Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thirty-Something Not Too Sappy Things to be Thankful For

The smell of brown sugar
Hot and cold running water
The sound of scissors cutting through construction paper
Shoes that don’t pinch
Funny movies
Toasted marshmallows
Yellow trees against blue sky
The crack of a baseball bat hitting a ball
The feel of dog and cat chins
The crack of a spoon hitting a crème brulee
A bed to sleep in
New crayons
A hammer
Taking longer than 6 seconds to put $20 of gas in tank
Really good hand lotion
Someone who watches your favorite TV show with you
Funny kids
Clever riddles
Once in a while finding money in a pants pocket
Double yellow lines down the middle of the road
Light switches
Warm socks
Citrus fruit
A friend who gets you


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tall Order

I have a tiny pair of Giacometti sculpture reproductions that I bought years ago in Florence. I noticed them standing on my bookshelf, as if to remind me that I’ve got tall people coming to visit. Having tall people over presents a whole variety of planning problems. I’ve got my work cut out for me.

I have to get up on a stepladder and clean surfaces I haven’t seen in a very long time. While I’m up there I’ll have a look around and think, hmm…so this is what the world looks like if you are one of those tall people.

I have to dust the books and pictures on the top shelves, because there are people who are actually tall enough to reach out and grab one for closer inspection. Oh, how I look forward to dusting. Especially the top shelves. This is what I get for never cleaning anything that’s not in my line of vision.

I’ll have to reposition the hanging plants so the tall people won’t conk their too-high foreheads on them. I’ll need to push back all the furniture in my tiny living room. Otherwise they wont be able to sit down without bumping their tree trunks on the coffee table. I wouldn’t want them to go knocking knick-knacks onto the cheese and cracker plate, now would I?

I’m not ungrateful, really I’m not. I’m not jealous, either. Okay, I’m a little bit jealous. I have to hem all my pants, and I enjoy hemming almost as much as I enjoy dusting. But I’m thrilled they are coming. Here’s a teensy weensy rhyme to express my appreciation:

I love my tall people, really I do,
My house just wasn’t designed for you.

Now I’m off to the drugstore to buy hair color. If I have tall people coming, I’m going to have to touch up my roots.

Monday, November 24, 2008

From the Department of Reinventing the Wheel All Over Again

Have you seen this? Watch. Explain...if you can.


Maybe next they'll come up with a rowing machine that actually FLOATS on WATER!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Turkey Pot Luck

I promised the kids that this Thanksgiving I’d make sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. I haven’t made them that way in years, because my husband’s not so crazy about them. They were my absolute favorite when I was little, and I thought the kids should get to experience them. Hopefully hubby won’t mind scraping off marshmallow goo just this once.

That got me thinking about memorable Thanksgiving dishes. I’ll bet everyone has a standout from their past. Mine is from a Thanksgiving years ago when I was still single. I drove up to San Jose with a friend of mine to visit my brother, and we were all invited to some friends of my brother’s for Thanksgiving dinner.

It wasn’t until we were on route to our hosts’ house on Thanksgiving Day that my brother remembered we were supposed to bring a dessert. Of course by then everything was closed. We stopped into a convenience store, but I really didn’t think Ding Dongs were going to make a very good offering.

I looked around for something to work with. I found a graham cracker pie crust – off to a good start – but what to fill it with? Donettes? Gummy worms? Cheese in a can?

We found a six-pack of those little chocolate puddings and a tub of Cool Whip – success! We peeled back the lids and emptied each individual pudding cup into the pie shell, and then smothered it with Cool Whip. Instant convenience store chocolate cream pie!

The crazy thing was, it was a hit. And not just with the kids. It wasn’t traditional or elegant, but you can’t underestimate the power of chocolate and phony cream. Hmm…maybe Ding Dongs would have worked after all.

So how ‘bout it? Got any memorable Thanksgiving dishes you’d like to share? Serve ‘em up, with all the gooey details.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Diamonds Are Forever...Except When They're Not

My best friend left me. No, not the handsome dude in the photo. Diamonds are supposed to be a girl’s best friend, but if you are a flower girl on a mission, they just might leave you.

First, I blogged about my anniversary. Then Rena challenged everyone to post a wedding photo, and then Carrie wrote about diamonds hidden in sticks of deodorant. All that reminded me of how I LOST the DIAMOND right out of my engagement ring.

Recently I was a floral designer for a special event company. Big corporate types threw giant extravaganzas with varying themes. We provided the flowing volcanoes, the ten foot tall elephant sculptures, the authentic Mexican produce carts, all with exotic coordinating florals. Sometimes clients wanted weird things. One day I was commissioned to come up with a container large enough to create a giant floral that would incorporate, among other things, a Styrofoam lemon bigger than a Thanksgiving turkey.

I combed the warehouse for props. I found an oversized megaphone that looked promising - just the right shape for a vase. More digging turned up a large umbrella stand. If I shoved the four foot long megaphone upright onto the umbrella stand - voila! I’d have one extra-large floral urn.

I just needed about five pounds of hot glue to hold it together. I melted dozens of gluesticks to fuse the cone to the base, so the whole display wouldn’t topple onto a chocolate fountain and splatter someone’s spiffy attire. I painted the entire thing a blinding yellow to match the overgrown lemon. The result was dazzling.

I can’t say the same for my ring. I felt something pokey on my left hand and looked down to find four empty prongs where my diamond used to be. There was only one logical explanation; my diamond was now embedded in a hunk of glue in the hollows of a giant megaphone.

I considered melting the whole thing down, possibly ending up with no diamond and no job, either. I figured it was futile to try to find it.

There should be a moral in there somewhere. Loose stones sink in cones? Four prongs don’t make it right? If life gives you lemons, make lemonade - but hold the ice?

So diamonds might be a glue’s best friend. But hey, I still have that handsome dude in the photo.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Little Italy

Some Saturdays go something like this: What do you wanna do? I don’t know, what do you wanna do?

Last Saturday we decided we wanted to drive downtown to Little Italy. Here are ten things you can do when you are going to Little Italy:

1. Three quarters of the way there, try to remember how to get there.

2. Get lost.

3. Try to say Little Italy ten times really fast.

4. Search purse for coins to feed the parking meter.

5. Listen to some arguing about whose turn it is to put the coins in the meter.

6. Get up as close as possible to really tall buildings. Touch the tips of your shoes to the base of the building, and then look straight up.

Wheee! Be sure to wave to any people looking down from their balconies.

7. Try to figure out where those weird reflections are coming from.

8. Check out shops filled with fancy Italian stuff, like handmade paper masks and Murano glass.

9. Most importantly, and the whole reason for the excursion to Little Italy:

Buy freshly filled cannoli. It’s the world’s most perfect culinary creation.

10. Leave with 40 minutes left on the parking meter, for someone else to enjoy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I'm a Lion Fool

Here is my explanation followed by an explanation.

I feel kinda bad. I might have caused some confusion when I posted my small cat tale on Friday. Silly me, I thought it was obvious when I was relating real facts and when I was spouting pure nonsense. Turns out either people think my life’s way more interesting than it really is, or everything I say just sounds like pure nonsense. Which makes me a little tempted to start making everything up, just for fun.

But I wouldn’t do that. Instead, from now on I’ll be sure to post a warning when I’m telling tall tales. I even have a new label in the sidebar called Total Fiction Prompted By Cool Photo. Because very often when I see a cool photo, I can’t help but make up a story to go with it.

Now for the REAL story behind the lion cub in the picture: She was called Nala (at least temporarily), and she was rescued from a circus in Mexico, along with several other animals. The adult animals were sent right away to new homes, but Nala was in the foster care of a friend of my brother-in-law for about a month. My brother-in-law had the chance to play with her and take pictures of her at his friend’s home.

He reports that although her teeth were not sharp, her jaws were super strong! He’s a big guy, too – which makes me think twice about whether or not I’d really want to roughhouse with one of those. I’m pretty envious, though – how many people get to play with one of the big cats?

Probably the most exotic pet we’ve had was a giant pill millipede from Madagascar. It was my husband’s, actually. To me it looked just like a lobster tail, except when it rolled up into a ball. Then it looked like a croquet ball. We had two little ones, too, that looked like chocolate truffles when they were all rolled up.

So that’s the truth, and I ain’t lion.
No, I really mean it, and I’m not just kitten around.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Who Said This Wouldn't Hurt A Bit?

Caitlin thinks it's bad enough she got dragged to the doctor’s office to get a dumb ol’ shot, but this waiting room is the pits. The chairs are hard to stretch out on, and everywhere you look, nothing but beige, beige, beige. Not even a single Highlights in sight. She’s already eaten both parenting magazines, along with a stack of brochures that had pictures of rhinos on them and some words about a virus. There are no toys to be found - not even one of those wiry things with the loop-the-loops and the tasty little wooden beads.

After playing about ninety-nine rounds of rock/paper/scissors with her dad, Caitlin decides she has really had enough. There’d better be a pretty impressive sticker waiting for her after this. And a big fat meat sandwich, too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mouse Surprise

Here is the finished painting for my bug’s eye view study (the evolution of this one is described here and here). This turned out to be one of my favorite pieces. I’m not sure if it’s the slightly unusual angle, or just that I’ve always found little furry critters irresistible.

I keep wondering, though…what do you suppose that mouse is thinking?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Even in Southern California

My daughter decided to try out for water polo this year. I admire her willingness to try it, because even in Southern California, I think of swimming as a summer activity. Maybe that’s because we don’t have indoor pools in this area, and it takes some determination to get into a swimming pool in the middle of November. Sure, we still get the occasional Santa Ana to spike afternoon temperatures, but water polo practice will not take place on a sunny afternoon. It may be sunny California in the daytime, but you can still see your breath at night. By mid-winter we even get frosty mornings.

To my dismay, we had very little notice to get our hands on a suitable swimsuit for practices. Even in Southern California, swimsuits are a seasonal item. We ran around to half a dozen discount stores in hopes of finding one left on a clearance rack before giving in and realizing we’d have to face the Big Sporting Goods Store at the mall. Naturally, the Big Sporting Goods Store keeps a rack of big name brands with big sticker prices all year long.

Price tags aside, there is something to be said for a limited selection. The search for a one-piece was nothing like the battle that took place at the beginning of the summer, when I took my thirteen year old bikini shopping. She must’ve tried on about seven hundred or so. We fought bitterly over strings and cutouts and animal prints and weird sparkly embellishments. In what I believe was store number fifty-nine or so we finally found the one suit that we could agree on. One that didn’t make me think over my dead body or make her think only someone who still likes Strawberry Shortcake would want to wear this.

As we drove from store to store, the air in the car was downright chilly. It wasn’t because we were cranking the AC in the summer heat. Even in Southern California, a teenage girl sure knows how to master the cold shoulder.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Loads of Thanks

Thanksgiving is coming, and I realized I’m thankful for several things that all have to do with clean clothes.

The other day I spotted something I haven’t seen in a long time. If I hadn’t been the one to unearth it, I might not have recognized it at all. Does this object look familiar:

It’s an empty laundry basket! Woo-hoo! I got so excited when I saw it I ran to get the camera. I knew it would disappear like a comet, and it could be years (maybe a decade even) before I laid eyes on it again.

This rare event made me think how thankful I am that the little apartment-sized stacking washer/dryer we bought 14 years ago is miraculously still going! It was the only thing that would fit in the shoebox of a cottage we lived in when my daughter was born. As much as I enjoyed seeing those Styrofoam peanut-sized baby socks hanging from the clothesline, we were relieved to have a dryer of any size.

I’m thankful for the repairmen who’ve taken pity on me over the years and somehow magically held the thing together with paper clips and super glue. I’m even thankful for the one who scolded me (and all American women) for cramming it way too full with every single load. How else could I possibly hope to ever see the bottom on the laundry basket? I’m thankful for the last repairman, who told us it was safe to keep using it even though the dryer now makes a sound like we’re torturing guinea pigs in the garage.

I’m really thankful that none of our neighbors have complained or called the SPCA or even suspected foul play. Only one woman asked what those ear-splitting death screams were, and she didn’t even raise an eyebrow. You have to appreciate a neighbor who doesn’t turn you in to the Homeowner’s Association even when she has to live next door to the sound of screaming banshees.

Yep, even though shrieking to be put out of its misery, Good Ol’ Stacky keeps on spewing out loads of clean clothes. And I’m very thankful for clean clothes, even if they never, EVER get put away.

Friday, November 7, 2008

In The Mail

This week, I sent away something fun in the mail, and I received something fun in the mail.

On Monday I sent a painting off to a client. I’m always nervous about sending art in the mail. I wrapped it three times in bubble wrap and I still wanted to crawl inside the box and go with it to make sure it got there okay.

I recently started offering custom dress illustrations. I love dresses (even if I don’t wear them much) and I realized women usually have at least one dress that has a very special event or memory attached to it. It’s a shame that after one wearing it’s usually stuffed in a box or banished to the back of the closet. The painting in the picture is one of my samples. My website is kind of a work in progress – I plan to make a few changes in the design and add to my gallery when I get the chance. If you’d like to see more, visit my site at Painting The Gown.

Now for the fun thing I received this week. On Tuesday, I got my prizes from Stephanie’s Title Contest! I was so happy to see that cheery CaféPress envelope in the box! Here’s what I got:

That’s Sheila the Zombie Cheerleader, urging me to be creative – or else! And next to Sheila is my new blank journal featuring The Leaf Napper, a sweet napping dog. Hmm…sometimes a good nap is just what I need to be creative! See more of Stephanie’s charming designs at her CaféPress store.

What’s in your mail? Have you sent or received anything fun lately?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Do Back In '92

Tomorrow is my sixteenth wedding anniversary. I googled to find out what is the appropriate gift for a sixteenth anniversary and came up with silver hollowware. Now I can’t get the image of The Tin Man out of my mind, and there’s nothing even remotely romantic about him. He’s squeaky and rusty and he doesn’t even have a heart.

My husband and I went back and forth on how to celebrate. We don’t get out much – our current schedule makes a night out a little tricky. And just when the kids got old enough to be home without a babysitter, we brought home Luna - the couch-eating, gadget-stealing, counter-jumping canine tornado. I’m afraid if we left the three of them alone we’d come home to find both kids locked in the dog crate and Luna using the parrot’s feathers to floss her teeth.

So, we could go to dinner and yawn over a plate of blackened bass with pesto, and risk returning to a pile of rubble, or…

…we could go out for breakfast! Why didn’t we think of this before? I’ll find something more frou-frouey to put on than what I usually wear to eat a bowl of Fruity Cheerio’s. (That shouldn’t be too hard.) We’ll drop the kids off at school and drive to that swanky little beach resort where we got married. We’ll stroll around with the boutique and business crowd and pretend we have disposable income, too.

Anyone can go out on a Friday night. But sipping Bloody Mary’s in the salt air on a Friday morning, surrounded by a bunch of people with freakishly flawless complexions – now that’s an occasion.

Celebrating anything?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Seven Things

I was tagged by Kim with this meme. I’m supposed to list Seven Unknown Facts about me, which hopefully won’t be completely boring to anyone but me and a couple of immediate family members. So here goes:

1. The house I grew up in had a lake behind it that we swam in. One summer, we noticed the sudden appearance of freshwater jellyfish. They were the size of quarters, and apparently harmless, so we swam along with them.

2. In high school I kept a crayfish as a pet for two years. I started out with two that I brought home from science class, but I wasn’t aware that they are not very discriminating about who they eat.

3. I had a crush on Pete from The Mod Squad and I wanted to be Laurie from The Partridge Family.

4. I sometimes wear men’s cologne.

5. I’ve been to Paris three times: the first time I was left stranded by my travel mate, the second time I got engaged to my husband, and the third time I went with my whole family.

6. I have met two Nobel Prize recipients.

7. I’m fascinated by crop circles. What are those things? Fifty or sixty of them appear every summer in the UK alone. Freaky!

Now it’s your turn. If you haven’t played yet and would like share your list of seven things, consider yourself tagged!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I Know, Halloween Is So Last Week...

…but last week I didn’t have pictures to compare Halloween Then and Now.

Another Halloween has passed, and the kids spent some time over the weekend swapping tales and emailing photos. That got me reminiscing about past Halloweens, and thinking how much has changed. I dug through the photo albums and found this gem:

It’s Halloween 2000. How perfect - a princess and a pumpkin! The princess is so pretty! The pumpkin looks good enough to eat! I think the theme this year was More Kinds of Sugar than the Ingredients in Candy Corn. Hmm, that’s a long theme.

Anyway, fast forward eight years. Let’s see what my little darlings came up with for this year:

Oh look, it’s The Joker and Amy Winehouse! I guess this year’s theme is Creepy, Yet Freakishly Talented. One of these costumes frightened small children, and the other one scared the beejeezus out of the parents.

Hey Ms. Winehouse, why so serious???? Oh yeah, she’s grumpy ‘cause she just got her braces on and has to give half her candy to her little brother. Maybe that’s what put that big smile on his face.