Thursday, April 30, 2009

Velocibadgergirl and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day evening

It all started when the printer ran out of ink. I knew it was coming, but it just had to happen in the middle of MB printing out his students' papers to grade. I offered to make a run to get more ink, though it was my preference that instead of spending $60 on ink for a printer that produced crappy printouts and that MB regularly bitched about, we just spend a little more and get a brand new printer. There was a discussion, which grew a bit heated. The dog was a bit worried. Finally, it was decided that I would go to Walhell and enlist BoMB's help in either picking out a new printer or finding the proper ink, depending on the price of each option.

Other than the fact that a trip to Walhell is never the best choice for a pleasant activity, things went pretty well. BoMB recommended the same model of printer that he uses at home, which rang in at a truly respectable $29.99. Upon purchasing it and leaving the store, I realized I had left my umbrella in the cart that I took back to the electronics department in case I bought a big printer, and then abandoned when I bought a small one. I sent BoMB a text asking him to retrieve my umbrella for me, but it was already gone.

I was planning to go to a birding talk at 7:30 at the local nature center. There are actually two local nature centers, one about five minutes from our house and the other in a neighboring city, about 20 minutes away. The email that I'd received seemed to indicate that the talk was at the closer nature center, following an hors d'oeuvres reception. Before leaving, I called the car dealership to see if they could tell me when the detailing on my CR-V would be finished. Turns out that even though they took down my number and said they'd call me when it was ready, they somehow neglected to call me. The car was done, but I only had until 7:45 to pick it up, and it was already 7:11. MB had just put a pizza in the oven, and my mom wasn't home, so I decided to get the car in the morning and just head to the birding talk.

By this point it was pouring down rain and I really didn't want to go back out, but I'd skipped yoga class specifically to go to the talk, and damned if I wasn't going to go. As I was getting into the car with my drippy backup umbrella and my bag, I hit my elbow so hard on the doorframe that my pinky went numb for at least a minute. Because I am a master of mature behavior and ladylike stoicism, I shouted at the top of my lungs, "This is the worst fucking day!" Oh, but I didn't even know. I drove to nature center #1, to find the parking lot ominously empty. The padlock was on the gate. I guess the talk was at nature center #2 after all, and it was now 7:28 PM. My elbow was still achy, and my pinky was still tingling. I called MB. "I missed the lecture and now it's too late to go. I AM GETTING AN ICE CREAM CONE, DAMMIT!"

As he was telling me to get a big ice cream cone for my trouble, the network dropped our call. Then the gas light came on. OMFG. I called MB back to wail some more, got $10 of gas, and went to fetch my ice cream. Miraculously, it did not land in my lap as soon as I pulled away from the drive through window, but I did somehow manage to smush it against the CD holder visor thing in MB's car as I was putting the strap of my bag over my shoulder and preparing to get out of the car. (Don't worry, hon, it was a minor smush and I cleaned it up.) I decided to hedge my bets and ate the rest of the ice cream standing over the counter in the kitchen, just in case.

Luckily, things seem to have improved since I returned home. Perhaps my bad luck only applies to stuff I try to do outside of the house? My elbow still hurts, though.

(Oh, and I think my camera died today. It happened out in the yard, so my hypothesis holds true. Goddammit.)

Reading:  It Sucked and Then I Cried by Heather B. Armstrong

Playing:  The Fragile (left) by NIN

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Held to my heart

In obedience class, we practiced calling the dogs. We tied them onto 50-foot lengths of rope and let them run off, then called to them. They had to run straight to the owner and sit promptly for praise and a treat. Indy learned to do it every time, on his marks. So the day the electricians left the back gate open and I didn't notice, I wasn't overly worried. But once Indy hit the grassy corridor on the other side of the garage, all his training went right out of his head. He saw the open space and took off. I called to him, keeping my voice cheery, but he ran on, almost making it to the brush that separated the easement from the busiest street in the neighborhood before he heard another dog barking and turned back.


Several of the dogs in our neighborhood are friends, and their owners will often sit and chat while the dogs run around loose in a nearby yard. Indy always wants to join in, and even tries to leap and wrestle as best he can with his leash fastened securely to my wrist. Yesterday we stopped briefly to say hi to two of his buddies, Mikey the border collie and Henry the husky mix. Mikey and Henry were romping in Mikey's yard, and Indy so badly wanted to play. He sat politely on the sidewalk, tail wildly oscillating behind him. "Aww," Mikey's owner said. "Let him play for awhile." But all I could picture was his shiny black coat, his perfectly floppy ears, his magical extra toes, all of it disappearing down the street at a run.


We're having my car detailed tomorrow, but I didn't want to be off work and stranded at home without a vehicle, so we dropped the CR-V off tonight and planned to share the Cavalier in the morning. MB had to go into school for a few hours to meet with a student, so I dropped him off and then went home for a bit. When it was time to pick him up, I took Indy along. He's visited the school before, and likes to explore the grassy margins of the lot. The campus is in the flatlands on the far east side of town, so far out that it has an address in the next county. A wide drainage ditch separates the lawn from a scrubby field, and Indy is always exceptionally interested in the ditch. In a perfect world, or a Hallmark channel movie, we could leap over the ditch and hit the field running, roughhousing among the cornstalk stumps and calf-high weeds. But in reality, the ditch is sludgy and smells a little off. I am wearing ridiculously impractical shoes, green leather Ecco wedges that make me feel sexy but would keep me from moving any faster than a quick walk. The field is only 200 yards from a six lane expressway.


The cliché says if you love something, set it free. Sometimes if you love something, the only thing to do is keep an eye on it, check the gates twice, and hold on as tight as you can.

(New review up at badgerbooks if you're interested. It's a great book!)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Because I like to sit "Indian style" or tuck one foot under me with my knee sticking out to the side, I am terribly rough on pajama pants. Specifically, on the crotchular regions of pajama pants. I think I have one pair of pj pants out of about ten that doesn't have a hole in the crotch. Sexy! Recently, one of my favorite pairs -- a cute thin flannel pair from Victoria's Secret -- completely gave up the ghost. I knew that flannel gets weak when it gets old, but I still wasn't expecting my pants to split down the front of one thigh. I conceded that as much as I like them and as much as I don't really have a problem with wearing slightly holey pajamas*, it was time to find a replacement pair.

Last Friday evening I set out with Evil Ducky for dinner and a bit of shopping, and pj pants were the top priority on my list of things to find. At Target, I found a cute and comfy pair that I really liked and ended up buying. They're a rich yellow, about the color of the goldenrod crayon in a box of Crayolas, and they have large white sunflowers printed all over them. I knew MB wouldn't love them, but I figured he's not the one wearing them.

vbg:  So, these are my new pj pants. What do you think?

MB:  They're okay.**

vbg:  I think they're very me.

MB:  Yeah. ((long absentminded pause)) They're kind of loud.

* as opposed to holy pajamas, which is another issue entirely

** his standard response when something ranks anywhere from "meh" to "nearly awesome"

Reading:  The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow and My Little Red Book by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

Playing:  No Angel by Dido

"Here With Me", "Thank You" (I can't find anything that will embed)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mother Ship

Happy Earth Day, everyone! (and Happy Birthday to my dear Danger)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I order all of my sandwiches with mayonnaise

Several of my blogfriends and Twitter peeps answered my plea and asked me questions to help me get past my writer's block. The Cheesefairy asked "mustard? mayo? both? neither? why?"

This question makes a lot of sense, knowing that the Cheesefairy is Canadian. I have heard that Canadians really like their mayo. I went to Canada once (well, twice) and much to my friend Rob's consternation, all the sandwiches on the menus automatically came with mayo. But I have to wonder, why would someone from the land of ketchup flavored chips only ask me about two condiments? It's a mystery.

So, I shall deal with her question and also address the ketchup issue.


No, thank you. I am not a mustard fan, other than in deviled eggs (NOM). It's always very disappointing when I ask for no mustard on a burger and get it anyway, because even when I scrape it off with a fry, I can still taste it. Blech.


Yes, please. I really like mayo, especially on cheeseburgers. When I get a red meat itch, I go to Wendy's and get a Jr. Cheeseburger with lettuce and mayo on it. Delicious. I'll also take mayo on a turkey sandwich, though ranch is also fabulous in that case. I have to say that I think dipping French fries in mayo is weird, but I guess I shouldn't judge since I haven't tried it.


The only thing I like to put ketchup on is French fries, and I'm really picky about my fries. I don't like them at most places, and where I do order them, they have to be just right -- crispy but not burnt, just salty enough. My sister makes up for my ketchup ambivalence. When she was a kid, she put ketchup on everything, up to and including mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese, and peas.

I don't think I have any weird condimenting habits, though I married into a family that salts their lettuce and tomatoes.

Okay, y'all. Your turn. Mustard, mayo, and / or ketchup? Are there any weird combinations close to your heart and tastebuds?

Reading:  The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow and My Little Red Book by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

Playing:  a little of this, a little of that


I have the worst case of writer's block, so even though this never works, I'm going to invite you all to ask me questions. Ask me anything!

Also, my blog is super fucked up when viewed with Internet Explorer right now, and I don't know how to fix it. Firefox is better anyway! :P

Edited to add:  I think I figured it out. But Firefox is still superior.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Third Thursday Lolkitters

View the collected Third Thursday lolkitters on Flickr.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A very merry unbirthday

Instead of a present for my birthday this year, I told MB that I wanted to spend a day hiking at one of the coolest state parks I know of, which I haven't had a chance to visit since high school. I called the park office and verified that Indy would be allowed to go on the trails with us, as long as we kept him on a leash. We originally planned to go the weekend of my birthday, but the weather did not cooperate in the least. We tentatively rescheduled for the Saturday of Easter weekend, and I began obsessively checking the ten-day forecast on beginning around April 1st.

We slept a little later than I had hoped on Saturday, and I came to terms with the fact that just because you can make it out and back in a day to a park that is three hours away doesn't mean you should. Six hours round trip in a car for less than six hours of outdoors time doesn't really add up, you know? But the weather forecast was good and we'd been planning for weeks, so there was no way I was going to spend the day at home. Luckily, a quick google search reminded me that there is another very fine state park just under an hour to the east of us, another park that I haven't visited in years and MB has never seen. And so, we filled my backpack with peanut butter sandwiches and extra water, loaded the pooch into the car, and headed out.

We could not have picked a better day to go hiking. The weather was flawless, and the park was nearly deserted. We started with a 3 1/2 mile hike that ended with a loop around a small lake, and finished the day with a 1 1/2 mile loop around the park's larger lake. The trees weren't leafed out yet and the maples were covered in bunches of bright red seed pods, so the woods looked a bit autumnal, but the effect was tempered by the wildflowers and mayapples growing everywhere. Indy, as usual, was a complete champ. He hiked and hiked and never complained. While we were resting and eating our sandwiches, I realized that our trip marked the anniversary of Indy's last day as a shelter dog -- we adopted him on the second Sunday in April 2008. Definitely a day worth celebrating.

Hiking around the first (small) lake:

On the loop around the larger lake:

Small side trip to an old CCC fire tower:

One last view of the lake, where one of the summer camps I went to as a kid brought us to swim:

Have you ever seen a more tuckered-out dog?

(There are a few more hike pictures on Flickr.)

Reading:  The Ghost in Love by Jonathan Carroll

Playing:  a little bit of everything

Monday, April 13, 2009

April is

When I was a little girl, sometimes the fear kept me up at night. Once I read a book about a scary one-eyed tomcat named Mog, and I imagined him lurking beneath my bedroom window as I pulled the covers tight over my head. My fourth grade teacher told us that when a bear kills a person, it often hides the body in the woods and comes back to snack on it later. I have no earthly idea why she thought we needed to know this, but I remember for weeks I had trouble falling asleep. I'd surround myself with stuffed animals -- old friends to defend me against marauders -- and chant to myself, "Don't think about bears, don't think about bears."

I didn't know, then. I didn't know about the real monsters, the real fears. Even now, I pull the covers over my head, I tell myself they're not real. I pull the covers tight, because if I can just keep my head down, the bad things will turn out to be figments of my imagination. And really, don't we all like to pretend that they are? Husbands don't suffer from terrible changes of heart and walk away from their marriages. Wives don't die in childbirth, not anymore. Sometimes you lose a loved one, but it is always someone who has lived a long, full life. Your great-aunt, perhaps. Or your grandfather. It's never supposed to be your mother, when you don't quite feel ready to face the world alone. It's never supposed to be your father, when you are still just a little girl. And it's never, God, never supposed to be your child.

Because that doesn't happen, not in real life. Sometimes babies are born too early, but they fight, and in the end they win. Sometimes accidents happen, but they are always close calls, never serious. Don't think about bears. Don't think about bears. The worst never really happens. Until it does.

I never knew Maddie Spohr, had never heard her story or seen her face until the news that she'd gone into the hospital hit Twitter. And then, she was gone. I barely knew Thalon Myers. I'd added his mother's blog to my reader a month or two ago, but was really behind on reading through my feeds. And again, it was Twitter that broke the news that he'd been rushed to the hospital. And then, he was gone. I am not a praying person, in general, but my thoughts have certainly been with Maddie and Thalon's families. Think of them, if you can spare a moment, because no one should have to face this kind of monster alone.


No pressure at all, but imagine what a dollar from
everyone could mean to them right now, as they face
hospital bills and funeral expenses on top of their loss.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Simultaneously the most awesome and the weirdest thing I have ever seen

(seen first on Travels With Smacky)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Love is love and not fade away

I started keeping pen-and-paper journals when I was eight years old, having received a Ramona diary for my birthday from a friend. I really believe it was that little diary, probably picked up on a whim by the friend's mother, which set me on the path to become a writer. That's probably another story for another day, though.

I mention it because by early high school, I was realizing how my tastes changed from year to year, and started periodically writing down lists of things in my journals so that I could come back and read them in a few years and see how I felt. The most common list was my top five favorite bands or top five albums I'd pick if I could only listen to five albums for the rest of my life. Someday I'll have to dig out the journals and post the lists, because I'm sure at times they were pretty hilarious.

My musical whims change more frequently now than they did, I think, though now I usually find myself rediscovering albums I've had for years, playing the hell out of them for a few weeks or months, and then rediscovering something else. There are some albums, though, that I feel I will always love, that I have loved deeply for so long that I think they are etched on my bones, never to fade from my life.

The first album is Lay It Down by the Cowboy Junkies. I had only heard of them peripherally, maybe once or twice, but then during senior year, my friend H and I were taking on odd jobs to earn money for our post-graduation trip to London. The teachers involved with the trip knew we were broke and tossed tasks our way, and one Sunday the English team coach paid us to rake leaves and mow his huge suburban lawn. When we were done, he offered us a chance to go through the leftovers of a yard sale he and his wife had just held, and said we could take whatever we wanted in addition to the cash he gave us for the mowing. I stumbled upon a big box packed full of his legendary 80s tape collection, and I had to have it. In the box, I would later find a tape of Lay It Down, which interestingly enough, had been made for the English team coach by another of my favorite English teachers, a guy who I would talk music with for the rest of that year and beyond. I have since accumulated a half-dozen Cowboy Junkies albums and listened to them for countless hours. Their lyrics are aching, haunting, beautiful. The music is ... what? Folky meets country meets rock meets something else? Not sure. But I love it.

The second eternal album that comes to mind is Car Wheels on a Gravel Road by Lucinda Williams. Though she is one of my best friends and something of a soul mate, I did not meet Danger until our senior year in high school. By the end of that year, we were metaphorically inseparable, though not literally, as we would in the Fall head off to universities nearly three hours apart. Because we are slightly old, we started college before the absolute ubiquity of email. We had accounts through school, of course, but at my college the internet was accessed by running a huge multi-pin data cable from the phone in the living room into our bedroom and plugging it into the computer. You had to wait in a queue to get into the school's email server, and often the system would hiccup after you'd been waiting for hours and bump you to the back of the line of three hundred some-odd students. The only chat program I knew about was AOL's instant messenger.

Danger and I did talk on IM, and we did email, but we also wrote letters. Pages and pages of letters. Sometimes I wrote to her every week. We sent care packages back and forth, usually chock full of treats we'd purchased using our meal plan points. And mix tapes. We exchanged probably dozens of mix tapes in four years. One tape she sent me was Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, and it stuck.

The third album that comes to mind (and I'm sure I'll think of others as soon as I hit the publish button on this post) is August and Everything After by Counting Crows. Lyrically, probably musically, it doesn't really stand up against the other two, but I still love it. I think this one is a combination of the album itself and the place I was at in my life when I found it. I got it in earlier high school, maybe sophomore year? And the songs are so ingrained in my true growing-up years that I don't think they'll ever wash out. They are the links in the chain link fence and I am the tree that grew into and through and past the fence, swallowing the metal loops behind my bark. They are not staggering works of genius, but the songs of this album have worked their way into the marrow of me, and I'm pretty sure they're here to stay.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Violets are blue

For as long as I can remember -- probably longer than I've been alive -- my mom has kept a pair of miniature vases on the kitchen windowsill. When we were kids, my sister and I would bring in handfuls of violets and dandelions, and Mom always let us put them in the little vases. They stayed in the window until they were wilted and crispy, and only then would they be thrown out. My mom never complained that dandelions are a weed, she never acted like she was tired of getting identical handfuls of little purple and white flowers.

My mother is not a perfect person. There are things about her that I actively seek not to emulate. But those things are few in comparison to the things that I believe she did right, or at least as right as she knew how. We were never made to feel like our questions were dumb. We were always expected to do our best, to act right, and to be as kind and patient with each other as we could (not always easy when you're the much older sibling). We were encouraged, supported, pushed and pulled, held up and talked down from ledges. And even at our weediest, we were never treated as anything less than flowers worthy of a pretty vase in the window. One of my greatest hopes is that someday my kids will feel the same way.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Oh my frakkin frak

Because we are late to every party, MB and I finally got around to watching the first disc of the first season of Battlestar Galactica. I think we're hooked.

Reading:  Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Playing:  Decemberists, Kings of Leon, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Bok choy! I've always wanted to try it!

MB emailed me a grocery list today and at the bottom he'd added, "Tuna fish and bread (for toast)." If you listen to this song, you'll understand why it's so funny. Probably not safe for work, unless your boss thinks pot is funny. Which come on...who doesn't?

Friday, April 03, 2009