Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nature Notes Thursday

Visit Michelle at the relaxing Nature Notes Thursday to learn something fascinating.

My last Nature Notes was about ice dams, of which we had p.l.e.n.t.y.

Today: the herald of spring. I've never been so pleased to see a crocus in my life! The weather has been warming, but today was especially delightful in the high 70s, birds going crazy chirping and calling. I imagine the ones in my backyard right now chewing me out for not refilling the feeders. They're ravenous, these little birds!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lunch date!

I went to lunch today with two of the nicest young men I know: brothers Aaron and Ernest. We arranged to go to McDonald's. It was warm and breezy with lots of sunshine and so we drove with the car windows down. They had their state tests today at school. Remember those? They were awful. Now kids are allowed to bring healthy treats to the test.


This is Aaron. He's got to be just about my favorite kid of all time. He's funny and athletic and artistic. He's also arrogant and over-confident. I can't remember ever not enjoying our time together. I pray for big things for this kid. He's truly blessed with charisma.

He knows I'm big on his side, so I tell him no when he asks for some things. Like this afternoon he wanted to swing by a store and get some candy.


I have known him since he was six or so. They're from Liberia. Their parents escaped the war there and got to the United States.

This is Ernest. He is in the third grade and is a dainty eater, super sensitive and the baby of their big family. It shows. He laughs and jumps around a lot, so it can be difficult to get him to listen to you. He offered to pay for his food if I would let his brother come with us!

Then he got mad because I let Aaron sit in the front seat (like ALWAYS Mrs. Caron!) and I let him pout for awhile. He knows he is too young to be in the front seat. Then I let Aaron steer the car through the neighborhood back to school and that really set him off.

The oldest with me gets to sit in the front seat. What can I say? heh.

When I left them after walking with them, chasing them and cuffing them on the head, I got back in my car and I felt incredible. They linger.

I really love these kids.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

This is more of a Twitter than a blog post

My house is so clean it squeaks. You can hear it when you walk around. You can come to my house and hear the squeak while you feel the ache. My house is so clean it will make you ache.

It should last until tomorrow morning. Overnight chaos will break out and normalcy will return.

Friday, March 26, 2010

There are times I wish I was one of those bloggers who writes everything in code so no one can figure out who they are. I could tell you that we are having a family birthday party on Sunday. Something is bound to happen that will be either funny or irritating or mind-boggling.

Families are fun.

What’s going on right now is simply that I have to clean my house. Why do women do that? Why must my house be spotless for certain people while for other people (who know who they are) have seen my house in disarray and chaos?

It’s like seeing certain people in public. Most people, including the general population of Target, Wal-Mart and Kmart, are allowed to see me in a stained t-shirt, no make-up and messy hair.

I am an expert in messy hair, so don’t think I can’t scare small children without trying.*

But when I go to the grocery store? I will put on a hat or comb my hair and wave mascara in the vicinity of my eyelashes.

Who do I think I will see at the grocery store? No one. It’s the same for the library. I like to look nice for the books and the groceries.

I’m all about being considerate.

*I once asked a classroom full of kindergarten students if they had any questions and one little girl raised her hand to ask me if I ever combed my hair. I said I did comb it once it awhile. She said, "It looks like a rat's nest." Her teacher was not happy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Comedy Gold

I’m in several moods today. For the sake of this post, let’s pick the random, free-floating irritation mood since that is the one that will produce comedy gold if there is any comedy gold to be had.

I’m not making any promises.

1. I remember back in the 70s reading an article in Tiger Beat magazine in which Marie Osmond told the magazine that she keeps her fingernails looking beautiful by never using them. To this day I think of it when I use my nails for things. I can grow exceptionally, obnoxiously, freak-show long fingernails. I do this by ignoring them for the most part. Back when girls like me took typing tests, I could type 90-100 wpm and I typically ended up typing with my fingernails. Because I had to, but I always sort of figured it made them stronger. I did something today with my nails and it once again prompted the memory of me reading the article and thinking clearly of Marie Osmond in shiny lip gloss trying not to pick up straight pins with her nails.

2. Oh, I love to type. People make comments about my typing. Quite a few co-workers have mentioned that they think it is strange that I can turn around to look at them in my office door and continue typing. I thought I was just being rude. They think it is a novelty to be able to type and not look at the keyboard. Thank you, Mr. DeLonge. He threatened to fail us if we looked at the keyboard while typing the upper row of numbers and symbols. It worked.

3. I sort of wish I typed for a living, but two times I have had jobs that had me sitting at a tiny desk attached to someone else’s desk wearing a head set and typing out doctor’s notes. Both jobs were awful. Both jobs were in the mental health field. Here’s hoping I never have to do that again. I am sooo not cut out to hear about other people’s very real problems. People in mental health offices really should get counseling as part of their employment. I mean that. Hats off to anyone who can hear about horrible things and go home at night without tears, a headache, fear or disgust.

4. Do you know what I am good at? Sick cats. I am good at that. It isn’t just my mad skillz for mopping up vomit. One cat went off food a few days ago and we got back to right with pumpkin. Yep. Pumpkin. I know. I amaze myself.

I have sifted through this and I see no comedy, no gold. Oops. HA!

Friday, March 19, 2010

If a little bit is good, isn't a little bit more better?

The temperatures around here got up into the 50s this week, so what better way to cap off the warmest weather since last August October than with 3 inches of snow? I will take photos if I can stand the pain. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 30s with 3" of snow on the ground.

Isn't this exciting?

I could tell you about all the dumb things people do when they are looking for a job, but then that would be a little too close to work-related and someone (namely my employer) may someday discover that I am writing about trade secrets and fire me. Since I like my job, that would not make me happy.

I did see a resume this morning that was dripping with arrogance and it made me laugh. It was a technical resume, but let's pretend it was from a hamburger flipper and it went something like this:

I flip 100 hamburgers (if you consider ground-up squirrel meat a hamburger) per hour, 8 hours a day.

So not only arrogant, but insulting to his employer. Great resume technique. I checked our database and none of my co-workers had claimed him either. When four commission-based recruiters don't want to work with you? Well, that's really saying something. We all have our limits. I would work with a goat if it could write good code, contribute to the team and play well with others. But this guy?


That reminds me of a time in my first sales job when my boss took me on a call to one of her clients. We were standing around waiting for our appointment and she was making small talk with Mr. Muckety-Muck's personal secretary. They'd known each other quite awhile, I knew that. But the PS asked my boss about how she managed to squeeze a salesperson out of the corporate office and my boss shrugged and spat, "A salesperson! A monkey with a briefcase could do this job."

I lasted three years and won a sales award. Then I quit.

The next job I had was a great job for the first 2.5 years. Then they switched my territory. My new boss (sales manager) was a school teacher with no sales experience. None. How fun for all of us. It's a much longer story than this, but I'll cut to the bottom line. He wanted a voicemail from us at the end of EVERY DAY to find out what we'd done that day. We were in a seasonal business and it was June, which was out of our season. Here's how that went:

HIM: "I didn't get a voicemail from you yesterday."
ME: "No, you're right. You didn't"
HIM: "Well, what are you doing?"
ME: "Right now I am cleaning up my desk and getting things organized."
HIM: "Cleaning your desk? That's not what salespeople do. Why are you cleaning your desk?"
ME: "I think I'm going to quit"
HIM: "When?"
ME? "How about now?"

It's the only time I quit without another job. I don't recommend it and there were other reasons why I quit that had to do with some family business.

When I was younger and hungrier and living in the expensive as all get out beautiful city of Chicago, I had a boss named Chris who made sure I ate and took food home most days (she ordered a lot of executive lunches). I don't think I will ever forget her. She also once told me that I was very pretty, but it was all for nothing if I didn't remember to wear lipstick.

I rarely remember to put that on and if by some chance I do put it on, I never reapply it.

When I was 18 I had a boss who was a dirty old man. He kept telling me about the dreams he had about me! Almost every morning he started this routine. Then his wife fired me. When I went to the unemployment office, the lady asked me what happened when I got fired and there I was young, naive, nervous, embarrassed and worried. I just blurted it out and that woman looked at me and said, "Honey, you'll get unemployment benefits." And that was that.

Just this week, at the very last moment, I sent my current boss an email asking if I could take the rest of the day off. He wrote back: Fine.

I got nervous. All the women reading this understand. My stomach flipped over and I thought - Oh, maybe I should stay! Knowing my boss pretty well, I convinced myself after 15 minutes to leave the office, but I knocked on his door on my way out.

"You do know that 'fine' is a loaded word for a woman, so did you answer me like a man or like a woman?"

He laughed and spun around in his chair at the same time. He said, "Are you asking if I said 'yes' or if I said 'fine'?"

I told him I was asking. He laughed some more and said, "I said YES!"

So I went home and left the guilt behind. May he never respond that way again!

And now, my friends, I leave you with this final note: The snow has begun.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I am a big dork

I have been going to the YMCA regularly and I haven't mentioned it so much here. Today I got to the locker room and changed clothes. Then I discovered I didn't have any socks. I had worn black knee high socks, so that was out because I didn't have long pants with me. I had yoga pants. Me in a turquoise shirt, grey cut-off sweats made to look like yoga pants flapping around my calves and black stockings with my gym shoes.

Nice. I'll wait while you scrub your brain.

I put my flip flops on and did about 25 minutes of yoga by myself in the yoga room. Then I flippt, flippt, flippt back to the locker room and shoved my naked feet into my running shoes. I stomped up the stairs to the weight machines and I did my weights al fresco.

My running shoes are mostly mesh. My toes were a little embarrassed. It was pretty cold when I walked outside.

On Saturday I was walking around a nice old little section of town called Valley Junction. My friend Cindy was with me and we slipped into a bar so she could go to the bathroom.

I don't like just hanging around in bars and in fact, I have very little experience standing around alone with no purpose but cooling my heels in ye olde local taproom.

So I did what any girl would do to be less conspicuous. I hopped up to the bar like a native. The woman in a green t-shirt sidled (no, I mean it! she really sidled) up to the bar on her side and in a way she probably thought was friendly said, "What'll you have?"

I had to make a decision. I was on the spot. She was waiting. I looked at the draw machine thingy - the tap? There wasn't much. Bud Light, Bud, Miller Light. I ordered a Bud Light. I started to rummage through my purse as she poured my drink.

She put it on the bar in front of me. "That'll be a buck," she said.

"I'll wait until my friend gets back as she might want something," I said lightly and I smiled my sweetest smile.

She looked me in the eye for a full second and I knew she knew: I had no cash.

Cindy came out from the back of the bar and stood next to me. I 'fessed up immediately: Rip it off like a Band-aid on a hairy arm.

"Do you have any cash?" I asked. "I ordered a beer and I have no money."

She laughed out loud, gave me a big hug and said, "I love that these things happen to you."

I won't live this down for another decade.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Annabelle's morning yoga class

Annabelle interfered assisted at morning yoga.

The culprit.
Don't you want to take that booger out of her eye?

The Supine pose. No kidding, folks. I didn't set this up. I went to get the camera because she does this predictably, so I knew I would get another chance.
Preparing for shoulder rotations:
Those little spots on the carpet are not clumps of cat hair. I checked to be sure! I ran the sweeper just last night, but for those of you with a long-haired cat like Herself, you know what I'm saying.
Her eye isn't rheumy, that's the flash. But I get this attitude a lot. What I didn't photograph for you (you're welcome) is how Annabelle's morning yoga class was interrupted by a pukefest down the hallway.

Stop by some Saturday morning and retch stretch with us.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Grand Illusion in blue chiffon at a store near you

Is anyone familiar with the Coldwater Creek catalog? Don’t you like the way the clothes fit on the invisible models? The dresses drape elegantly, the slacks flow from the hip and the sleeves caress the skin from shoulder to wrist in such a way that you can’t wait to get your purchases in the mail and try everything on and feel oh, soooo pretty.

Another catalog that uses the invisible model is TravelSmith. The silk cardigan I am wearing this moment came from them. It travels well and has been with me since my trek to the Antarctic in 98-99. I’ve slept in it, used it as a pillow and as a blanket, wrapped it around my waist and mercilessly tugged the sleeves into a knot to keep it from slipping. It’s an unwrinkled miracle.

Sierra Trading Post also uses the invisible model and their models bring me to the real issue: Invisible models have flawless bodies.

It’s bad enough that the human models in catalogs are bony and thin, but at least they don’t always look great in what they have on. At least you can compare something, sometimes, to yourself and say, “Yea, that’s just not a good idea for my waist/chest/bad attitude/knobby knees.”

Or maybe, "Wow, if those pants make her butt look big, imagine what they'd look like on me!"

When you get the Coldwater Creek delivery, for example, you may discover as I did many years ago (before stores were widespread and dinosaurs roamed the earth crunching on people) that the clothes don’t flow and drape off the body that way in real life.

My beloved silk cardigan from TravelSmith? I can't wear it buttoned all the way down for reasons we will not discuss at this time.

When I first got clothes from Sierra Trading Post, I tried them on and immediately grabbed for the catalog only to discover that I had missed an important, vital, critical, crucial fact: these invisible models don’t have hips!

I have hips indeed.

Those clothes went back. I kept the CC clothes, but have never darkened their doorway because there was no flow, no drape, no caressing of my slender arms, no delicate sway to the hem that flitted around my willowy calves and absolutely no gentle kissing of my slim ankles.

On the invisible models the clothes don’t drag, flap and pull. They don’t stretch and strain and sit crooked. They don’t fall open in the daring surplice bodice and they don't pop between elegant pearl buttons.

What, you may rightly ask, got me started on this? Did I fall to the temptation of ordering clothes from one of these catalogs?

No, I saw this and wondered why I would buy a dress that can't be made to hang properly on a mannequin. I thought, if it can’t hang properly on this thing, what about on a real, live girl (namely moi)?

Maybe they should have used one of those invisible models for this one.

Note: If you don't see the problem, consider this dress on anyone with a chest bigger than a 10-year-old: the bust is pulling the hem up in the front. That's the biggest issue regardless of whether you like the dress, sleeves, waist or neckline. Plus? Look at the drape through the hip/rear: that isn't a good look on yours truly if it doesn't even hang well on a plastic mannequin-it looks like her big, plastic booty is pulling the drape out of the line of the skirt!! See? You're welcome.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The poor camel

Have you ever felt like you’ve been nice for too long? Going to the wedding of someone you don’t like, for example. By the end of the evening, you’ve smiled the last fake smile you can grind into your teeth. You’ve fake-hugged the bride or groom one time too many, the cake was awful and you don’t even like weddings.

Or maybe you have spent Christmas Day with people who do not like you. You sit idly on the couch smiling with thin, drawn lips at everyone as they come and go and pretending it doesn't bother you. All the while you nibble on Beer Nuts or salty cocktail peanuts, too bored to bother getting up to grab a life-saving glass of water, gin, beer or kerosene.

If you can relate to the idea of being nice for too long, then you know what I’m saying about this winter. Apparently I am not suited for living in the northern latitudes, so my irrational dream of retiring as an extremely old woman in the Scottish Highlands has now officially had its head bashed in at the bottom of a rocky ravine.

It’s never going to happen.

I’m not that far north now, you see. Not even close. But if we’ve had sunshine, I’ve forgotten about it. I think we have. I think there’s a world without snow on the ground. I have a friend on Facebook who is raising baby chicks and planting a garden. I follow a blog of some woman who takes photos of her children daily and they are all in tank tops and flip flops. (oh, look! A rhyme!)

Somewhere there are people drinking lemonade in the sunshine in jeans and sweatshirts and bare feet because it’s only a little chilly, but the grass is soft and sweet beneath their feet. (holy crap! I rhymed again. I promise this is not on purpose; it is innate, pure talent seeping through my fingertips onto the keyboard.)

How am I supposed to continue my gripe against winter if I am amusing myself with these unexpected rhymes?

Let me tell you that I don’t know what kind of heavy narcotics I may have been given last night unbeknownst to my Self. I might have had a pretty powerful drug-fueled dream because when I looked out the dining room window this morning and saw snow I was disappointed.

You know the sort of disappointed I mean? Like when you are anxiously awaiting a phone call and you pick it up and it’s only the Republican National Convention Association for the 15th time? It was worse than that.

Maybe it was like the disappointment you feel when you pick up your best friend’s birthday cake and instead of saying 'happy birthday to my best friend,' it says 'hippy birth day to my brest friend.'

That sort of thing confuses everyone and could be mistaken for an insult or maybe a proposition, but still that isn’t how I felt this morning.

I looked outside. I saw snow. And something inside me caved in on itself. I must have had a very convincing dream last night that it was actually springtime or something closely resembling springtime.

I tell you! I looked outside and my stomach flipped. I looked outside and I had to look again because I couldn’t believe there was snow on the ground. It was that unreal.

That's when the last straw landed on the camel.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Visit Michelle at the joyful Nature Notes Thursday to learn something you may not know.
Last Saturday we went to Pella again. This time it was to see the eagles that visit the area. They wait in the trees above the dam because the smaller fish are stunned when they come out of the chute. Only on Saturday I didn't see much water coming over the dam. While there aren't many eagles in these trees in the photo below, before we got closer I counted 37. There were no less than 18 in another spot further up the river.

Here is a shot of the dam with the eagles (they're little black dots in the trees) waiting for stunned fish. Yum.
There were quite a few geese of various shapes and sizes and I'm sure Michelle would be able to explain them all to me, but I just thought they were pretty.

Something odd did happen. There was a Canada goose in the current of the water and it had its head down as if looking into the water and it was spinning around and around and around in a tight circle while running down the river in the current. It was not circling around, guys. It was spinning like crazy. I was afraid it was in trouble because that's what I do: I worry about stuff like this. So I watched it and it would bring its head up now and then. We crossed over the water on a bridge and then I noticed it again way back up towards the dam spinning like a top in the current. Unless there were three geese in the same situation it seemed to me that this was the same bird spinning down the river and then flying back up to the dam and doing it all over again.

Does anyone know what it was doing?