Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jurassic Davenport

In one of those odd confluences of events that seem to happen, MB and I ended up going to Sam's Club last night with my coworker's husband. Just a few days ago, I noticed we were almost out of cheese and asked MB if I should see if my mom was planning to go to Sam's, since she shops there a lot more often than we do. (Seriously, in the five years we've had a Sam's membership through MB's job, we've been in the store three times.) MB, who hates going to Sam's Club, said that we could go ourselves. The very next day, my coworker Carrie asked me if we had a Sam's card, since she and her husband were hoping to go there to buy a pair of flat screen TV mounts. And so, last night after work, MB and I went and picked up Carrie's husband Jimmy and took him with us to the land of bulk pudding cups.

The trip itself was pretty uneventful, other than reminding me that you can buy anything at Sam's Club, up to and including a wrought iron garden gazebo and a fully-assembled tiki bar. We got back to the house just as Carrie and the kids were returning from the grocery store, so we helped her take the bags inside. As we were unloading groceries, she told Jimmy that the charity she'd called had refused to take their sleeper sofa away. The guy claimed that it was damaged, but everyone suspected he had just been too lazy to haul the sofa out to the truck. MB mentioned that he / we have been thinking about getting a sleeper sofa for our basement (which is true), and Carrie said that if we could get it out of the house before Wednesday morning -- when their floors are getting redone -- we could have it. Note, just for the record, that in no way was the sofa procuring my fault. Usually this kind of crazy venture is all on me, but not this time.

After some text messages and phone calls, it was arranged that BoMB and my dad would meet MB and me at 5:30 today to go and fetch the sofa. My parents had spent the morning cleaning out the garage at my great aunt Mary's house, and Dad brought me the cabinet I'd hoped to convert into appropriate display space for my rock and skull collection. As we were carrying it in, I got a whiff of cat pee -- not really surprising considering the cat colony that Aunt Mary maintained at her house -- but didn't worry too much about it. We set it down temporarily in the foyer, and Kitters came right over to investigate, took a good sniff, and promptly lost his mind. I had to grab him under the armpits and carry him thrashing and yowling at arms' length to the office (where he can be locked in via pet gate) to chill the hell out. Apparently he doesn't need to see other cats to get HulkSmash angry, he can just smell them. Gah.

Cat locked up, dog crated, we went to fetch the sofa. Now, we knew it was heavy. We'd sort of test-lifted it a bit and Carrie had warned us. That's why we brought two other guys along, after all. Well...have you ever seen the Craigslist ad about the stegosaurus sofa (one of my all-time favorites)? That sofa may have been a stegosaurus, but this one is a brachiosaurus. Not so much for the height, but because this thing has got to weigh at least 350 pounds, and is also sort of scaly. It took maximum effort from all three guys to wrestle the beast into the house. We got it into the foyer -- the pee-stinky cabinet having been banished to the laundry room -- and paused to reconnoiter. We contemplated taking the legs off, until it became apparent they were glued on rather than screwed on. Sawing them off was suggested, but I didn't want to purposely damage a vintage piece, no matter how brachiosauruslike, and besides, we don't own a saw. Then BoMB suggested we detach the bed part of the sofabed, and carry it down to the basement in two pieces. This would have been the best plan ever, except for the design of the bed required that it be totally unfolded before it could be unbolted, and then there'd be almost no way to get it back together.

Ultimately, they decided to take the basement door off its hinges and muscle the sauropodian sofa down the stairs. I'm sure everyone will be cursing its name tomorrow as they hobble around, but it worked out fine in the end, and I have to say the sofa fits perfectly into the space chosen for it. Good thing, too, because that thing is never coming out. When we sell this house to move to the Bahamas in 50 years, the sofa is going to be part of the deal.

Included:  one sofa, approx. 350 million yrs old; surface clean only; provide 400 lbs of plant matter per day.

Not sure what we're going to do with the cabinet. It's the right shape and size to display my stuff, if I can get glass panes for the doors and get the cat to stop wanting to fight it. Can I spray Nature's Miracle onto wood?

Monday, March 30, 2009


Anything I was going to say has been driven from my brain by the sheer awesomeness of this:

(Make sure you read the mouse-over text, too.)

To make up for laughing myself post-less, here's a fun and timesucking 90s lyrics quiz:

There's an 80s lyric quiz, too. I got a 53 on the 90s quiz, which is supposed to be harder, and a 54.7 on the 80s quiz. I was surprised I did that well, considering there are few 80s songs I listen to on purpose. Anyway, go forth and waste time, my friends!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The long-awaited proof that my dog is full of awesome

(In order, he does sit, high five, down, army man, play dead, roll over, take a bow, stand, hop, leave it, and shake)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mental pocket lint

I don't have anything profound to share, just lots of small things that by themselves wouldn't be worthy of an entire post. And so, here are some bullet points.

>>  I was in charge of Spring Break daycamp at work on Monday, and holy shit do I respect primary school teachers even more now. The noise! The not listening to instructions! The incessant, skull-rending whining! (One kid started complaining that she was hungry for lunch at 9:45 AM. When she later put a blank nametag sticker over her mouth to be obnoxious, I told her at least I wouldn't have to hear her complain about how much she wanted to go to lunch. So she wrote, "I'M HUNGRY!" on the sticker and gave me a flamboyantly stink-eyed glower every time I looked in her direction. Well played, tiny drama queen.) Mostly, I jest. It was a really good day, and most of the kids were totally rad, even if it did take me two full days to recover my strength.

>>  The bibliophile's mom and her next-door neighbor stopped by my workplace today and sought me out just to tell me that they'd been to the gallery where my photos are hanging and really liked them. Isn't that a terribly nice thing to do?

>>  On the recommendation of the fabulous TLo, I am watching Make Me a Supermodel this season. To my happy surprise, I really like it. It's like a more legitimate, less shrieky version of my beloved ANTM. My only problem?


>>  I was at Walmart the other day to get some stuff for work, and saw the most kickass bedding ever. I have searched and searched the internet and have not found any evidence that the stuff exists, which drives me nuts. I know I'm supposed to be a good hippie and hate Walmart, but this stuff is SO ridiculously my style that it's not even funny. And it's made from organic cotton! Which almost cancels out the evil! One set has painfully awesome woodland creatures, and is complimented by a navy blue knitted owl pillow. The other has birds that look like they were made for evilducky, complimented (of course) by a fat bird pillow. If I can re-learn how to harvest pictures from my phone, I'll see if the ones I took turned out. Until then, I will attempt to come up with reasons to buy un-needed woodland creature bedding. And knitted owl pillows.

>>  My life has been drastically brightened of late by the hilarious site Fuck You, Penguin, in which cute animals are told what's what. I must thank the lovely Metalia for posting about it on Twitter and my dear Kerri Anne for telling Metalia about it.

>>  Just today I told my friend the Untamed Shrew about FUP, and she paid me back with a link to the hysterical dog blog. Like Fuck You, Penguin but with dogs, and less hostile. I laughed so hard at some of the captions that I had tears running down my face. Good times, good times.

>>  My kickass friend Kitty B is at the hospital in Tucson RIGHT NOW having a baby (!!!), but sadly I have already stayed up too late obsessively refreshing my gmail and looking for a report. I must now wait until the morning to find out how it all went and what he's been named. Best wishes and congrats! <3

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In which I let my geek flag fly

I've written a few times before about cool things to see in the sky, and last night I was appreciating a good view of Orion on my way home and thought of another cool thing to talk about. Or at least cool to geeks like me.

Here's Orion, hunter and wearer of a very snazzy skirt:

This is what he looks like in stars alone, clearly showing the three stars of his fancy belt:

The stars you want to take special notice of are the upper left (the orange one) and the lower right (the big blue one). The blue one is Rigel, a supergiant about twice as hot as the sun and 70 times larger. That seems impressive until you consider the orange guy. That one is called Betelgeuse, which I have heard variously pronounced as Beetlejuice, Baytel-gyse, and Baytel-joose. According to this article, the star's name means "hand of the central one," but I read somewhere that it means "armpit of the giant," and if that doesn't make you laugh like a 12-year-old boy, you're living life way too seriously.

Betelgeuse is a red supergiant, the largest type of star known to exist. How large? Well...let's do some analogizing.

Here's the Sun:

The Sun is 865,000 miles across.

Here's the orbit of the Earth around the Sun:

As we all know, it takes the Earth an entire year to travel one loop around the Sun. But here's something you may not know:  the Earth is going 67 THOUSAND miles per hour. And it still takes us a year to make a lap. Craaazy.

And this will really bake your noodle:  take the Sun, 865000 miles across, and the Earth, taking an entire year to go a loop at 67000 miles per hour. All of it -- the Sun, the Earth, and the Earth's orbit around the Sun -- could fit inside Betelgeuse.

Next time you're outside and spot Orion, give that orange star a second look, because dude...he's kind of a really big deal:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Third Thursday lolkitters

View the collected Third Thursday lolkitters on Flickr.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

There goes the neighborhood

When I got home from work today, I had a carload of recycling to unpack. I ran inside and changed into shorts and a tank top, and then went back out. As I was moving boxes into the garage, I heard people calling and dogs yipping in the grassy utility easement that runs behind / alongside all the backyards on our block. I stepped out and poked my head around the corner, and saw two little terrier mixes frolicking down the easement, with two women following behind and calling to them. Indy has escaped down the same easement at least twice, so I was familiar with this particular trick. The dogs were steadfastly ignoring their owners, so I blocked their exit and called them over to me and was able to grab their collars.

The ladies came over to collect their dogs, we chatted for a few seconds, and then they headed home. As I went back to finish unloading the car, I realized with sudden horror that as I had crouched down / bent over to catch the dogs, I had given the owners a full-on view down my shirt into my bra. Dear Lord. I can only hope they were so distracted by their dogs' antics that they didn't notice my bodacious tatas. A girl can dream, right?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Grace in small things

I don't feel like I have the dedication for a full-on commitment to Schmutzie's wonderful Grace in Small Things project, but here are some small things that made my life better today:

1. yoga class, which kicked righteous ass

2. Flogging Molly playing loud with the windows rolled down

3. Gala apples

4. these videos, brought to my attention by the lovely Loralee

5. bloggy friends, new and old

Monday, March 16, 2009

Three things about my dog

In my efforts to not talk about the pets all the time, I tend to not talk about them enough, or so it seems. And so, here are three things about my dog that have made me happy lately.

MB has taught Indy how to stand up on his hind legs and hop like a bunny. Or rather, like a person doing the bunny hop. It is precisely as cute as you imagine, times about fifteen. I'm planning to borrow BoMB's camera soon so I can get the trick on video. It is just that awesome.

As we were coming back from our walk this morning, Indy and I passed a beautiful little bluepoint Siamese cat, coming down her driveway. I reined Indy in a bit since he OMGSQUEELOVES cats and cats tend to not return the sentiment, expecting the cat to notice us and run off, or at least halt in her tracks to scope us out. Instead, as we stood there and waited, she moseyed straight over to Indy, peered curiously into his face, and delicately sniffed him, her nose touching his. She then sauntered off and flopped down to stretch out on her side in the sun, completely confident in her badassery and place as ruler of the Universe. Indy and I were suitably impressed.

A dog down the street has a tennis ball with a rope loop attached, and Indy always acts interested in it when we see her. Possibly that's because her owner throws the ball about forty feet straight up and the dog catches it on the way back down. I saw the same kind of ball and rope contraption on sale at the grocery the other day and decided to buy one for Indy. Our yard doesn't have a whole lot of lateral space, so a toy that can go up and still be fun seemed like a good idea. It was really nice out today, so when I got home from work I took the rope ball out for Indy to try.

He didn't even try to catch it in mid-air, preferring to pounce on it as soon as it landed. Each time he grabbed it, he held it by the ball, letting the rope dangle free. And each time he took off running with it, he stepped on the rope, pulling the ball out of his own mouth. In one ten-yard sprint, I think he stepped on the rope at least six times. Worth every penny, that toy.


Gratuitous Spring flower photos:

Reading:  Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Playing:  Californication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, perfect for driving around on a sunny day with the sunroof open and the windows rolled down

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Pi Day!

To celebrate Pi Day, the bibliophile invited everyone over for a Pi(e) potluck. I had planned to go hiking with MB and Indy today to celebrate my birthday (which was yesterday), but the weather did not cooperate. I've never made a pie before and didn't want to drop a fortune on out-of-season fresh fruit, so I needed to come up with something to make for the party, and quick. And then it occurred to me:  Pi-shaped cookies!

I was going to attempt to make cookie cutters using this ridiculously cool example as a guide, but in the end I came up with a slightly simpler solution.

STEP 1: Set up stand mixer, passed down to me by my mother during the Christmas baking season. Also known as the savior of my arm, since I didn't have to give myself tennis elbow trying to make sugar cookie dough with my woefully inadequate hand mixer.

STEP 2: Dough is done, hooray!

STEP 3: Trace Pi template onto plastic lid and cut out.

STEP 4: Roll out dough and cut Pi shapes.

STEP 5: Forget that a quiet dog is usually a dog up to no good.

STEP 6: Impress everyone

STEP 7: Use up the rest of the dough and decorate appropriately

STEP 8: Eat cookies

Reading:  Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Playing:  the Coraline soundtrack

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


After puberty, I was never skinny. I always had thick thighs, heavy calves, big boobs. I never had six-pack abs, even at my thinnest. But I was healthy, I was lean, I was strong. In those days, I was in Taekwondo classes, working out one or two straight hours, two days a week. And by the time I was in high school, I would work out hard, until I was sweaty, achy, exhilarated. There was joy in the strength of my limbs, in the way I could move, in how I could push through limits and keep going. And I didn't realize it at the time, but my God I had sexy arms.

In the almost ten years since I quit Taekwondo, I have to admit to a slow decline. Without organized classes, without the accountability of classmates, I don't do much. Once I got out of college, I no longer had to walk around campus every day, so that was a passive workout gone as well. I suppose I should thank my lucky stars I'm not worse off than I am, seeing as I've spent a decade mooching around and failing to resist chocolate.

I am trying to find the balance, now. I don't like the number on the scale, don't like how my stomach looks, don't like wearing a size 34Frightful bra (HATE.) But I still love my body for what it can do. I'm not lean, but I'm still strong enough. Learning how to push limits so long ago has served me well, and I can still bend and twist into impractical shapes at yoga class without too much trouble. I have a fat poochy tummy, but underneath there's enough strength to make it through a Pilates asskicking without quite falling over dead.

Lately I have been really frustrated. I walk the dog almost a mile and a half most weekday mornings, usually in 30 minutes or so. I make conscious efforts to eat better and healthier foods. After years of clinging loyally to 2% milk, I have switched to 1%. And yet, the numbers on the scale keep creeping up, the waistbands on my jeans keep getting tighter. WTF, body? What do you want from me? More than I'm giving it, apparently. Or less, in the case of dinner. Or maybe, just maybe, it just wants me to learn to respect it for what it is, what it can accomplish, rather that what it looks like. Perhaps it simply wants the same treatment I demand for myself from the world.

I'm working on it. I will try to remember to keep working on it.

Reading:  The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett

Playing:  streaming U2's new album, No Line on the Horizon

Friday, March 06, 2009

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Slipping away

My last living great-aunt went into a nursing home last weekend. She suffers from Alzheimer's, and my mother has been checking in on her several times a week for a few years now. Mom got power of attorney over Aunt Mary's finances when it became clear that Mom's cousin (Aunt Mary's sister's son) was exploiting her for money, brazenly and frequently. I firmly hope there is a special hell for unemployed, alcoholic grown men who purposely extort money from little old ladies living on tiny pensions and Social Security checks.

Mary's mind sort of comes and goes these days, but she was getting along fine for the most part. Mom and Dad would pick up her groceries once a week, and Mom took her to appointments and made sure she got her medicine and that her bills were paid. But late last week, Mary fell and couldn't get up, and so she sat on her floor and waited. It's hard to say how long she was there, but luckily she wasn't injured. After a night in the hospital, the doctors told my mom and her sister that they would only release Mary if she was moving into a nursing home or if she was going to have 24-hour in-home care. No one in the family is well-off, and everyone works, so 24-hour care was pretty much out of the question. Luckily, there was space for Mary at what is supposed to be a very good home for Alzheimer's patients, and she was able to move in right away.

My mother's family is not a particularly tight-knit family. Everyone cares for each other, but we don't regularly hang out or share our deep, dark secrets or anything. Of the three great-aunts, sisters of the grandfather who died before I was born, Mary was the only one I really knew at all. When we were kids, she occasionally babysat us while my parents went out. She's in her eighties now, so even when I was a child, she was old to my eyes. She's always been the little old aunt in the little old lady skirts and cardigans. She always had curly gray old lady hair and old lady glasses. She always lived alone in a little house and had too many cats.

She used to make me roll my eyes when she babysat for us, because she never wanted to make any of the kids behave. If one of the younger kids broke the rules and I sent them into a time-out, all they had to do was cry and Mary would feel bad and let them out early. She was nice, possibly to a fault. Mary and I were never close, and probably the only thing I can tell you for certain about her is that she was kind. She was stubborn and set in her ways, I'm sure, but ultimately she was a good person. I feel a little regretful that there's not more to say. Then again, if at the sunset of my life the only thing someone can say about me is that I was kind, I think that wouldn't be so bad.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

No excuses

I have been sitting here for thirty minutes trying to come up with a cute story or a funny anecdote or something, anything worth posting, and have come up woefully short. My brain is so full of garden plans and non-bloggable life things and the book I started today that I just can't think of anything else.

And so, in penance, here's a link to a whole bunch of book giveaways.

Here's a great book I finished yesterday.

And here is my favorite You Tube video of all time:

And ohmygod, they made another one!

An Engineer's Guide to Voting:

"It's time to buzz the tower!"

Reading:  The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Playing:  the Coraline soundtrack

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Happy Sunday

I posted a new review and giveaway at the book blog (ends March 8th, so visit soon!), and I'm also resurrecting the garden blog if anyone's interested.

And watch this video, but not if you're at work and someone might hear you laughing your ass off: