Sunday, January 30, 2005

Still alive (barely)

Yep, this is definitely the flu. Not sure why that makes me feel so satisfied, but some googling convinced me that what I have ain't no garden variety bug, but The Flu itself. Today was Day Four of endless hours spent on the couch, endless tissues crumpled, endless trips taken to the bathroom from the endless glasses of water, juice and tea I've been swallowing. I'm definitely improving, but so slowly as to be almost imperceptible.

So I decided not to go to work tomorrow. I am really weak - though the brain haze seems finally to have lifted - and I just can't imagine being able to act like a grown up and sit up all day. I can get done what I absolutely need to at home, and keep my germy self out of the office. AND I can take refuge on the couch when I need to. This is really out of character for me, which makes me think that I must be sick. Because when have I ever lolled around for five straight days, with no desire to get up and do anything?

I also happen to have a doctor's appointment - for a physical - tomorrow morning, which I will definitely keep. It sounds exhausting, but at least I can get advice on when to return to work (answer: before they send state troopers to my house to drag me out) and what will probably be some non-answers on dealing with poor circulation in hands and feet (a particular problem when you have chills all the frickin' time), migraines and a funny mole on my cheek. At least the last one will merit a referral.

Ok, I am spiraling into complete self-absorption here... such are the ways of the bedridden, with nothing to do other than read, watch TV and try unsuccessfully to nap. Darren's got some spaghetti and meatballs going - my first real meal. Exciting.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Taking a sick day

Oh how I wish I actually were merely taking a sick day as an excuse for a day off, rather than flat on my back with what appears to be the flu. Body aches, chest congestion that causes the most painful coughing I think I have ever endured and a fever of 101. A great way to spend a few days.

In addition to the fact that being this sick just sucks - and that I have apparently forgtotten how to type as a result - I can't even tell you how much work I have to do. And since I am an editor, with a fixed deadline at hte printer, that work has to get done no matter what. I brought a bunhc of it home with me yesterday - made an appearance at the office for 90 minutes, to gather up stuff and do what avsolutely could not be skipped - and have been essentialyl unable to do any of it. I have two gnarly freelance pieces that need a bunch of work, and I just don't have the brainpower to untangle them. Heck, I barely have enough brainpower to watch old Sex and the City episodes.

Am hoping that I will recover enough over the weekend to take care of them. If not, my staff is going to be slammed on Monday, and there's not much I'm going to be able to do about it. Oy.

Ok, next project: Showering. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The dinner guest who would not leave

Note: It is 11:18 pm on a Tuesday as I write this, with (not the first) glass of champagne in front of me. Clearly, all is not right with the world. Please excuse any typos to come.

Tonight I accomplished the repaying of an obligation -- dinner at our house for two people with whom I went through a year-long program recently. This was no stint at Betty Ford... far from it. But I'm afraid that if I give the specifics, it'll be too easily googled and my identity (and cattiness) revealed. So suffice it to say that it was quasi-work-related.

And suffice it also to say that I was put upon a team with these two people who at first glance are entertaining. At second, third and fourth glances, they are still sitting at the dining room table, cackling at each other, while you (or I) clear the table, put the dogs out, check e-mail, yawn ostentatiously and kick your spouse repeatedly under the table.

At fifth, sixth and seventh glances -- ie, at 10:30 ON A TUESDAY -- they are still at your dining room table. You blow out the candles. You put away the portabella and rosemary risotto, the dinner party standby, which turned out sorta mushy and with not nearly enough rosemary, and you even pack up an extra slice of cake in a disposable container for each person. And still they sit.

And just when you think the year-long obligation is done -- that each of the three of you has finally hosted dinner for the group, and now you can politely part ways -- they mention the need to do this AGAIN. Egads.

When they finally leave, you are so relieved as to pour another glass of champagne. Your spouse drinks from the bottle as you discuss the incredible self-involvement of the dinner guests, who failed to ask more than a question or two about each of you during the entire 300-minute affair. You pick at the leftover cake together. And then you pour a last glass, and he heads to bed as you check some blogs.

And that is how you end up blogging, with champagne, at 11:26 on a Tuesday.

I think this may be why Jebus invented advil.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Our return to traditional gender roles

As you can see, we're getting hit pretty hard with this here snow event... the one that someone on NPR called "one of the top ten storms of the last 100 years" this morning. And just in case you had any doubt, that's my husband, out shoveling the driveway, and me, in the warm house, shooting fotos from behind a snowed-in window.

We're pretty flexible around here when it comes to who does what. Darren's job tends to be a bit more predictable, time-wise, than mine, so he does the majority of the general neatening of the house, as well as most of the laundry. I like fixing stuff --- or at least drilling holes in things --- and so tend to take the lead on repair projects. But I also like to unwind by cooking.

Working out the division of duties was contentious early in our married life, mostly because I was deathly afraid that he assumed I would do everything domestic --- a ridiculous thought, because he'd never uttered anything to that effect, nor acted in any way as if that was his expectation. I spent several hours on a therapist's couch, realizing that *I* was the one who was putting those expectations on myself.

Over the years, I've lightened up considerably about how we divide the work around here. I'm still a little over-sensitive if I think I'm doing too many of the household duties, but on the whole things are much smoother: We each do what we like and/or are good at, then ignore the rest (ie, cleaning the bathroom and mopping the kitchen floor) until such time as it needs to be done.

All of which is a preamble to today's division of duties. The storm --- they're calling it a blizzard! --- is still rolling, with wind whipping the snow into several-foot-high drifts. We were prepared, grocery-wise, for this occasion, but the one thing that makes Sunday morning complete is the local paper and the New York Times --- the first read over breakfast, the second attacked more leisurely, in fits and starts throughout the day. And because we like walking a few blocks to our fabulous bakery/cheese & wine shop for the papers, we don't get them delivered.

Which meant one of us had to venture out in the storm to get them. I was willing to go, but Darren was already dressed after having taken the pooches out in the yard. So we made a deal: He'd walk for the papers and I'd make breakfast (a scrambled-egg-and-cheese bagel for him, two eggs over easy with a bagel and raspberry jam for me). After breakfast and a bit of relaxation, Darren started bundling up to go out and shovel. I was (and still am) in my flannel pjs, but said I'd be happy to get dressed and help shovel. ("Happy" was perhaps overstating it.)

My fabulous husband told me to stay inside and keep warm, and give Jelly her medicine for the morning. "Fine," I said. "Then I'm making dinner -- no help from you." And it was a deal.

Of course, I'm sorta getting the short end of the stick on this one, since the Best Neighbor Ever came over with his snowblower and cleared most of our driveway in five minutes flat. Darren shoveled the deck, the steps and a path through the yard for the pooches, and is already back inside showering. Later this afternoon, I'll sear some beef and make tamale pie. And perhaps tonight we'll actually eat the tangerines and dark chocolate --- we ate so much gnocchi last night that none of us could even contemplate dessert. A lovely Sunday, to be sure.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Soon to be snowed in

So it's late January in New England, and the snow-every-few-days pattern has just recently kicked in. It was glorious at first, especially when twice in a row the day after was sunny and calm, so the shoveling had a friendly, hi-neighbor feel about it, rather than being pure drudgery. This week's storm, 4-6 inches of light, fluffy powder, was beautiful coming down and easy to shovel... especially when The Best Neighbor Ever cleared our driveway with his snowblower while we were still sleeping.

Then came the gawdawful cold. The best news we got this week, weatherwise, was when the forecast predicted "warmer weather: 5 above for the high." Right.

And now the storm that was supposed to pass us by -- that was supposed to dump on Baltimore (hi Ginga!), DC and NY, where they can't handle a little white stuff, then graze Boston and Portland and head out to sea -- is Headed Our Way. We're expecting at least a foot, with gale-force winds and assorted other dangerous weather features.

So, it's time for some carbs and meat. My sister and her man, and Lucy their crazy pooch, are coming over for potato gnocchi with bolognese sauce and a viewing of Spinal Tap tonight. (They live a mile away, so the snow shouldn't be too much of an issue.) And I've got a lovely looking tamale casserole, full of beef, tomatoes and chiles, planned for tomorrow night. And all of this after F. and S. (of the chicken party) cooked us warm, rich mac and cheese and chocolate pudding last night.

As I mentioned to Ginga, who just received a lovely batch of real Florida citrus, I think in the midst of all this heavy, hearty fare, scurvy might be about to set in. So perhaps we'll have some oranges and dark chocolate for dessert. And that, to me, is just about the best way to enjoy a proper snowstorm.

Hope you and yours are warm!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Polenta with eggplant, plus Franz Ferdinand

How's that for a bachelorette Thursday night? Meg and Jo are both mate-less these days, and I enjoyed that illusion this evening while Darren was off seeing House of Flying Daggers. Went out for a pint after work, then came home a bit giddy to be alone, bopping to FF around the kitchen as I chopped onion and garlic, then sauteed them and cut up an eggplant. Was just enough buzzed - from ONE pint! - to splash tomato juice on my knee somehow, and get the cornmeal and water mixture on my pretty, fuzzy, blue-green sweater.

One other bright spot: At the post-work beer, I learned that a co-worker's contractor roommate, who I know vaguely, SPECIALIZES IN BATHROOM REMODELING. Hallelujah. He apparently has a several-month backlog (which is good news, from a quality-of-work perspective) and has done bathrooms for several friends (ditto). I feel as though I just broke through some haze of indecision and paralysis about this project - we can just have L. come over and check the place out, see what he recommends and go from there. Phew.

In other news, this week has been all about budgeting for 2005 (which, yes, I know, it's already begun, but sadly I am not in charge of the financial activities of my company...) and prepping to do performance reviews for all my staff. Oh, and picking out our submissions for the Big Deal awards we enter every year. The ones at which we have won some very significant recognition in the past, under my predecessor. Which means this year's awards are a sort of litmus test on my editing. (At least I see it that way.)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Resolution update

Ok, so I know it's only two weeks into the new year, but I'm feeling like I need to keep track of my progress (or lack thereof) on the goals I set out a few weeks ago. So, Bridget Jones-ish as it may be, here's my report:

1. Follow fewer recipes.
I've made some steps forward on this one, with the turkey chili I wrote about a week or two ago and by adapting a recipe for a Portuguese caldo verde (not this one, but close), which called for swiss chard, potatoes and chorizo in a mostly water broth. Instead, I used mostly chicken stock (which I made with the leftovers from the chicken party), kale, white beans and chorizo. It tasted great, especially as leftovers, but wasn't particularly filling.
I'm hoping to continue improving on the improvisation, but Jelly's nightly freakouts and the ensuing lack of sleep have definitely sapped my creativity lately.

2. Wash face every night before going to bed.
Again, some progress. I'm probably averaging four or five nights out of seven - much better than before it was a Resolution, but still not perfect.

3. Deal with the bathroom renovation.
I set myself a deadline of Jan. 17 - tomorrow - for bringing the sketch of the bathroom as it is now to Home Depot or a bath design place. We did, in fact, go to Home Depot yesterday, but didn't make any progress. After selecting new smoke detectors, we headed toward the kitchen and bath area. As usual at the Despot, there were a few orange-aproned employees around, but each was Deep in Concentration with other shoppers.
We finally found one we could interrupt and asked if they do bath design and installation. "Umm, I think they do a few baths here and there," she replied. "You should ask them," she went on, pointing at one woman (not a "them" by any means) who was busy working with another couple on a kitchen design. We walked away to try to find a white noise machine to drown out Jelly's nighttime noises.
We ended up at the service desk, where the comedian behind the counter referred us to the movie theater across the parking lot - apparently there's a movie called White Noise in theaters - then said he didn't think they stocked such things. Since things were going so well, we asked his co-worker whether HD does bath design as well as kitchens. "Well, yeah, I think so," she said. "I mean, they've got to be doing something back there, right?"
Doesn't that inspire confidence? So we paid for our smoke detectors with the gift card Darren's parents gave us for our anniversary - we have $1.12 left! - and headed for home. I think the next step is going to be the fancy bath design place in the building where my office is.

4. Get published in a national magazine.
Not this month.

5. Re-organize basement.
Much progress here! This morning Darren and I went through all the junk that had been strewn around after the flood. We're getting rid of two giant bags of garbage, plus a couple bags of recycling and four bags of books - mostly academic blather that I'm sure we'll never want again. I couldn't bear to get rid of my college lit books, though, so if you need a textbook on the Romantic poets, I'm the one to ask.
We still need to organize the closet and workbench area, then sweep and mop the floor and buy a de-humidifier. Still, this morning was a big step forward.

6. Stress less. Exercise more. Be happier.
Uh, yeah. Right. I think I got some exercise once this month. Staying up with Jelly is really taking it out of me, so I'm hoping that once she gets settled in fully, I can get back to the gym. Amazingly, despite all the problems with the adoption process, I do really like her and she certainly does soak up the love. So it's a step in the right direction, anyway.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Sleepless in southern Maine

Thank gawd it's Friday, that's all I have to say. We're getting a little preview of what life with a newborn might be like this week. Starting Monday night, Jelly has decided that at 3:30 or 4:30, she should get up, pace around the bedroom and bark. Her goal seems to be getting picked up to sleep on our bed; we discovered this Monday night, when in desperation after an hour of barking we put her on the bed to see if it would calm her down. She circled once or twice, then immediately lay down and drifted off to sleep.

Of course, we don't want to train her that the way to get on the bed is to pace and whine and bark in the middle of the night. Tuesday night was the worst: She barked and barked and barked, and even after she wore herself out, neither Darren nor I really went back to sleep. Wednesday night we made use of some advice S. (of the chicken party) had given us: We brought a spray bottle up to the bedroom with us and squirted her every time she barked. Lemme tell you, that's a fun game at 5 a.m. But she did seem to get the picture - she definitely did not like the water in the face.

Last night initially seemed like it was going to be a little better. She woke us at 3:30, and the first round of pacing (with no barking!) didn't seem so bad, just toenails clicking on the floor. She lay down for a while, then got back up, more panicked then ever. She paced and (a new addition) panted, woofed a few times, paced and panted some more. I thought I was going to go insane. She faked us out a few more times - curled up on her bed, only to hop off and pace again, sounding very agitated. I finally decided, as it approached 5:00, that the next time she quieted down I'd bring her to the bed. Which I did, and which immediately satisfied her.

Darren had to get up at 6:15 to be at work by 7. He sounded rather grim. I turned off my alarm and decided to get up whenever I awakened. Which, of course, I did at 7:15, when Jelly started roaming around the bed. Right now she is curled up on the bed next to the computer, snoring away contentedly, and I am perusing the Internets for recipes for shih tzu sausage.

I am at wit's end about what to do. We've got to get some sleep, and we're thinking that tonight we may just put her on the bed from the beginning, so as to avoid the dead-of-night freakout. I feel like this may just be some settling-in behavior, that she's testing us to see what the boundaries are. (I am pretty sure we're failing.) Another theory is that she's chilly, so today I'm going to stop at the swanky pet store and investigate the purchase of a sweater, which is absurd, but if it helps me sleep at night? I'm all for it. Any other ideas? I'd love to hear 'em.

Updated to add: Perhaps the most inconvenient thing about this whole affair is that being awake at this time of night totally throws off the accuracy of my daily temperature taking, at a rather inconvenient (and theoretically important) time of month. We've been joking that neither of the dogs is at all interested in us having a baby. So perhaps Jelly's motives are more sinister than we first thought!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


I'm working at home this morning, in order to edit a story I just couldn't focus on at the office. I opened it, edited it - an hour-long process - and closed it before realizing that I'd never hit "save as" on the attachment. So all that work is gone. Searched the hard drive, looked thru temp files and it's still gone. Called work for ideas on searching. Still gone. Called the IT guy in Massachusetts. Still gone.

So here I sit, with snow drifting down outside my window, Rocky asleep on the couch and WFUV streaming through the speakers. I lost the work about an hour ago and have since cruised my blogroll, checked out a few interesting blogs Leah just added to hers, returned a few e-mails and tinkered with the story's opening sentence. Can't get my focus back; all I want to do is futz around, read, take a nap (neither of us is getting lots of sleep these days due to Jelly's new habit of waking up in the middle of the night to pace, grumble and then bark non-stop in the hopes that we'll allow her on the bed, where she snores like a little old man, right next to my ear).

Don't want to work. But work I must. So I'm hoping that allowing myself this explicit diversion will help me get my focus back, so I can cruise thru the edit - after all, I've already thought through all the changes - and head off on the slippery streets to the pet pharmacy to pick up Jelly's cyclosporin eye drops, stop at Wal-Mart for some toiletries, then, grudgingly, go to the office.

The season is officially over, but the sentiment seems appropriate: Bah humbug.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Preparations for the chicken party

Our guests for tonight's festivities - the aforementioned chicken party - will be arriving in about an hour. Never heard of a chicken party? Neither had we. In fact, I think we made it up.

Here's the deal: Our friends F. and S. are vegetarian, and have been (mostly) pretty strict about it for as long as we've known them. But they've started teetering recently - not least when S. ate sausage (nitrate-free, happy sausage from the hippie pizza place, but pig innards nonetheless) earlier this year.

I have not yet had the pleasure of cooking meat for them... there's nothing quite like preparing it for recent converts to carnivorism. So last fall our farm offerred us the opportunity to buy free-range, organic chickens. We did so, and swore that F. and S. would eat it with us.

Thus, the chicken party.

As we speak, the chicken is defrosting in a pot of cold water in the sink. I have perused some cookbooks for roasting reminders (it's been years since I cooked a whole chicken). Side dishes have been decided upon and assigned (we're making potatoes, either mashed or roasted, F. and S. are bringing a salad and A. is in charge of the wine), and I made the call to use my china and crystal for this momentous occasion. It's going to be a pain, because neither the china nor the crystal can go in the dishwasher.

But I love the china - it belonged to my grandmother's grandparents, who raised her after her mom essentially abandoned her. (I also have the same great-great grandmother's engagement ring, allegedly from Tiffany's and bought long after the wedding, when my g-g grandfather's grocery business took off.)

The crystal - Waterford's Lismore pattern - is new to me as of a few weeks ago. My aunt inherited it from her longtime employer and close friend, but thought she wouldn't get enough use from it so she gave it to us. The stuff is gorgeous and extremely expensive - we're talking $45 for one wine glass. My grandmother suggested we sell it and go to Europe with the proceeds. We'd rather keep it, and use it as often as we can, in the spirit of my aunt's gift. (Right now it's sitting in a cardboard box in the kitchen. We have no suitable place to display it, but I don't want to put it in storage in the basement - we'll never use it then.)

And besides, if you can't pull out the good dishes for a chicken party, when can you?

Friday, January 07, 2005

Five steps to a stellar Friday night

1. Follow this meal plan: Eat a banana. Shovel the driveway. Eat a bagel with cream cheese. Run a three-hour-long meeting and drink lots of coffee. Head back to the office and have a piece of ice cream cake. Later, realize it is 4 pm and you have not eaten lunch. Decide you're not that hungry anyway.

2. Get a haircut. Start by telling your beloved hairdresser that the hair is bothering you -- it's time for something that will freshen it up. Agree when she suggests lots of long layers. When she says, "They're trendy," nod and smile. Chat away while she is snipping here and there and blowdrying your hair. Try not to choke when she casually mentions that this style reminds her so much of hair bands from the 80s.

Refrain from punching her when she mentions your hair and Jon Bon Jovi in the same sentence.

3. Go out with colleagues for a pint of Guinness after work. Notice that colleague's wife is drinking a Pepsi, and remember that the last time you all went out, about a month ago, she also had a Pepsi. Note her mention of a "swooning sickness" several weeks ago, and his sudden interest in a third colleague's partner's gestational diabetes.

Become irrationally jealous and irritated when you realize she is most likely pregnant. Isn't that *your* project, the one you haven't made much progress on?

Be disgusted by your own immaturity.

4. Return home. Carefully. After all, you have only had one pint of beer, a bagel and a piece of ice cream cake today. Enter kitchen, put coats on dogs(!), take dogs into yard to pee, etc. Bring dogs in. Call yet another colleague to gossip about the potential pregnancy.

Notice the large puddle in front of the refrigerator. Notice also that the fridge isn't leaking, and that the puddle is yellow. Call husband at work and inform him of puddle. Hang up phone. Clean up puddle.

5. Heat leftover pizza in the oven. Pour glass of wine. Wonder if it's late enough yet to go to bed.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

A little more than we bargained for

There are oh-so-many things I could write about at the moment:
  • the fact that not only did I go to the gym today but I also just shoveled the (longer than you might think) driveway, something I will surely have to do again, meaning I have fulfilled my exercise requirement for approximately the next three years;
  • the fact that we were supposed to have our work holiday dinner tonight but it was cancelled due to the little bit of snow despite the fact that we live in Maine and, hello, it snows here and as a result I am responsible for feeding myself and have neither energy nor willpower to do so;
  • the fact that my De-lurking Day results were just a wee bit embarrassing (not, of course, that I don't appreciate the lovely comments from Ginga and Chris over at Rude Cactus); or
  • the fact that for some crazy reason I decided to have a department brainstorming/planning meeting at my house tomorrow morning, meaning said house must be cleaned and baked goods acquired and driveway shoveled by 9 a.m (although, thank gawd, I was not as crazy as Mir, who has 10 small boys coming to her house to make capes and spread glitter and destruction across her home).
Instead, I will write briefly about the fact that my new dog, the beloved Jelly, not only cost me $250 at the vet today, but in addition needs surgery for three mammary tumors. And that on top of the near-deafness, the half-blindness and the weak back legs, she has an ear infection, a heart murmur and dangerously elevated kidney levels. I came home with flea medication, ear cleaner, ear ointment and a Chinese herb that might help some of what ails her.

In the days ahead, I will get a refill of the antibiotic drops that we put in her right eye every day and an anti-inflammatory to perhaps address her lame hind end. I will slide a little tray under her butt when she pees so I can collect the urine and take it in for further analysis of the kidney situation. (I won't tell you what I have to do with the poo.) And I will schedule the surgery.

And, tonight, I will write a kind yet strongly worded e-mail to the rescue people who cared for her --- the people who, you might recall, put us through an interview, reference-checking, a call to our vet AND an inspection of our home, but apparently could not be bothered to adequately assess this dog's physical condition.

And that is what I have to say for today.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Delayed de-lurking

In case you hadn't heard, Papernapkin declared today De-Lurking Day, complete with fabulous graphics:

I had a long day at work, followed by a very important pizza to pick up, so never got around to posting earlier in the day. That said, I'd love to know if anyone besides the (very wonderful) usual suspects is out there. So, lurkers, come out! I've managed to comment on several blogs today that I read regularly -- it's not so hard.

Thus endeth today's installment of begging and pleading.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Dirty house = unhappy wife?

A few evenings ago, we watched We Don't Live Here Anymore, the completion of our two-part infidelity film fest. (Closer was part one.) We Don't... isn't a great movie, but it's an interesting one that spurred some good conversation between Darren and me. Like Closer, it's about two couples who mix and match behind one another's backs, and with varying degrees of interest in --- and encouragement of -- their partners' dalliances. (It's based on two novellas by Andre Dubus, a New Englander who also wrote the story that was the basis for In the Bedroom, much of which was, incidentally, filmed in Maine.)

In We Don't... Laura Dern and Mark Ruffalo are married with two small kids. Ruffalo is a scruffy lit professor at a small New England college, and Dern is a stay-at-home mom. Throughout the film, which covers about six months in their lives, from what seems to be an idyllic summer to the onset of a snowy, (literally and metaphorically) cold winter, Dern's mental and emotional state is expressed in condition of the house itself. When she knows -- but won't really admit to herself -- that Ruffalo is sleeping with Naomi Watts, for example, the house is a sloppy, disheveled mess. She drinks wine in the afternoon and forgets to change her son's sheets after he wets the bed.

Later, she starts sleeping with Watts' husband, and tells Ruffalo -- who essentially wants to be a little boy, following his desires and not being bothered about the consequences -- all about it. He tells her he's in love with Watts, and Dern falls apart. She tells Ruffalo to leave, and she begins obsessively, controllingly cleaning the house. She even packs his suitcase for him. And when he decides he can't leave, that he needs her and the kids and all they represent, he can't even unpack the damn suitcase himself. He asks her to do it. (And you get the sense that she does.) And, in the end, Dern takes pleasure in tidying up the relationships, too. She goes to see Watts; we don't see their conversation, but you're given the impression that some resolution occurred.

As an ideological construct, this metaphor of the dirty house indicating the unhappy wife is facile and somewhat insulting. As an expression of life, though, it rings true. What makes it effective in an imperfect movie is how rarely the state of the home is remarked upon -- by and large, it's just shown in the background, the tissues on the floor or the gleaming counters simply part of the environment these characters live in.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A little progress

Ok, it's still the first day on which I am holding myself accountable for my resolutions, but I'd just like to note that it is 10:14 p.m., and:

1. Face is washed! Very exciting.

2. More importantly, tonight's dinner was a simple but hearty turkey chili, made by me sans recipe. I thought about it a minute, looked at a cookbook or two for some ideas, then shut them and put them away. I sauteed an onion and several garlic cloves, then added the ground turkey to brown, and seasoned it liberally with some Texas Meat Rub, cumin and cayenne. Then I added a can each of kidney and black beans (rinsed) and a large can of plum tomatoes, juice included. I brought it to a simmer, seasoned it some more --- added black pepper, more cayenne and lots more cumin --- then left it to simmer while I made corn bread. (For baking, I'm allowed to follow recipes, given the science involved.) About 40 minutes later, with the addition of a small amount of grated Monterey jack, we had chili.

The big lesson here is that I know what to do --- I just need to think about it instead of blindly following directions. Now, to bed and, alas, back to the work week.

Ringing in the new year

Ok, so I'm a little late on the resolution list. We've been a bit preoccupied with the new dog, the de-Christmasing of the house, the returning and exchanging of unflattering clothes, a mad dash for home organization prompted by a new CD storage thing and a host of other projects.

At some point I'll try to post about our Christmas travels. But for now, a list of my goals for 2005. It's a combination of the mundane and the even more mundane, but it works for me.

1. Follow fewer recipes.
My goal here is to cook more intuitively -- to see ingredients and know what to do with them, to think about my food rather than blindly following recipes. To do this, I'm going to set a goal of one improvisational meal a week.

2. Wash face every night before going to bed.
Too much information? Perhaps. This one is self-explanatory.

3. Deal with the bathroom renovation.
Here's a dirty secret: Our one and only bathroom -- if you don't count the toilet that's plunked down next to the washer and dryer in the basement, which I don't -- has been in a state of wretched disrepair for just over two years. In a fit of impatience, I pulled down the hideous wallpaper and cheap paneling wainscoting, with hopes of just painting the walls until the time came when we could afford to replace the sky-blue fixtures and vinyl flooring. But the drywall on top is chewed up and uneven, and the previous attempt at wainscoting was a vile yellow plastic tile, which was glued directly to the drywall.
So what we need is a total re-do, and we've been paralyzed by thoughts of how expensive this might actually be. But I am herefore resolved to get going on this project. First step: Take bathroom measurements (already done) to bath design store and/or Home Depot for preliminary estimates by Jan. 17.

4. Get published in a national magazine.
It's a lofty goal, but it's the next logical step for me. I write regularly for a glossy regional magazine, and it's time to parlay those clips into a national consumer magazine story. I have a couple ideas and just need to put the pitch letters together. Supposedly that was a project for the week off that is now ending. Ha. New goal: Send at least one pitch letter by the end of February.

5. Re-organize basement.
In wake of the minor basement flood last August, I threw out lots of cardboard boxes that were ruined. Their contents, however, are still strewn around the basement, in need of sorting, trashing and re-storing. We bought some plastic bins at Target the other day, which is a start. Really, all this will take is a focused few hours one weekend, plus an hour or two for mopping the floor. To be done by the end of March.

6. Stress less. Exercise more. Be happier.
Also self-explanatory.

You'll notice a conspicuous absence on this list -- I am not going to resolve to have a baby in 2005, simply because it's not something I can control. I can do a few things, it is true, like following the temperature charting schedule carefully and watching my health. But other than that, it's out of my hands.

A belated Happy New Year to you all!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

A day of beauty


And after the haircut. Surprise! Jelly has lots of tan fur. She's a little shivery due to the short cut, but there was no other choice given all her mats. And besides, that just gives us an excuse to snuggle on the couch with her.