Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just Add Salt

Well Christmas is over, my muffin-top has expanded, and the credit card is breathing laboriously from the bottom of my tres-chic pink Coach purse (which will make its very own appearance on the blog shortly). We just returned from a Christmas day excursion to Chicago (which got about 14 inches of snow the day after we arrived...fortunately for us, Chicago has mastered the fine art of snow removal. Kentucky? Not so much.) Queen Elizabeth's daughter turned 1 on Christmas Eve so we ventured up for the party. For those of you unfamiliar with the south central and midwest states (and really, who can blame you when CNN only refers to us as the Ohio River Valley? It takes an epic ice storm and the Kentucky Derby to get a proper mention on anything except a local media station...and even then it's not always accurate. Last year, a Weather Channel anchor suggested the UK fans really bundle up in their red for the football game. Um..it's blue...that's why we are called Big Blue Country. It is not a nickname earned from excessive in-breeding...although...)....where the hell was I?? Oh right...for those of you unfamiliar, it is exactly a 7-hour drive from our house to Queen Elizabeth's in the northwest suburbs. That's 7 hours without being complicated by snow, ice, construction or garden-variety idiots with driver's licenses from Santa. So, sometimes it takes 8 and sometimes it takes 10. Never less than 7, though. Weather-folk all over were predicting a major storm for the midwest states, set to settle in around 5 pm on Christmas Day. So, we left early enough to be cozied in, wine glass in hand by 5 pm. For the most part, we were. Fearing a cataclysmic weather event, we opted to take Peter the Pathfinder as opposed to Patsy the Prius. Just as you would assume, Peter is more brawny and aggressive than his sister, the delicate and quiet Patsy. Patsy is so quiet that sometimes she's mistaken for a golf cart. But when you only have to feed her once every 2 weeks or so, you tend to forgive her meekness. Patsy, though, was not woman enough for the job. Peter, on the other hand, has 4WD, loads of testosterone, and the need to prove himself. Perfect for the fight that Chicago was planning to pick. Unfortunately, like any other aging boy, Peter needs to be fed more often...which means we have to stop more (sometimes in God-forbidden places...like Gary, Indiana). But we arrived in about 7 1/2 hours. The snow started about 2 hours later. And it snowed. And snowed. And froze. And snowed some more.

The party for Princess Mary was planned for 4:30 on the 26th. By 4:30, Queen Elizabeth's husband, King George, had snow-plowed the driveway 3 times and the sidewalk twice. But their sucker-neighbor across the street had only managed to shovel his driveway once. PSA: if you are going to move to the North Pole, equip yourself appropriately. Do not waste your time on the Home Depot special...buy yourself something that runs on gas and will do the job with the effort equivalent to getting a beer from the fridge. By 7, it had snowed over a foot and I was drenched in wine with a dusting of rum punch. By midnight, I was ready for a bed, a Snuggie, and a very tall drink of water. Happy Birthday to Princess Mary...now give me a soft place to pass out.

Sunday brought excellent shopping at The Container Store, Ikea (and in that order. All budget-savy shoppers know that you collect your ideas from the first and purchase from the second. Otherwise, you waste a lot of money that could have gone towards other necessities like sweater-boots...or milk), HomeGoods (which gets a post all of its own because we met Captain Crazy and his elfin family here), and Swoozies. By the way, if you're a girlie-girl (read: totally digs on pink, polka-dots, and snarky sayings) you need to check this last one out. I am the new proud owner of 6 Merry Christmas Y'all plastic cups. What else does one need in life?? And it brought more snow. And freezing temperatures. And lots and lots of salt. I only fit into about 4 pairs of jeans, post-baby, and so that means that sometimes I wear the same pair for several days. My new love? White House Black Market jeans that have been clearanced. I have one pair. I wore them 4 days. Coupled with body stank and street salt, they now walk on their own. I knew this day would come. They skipped crawling altogether. By the time we left yesterday, the entire hem was lined with salt. That's only sexy if you paid an extra $85 for that look. Otherwise it just looks like you need a laundry mat. So, we're home sweet home now and while I miss the Royalty, I do not miss the snow. Or the salt. And speaking of which....

I got this FANTASTIC award from Salt Says before Christmas. I have been extremely lazy in picking it up, but sometimes mulled wine and Wii and eggnog cookies just have to take priority. If you aren't familiar with Salt, I suggest you go visit her. She's getting married in less than 2 months (breathe, Salt, BREATHE) and she has the most precious fur-babies ever. And she's familiar with snow. I have received so many awards in the past couple months and although they are mixing and mingling very well, one is passed out on the couch, one is doing experiments with pickle juice and cat urine and the other two are naked in my bed. It's time to pass them on...which I will do very soon.

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Christmas. I love wine..but I love my DD even more!! And if anyone wants to leave a killer fondue recipe in the comments section, I would be excessively appreciative. The Miller New Year's Eve party is T-48 hours!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Through the Looking Glass

It's almost 1 am and I'm listening to Neal's soft snore and pundits debating healthcare options on Hardball and doing what I do every night at this time...reading blogs, posting comments and developing my own blog post. It's my midnight ritual. I was reading Nathanael's blog when, at his suggestion, I hopped over to Blackberries to Apples to read about her trip home from NYC to Alabama. And I'm going to make this short because I want you to read what she has to say about the flight...or perhaps more specifically, the end of the flight (because as passionate as I am, I could never say it better). It's no government secret...I'm an Army wife and I believe in my husband and our troops...even if I doubt the mission. But I think as the Family Readiness Group Leader, I'm probably not supposed to say things like that. So let me just say that I read this post and then I got sad and I prayed so hard for this soldier, this family, our troops and our country. I'm not posting this just to crush your hard-won-Christmas-caroling-spirit...quite the contrary, actually. It's merely something to ponder while you're maxing out the credit cards.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Just to sufficiently freak you out, that is the number of hours left before Christmas. Are you one of the 11 lords a-leapin' from your desk, scurrying to throw sugar, butter, eggs, and flour into a bowl with visions of Martha Stewart dancing through your head? How many papercuts have you collected from aggressive wrapping, using only the twinkling of the Christmas tree for light? The workout routine has been ditched in favor of extra time at Target and you're tempted to put a bullet through your radio the next time you hear Christmas Shoes. I know how it is. And yet somehow, I work better under this kind of pressure...it all comes into focus. Yes it's almost 10 AM and yes, I have a noon Pilates class, but until then I shall be scrapbooking, baking, addressing Christmas cards, and doing laundry. And look! I even have time to blog because that, my friends, is called procrastination. And delusion. Together, they are a powerful combination that delivers nothing but disappointment and regret. But the three of us are fast friends and I shall NOT abandon them when they come knocking. Allyson, Procrastination, and Delusion...the Three Muskateers. We are fabulous. And I got an award for our fabulousness from one of my favorite new bloggers. Well, as advertisers say on cable TV when they develop a conscience about how many re-runs they are airing over the summer...she's not new, but she's new to me. So, THANK YOU, Surferwife! I love my new award and I will be mulling over who to pass it on to as I also mull my wine. And if you haven't read anything by Surferwife-AKA-Monique...stop what you're doing (yes, you can even stop reading this, but if you don't come back, you'll be missing out on another Virgo list and is that what you really want??)...and go read her. She's extraordinarily witty and she knows people. Like of the rich-and-famous variety. So, that's like being 2 degrees from anyone in Hollywood! And this is my pretty award:

I know right?? It's so me. Now I just need a dog...and a hat...and a waist.
And sidenote: I think that to my readers who read me because they know my mom or some other random connection, it seems like we (the blogging community) are just sitting around greasing each other's palms for some great satisfaction but I promote other bloggers because I think that good writing should be rewarded with readers. I will never steer you wrong, my dahlings, because I don't want you to read crap anymore than I do. Unless it's really, REALLY bad and then that's just as good. But I don't get paid, I don't even get free stuff for my opinions...I just get to share the ooey gooey goodness that I have stumbled upon. And that is MORE than enough.

OK...so today's fun? These are life's lessons I've learned (the hard way) in the past week:
  • It is not necessary to put extra bubbles in the garden tub when you're going to turn the jets on. This only results in an I Love Lucy moment, complete with rising foam over a shocked and panicked face. And towels. And cursing. And a "soak" becomes a Chernobyl-esque clean-up effort.
  • When you grate cheese, it is best to move your thumb out of the way before commencing the grating. Grated thumb joint does not feel like clouds and rainbows, nor is it nutrient-dense.
  • Just because your husband drove the car parked in the garage to work does NOT mean that the car in the driveway is lined up with the garage. This is particularly important when you assume as much and begin to back up into the garage. Because literally, backing up into the garage is no fun.
  • If your laptop does not automatically spring to life upon opening...it is best to not assume that it has crashed. Unless of course there is a banner running across the screen that says "I'm sorry. It seems your laptop has crashed. Move along now, there is nothing to see here..." Because inevitably, your husband will come home and it will whir and kick into full operating mode and you will look like a greedy whore who only wanted a new laptop.
  • Don't eat week-old brownies or church windows. And microwaving said church windows does not automatically make them edible. It just makes them stickier and increases your chances of eating attached paper towel (which may or may not lead to chest pains while on the elliptical later). If they don't taste exactly right, it's best to just File 13 'em and start fresh. No one wants dessert-induced food poisoning 4 days before Christmas.
As my Dad once said, I'm passing these on so that you won't have to go through the same thing. It's my gift to you since the cats don't listen.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ten is such a lovely number!

Well looky-here! I received, and most unexpectedly I may add, an award for my blog! Actually this would be the second in as many weeks so now I've gone all Kate Winslet on you because I'm such an "old hand" at this...not like Susan Lucci who was only nominated about 26 times. I actually won! But with this award comes responsibilities...which I am totally up for. So before I get started, a BIG thank-you to Kallay who writes a fantastic blog about her furbabies, life in the re-employment world, and how to make cookies with red wine (seriously, does life get any better than when you're able to drop a little of your cocktail into cookie dough?)

So, the 10 things that make me uber-happy (in no particular order, of course, because...y'know..I have a thing about that):

  • First and foremost is my family. This includes my husband, my parents, my sister and her family, my aunt and her family...all the way out to my cousin Ted who used to be the road manager for Exile. They make me laugh, they support me, and without them I would be incomprehensibly lost. Of course, I have to remind myself of this when my husband mocks my grilling skillz, my mother reminds me that I could have a Virgo baby if I got pregnant right now, my dad burns up all my cell phone minutes re-counting the ways Mitt Romney is going to save this country from ruin, and my aunt sends me completely illegible text messages because she refuses to spell-check. I love them all...and they make me really happy. Plus they let me blog about them without disowning me. Bonus!
  • Second are my friends. I have friends I've known since I was 5 and friends that I know through blogging who I would only recognize on the street by her sensational pink boots. Each one makes my life richer in his/her own unique way. My mother once said to me that some friends are only in your life as a result of circumstance...you work together...you have class together...you be-friend your boyfriend's friends. And this is all true, but I've managed to hang on to many of those people and come to love them in whole new ways. Yes, I have friends that I picked up through an ex-fiance, but they also have wonderful stories to tell about life with kids and life in a non-continental U.S. state. And I have roommates from college who now serve an indispensable role in my world as advocate, gossip columnist, and retail therapist. Our relationships ebb and flow but that's the tide of life.
  • This is Poppy and LuLu. LuLu climbed up into my lap one afternoon at my hairdresser's shop and I fell hopelessly in kitteh-love. As my ex said, "she is either the most beautiful cat I've ever seen or the ugliest." Well, I kept her but not him so I guess we know where I stand. Poppy was more aloof in the beginning but now she's on my heels all day...so much so, actually, that I've stepped on her more times than I can count. These girls have moved 4 times since I adopted them from the Lifehouse (be forewarned...if your hairdresser also runs a no-kill shelter, you will most likely leave with less hair and more fur). They've adapted flawlessly to every situation. They are total cuddle-whores and must be locked up whenever we have a party because they've never met a stranger. If they were children, we would have serious chats about going with strangers offering candy.
  • This is going to sound so lame, so affected, and completely untrue (because if it were true, I would weigh 100 lbs soaking wet with arms like chiseled marble...) but I really love to workout. Weight training is like church for me. I strengthen the supports of my temple while God and I wrangle topics like death, faith, and free-will. It goes without saying, then, that I was a rockin' Pilates/Yoga/Spinning/Aqua kickboxing instructor and a Jillian-esque trainer (although that bitch is crazy. I have never, read: NEVER worked someone so hard that their hip joint shattered). But as with all things related to the American dream, if you live it, eat it, breathe it...someday you will burn out on it. And that brings us to here.
  • And speaking of the almighty J-O-B....I love what I'm doing now. And perhaps it's the whole "I work completely alone. I'm not an independent contractor, I answer to no one but the bank account" that I love. As it turns out, I seem to have an issue with authority. Shocking, yes? But I also seem to have an eye for this whole jewelry designing thing. So, until Neal sends me out into the world with a stack of resumes and references, then this is where I'll be...honoring my grandmother's memory with making what she adored most (well second to her grandchildren, of course).
  • I can't believe I'm listing this 6th...which just goes to prove, this is in no particular order because really writing should definitely be in the top 5. I've always had a very active imagination (this comes, I'm sure, with being an only child for 21 years. There is only so much adult conversation a kid can take before they must excuse themselves to their room to create a love triangle with Barbie, Ken, and GI Joe). In middle school, I won an award for a story I wrote in French class. I can't remember what it was about, nor do I think I could read it today (because y'know...it's in French...but apparently it was glorious). I've always kept diaries/journals/napkins with chicken-scratch. So, blogging is like the big "O" for me. The only thing that makes me happier than blogging is knowing that I don't suck at it like I do chess.
  • On a related note, I read like it's my second full-time job. But then, I think that if these 2 don't go hand-in-hand then chances are, you are not good at the writing part. I will read almost anything...except dry historical accounts of wars and the manual that comes with any appliance/technological gadget/cars that I've bought. I consider the manual to be more of a "resource guide"...only to be dug out when you've gotten your 4WD stuck in ice or the wine fridge craps out (PSA: when the wine fridge manual says "do NOT plug into the same outlet as the refrigerator," they aren't kidding. I just saved you $500. You're welcome).
  • Again, this should not be so far down on the list because it really deserves to be in the top 5 (I mean, if the top 5 had sub-categories like 5A, 5A1, etc. Who says I didn't learn anything in college? I can outline like an English double-major!)...but I have a hard time imagining a world without coffee. And the thing is, I can vividly remember hating coffee...but I think Speedway changed all of that. Sometime in college, I started drinking cappuccinos from the gas station and, coupled with the chocolate-covered coffee beans that my roommate found at Meijer, I was on the highway to hell. Suddenly, I had a new bad habit (which is not bad if you can limit your caffeine intake, but I have graduated to espresso everyday. That is not control...that is the need to feed).
  • The beach, and really specifically, Hilton Head Island is a drug to me, too. I've been going since middle school and while I may vacation in other places around the country...there is nowhere else I'd rather be (well, in the continental U.S. because I have to send out some love to Italy which was dripping with history and oozing with culture and that is a whole different kind of drug). We were married on the beach in Hilton Head and I will always go back at any opportunity. Bike paths that wind behind houses of the rich and not at all famous, fantastic shopping, clay tennis courts, and Marley's Restaurant (which serves a sangria margarita)...honestly, does it get any better??
  • And since we're on the topic of travel...while Lexington is a fun little college-town with its $1 drafts and Big Blue Fever...it is not the city. Even Louisville comes in short. Given the choice, I'd be living in Chicago or NYC or Atlanta. I become all giddy on mass transportation...with my iPod and my newest Jen Lancaster book. And I find something intoxicating about busy sidewalks...fashionista strolling next to goth tween, men in "double-take" suits and the conversations overhead at the cross-walk...it's like coffee and birthday cake.
Wait! That's 10! What about the other 144 other things that make me so happy that sometimes I think my head will explode?? Oh well, another time perhaps. Thank you again for this award! What great fun this was! I will include my top 10 blogs now, although I don't think they will all play along. I think Sarah said it best....my plan was to comment to the top 10 to let them know of their award, but I think that once you surpass 30 followers, your desire to play along goes sliding down a snowy embankment. Here they are anyway. They are WELL worth the read and I can't wait to see what their top 10's are, should they deem me worthy (but I'm not worthy...I'm not worthy!!). Oh and for the record, Kallay and Sarah would totally be on here, but I can't send it back to Kallay and Sarah has been honored, as well. So even though they aren't listed you'd be a fool to not stop by en route to the others. It's not out of the way, but you could get distracted.
Consider the Lillies
The Fox Den
Keep in Touch with Mommakin
Knitting in Public
Jeannie's Happy World
A Day in the Life of a Surferwife
The Bloggess
All Things Sweasy
I start and end my day with these bloggers...just in case they had some strike of inspiration over the course of the day. Although often, it's just fun to re-read their posts because damn, they are just that fantabulous!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ode to Neal Part II (sauteed with wine)

Before I start with this second phase of my Neal-praise-a-thon (and for the record, I'm a little surprised that we could all fit in the Prius tonight...meaning me, him, and this ego of his that he's developed in the last 24 hours...but I'm sure he'll do something like drool on my pillow and it will all be over)...but I have to give out some love to Kallay who hooked me up with another award today! In return, I must list 10 things that make me happy (really, Kallay...only 10??) and add links to my 10 favorite blogs (again, only 10??). But I really must finish the husband-doting tonight so first thing tomorrow morning I will formally accept the award and do my best to make you proud. And then I will drink Kahlua-spiked coffee and lie around in my snowflake loungy-lounge pants until noon because...it's Saturday and I used to work every Saturday, all Saturday so I'm celebrating my self-employment (which is often confused with unemployment, most notably by me).

Oh and a little extra lurve out to my mom who picked up the wine tab tonight. Nothing says Merry Christmas like riesling...which is fueling this post. So, judge me if you must on grammatical errors and syntax mis-steps, but I'll know that really you're just resentful. Don't hate...it's Christmas.

So, the next 12 reasons why my husband rocks socks and makes life entertaining, if not always easy.
  • You don't laugh at me when I do things like proclaim the garden tub to be busted and then call a plumber who pulls down on the faucet instead of twisting clockwise and TA-DA! There's water! That's after he has taken the whole thing apart and drafted a bill for his hour's worth of labor which is equivalent to an apartment building in Tokyo.
  • You understand that I don't understand things like audio in/output, hard drive space, and binary code. You accept that I would rather discuss scrapbooking layouts as opposed to Google's dashboard approach to privacy. We can always meet somewhere in the middle, usually over Ghiradelli chocolate chip cookies.
  • When I thought that I had accidentally registered as a republican, you did not leave me stranded on the JFK Expressway. I'm glad that one worked out, though. This house is not big enough for 2 cats, an elephant and an ass.
  • You sent me to massage school although I'm pretty sure you knew you'd never be the benefactor of that knowledge. When people bring it up at parties, you just smile and professionally evade the perpetual question: "just how good is she?"
  • When we are distracted by baristas in brown and green and therefore end up running for planes in major airports, you will eventually wait for me (because I am in "cute" shoes, not sprint-through-ATL-with-hot-beverage-sneakers).
  • When I was pregnant, you budgeted $100 per month toward clothing. Only a woman who is expanding in every direction except up can appreciate this.
  • Sometimes I say that I will get up with you and workout at the buttcrack of dawn (AKA roughly 5:30 AM). I am a victim of my own guilty conscience when I agree to this. You get it, you don't hold me to it, and above all you forgive me for it and go on your merry way. I think you realize that 9 AM is my 5:30.
  • I pass out from fear of imminent death on kiddie rollercoasters. You ski black-diamond slopes and sky dive. We've spent a lot of time purposely not dying. I groove on that.
  • You had me at "let's join a wine club."
  • You made room in your house for my piano, my cats, my antique furniture and all of my shoes. And then you let me design my own engagement ring. You are the equivalent of Sam Baldwin, Edward Lewis, Michael Green, and Jack Callaghan all rolled up in one (and even more adorable because you won't know who any of those characters are).
  • In high school, you played the clarinet. That plays no role in our married life or in how you treat me like the lead singer of your rock band, I just think it's cute...you with your little pursed lips and heel-ball-toe marching.
  • When you got deployment orders, you cried too. Suddenly, I didn't feel like such an over-emotional hot mess of a wife. I soldiered through a lot of long and lonely nights with that image in my mind.
  • You fill my world with laughter. And that is the best gift of all. Well, that and the tight little ass of yours.
Merry Christmas, handsome! Two years ago this week we were sending you off to the desert. This time last year I was lonely and sad and drinking entirely too little eggnog with my bourbon. I don't know what 2010 holds for us but at least we have each other and that's the only thing we need...And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp.....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Ode to Neal (minus the rhyming)

I have been accused, occasionally, of...let's see...I think they call it "not having Neal's back" on my blog. As in, when he does something even remotely amusing/embarrassing/man-like, I blog about it. Yes, I know...shocker. And this is true. If you're new to Magnolias and Mimosas, then there's a chance that you missed this, this, and this....so, please enjoy...I don't mean for it to happen, it just sort of does. He's very witty and clever and sometimes clueless and let's face it, that makes for excellent blogging material. I mean, Seinfeld didn't become an instant hit because Elaine had such great hair. These real life situations are much funnier than anything I could create in my head - even though it is a hall of mirrors up there....

So, as an early Christmas present to my dahling husband, here are 25 reasons why you make my life jolly, jovial and just ho-ho-holy mackerel amazing everyday (one for each day leading up to Christmas for those of you too blitzed on eggnog to put it together...not judging...I'm just sayin'....And it's not a "Top 25" because I've always felt like that put way too much pressure on #1 to be the very best and that's just not fair. I mean would you want the weight of being the best of 25 resting squarely on your shoulders? Miss California can tell you...it's no picnic.) So, in no particular order:

  • You always thank me for doing your laundry. I'm not sure why. It's not like I have to scrape them down or even turn them inside-out before throwing them in. You have the most low-maintenance laundry of anyone I've ever known.
  • When I ask you seemingly innocuous questions which really stem from deep-seeded jealousy, you get right to the point. As in "no, honey, that's a divider in the email...not my boss sending me a dozen little kisses."
  • Every morning, my monkey-on-crack-cat, LuLu, sleeps in your lap while you check email and read the paper online. This is a drastic change from when we first moved in and I'm pretty sure there is no place on earth that she would rather be.
  • Your honesty is astounding. If you don't know...you will simply say "I don't know." I can probably list on one hand the number of people I know personally who can admit to not having the answer. Of course, there is the other 90% of the time when you just make up crap to see if I'll question it.
  • My new laptop came equipped with a 16" LED screen. Instead of asking me to not blog, read blogs, and play Tiger Woods video games in bed until 1 AM, you simply say "let me roll over so I can get some sun on my back tonight."
  • You will watch hours and hours of History Channel with me when I know you'd rather be watching HGTV. It's hard to redecorate with WWII knowledge and I appreciate your sacrifice.
  • When my scrapbooking/beading supplies take over your desk, you simply move over...sometimes that's to the floor...the same goes for the bed and the walk-in closet (and dresser, now that I think about it). I love that about you. In the future, I will try not to be so expansive.
  • I have not cleaned a toilet since I moved in...and yet they grow no funk. It is for that, perhaps, that I am most grateful. I don't know what lives in there, but I'm pretty sure I want no part of it.
  • You have eaten hockey-puck-hamburgers and hypertension-laced french fries - all with a smile on your face. But I'd have to say we've come a long way from stir-fry 3 nights/week.
  • After a few post-wedding "discussions," you've called me every night on your way home from work. I can't always answer, but (and J-Lo said it best) you're always on time.
  • You carry things that are heavy...whether it's a cooler, a TV or my emotional baggage. I will try to pack lighter. Bag lady is not a good look for me.
  • Everyday, regardless of rain or shine, ice or snow, I get to park in the garage. I waited 14 years to park in a covered space, in a scrape-free zone. I think about it every morning that I am able to leave within 2 minutes of getting into my car.
  • Not once have you complained about the thinning of your wardrobe. Whether you knew it was time to release those mock turtlenecks into the wild or not, you have never questioned me or the replacements that I bring to you (specifically the puffy vest from Land's End and the Rascal Flatts-wanna-be button-down).
Wow that's 13 and it's midnight. Perhaps we should continue the festivities as a Part II tomorrow. I've never been one for a mini-series but this is too much goodness to squeeze into one day. Besides, Neal deserves 2 days as I seem to have taken over everything else.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Adding to the Herd

Every morning, my husband brings me a cup of frothy French Roast coffee in bed, then he gathers his briefcase the size of Rhode Island, his lunch in a Kroger bag and leaves for work. I, in turn, have a cup of coffee with Cindy, Brooke, Kallay, Foxy, Monique, Tammy, and all of my other bloggy friends. I sip slowly and read the adventures and mis-adventures of these wives, moms, daughters, and friends. It's much more entertaining (and sometimes actually more educational) than watching the news. I used to watch the Today Show every morning, but after we lost Shep, I couldn't stand to watch all of the baby make-overs, the stories about pregnancy, and the mother/child series. This is a MUCH better routine. Yesterday, I popped open my laptop and...nothing. Black. Silence. No whirring motor, no wallpaper of daisies springing to life. Nothing. My mother and my preacher would be appalled at the string of words that came next as I unplugged, plugged back in, turned off, turned on, and finally in full disgust, threw a sock. I called my IT husband at work and he told me to take the battery out, put it back in, plug it back in, take the battery back out...etc, etc, etc....none of which was working. Well, I had been hoping for a new laptop...but not now...it's too soon! I haven't poured over the Consumer Reports recommendations...I haven't researched it on CNET...and I haven't talked to my dad. So. Not. Ready.

Do you remember that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie's laptop crashes and when she takes it in to be recovered, she is chastised for not backing up any of her files? And there she sits in her train-conductor-overalls and her horseshoe necklace, looking all contrite and morose about the loss of her work. That is exactly how I felt. With the invention of iTunes and the purchase of my iPod Touch came the need to back up files on a daily basis. With my membership to Facebook and Twitter came the need to run virus scans on a daily basis. Both of these have been ignored for months at a time. And it's not because I was not prompted to do so. I consciously ignored all warnings. If I was a hiker on the Iran border, I'd be in a prison camp right now. So, of course, Aiden (the boyfriend that we all loved and wished we could have taken home with us after Carrie shat on him again) bought her a new laptop with a zip drive so that this would never happen again. And in much the same way, Neal saved me when I called him from Best Buy with a salesman-recommended laptop at my fingertips.

Sidenote: I got this salesman-recommended laptop after I discovered that the Dell that I really wanted was sold out...something having to do with 500 GB of memory at $500. Anyway, he mentioned something about working for the state and I mentioned something about my husband working for court of justice and before I knew it, I was buying a computer. He just EXUDED confidence and knowledge. As we're standing in the Geek Squad line, waiting to be prepped, he starts telling me how he also works for the court of justice part-time as a traveling technician (which they DO have) and how he also hosts gaming servers for high schoolers who pay him $60/server. I begin to think "WHY is he telling me this?" And then...he told me how much his house cost. And how his ex-girlfriend tried to move her BFF and BFF's boyfriend into his house and he kicked them all out. I felt like we should be at a frat party instead of standing in the middle of Christmas-frenzied Best Buy on a Tuesday morning. I was WAY too sober for this conversation. Later, I told Neal that one of his "employees" sold me a laptop. And then last night he said: well I checked with somebody at work and he actually DID work for us but didn't make it past the probation period because apparently he's a pathological liar. So, what's the lesson to be learned here? Best Buy has great commercials about being helpful and friendly....but perhaps you should do your homework first. Because you never know if you'll get Lanny the Liar as your helpful salesman.

Much like Carrie Bradshaw, I'm having to re-learn a new laptop....but without the help of cigarettes or NYC in the springtime. This one has a full number pad on the right so my whole body has to shift to the left to keep me from hitting the "4" when I want to "enter"...and then there's the whole mouse-clicky-thingy issue at the bottom. But it's fast, it seems reliable and the screen is bigger than my TV from high school. Plus, it's named after a Greek god, so I figure that's a good sign. I'm no Athena but I like to blog on something that sounds like it should be residing on Mount Olympus....although that's a camera company now so perhaps I should aim for more modern heights. At the expense of my floor-to-ceiling shelving system Neal was going to install this weekend, I now have a new laptop. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make though since I can't very well run an internet business without a computer and returning emails on my iPod was giving me Witch's Finger.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Neal and His Monkey

We have here, in our congested little college town, a pottery making/painting/glass fusing store. The Mad Potter is, for my gang of girls, the newest obsession. We used to make fondue and watch John Hughes films (which is not the same person as John Waters, come to find out on a recent trip to Baltimore. As I eagerly stalked filming locations for John Hughes films, expecting to find a high school that bore an uncanny resemblance to Shermer H.S. or Andie Walsh's house, instead I found random buildings and unfamiliar streets. So. Not. John Hughes.) But we 30-something lassies have moved on to activities with less calories and more focus. So, now we paint pottery. We tried it first for my birthday in September and now, I dare say, we're all hooked...even Neal, who sometimes assumes the title of Honorary Chick (not to be confused with someone who will scrapbook with me, because that is where he draws a heavy, black line). Last week, Neal and I and another couple ventured out into the bitter wind and threatening snow to paint more pottery...because well, it's Christmas and sometimes you just have to take a break from the bead tray. I made something fun, but can't tell you what it is until December 30th because it's someone's Christmas present and Neal made this:

If you guess that it's a monkey, you'd be right. You'd also be correct in saying that it has a cat in its belly, cardinal's blood (as in the bird, not the senior ecclesiastical official of the Catholic Church) on his paws, and he's smoking a cigar. If you were really observant, you would notice that he's been given a Gremlin streak, supposedly to make him look more distinguished...as if the cigar didn't accomplish that already. I was so consumed with my own magnum opus that I did not even realize what my husband was creating until....well...until the very end, after the cat and the blood and the cigar. I had no idea that a bowl could be so complex...with layers of meaning and mystery and just a tiny hint of Neal's crazy. I looked at the final product and felt, for lack of a better work, completely creeped-out. I did not want to imagine this bowl in my car or on my bar...not with fruit or Christmas loot...not a place for keys or serving peas...this was not coming home. But good news...Neal had other plans:

TS Rules...for those of you who don't develop software for a living, that translates to Technology Services. This menacing carnivore of a dish is headed straight to work. Neal calls it a conversation piece...I call it a reason to keep your children out of Neal's office. I'm sure it's one of those things that grows on you...like bourbon and water or Christmas carols...or a festering sore. But for me, it's the very epitome of the male mind. It's my version of the wagon wheel coffeetable. And when Neal retires, it's going STRAIGHT to Goodwill.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who's THAT Beyotch??

First of all...before I get into this post, I have to send out some love to my girl, Foxy, over at The Fox Den. I'm sending hearts, magnolias and mimosas to Foxy because she gave me an award on her blog!! This has never happened to me before and as a direct result, I have sweaty palms and a case of the giggles. I have no idea what happens next, if I'm supposed to bring this award over to my blog or if I just send you over to Foxy's to check it out (which I imagine is what would happen if Chris accidentally left his Grammy over at Rhianna's and now he has to send his friends over to her house if they want to see it...seeing as he can't get it back without a court order, and all). Anyway, if you like my blog, you'll love Foxy's. She has a fantastic sense of fashion, she's very crafty...and my very favorite....she has an Etsy store! You know we Etsy girls have to stick together. It's a jungle of big-box, China-produced, characterless accessories out there! In fact, I've been mulling over this scarf for about 2 weeks now: It is so very much on my Christmas wish list! And her store is called Down With Knit...if you don't get all nostalgic for a certain romantic comedy starting Renee and Ewan, then you are not my people. So, thank you Foxy! May we amuse each other endlessly, even if no one else is amused.

So, I was telling this story to BFF last night after giving her a free 90 minute hot stone massage. (How, you ask, does one get a free 90 minute hot stone massage?? Well, first you have to be BFF with a massage therapist, which she has clearly done. And then said massage therapist must have taken about 4 months off from massage therapy in order to have a life-changing event, and then she must get 2 new clients in the coming week. In order to make sure said massage therapist still has the magic touch, you must offer up your body for experimentation. It can end 1 of 2 ways. Let's just say...these hands are magic.) As I was telling her the story, I realized I hadn't shared it with you. It's short, it's sweet and it perfectly demonstrates the amount of crazy that rolls around in my head on a daily basis...especially where my sweet, innocent, non-professional-athlete of a husband is concerned.

2 bits of background:
1. We have a dry erase board attached to the side of the fridge for grocery lists, notes, etc. I would much prefer to have it on the front, but as it is, we have a stainless steel fridge and apparently the only thing that sticks to the front of it is cat hair. And since I married into the ownership of the fridge, I don't have a lot of room to complain.

2. I really can't stand "normal" Uncle Ben's rice. If given the choice, I would much prefer the rice sold at Asian markets and served in Chinese buffet/Japanese hibachi/Kroger sushi places. So, when I buy rice, that's what I buy. Life is too short to eat crappy rice (in case you're wondering, I feel the same way about oatmeal).

Now that we've got that covered...a couple of months ago, I got a call from someone who needed me to call another number to arrange a delivery. I scribbled the phone number on the dry erase board in the only blank space - next to the grocery list. About 2 days later, as my husband is cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, I'm adding to the grocery list when I see the notation. Instantly, my blood vessels constrict and my vision sharpens. I am prepared for battle.

"Who the HELL is Jasmine Rice and why do you have her phone number??"

After Neal pulled himself up from a collapsed heap of hysterical laughter and wiped the tears that rolled down his burning cheeks, he gently reminded me that I need to call the florist...and pick up some (not "a") jasmine rice at Kroger.

The worst part? It was in my handwriting. You can't even read Neal's. Words like milk look like nllc and corn looks like suln. This was clearly legible...my first sign. Nonetheless, here I thought some exotic chick, probably a first cousin to Condoleeza, was moving in on my man. The good news? I quit buying Lucy's eggs.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wii Drive Like Maniacs

On Black Friday, as I was preparing myself for the mass hysteria that is Target's toy aisle, something arrived in the mail. Neal had ordered, unbeknownst to me, the steering wheels and game for Mario Kart. I had created a Wii little monster. Well, it was no Guitar Hero, but it could be fun. So, we gave it a whirl last night. And this is the kind of conversation that it produced:

1. Neal, when playing Mario Kart, creates a sort of running commentary to supplement his mad driving skillz. It goes something like this: (and remember that dog food commercial where the hound is sniffing around saying "Bacon, bacon, bacon, BBAACCOONN!!" Keep that as a visual while you read, please.

"Oh, oh, get out of the water! Grab that box! Rocket! Rocket! Roooccckkkkeeetttt.....Don't ink me! You stupid....I can't see! Turbo! Turbo! Turbo! Turrrbbooooo!!! How did I drop to 12th place?? Oh, oh, the bridge! The abyss! Get out of the abyss! Get up on the side! Turbo! Turbo! YES!! Don't you dare hit me! How did I miss ALL of those boxes?? Oh rocket! Rocket!....."

If just reading this makes you tired, then you can understand why I slept so well last night. Wii-Boxing with him is not this exhausting.

2. Neal (as he's looking at LuLu who is sitting on his leg): "Don't you wish you had thumbs so you could play??"

3. Allyson: "I'm in 1st place!! I'm in 1st place!" (This was really exciting because I had spent an hour coming in last..I mean dead last...no cars for me to hit...but that's OK because apparently I would prefer to just run head-on into walls).
"Wait, I'm not in 1st place anymore!! What happened? 2nd? 3rd? 4th? Why am I falling so far behind??"
Neal: "Uh, because you're driving backwards. You're going to need to turn around."
Yes, I finished that round in 12th.

4. And then Neal discovered how to play online against other Wii-racers around the world. Awesome. My total incompetence is about to be revealed to random people around the globe. In case you were wondering, this is my personal hell. It's why I worked out at home before ever joining a gym, why I cook a recipe a dozen times before serving it to someone else, why I make such a good Virgo. And now, I was about to become exposed. The course was beyond difficult, I had chosen the wrong car for the terrain, and I had to run interference between the cat and the Christmas tree...yet, somehow I still came in 10th...not 12th. Someone else out there sucked more than me. Actually 2 someone elses. Not enough to make me do it again, but it did perk me up enough to come from behind on the next race and place 11th. Baby steps, I say.

So, Mario Kart....not as physically active as tennis, but more challenging than bowling (which I can do with my eyes closed while bonging a beer...very similar to actual bowling, really). I give it 2 opposable thumbs-up!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

That Deserves a 9 Iron

First of all, let me say that it is almost 11 pm and I've been up since 6:30 this morning with nothing but a short nap while we were watching John Adams, the HBO mini-series (which, as a history whore I love, but strongly recommend watching it with the subtitles on. Freakin' Cockney accents). Today was our Reserves unit annual Christmas party and as FRG leader, I held a couple of family support meetings in the morning, sold coffee and muffins to the soldiers to raise money for FRG, and then attended the lunch that afternoon. We then laid in bed and watched television shows from networks that we're too cheap to subscribe to as they were streamed in from our Netflix account. (Although now we're so caught up on Dexter that the next season is only available on DVD. It's about this time that we go in search of our next series. Hello, Californication.) All of this to say, that the very last thing I should be doing is blogging. I should be writing the FRG newsletter that is scheduled to go out at the end of the month. I should also be answering emails and researching marketing ideas. But I should be budgeting more than $1.25 to charity every month and I should always remember my reusable tote for the store...so, in the world of "shoulds"...perhaps this is not such an unforgivable transgression.

Which brings me to the reason for my post. I missed SNL last night because I'd been at the drill hall for most of Saturday and knew that today would be long. I had actually skipped SNL altogether for most of late 90's and early 2000's because it became, in a word, redonkulous. But who can resist a quality spoof on the UPS commercials or a comment on the wretched state of the economy. Or a good ole fashioned mocking of an over-played, excessively covered news story...as in Tiger and Elin Woods, for example. I only enjoy golf when I'm trying to take a nap, so I'm not a die-hard Tiger fan...but I do like to think that I saw him for the boy-wonder that he was. He struck a deal with the devil and life became golden for the golf genius. He managed to acquire several championship wins, a Nordic model (as in, the 2-legged, waif-like type...not a brand of elliptical trainers), and a couple of precious kids, in addition to a fleet of cars and a fiefdom of land. What more could a man want?? And the answer to that. More sex. The man had a life that most men, sitting in their partitioned cubicles, working to pay off the Camry, would die for. Most men would give their left nut to come home to a woman who said "I do" and looked delicious in a size 2 thong. But perhaps it's this kind of thinking that sent us into shock when someone actually divorced Martha Stewart. HOW do you divorce the woman who can craft a sled out of tulle and frost cupcakes using real flower petals? Imagine what Christmas looks like in Martha Stewart's house...I imagine lots of sterling silver and maybe a midget..er, I mean elf, or 2. At any rate, why do men leave or cheat on or divorce what we deem to be "the perfect woman"? And if that happens to them, what hope do we have, if any, that it won't happen to us? If a Swedish model loses her husband to a cocktail waitress with a Jennifer Grey nose, then what logic will stop my husband from sleeping with the Kroger cashier? When I brought this up to Neal, he scoffed at me (and that is absolutely the correct word for what he did. I am not scoffed at often, but I recognize it when it happens). He made some lame remark about how I'm much prettier than a Swedish model and then he went to sleep. So...really? Nothing. There is nothing that stops a man from pulling a Tiger. It really just comes down to how the moment (read: slutty ho in low-slung jeans with a tramp stamp) presents itself. And if the moment presents itself and you decide to embrace the moment (and perhaps mount the moment), then I reserve the right to come after you with a nine iron. If you ask me, I think Tiger got off lucky (and that's after getting off many times before, apparently all over L.A.). I am not here to put a stamp of approval on domestic violence, however I think a woman has the right to express her emotions about the infidelities...or, uh....transgressions of her husband, even if it involves a set of clubs. The point is? Just because you have great teeth and a multi-million dollar contract with Nike, you should not be able to put your wood into any old ho..uh, I mean golf bag.

Elin, I appreciate the irony in your weapon of choice. After all, without the golf club, chances are, that cocktail waitress (with dollar signs in her eyes) would never have looked at him twice. And while your life would be drastically different - clipping coupons and DVR'ing Dancing with the Stars, you would still have glass in the back of your SUV and your husband would be hopelessly devoted to you. Unless he started doing all of the grocery shopping.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Deal is a Deal

So my husband and I have 2 very disgusting habits. I pick at my thumbs (y'know, in that bloody cuticle sort of way). I've done this for so long that my thumbs are calloused and practically beg to be picked. When I was in high school, my BFF (who has a nasty habit of pulling her hair out at the base of her skull) and I made a mix CD after a round of particularly heart-wrenching break-ups. We called it Missing Hair and Bloody Thumbs (you cannot imagine how much worse these habits get when fueled by heartache and lonely Friday nights). When I started massage school, though, the idea of rubbing my open-wound-and-bleeding thumbs on someone else's germ-infested dermis was enough to make me stop. If nothing else, I am a girl who's misplaced her bubble. So, the thumbs healed and I had to find other ways to occupy myself at long stoplights and while waiting for others to finish the test. The Blackberry came in very handy that way. I quit working as a massage therapist, I started working from home, I was the girl with bloody thumbs again. It didn't particularly bother me, but I began to notice that no one shook my hand or ate my food. And my husband didn't much care for it, either.

As for my husband, he's...well, let's say that he's approaching middle age (he's not Amtracking it there, more like tramming it...but there it is in the distance, all lit up at night and home to a losing NFL team). With that stage of life comes certain unmentionable realities...like needing that full 8 hours of sleep and replacing the "p" word with the other "p" word, "prostate." And hair starts to grow in odd places. Like from the nose, outward. It wasn't so bad when we first met, but now it's the first thing to greet me in the morning before his lips ever land on my forehead. I've tried to pluck it while he wasn't paying attention, but that only results in near traffic accidents and lots of cursing. I've begged him to trim it - I'm too young to have a husband with visible nose hair. What's next? Tweed coats with elbow patches and a bowtie? (And side note: I'm reading David Sedaris' When You're Engulfed in Flames right now and he makes the very valid point that the only thing wearing a bowtie says about the wearer is "I can no longer get an erection." True story.) The thing about my husband is, he does not care. Your opinion of him bares NO weight on his own self-confidence. He quit wearing deodorant while in Iraq and somehow just never picked it back up again. He doesn't notice the aromatic cloud around him at the gym, nor does he care about the other patrons and their smelling comfort. His theory is "I shower everyday. That's enough." And it is, unless that shower was yesterday morning and we're at the gym the following afternoon. So. Not. Enough. But, don't get me wrong, he's married to Mrs. Virgo Germ-a-Phobe, so he's very clean...he just doesn't always smell like a bottle of Polo. And he lets his nose hair grow too long.

So, this brings us to last week. I was, again, begging for him to clean up the bush when he made me a proposal. "I will trim my nose hair when your thumbs are healed." Knowing that this is truly a nasty habit of mine that needs to cease and desist immediately, I agreed. Well, the day of healthy skin is almost here. I've slathered so much lotion on my hands that I haven't been able to open a jar or even a granola bar wrapper for days. But it has all paid off. And not a moment too soon. A few more days and people would begin commenting on much they like Neal's new mustache.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Playin' a New Tune

The good news is, the Miller household survived Thanksgiving in tact. Our rug, however, is a different story. This is a good lesson in not buying your floor coverings at the same place you purchase bulk cleaning detergent, cat litter, and frozen chicken. But let it never be uttered that we don't know how to throw one heck of a holiday hootenanny. My oyster dressing may have been less like stuffing and more like...I don't know...mashed potatoes?? And the ribs weren't exactly falling off the bone...but who cares when the boxed wine is free-flowing and the Wii is on. Actually, I learned 3 important facts about my family on Thanksgiving night:

1. My cousin is very competitive.
2. She apparently gets it from her mama.
3. And my husband will let me play Wii tennis for almost 2 hours without once mentioning the impending day-after-disability if I continue. I don't think about these things after a liter of Yellowtail chardonnay and about 4 mimosas. I just know that I'm winning and denim is very, very hot.

The day after looked like a bomb had exploded. The carpet had come apart in tumbleweeds of wool and there were at least 3 crockpots soaking on the counter. I was in no mood to deal with any of it. Fortunately, the more sober Miller was kind enough to clean the cookware, empty the dishwasher and start the laundry that I had seemingly loaded the night before. When? Who knows. But whatever it was, it required stain removal, stat. Friday morning, we laid in bed watching Dexter until my aunt called. They were shopping. So, like a good Halcomb, I put on my big girl panties and my UK hat and met them all at Target.

Yes, it was a good time and I did a fantastic job of suppressing all holiday emotion with grapes and grain. But then, there's always the morning after. It was officially Christmas and I couldn't hide from it anymore. I am usually a whore for Christmas. I start listening to carols on our satellite radio as soon as they dedicate a channel to it. I dig out the tree and decorate with gusto before night has ever fallen on Black Friday. My hand-made Christmas cards are in the mail shortly thereafter. Not. This. Year. Baby blues have settled into my bones, making it difficult to decorate or sing or remain vertical, for that matter. And for someone who is already traumatized by winter, baby blues + nightfall at 5:30 pm + days and days of clouds and rain = IV of vodka and a house full of Halloween decorations. I knew it was going to hit, I just had no idea how hard. So, here it is...and suddenly I understand why so many in this world wash their Lexapro down with a martini.

And then...screeching and scratching as the needle is snatched from that record. Homey don't play that in 2009! Yes, this year sucks...but last year sucked SO much more. Let's see...there were Skype calls from the desert that sometimes only lasted 45 seconds before getting dropped, there were coming-home plans made and then changed and then made and then changed, there was Christmas Day with 2 bottles of champagne and a Chuck Norris marathon... The bed was cold, the house was quiet and I still managed to pull it together...at least enough to put up a tree and bake some cookies. So, I can totally do this...if not for me, then for us...for the year that we are together because who knows what next year holds. Will he be counted in with the other 29,000 deployed? Only God has the answer to that one. But I do have this year, even if it is only 3 1/2 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, I will send love to Shep, ask my grandparents to look after him (and Papa - PLEASE stop teaching him how to piss off the side of a house...maybe you should let Granny take over for a little while) and I'm going to string garland and sing until I'm hoarse.

And if you are singing the ho-ho-humbug tune for whatever reason...may I pass on further motivation? If you can read this without re-evaluating your life as the end of the year nears, then you don't need a change. http://kallayschronicles.blogspot.com/
Happy Baking, Happy Decorating, Happy Holidays!