood, but by the end we hated living there. Our unit shared an exterior stairwell with four units. We knew the guy who lived upstairs next to us. He was always friendly, and then one day when I locked myself out we ended up chatting and it turned out that he had trained my dad at his job when he started there back in the early 70s. Our neighbor Bob had actually met me when I was a baby. He was the one who gave us Kitters, and we still take cookies to him each year for Christmas. The two downstairs units were rented by two developmentally delayed adults, who were quiet and kept to themselves -- even though I swear the guy underneath us never slept. We were only acquainted vaguely with two other people in the building -- the asshole who parked his Camaro half in his spot and half in ours every day that we lived there, and the drunk guy with unfortunate teeth who was always uncomfortably chatty. By the time we left, the decent landlords had sold the building. The little old man who'd been acting as the super when we moved in didn't come around anymore, and when the owners went out of town, they left the drunk in charge. MB's car was broken into three times while it sat parked right across the street, nearly visible from our landing. We were done.

We didn't have much money, so our goal of a two-bedroom place at first seemed a little beyond our means. The places we could afford didn't take cats. One woman said she didn't take cats, but then called back to say she forgot, she did take cats, but by then I had decided I really didn't want to be living in the back half of some old woman's house. Sharing walls is bad enough when it's not your landlord on the other side. Then I saw an ad in the paper for a two bedroom, 1100-square-foot apartment right in our price range. I called, and they had the cheapest pet allowance I'd heard so far -- $100 extra deposit and a scant $10 extra per month in rent. The only problem was the location, which was on the wrong side of the highway, in an area I knew to be iffy. By the time our appointment came around to see the place, we'd nearly talked ourselves out of it. We were fed up with our existing situation, but were worried about ending up someplace worse. Once we saw the apartment, we were sold. The risks were totally worth it.

Much to our surprise, the neighborhood turned out to be much better than the one we'd come from. There was a buffer of several shops between our building and the nearest houses to the back. The front faced a radio station, which was the only thing between us and the highway. Our building was nearly a block long and only one unit deep, so we had windows on both sides and only one house adjacent, which was divided from our lot by a fence and the apartment building's tiny pool. We were an island of relatively quiet living in the midst of a high-traffic, low-rent part of town. We did have our share of weird neighbors. There were a few strange situations. But no one ever broke into our cars while we lived there. The little old couple next door always stopped to talk to us when we saw them outside. We met our friend R when he moved into the apartment upstairs and diagonal from us. We lived there for almost four years, and never once regretted the choice.

I'm glad that if things go as planned we'll be able to raise our future kid(s) in what is actually a nicer neighborhood than we ever hoped to live in. I'm grateful that we have a place of our own, with a yard and a basement and an attic for storing things. There will always be a place in my heart for our big apartment in the "bad" neighborhood, though. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't fancy, but it was better than we ever expected it to be, and it was home.

Reading:  Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk

Playing:  Lay it Down by the Cowboy Junkies

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Paint me a picture

Another neat meme from Alyndabear:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. What you want to be when you grow up?
9. What do you love most in life?

1. Velociraptor portrait, 2. ice- cream anyone ?, 3. A Dawg's Life, 4. Unchained Melody, 5. clive owen, 6. Glass, 7. heaven's tree, 8. mother-baby bathtime - dscf8133, 9. wedding ring

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The only thing we have to fear is statuary

Indy is (knock on wood) not a very fearful dog. He loves everyone he meets, from dogs to humans to mean-ass cats. In fact, even when this rotten little terrier on our walk route named Frederick snarled and fake-lunged at his throat, Indy danced around for the next fifteen minutes like he'd just found his new best friend. Not easily fazed, this one.

So you can imagine our shock when one day in early Fall, MB and I were walking Indy along the riverfront and he totally lost his shit. Our local United Way chapter does a charity thing each Summer where local groups or artists decorate fiberglass animal statues, which are displayed all season and then auctioned off. It's basically Cows on Parade, except we've never had actual cows. Several times they did carousel horses, and this year it was a weird mix of lions, tigers, frogs, and elephants. Anyway, Indy walked past light posts and fences and people on rollerblades and people on bicycles and other dogs and picnic tables, and then as we passed the first statue in the line, a life-sized lion, he darted off to the side. And I mean all four feet popping off the ground, horizontal hover, vacated the area.

Initially we thought that he'd been startled by a loud truck that had driven by just as we came upon the lion, but we soon realized it was the lion itself that had him freaked out. We tried to reassure him that the lion was fake. I walked over and touched the lion. I stood next to it and called him. Indy said, "Are you kidding me? No thanks." He stood at the very end of his leash, tail tucked (for the first time since we met him), very carefully and seriously not looking at the lion. MB tried firmly commanding Indy to walk with him over to the lion. Indy didn't look at the lion more intensely. MB tried snapping Indy's leash a little to get his attention, and Indy actually made a growly snarly "Oh, hell no" noise at us.

Completely befuddled, we hustled him onward, hoping he'd calm down and enjoy the rest of the outing. We passed a giant frog. No reaction. We passed a smallish elephant. No reaction. We drew near to a tiger. Freakout. There was something about the cat-shaped sculptures that totally blew his mind. We threw around theories. Did he recognize that they were quadrupedal and animal-shaped and think they were real? Did he realize they were animal-shaped but eerily not real? (My mom later said he was probably thinking, "Oh, shit! I didn't think they made Kitters-es that big!")

I had actually nearly forgotten about the Lion Incident until yesterday night. We were sitting on the couch, Indy between us, and MB said, "Oh, yeah. Turns out there's another thing Indy's afraid of. Bush animals."

I said, "Bush animals?" while thinking that Indy never seems afraid of animals in bushes when I walk him. In fact, he usually seems pretty intent on diving into the bushes after said animals. "Yeah," MB replied. "Bush animals."

"Like, animals in bushes?" I attempted to clarify. "No," MB said. "Bushes cut into the shapes of animals."

"OH," I said. "You mean like topiaries?"

"What's a topiary?" MB said in a total WTF tone.

"Uh. Bushes cut into the shapes of animals."

"Whatever. He doesn't like them."

Apparently someone in the neighborhood has put out some kind of fake topiaries for the holidays, and upon seeing them, Indy had a Jesus Christ it's a lion moment. I guess if we ever need to get back at him for something, we can strategically hide topiaries around the house. OMG it's a reindeer, get in the car!!

Five Star Friday
(I'm on this page.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Message in a bottle

I went to three places after work today -- Rural King, a ghetto-y Dollar General, and the less swanky of our two regularly-visited grocery stores. Rural King wasn't bad at all. I got what I went in for -- six four-pound salt blocks and a bunch of empty egg cartons, for work -- and then got stuff for the pets' Christmas stockings (Does it count as being a yuppie dork if I'm shopping at a farm store when I do it?) and two really pretty horse ornaments for MoMB* while I was there.

Next stop was the ghetto Dollar General, where I was in search of several specific items, also for work. I found almost everything I needed, including a two-pack of Ultrafine black Sharpies, so even though most of the stock was rather horrifyingly cheap, that was awesome. The clientele was a bit questionable, and the only uniformed employee I saw the entire time was walking around with a sugar glider perched on his hand. Half of the store smelled like cigarette smoke and the other half slightly of fart, and I was really glad to get out of there.

Final stop was the grocery store, and everything went okay, though by that point I was hungry and crabby and generally annoyed by everyone. I left the store thinking evil thoughts about the very nice but barely competent bagger and the teenage girl in line behind me who had stood right in my personal space (she had her elbow up on the little signing desk thingie while I was using it). And then the girl's mother chased me out to the parking lot to give me the bottle of wine I left behind, and I thought, Hey...maybe this is the Universe telling me to stop being such a cranky asshole?

Reading:  Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk

Playing:  Pearl Jam radio on Pandora

*Mother of MB, of course

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book giveaway!

(a cross-post from my book blog)

A somewhat embarrassingly long while back, I received an email from someone at a marketing firm, asking if I'd like a copy of Beth Gutcheon's Good-bye and Amen to review on the oft-neglected badgerbooks. She assured me that I had no obligation to write anything specific, or even to only say positive things, so I happily agreed. I must admit that upon first opening it, I was a little concerned. Good-bye and Amen is written as a series of short passages in the voices of a cast of nearly four dozen characters, as if an unseen interviewer has asked them questions. I decided to give it my best try, and before long I was completely wrapped up in the story of Eleanor, Monica, and Jimmy, the grown and recently-orphaned children of a brilliant, quiet father and a brash, domineering mother.

The secondary characters -- a majority of the cast -- faded into the background a bit, and helped to flesh out the town of Dundee, Maine, site of the family's beloved summer home, Leeway Cottage. Through the course of the book, the three main characters examine their childhoods and growing-up years, their relationship with their parents, and their parents' relationship to each other. The framework of the story is a last summer at Leeway, where the three siblings and their spouses struggle to divide up their parents' possessions while remaining civil with each other. Old hurts are laid bare, new wounds are laid open, but ultimately all the characters discover they still have some growing up to do and that they love each other in spite of the emotional hardships of their upbringing.

The plot device of interview and remembrance was so well done that at least a half-dozen times I found myself flipping to the front cover, just to make sure it really said, "A Novel" under the title. The illusion was furthered with the clever inclusion of a section of "family photographs" in the middle of the book, complete with captions. (Incidentally, I am dying to know who all the people in the photos are, and whether the photos inspired the story or if the author just put them in later to shore up the believability.) Even without that, this would've been a deeply engaging book, sweetly told and rather beautifully rendered.

I only had two small issues with the story. First, there are passages in italics that seem to be written in the voices of people watching the action unfold from their afterlife in Heaven. For the most part, I was not sure who these people were supposed to be, or how their observations really fit into the larger story. They did provide a way to offer a bit of exposition here and there, but overall I didn't feel like they totally fit into the larger tale. Secondly, I didn't realize it until I'd started the book, but Good-bye and Amen is a sequel. Since I hadn't read the first book, there were a few things that took me longer to work out than they probably should've. That said, I really enjoyed Good-bye and Amen, and would definitely recommend it.

Once I'd finished it, I was quite curious about the first book, Leeway Cottage. I really liked the characters (well, except for Norman, but I won't give anything away), and was curious to see where they'd come from. I also wondered if reading the first book would give me any insight into the characters who seemed to be watching from the great beyond. Deciding to go out on a limb, I emailed the person who had contacted me, and asked if there was any way I could get a copy of Leeway Cottage to review here as well. She agreed, and the book landed on my doorstep days later.

Leeway Cottage is written in a more traditional style. It begins during the childhood of Sydney Brant -- mother of Eleanor, Monica and Jimmy -- and more or less tells the story of her entire life, all the way up until her death, which sets in motion the events of Good-bye and Amen. A reader approaching these books in the proper order would no doubt go into the second one with an understanding of where the characters have come from, and with sympathies firmly in place for some of them. I had a bit of the opposite experience. I read first about the cold side of Sydney, and about her husband Laurus as a quiet and almost meek man, and only later got to see the pair fleshed out and living their own lives. Sydney's treatment of her children is no less regrettable after knowing about her own awful mother, but it at least is a bit more understandable.

My favorite aspect of Leeway Cottage was getting to meet Laurus Moss, the young virtuoso pianist who weds Sydney and then leaves her to birth and raise their oldest daughter alone while he works for the Danish resistance during World War II. I'm not much for period dramas for the most part, but the tales of Laurus's war years -- and the story of what happened to his sister Nina to turn her into the frail shadow of a woman she is in Good-bye and Amen -- were captivating. Leeway Cottage is engaging and well-written, with a scope that has to be respected -- almost an entire life laid out with both sympathy and unflinching honesty. The reader can see Sydney for the flawed woman she grows up to be, but is never prodded to despise her, or even really to pity her. The characters are not neat, pat creations. They are rounded and rough-edged, imperfect and typical, and I think that's why they came across to me as such realistic, believable people.

I liked these two books so much that I hate to give them away. I'm pretty sure I'll want to pick these up and read them again before long (especially since I'm still working out the observers-from-beyond angle). But when I asked for a copy of the second (or first, really) book, I promised I'd do a giveaway when I was done to drum up interest in the reviews.

If you're interested in winning my copies of Leeway Cottage and Good-bye and Amen, click over to the book blog and leave a comment on this post about your favorite summer vacation memory. Don't forget to include your email address so I can get in touch with you if you win. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada, and ends at midnight on December 5th.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I wonder if he is using the same wind we are using

I have blogged before about my dear friend the Untamed Shrew and her tendency to send mindblowing and strangely practical gifts. (MB has been using the measuring cup to make pancakes, complete with announcements such as "I'm putting in the volume of two T-Rex brains.")

Tonight when I got home from work, there was a very early Christmas present waiting for me, from the Untamed Shrew.

(Before we start, let me admit up front that these photos are awful. I just gave back the semi-swanky camera I borrowed from BoMB back in September, and I am still working to get my mojo back with my little Olympus point-and-shoot.)

GIFT #1:  little homemade notebook illustrated with antique Marcus Bloch fish engravings.

LEFT:  cover, with birds, flower, and sparkly thing

CENTER:  the blowfish at the top says "d00d i 8 2 mucth"
and the Mola mola at the bottom says "nom lol"

RIGHT:  "DO NOT CLONE THESE. You can just pull
an arm off and it will grow into a whole new one."

LEFT:  "hey floating text"

CENTER:  "Fish dentistry: Get in on the ground floor of this
fast-growing healthcare career."


GIFT #2:

GIFT #3:

The wrappings in Untamed Shrew gifts are nearly always exquisite.

There was actually a fourth gift in the box, but it's so pretty that I think I'm going to save it for a few days:

Many, many, many thanks to the Untamed Shrew! Kisses!

And to prove that I don't always suck at photography, I'm entering this picture in Greeblemonkey's November photo contest:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hōkūhele *

This is Venus:

Girlfriend has a hot date with this guy:

"Hey, Zeus! We all just decided your hair is super attractive! Hooray for you!"

As everyone knows, Venus is the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility.

"Shit. Where'd I put my clothes?
I can't see anything without my contacts."

In the old days, Venus was joined in holy matrimony with the god of the underworld, but these are modern times, and sister is a liberated woman these days.

"Does this drape make my butt look big?"

Well, she's getting there. Anyhoodle, Venus is on her way to meet this handsome dude, who also happens to be head honcho and king of the gods:

"Who needs clothes? My hair looks damn good.
Throw a little Aquanet on there, and I'm good to go."

Even the deities are getting caught up in the reality dating craze, and we all get to watch. As the sun sets each night between now and November 30, look to the south / southwest and watch for Jupiter. It'll look like a freaky bright yellow-orange star, pretty low in the sky. Keep your eye on Jupiter, and you'll see Venus sashaying toward him from the lower right. True to her "goddess of beauty" title, she's a beautiful bright white star-like object, and is actually the second-brightest natural object you'll ever see in the night sky, after the Moon.

If you want to be scientific about it, what you see when you look up into the evening sky is sunlight reflecting off of Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, and Venus, the hottest planet.

As we all know from science class, Jupiter is a gas giant with no solid surface. It's so large that if it was hollow like an Easter egg, we could fit nearly 1000 full Earths inside. It has 63 moons that we know about, and a storm on the side twice the size of our entire planet. Pretty wicked.

Venus is a terrestrial planet like Earth, and the two are nearly the same size. The ridiculous amount of clouds account for a monster greenhouse effect, which keeps the surface at a blistering 860+ degrees Fahrenheit. Oh, and they also rain sulfuric acid down onto the surface. Very romantic!

On November 30 and December 1, the two lovebirds will meet up in conjunction, and will be only an apparent finger-width apart near the Moon in the evening sky. After that, Venus will pass Jupiter and wander off, getting a little higher in the sky each night. It's definitely a rare spectacle, not to be repeated until 2012. I know I'll definitely be checking it out.

"Back the fuck off, goat boy. I've got a date.
Don't make me smack you with my handbag."

cool article #1

cool article #2

*ancient Hawaiian name for the planets. It means "wandering stars."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why am I not surprised?

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

For signs of your cat plotting to kill you, visit this informative site. For example, did you know that kneading is not a sign of affection? Oh, no. Your cat is checking your internal organs for signs of weakness.

"Is not bomb...sware!"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A fit of melancholy

I'm usually a pretty happy person, and I had a damn fine day today, but now at the end of it, I'm suddenly in the midst of a strange fit of melancholy. Perhaps it's the weather? After a fall season almost too beautiful and too prolonged to be hoped for, things are finally starting to turn towards winter. It rained for three days solid, and then today the sun was back but most of the leaves have turned brown or fallen, so the magic of my favorite season is starting to fade.

It was raining hard enough yesterday to deprive Indy of his two daily walks, so I took him out for a longer ramble than usual this afternoon. Early in the trek, we ran into a Border Collie named Rocky, and since he and Indy had met before we stopped to say hello. I ended up chatting with Rocky's self-proclaimed mamaw, who had the same accent as MB's family, which instantly endeared her to me. I should've asked her if she hails from Muhlenberg County, but I didn't. Indy and Rocky played together for a bit, as best they could with Indy still on his leash. I would've liked to let them run around, but Indy isn't reliable enough on his recall to be let off leash, especially in the middle of a city neighborhood. The other night I told someone that I think the dog has more friends in the neighborhood than we do, and I think it might be true. He's just got the right personality for it. And the looks, of course.

I went out with the bibliophile and evilducky for a late dinner and a little shopping. I probably should feel victorious for finding a new bra and two pairs of jeans for myself and a pair of khakis on clearance for MB, but I found clothes shopping / trying-on / agonizing over to be more exhausting than usual. Also, it seems like all the jeans that are out now are cut to be worn with heels, so even though I have disproportionately long legs, the hems touch the ground when I'm wearing flat or short shoes. I suppose it's better than going around in high waters, but I'm a bit too old to have the hems on my jeans all frayed out from walking on them. Also, even though I've come to accept the fact that my days of being effortlessly thin are behind me, I still find it disconcerting to face my flab under the unsympathetic lights of the dressing room. My body doesn't really look like mine sometimes, and that's a weird feeling. Of course, that's only going to get worse if I get my way and get knocked up in the next few years. Scary thought!

The cat has been kind of awesome these past few days. He's still a fuzzy jerk, don't get me wrong, but I'm typing this with him tucked under my right arm, snuggled all up against my side. He sat this exact same way last night, too. NaBloPoMo, now with cat sidekick!

Wow, this entry kind of fell apart halfway through, didn't it? Hmm...not sure how to fix it, so I think I'll just post it and then pass it off as artistic stream of conscious writing if anyone asks.

Here's a cool mixtape widget I stole from Alyndabear:

Mixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

But can something be new and classic at the same time?

I stole this "new classic movies" meme from the lovely Cadiz. I have no idea who got to decide what movies made the list, but I hadn't seen this one before, so I figured it would be interesting. Feel free to steal!

Mark the ones you've seen with italics and the ones you particularly enjoyed in bold. I made them blue, too, since they didn't stand out that much in just italics.

1. Pulp Fiction (1994)
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03)
3. Titanic (1997)
4. Blue Velvet (1986)
5. Toy Story (1995)
6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) So creeeeeeeeeepy, Clarice.
9. Die Hard (1988)
10. Moulin Rouge (2001) Roooooooooxxxaaaannnnnnnnnnnne!
11. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
12. The Matrix (1999)
13. GoodFellas (1990)
14. Crumb (1995)
15. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
16. Boogie Nights (1997)
17. Jerry Maguire (1996)
18. Do the Right Thing (1989)
19. Casino Royale (2006)
20. The Lion King (1994)
21. Schindler's List (1993) I feel like it would be weird to say I enjoyed this movie, but I did think it was heartbreaking and brilliant.
22. Rushmore (1998)
23. Memento (2001)
24. A Room With a View (1986)
25. Shrek (2001)
26. Hoop Dreams (1994)
27. Aliens (1986)
28. Wings of Desire (1988)
29. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
30. When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
31. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
32. Fight Club (1999)
33. The Breakfast Club (1985)
34. Fargo (1996)
35. The Incredibles (2004)
36. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
37. Pretty Woman (1990)
38. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) I love Kate Winslet so much.
39. The Sixth Sense (1999) I really appreciated the twist, but it's sort of only effective that first time.
40. Speed (1994)
41. Dazed and Confused (1993)
42. Clueless (1995)
43. Gladiator (2000)
44. The Player (1992)
45. Rain Man (1988)
46. Children of Men (2006)
47. Men in Black (1997) Tommy Lee Jones is the man.
48. Scarface (1983)
49. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
50. The Piano (1993)
51. There Will Be Blood (2007)
52. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988)
53. The Truman Show (1998)
54. Fatal Attraction (1987)
55. Risky Business (1983)
56. The Lives of Others (2006)
57. There’s Something About Mary (1998) Thought it was overrated.
58. Ghostbusters (1984)
59. L.A. Confidential (1997)
60. Scream (1996) I'll be right back!
61. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
62. sex, lies and videotape (1989)
63. Big (1988) I've actually seen this, but it's been so long that I barely remember anything about it.
64. No Country For Old Men (2007)
65. Dirty Dancing (1987)
66. Natural Born Killers (1994)
67. Donnie Brasco (1997)
68. Witness (1985)
69. All About My Mother (1999)
70. Broadcast News (1987)
71. Unforgiven (1992)
72. Thelma & Louise (1991)
73. Office Space (1999) Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler.
74. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
75. Out of Africa (1985) We watched this in English / history class in 11th grade, and I remember being really effin' bored.
76. The Departed (2006)
77. Sid and Nancy (1986)
78. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
79. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
80. Michael Clayton (2007)
81. Moonstruck (1987)
82. Lost in Translation (2003) Totally did not get the hype about this damn movie.
83. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
84. Sideways (2004)
85. The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005) This was way better than I thought it would be.
86. Y Tu Mamá También (2002)
87. Swingers (1996)
88. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
89. Breaking the Waves (1996)
90. Napoleon Dynamite (2004) Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate.
91. Back to the Future (1985)
92. Menace II Society (1993)
93. Ed Wood (1994)
94. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
95. In the Mood for Love (2001)
96. Far From Heaven (2002)
97. Glory (1989)
98. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
99. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
100. South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999) Not as funny as I expected.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gimme some Midol! And it's for me! *

I woke up Saturday with a suspicious sore throat, and by Saturday evening I knew I was in for it. Sure enough, Sunday came with a full-on burning in the sinuses, breathing out of only one nostril, achy, fevery, nasty-ass cold. Blech. I'm lucky enough to not get sick very often, but I'm also really bad at it. I just don't have the patience, and I'm not good at slowing down, even when I'm supposed to. Besides, the past week was hellacious. I brought work home almost every night, stayed two hours over one night, and then was out running work-related errands until almost 10 PM on Friday, which is my usual evening for chilling out and cleaning the house. So by Sunday, the house was getting gross. Adulthood kind of sucks, because no matter how hard I tried, I could not convince the cat to do my chores for me.

Things weren't all bad, though. MB let me sleep in Sunday morning while he made eggs and non-pig sausage. Then he went to the grocery store (which he does not like to do) by himself while I stayed home and cleaned (which I could do in my pjs, and was therefore the preferred option). He also made pancakes in the afternoon. Can you beat that? And he got some Nyquil at the store. I don't know what they put in that stuff, but if you told me it was crack and the blood of virgins, I would believe it. I slept like a baby Sunday night. Well, maybe not a baby, judging by the blogs I read...maybe like a...I dunno. Something that sleeps through the night and can breathe through both sides of its nose. I used to figure the only thing to do with a cold was just suck it up and soldier on, but no more. I am converted. From this day forward, it's Dayquil and Nyquil for me, all the way. Breathing is way better than bragging rights, anyway.

* mad points for anyone who knows where this came from

Monday, November 10, 2008

Twinkle twinkle, little AIIEEE!

As long time readers of this blog know, my close group of friends celebrates the holiday season each year with our Thanksmas Eve party, a tradition that probably deserves a post all to itself. Several years back, someone suggested that to save money and reduce the amount of stuff we were all accumulating at disturbing rates, we stop buying individual gifts for everyone in the group. Instead, it was put forth, why not bring something small, inexpensive, and home-made for each person? We went with it, and now each year I look forward to coming up with a cool ornament concept.

Two years ago, I made beaded snowflakes from an old kit my mom found while cleaning out her craft room:

Last year I adapted a paper Chinese lantern craft I saw someone do at work and made mini paper ornaments:

But this year, I'm totally stumped. I am stuck for ideas, and I need to get started soon if I want to have any hope of finishing them in time. I poked around on Etsy a little bit tonight, and learned that I am vastly, tragically outclassed when it comes to making ornaments.

I suppose it could be worse. I could be making squirrel paw earrings for all my pals, or anatomically correct stripper sock monkeys, or whatever the fuck this thing is (seriously, that is some freaky shit).

So let's just hope I come up with a good idea soon, lest my work be featured on the hilarious (if sometimes scarring) craftastrophe. It's not looking good, far the best option I've got is this soul-eating "twinkle star" thing:


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Almost a fairy tale

When I got married in 2004, I couldn't exactly have ten or more bridesmaids, so I had to narrow it down. I ended up asking my sister, Danger, and my friend H to stand up with me on my wedding day. When she got engaged, H and her fiance asked me if I'd stand up with them on theirs.

Of all our married friends, H and C had the most traditional wedding. They booked a gorgeous venue downtown, two old houses that had been joined together by an addition to create a ridiculously lovely formal parlor. H and C each had a mix of male and female attendants. Their friend Kyle got ordained online and performed the ceremony, and another girl and I read poems.

The reception was really the height of the evening. H's big, gregarious extended family danced and laughed late into the night. Everyone was full of joy and excitement. During the father-daughter dance, H's wonderful dad wept. It was almost a fairy tale wedding, really.

Except H and C are both women, and even in today's boundary-smashing world, they face discrimination at every turn. And unlike most marginalized groups, they have to contend with everyday repression and official government-sanctioned dismissal of their basic rights.

As Mr. Lady--who was way more eloquent on this topic than I could ever be--put it, "The very day we finally make one large step in the direction of progress, we take what is certainly the largest step backwards I’ve had to witness in my lifetime. I am at a loss for (kind) words. I don’t even understand how this got put in front of the voters in the first place. Do we really legislate basic human rights based on popular consensus? Last time I checked, family was a basic human right. Maybe I was wrong."

And so, I am joining the others who have stood up to express our disappointment in the things that went down in California, Arizona, Arkansas, and Florida last week. As an adoptee, I'm especially and deeply disappointed in the gay adoption ban in Arkansas.

Can we please, please just learn to actually treat others as we wish to be treated, and to strive to extend the rights enjoyed by some to everyone, all people, no matter who or how they love?

Please watch this:

Thanks to Eating Out Loud and Swistle for spreading the word on the wedding ring photo idea. If you choose to speak out as well, consider adding a link to the list over at Diary of a Modern Matriarch.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye *

Our whole group of friends is pretty big on party games and board games, so MB and I have been on the lookout for something new and fun. A few weeks ago I had a 25% off coupon for Borders, so I gave MB a short list of the games they had that looked interesting and he picked Wits and Wagers. We took it on our camping trip, and tonight we took it over to my parents' house. It was a huge hit both times, and we definitely recommend it!

In the spirit of talking about good games, here's a Scattergories meme that a friend sent me last week:

Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following.
They have to be real places, names, things...nothing made up!

You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl name question.

1. What is your name?   velocibadgergirl

2. A four-letter word?   vile

3. A boy's name?   Victor

4. A girl's name?   Veronica

5. Occupation?   ventriloquist

6. Color?   violet

7. Something you wear?   Velcro shoes

8. Beverage?   vermouth

9. Food?   Velveeta. Does that even count as food?

10. Something found in a bathroom?   Veet

*And then it's fun with no depth perception!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Thursday, November 06, 2008

And the top of his head smelled delicious

About a month ago, maybe two, J-Dog asked me sort of out of the blue how I know that I want kids. I tried to answer her as best I could. I told her that I love MB so much that it makes me curious to see what kind of kid we can make together (God and nature willing, of course). I told her how I'd always felt comfortable around kids and always just sort of figured I'd have one someday. I don't know if she was satisfied with my answer, and I have to admit it wasn't much above a very lame "I just know."

Tonight I hung out with Macduff after work so that Teacher Incognito could get some grading done. Macduff started getting sleepy and fussy around 7:30, so T.I. fixed him a bottle and he and I retreated to the rocking chair. Before long, he was sound asleep, his multi-megawatt BabyFurnace going full blast. I had brought a scarf-in-progress along for just this eventuality, and so we sat there in the dim living room for quite awhile, me knitting carefully and him sleeping with his soft little head in the crook of my arm.

It reminded me of J-Dog's question, and here's the truth:  sometimes every cell of you just knows.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A day in the life

VBG:  Don't forget, I'm babysitting tomorrow night. I probably won't be home until ten.

MB:  Waaaaaah!

VBG:  Oh, hush. It's the end of the grading period. She's really stressed out.

MB:  I'm really stressed out.

VBG:  Yeah, but you don't have an infant.

MB:  I am an infant.



A collection of Obama-related stuff that made me smile (or laugh like a hyena) today:


A Softer World (check the mouse-over)

the High Road

Even the leaves are getting in on that action

Reading:  The Map Thief by Heather Terrell

Playing:  Only_By_The_Night by Kings of Leon

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


This unhappy cat makes me so very, very happy:

(stolen from A Free Man)

Do tell

Because I have no goddamn sense, I went through the drive-thru at Long John Silver's on my way back from yoga class. MB wanted this la-ti-da tilapia platter with corn and rice, and I wanted plain old thigh-fluffing fried fish. I placed my order and pulled around, and the girl at the register absolutely slammed the sliding window open. I was slightly alarmed, but she didn't seem pissy, just enthusiastic about opening the window. She confirmed a few things about my order, and I settled in for the promised 5 minute wait for MB's tilapia.

Then, she was back. I looked up as the window banged open again. "Complications have developed," she announced gravely. "We're out of rice." And that just may be the best line I've heard all week.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Day three of Nablo and I'm already resorting to memes? Does not bode well.

I stole this from the lovely Alyndabear, whom I believe I met through the first Nablopomo. Hooray for blog friendships!

A. Attached or Single? Attached

B. Best Friend? I am lucky to have quite a few of these!

C. Cake or pie? Yes, please! Actually, I do prefer cake.

D. Day of choice? Hmmm...I can't say I really have a favorite day of the week right now.

E. Essential item? Something to read

F. Favorite color? Yellow

G. Gummy bears or worms? Ooh, hard choice. Worms!

H. Hometown? Nice try!

I. Favorite indulgence? Starbucks chai lattes

J. January or July? That's a hard one, because I dislike both extreme heat and extreme cold. I guess I'll go with July.

K. Kids? Someday

L. Life isn’t complete without? Love

M. Marriage date? August 7, 2004

N. Number of brothers and sisters? One sister, who turned 22 last month and wants to get her PhD in math

O. Oranges or Apples? I'm terrible and rarely eat either, but I prefer apples.

P. Phobias? I'm not really afraid of heights, but I don't really enjoy them either.

Q. Quotes? "Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." -- Ursula K. LeGuin

R. Reasons to smile? The trees are beautiful. My family and friends are mostly healthy and happy. I have a wonderful husband and pets that are only rotten some of the time. Life is pretty damn good.

S. Season of choice? Fall, no contest

T. Truth or dare? I always, always choose truth.

U. Unknown fact about me? I have anxiety when it comes to speaking in front of people, but only when it's official-like. I can stand up in front of a room of 60 kids and their parents and have no problems. I can (and do) give public science programs without breaking a sweat. But put me at a podium in front of a crowd and I practically hyperventilate. It's pretty annoying.

V. Vegetable? Cooked baby carrots are my favorite

W. Worst habit? I talk a lot. Like, A LOT.

X. X-ray or Ultrasound? I've only ever had X-Rays so far.

Y. Your favorite food? Ice cream

Z. Zodiac sign? Pisces! According to wikipedia this means I am malleable / impressionable, gentle, good natured / easygoing, likeable / kind, compassionate / sympathetic, sensitive, impractical / dreamy, instinctive / intuitive, imaginative / artistically able, versatile, gullible / naive / easily led, spiritual, escapist, selfless. I'd say I used to be pretty impressionable and easily led, though not so much any more. I'd like to think I'm relatively good natured, intuitive, imaginative, and versatile. Not sure about the rest.

Feel free to steal, and leave me a comment so I know to come and read your list!

Reading:  Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Petersen

Playing:  More Adventurous by Rilo Kiley

Sunday, November 02, 2008

City Dog on Safari

As promised, MB and Indy and I had a short camping adventure this weekend. It was our annual trip with MB's friend Mr. Muskrat and his wife, but instead of going to our usual place, we camped out on the Muskrats' property. They have 20 acres, most of it wooded. It was fantabulous. The weather was PERFECT, even at times a little bit warm for the first weekend of November. The spot was ideal -- flat, secluded, quiet, surrounded by trees. The leaves were all gold and orange and red and gorgeous.

Indy had a really REALLY good time. He didn't mind being on his tether:

He didn't mind going into the tent:

He had fun facing off with the Muskrats' cat Roscoe at the woodpile:

After setting up camp but before dinner, I took a short knitting break:

And Indy took a short chewing-on-lion break:

"Now this...this is a stick."

"It's all mine!"

Dinner was steak for the guys and chicken for the girls, and Indy got quite a few bites of both. As you can imagine, he was ridiculously pleased with his lot in life. It was pretty chilly once we went to bed, and then one of the Muskrats' cats decided to climb up the outside of our tent, but Indy stayed curled up in the back of the tent beside MB all night. Just about everyone in camp got up to pee at 4 AM, and after that Indy slept in the front of the tent by me. He was a little restless, but he never tried to make a break for it, which I greatly appreciated.

In the morning, we took a little walk down the dry creek bed and then headed up to the house for breakfast and the trip home. A very good time was had by all!

Indiana Bones, champion hiker:

Striking a heroic pose: