Monday, January 31, 2011

Follow The Leader

I have been thinking a lot today about leadership. And the opposite - followership? The reason I keep thinking about it is that I recently read something about my star sign - I'm a Virgo - and it said that I'm a good follower. That's actually quite true. I can follow very well.

For some reason, though, I keep ending up in leadership roles. Being the leader feels like you've just painted a giant target on your chin.

When I walked my dog today, I never put him on his leash at all. We went on a pretty long and rigorous hike and he did very well. So well, in fact, that I think this leash-less-ness is going to continue. When he's on a leash, I think I'm the leader and he thinks he is and there is constant tension on the leash. One of us is always pulling the other. Without the leash, it's not that I'm a follower, in fact, more often he is behind me, but I'm not trying to be the leader and there is no tension.

Why is it that I keep putting myself Out There if it means adding extra tension to my life? As usual, I can blame my children. If I didn't want to take care of them in a way that I know they need me to, we'd all be just fine and I wouldn't have as many grey hairs. I just keep stepping up for them, which means I'm putting myself on the line.

I must say, though, at my age I've come to accept myself - especially the fact that I have flaws. I do what I do because that's who I am. I'm okay having a target on my chin if that's what it takes. I just don't want to be strapped to the top of someone's hood.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blog Carnival: Strawberries AND Marshmallows!

Welcome to the Carnival!

You know when you throw a party and not everyone RSVPs so you don't know how many goodie bags to make and start to brace yourself for when you have to break it to your poor sweet child that no one is coming to celebrate their birthday with them? And then people start coming and you're just happy they came? That's kind of like this. When you throw out the opportunity for people to share just about anything, you just might get that. Anything.

Mad Kane was the first to step up to the plate to share her funny story about wine snobs and how they don't really know all they pretend to. Check out her more current posts, too. Who doesn't love a good limerick?

Imagine my surprise then, when I got PhD Program's submission Top 96 Blogs for Recovering Alcoholics. It's a pretty exhaustive list about where to go when your wine snobbery has gotten a little out-of-hand and you need help. I don't find addiction to be funny. It is funny, however, that when given the non sequitur topic - translated to it does not follow - it kind of does.

Christopher Benek had me laughing out loud while Rethinking Air Travel. I got an especially big kick imagining the super hero on the plane using his special talents. My laughing prompted my kids to ask, "What?" over and over.

The Big Cajun Man sent over a post on an innovative tool to curb spending with the Financial Shock Collar post. Having just watched Confessions of a Shopaholic the other night and being completely mortified at the thought of donating those clothes to the thrift store as punishment for her shopping (even a bridesmaid dress!) I thought this was a less painful torture. I'm a tightwad myself, so I wouldn't need to wear one, but might if someone gave me one for free.

And then there is EGB. I think this is sort of what I had in mind in the first place. You know how if every Cesar Salad you order comes without anchovies, you get to where you forget to ask for no anchovies and the next salad comes with some anchovies on top? I've been a mom blogger reading mom blogs for so long that I forget that other people write them too. When I got the SAHMnambulist posts Learning To Share and Single Parent Redux, I felt like I got the no anchovie salad. Or as my Lab would do when he sees other Labs, wag his tail. Wag wag.

I'm grateful for all the people who came to my party and all of you standing around the punch bowl looking at the hors d'oeuvres. Go ahead, sample the treats. Or, if we're really talking about parties at my house, you'll be standing around the chocolate fountain trying to decide whether to dip the strawberries or the marshmallows.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Confession

I haven't had a drop of alcohol in a while now. At least a few weeks. I think there is a direct relationship between wine and the circumference of my belly. A correlation, if you will. I stopped drinking so that I would stop getting the munchies and throwing all good judgement to eat sensibly out the window.

And tonight, I have had a few glasses of wine and it's lovely. Watching Jason Bourne give a better haircut than my hairdresser and getting jealous. Isn't that chase scene in Bourne Identity the best car chase ever? Stop. If I hear about Steve McQueen (swoon) one more time, I'm going to stop this car!

Anyway, this post has nothing at all to do with cars, or haircuts, or wine. It has everything to do with the love affair that I've been having. I have this need to confess. I've been keeping it a secret - as best I could for a blabber-mouth, that is. I am In Love. Capital "I" in capital "L" love.

I love playing violin. I am In Love with playing the violin.

You have to ask yourselves how often you do something that gives you absolute joy. How often do you engage in something that you connect with completely? For me, I find that I look at life pretty positively. I find joy in the everyday and mundane quite frequently. I believe whole-heartedly that I have the capacity for feeling happiness to the fullest extent. And I feel it with the violin.

This might sound completely ridiculous, I have, after all been drinking a most delicious Pinot Noir, and loosened my typer-fingers. I would shout from the roof-top, but it's cold out and I'm not wearing shoes. But I must say that after spending the last 43-years un-musically, this is bliss. The hour that I'm at my lesson, working towards perfecting my skills is one of the best parts of my week. You see, I think I've figured out the Arran Boat Song tonight and it thrills me. I'm happy.

I wish this joy for you.

Blog Carnival!

I'm hosting a Blog Carnival at my place this week. Submission deadline is tomorrow, Wednesday the 26th, and it will be posted on Friday, the 28th.

The topic is non sequitur, which to me was a way of putting random, hopefully humorous slices of life out there to share. Feel free to send me a link to your funny blog post at or in the content of a comment. If you've never done a carnival, I've found it to be a great way to find new blogs and other interesting writers. Tickets are free and all the cotton candy I can eat.

So far, it's going to be interesting. With the submissions I've already received - non sequitur indeed!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Mustache

There is a new book out about a Chinese Tiger Mom. I haven't read it, but I've read reviews. And interviews. And an open letter to the author in the Wall Street Journal. I get the gist of what it's about and I'm withholding my opinion about the mother because I didn't read it.

Everyone has their own parenting style and it's so polarizing. I believe I'm a good mom, but I have my shortcomings, as much as the next. I have my own ideas about what I want to instill in my children and the limits of what I'll let them do and what I'll do, as well.

The most important thing to me as a mom is to accept them for who they are. Both of my children are so different and wonderful in their own ways and I try very hard to treat them as individuals, even though I threatened to treat them as twins if they didn't watch it - for what offense I have no recollection. I'm certain if I actually had twins, I would see them individually, as well. (And yes, I think I can be a good mom and threaten them occasionally.)

As much as I think I'm doing a good job in the Big Picture of parenting, I have my faults and flaws in the Little Picture. Today I made my youngest daughter cry and for that I'm truly sorry. She got a new outfit yesterday and was wearing it today. It was a pair of jeans (old) and a new blouse with blue baby roses. She had on her new shoes and pulled her hair back into a pony-tail. I told her she looked beautiful. Then I told her she would look even more beautiful if she didn't have a blue mustache. That hurt her feelings. I'm not even sure why, but it made me think of the book. I don't criticize my children very much in that way. Sure, if they haven't brushed their hair in a week and it starts to look like a rat's nest, I'll tell them and force the brush or threaten a haircut, but I never tell them they look like Pepto-vomit when they mix seven different colors of pink. I simply appreciate the effort they put into their choices and admire their personality.

I feel so badly about the mustache remark. But I think I made up for it with chocolate milk. I don't really know why I thought of that book, except that I'm sympathetic to parenting criticisms. This is a hard-damn job. The hardest I've ever had.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I love the advertising on my site. I don't put it up as a money-maker, it's strictly for entertainment purposes. Since Google places them based on the context of my posts, they are topical and thought-provoking. After my last post, I saw one for The ad said they have Cat Grooming. Big deal, right? Then they said, Organic Shampoo.

That's right, what is not entertaining about picturing someone giving your cat a bath?

I don't actually know if they bathe cats, but that is how the ad turned out. And I'm not saying they wouldn't be a good company to use, I especially like the attention to going green. And I might just LOVE to have someone else bathe my dog and clip his toenails.

What I am saying is that as I slowly (too slowly) perk myself up with a cup-o-joe, about to head off to work on a Saturday no less, that a picture of a wet cat, nails out, held down by two people in body-length aprons comes to mind. And it's funny.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Have you ever been bugged by things that don't really matter? I live on a hill. It's quite a hill, at that. Every time I drive up and down this hill, depending on the time of day, I notice different things about it. On my way home from work, and it's always dark, I pass by a gutter at the hair-pin turn and think about the pair of raccoons I saw one night. I pass that point and see the two square planters that the newest residents on our street put at their walkway. Sure, it's a nice touch, but they bug me.

The two planters are not squared up. There is something askew about them and I'm rankled every time I see them. It makes me feel very Monk-ish. Totally OCD. I don't care. I want to go up to them in the middle of the night and make them straight. Or level. Or whatever it is that would fix the problem. Whatever the problem is. I think they are probably both squared up the the curb but since it's on a curve, on a hill, they're never going to align properly the way a flat, straight surface would work.

And then I kick myself for caring about something so completely insignificant. In fact, that's the reason I haven't snuck out to do it yet. Yet.

My five-inch pinking shears came today. Yep. They're small all right. I think the person listing them on eBay should have put a penny in the picture to give bidders a comparative size. But I knew what I was getting. I know what five inches are. They're cute, hard to open and they're mine. Mine all mine. I'm sure if I came home during the day to find they've been delivered I wouldn't have been bugged by the planters and therefore, the five-inch shears would be just darling. Or at least more darling than they are right now when I'm just hoping they're not useless.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good Dog Day

Feeling bold and adventurous, not to mention the huge line of traffic leaving the school drop-off circle, I parked my car and took my dog on a hike. As we got to the open space, I let him off leash and started walking. It was great! He followed me and we went at a much quicker clip than when he's constantly stopping me on his leash. It doesn't hurt that a small part of me was hoping to lose him in the process. (Damn ID chip!) But he kept up nicely.

We met up with a few other dogs and two of them went just swell. They were Labs, too, of course and those dogs just love their own kind. I don't know what other kind of dog the third one was, but they growled at each other. Fortunately, my own stepped away when I called him and it turned out uneventful. It makes me like him so much more when that happens. I'm tired of the anxiety his unpredictability causes me. Maybe he's not so unpredictable after all. 

I've trained my dog the command, "Ignore." When we walk by dogs behind fences cat-calling him, I say "Ignore" and he keeps going. You'll click your tongues at me, I'm sure, thinking back to the Incident In Which I Was Dragged. I'll then remind you that it caught me unaware and I did not give the command - at all. That incident did inspire me to let him off leash today. This might be a trend. For my own good, of course. 

After our hike, I felt great. There is nothing like a brisk bit of exercise to get the blood pumping. I decided to do a little yoga when I got home and took my mat out on the back deck since the weather is so fantastic today. Prompted by a little barking, I let Mooch out with me and practiced Defensive Yoga after that. During the warrior pose, I imagined myself with a bow and arrow taking aim at the side of this annoying animal. Alas, I do not own a bow and arrow. He's a good dog. He just does bad things.

Feeling absolutely inspired, I decided to meditate in my new meditation spot. Have I mentioned this perfectly peaceful place? No defense or distractions? No? My roof. You see, I have a flat roof that is very easy to get onto and it has the best views on my property. And no dog. I did discover, however, that  the birds are very annoying - what with all their chirping and so on. But I had a very clear mind when I was done. 

And now I'm going to take on the world!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Family Food

If you know me at all, you know that cooking isn't a talent of mine. I'm not bad at some stuff, but I've always been an eat to live not a live to eat kind of person. Of course, in the last few years I've really learned to enjoy eating, but it never carried over to loving to cook what I eat.

If you know this about me, you probably know all the strange quirks my family has with food, which would explain why I've pretty much given up trying to cook. If this is all unfamiliar, I'll spell it out for your entertainment:

Husband: Doesn't eat chicken. Likes beef, but only ground beef. Will not eat beans. Or salad. Or rice.

Oldest Child: Vegetarian. LOVES sweets. Eats them more than I do, but she's as thin as a rail. No beans, no humus, no salad. No pizza.

Youngest Child: Pseudo Vegetarian - sometimes eats meat, but unpredictable about what and when. Mostly won't, though. Does not eat beans. Does not like pasta or cheese.

Me: No shrimp. I'm going to leave it at that.

I always imagine what our family Venn Diagram would look like. There is barely any overlapping areas where a family meal could exist. We used to at least be able to break out the spaghetti for dinner, but Youngest won't really go along anymore. It's almost like we'd have a rectangle with four circles sitting next to each other not crossing. My husband and I are a bit closer and I can eat with my Oldest just fine. In fact my homemade mac and cheese is her favorite and I make enough for both of us.

Nobody has to tell me that it's my own fault. I spent practically my entire childhood sitting at the table with a cold plate of food that I refused to eat sitting in front of me until I got tired of being stubborn, ate the stuff and got up. I swore I wouldn't do the same to my own children and I haven't. I don't MAKE them eat stuff. Should have, though. Now I've created a set of monsters.

My New Year's resolution was to figure it all out. How do I make eating a family affair again? I got out a few No-Miss cookbooks with family friendly food in them and they're no good. Vegetarian children aren't normal. Kids are supposed to like hot dogs and hamburgers and pizza. At least the Youngest cheese-hater will eat pizza.

The thing is that there are so many things that I would love to make for all of us. As I type this, risotto crosses my mind, as does yakisoba and spaghetti carbonara. Or even a dang Cobb salad. One of my favorite dishes is made with black beans, sliced grape tomatoes, a handful of frozen corn, cubed avocado tossed with a vinaigrette and black pepper. Then there is my wonderful fritatta with mushrooms and onions that my brother taught me to make.

Oh well, even if I could get them to eat all that, when I make it, it's not guaranteed to come out edible. My kitchen escapades have not all been successful. When I lived in Japan, I loved eating yakisoba. When I've tried to make it, disaster struck. I tried making vindaloo before, too, and failed.

I'm sure I'll figure it out. I'm just not really sure where to go from here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sewing With Me Mum

I had a wonderful day yesterday. I sewed with my mom. I've been trying to think if we've done this before, but can't really recall. Anyway, I discovered that it's more fun to sew with someone else than it is to sew alone. Plus, she helped me with fitting issues that would have taken me a million years to do all by myself.

We didn't finish anything, but made progress in many different directions. I've got my Crepe Sew-Along muslin finalized. All I have to do now is wait for my underlining fabric and organza to arrive in the mail to move on to the next steps. Also, we got about 1/2 way to 3/4 of the way done on a blouse. I need fusible interfacing for that one. And we worked on a dress, but I need fusible interfacing for that, too.

It looks like there is a trip to JoAnn's in my future. I also did something a bit crazy when I got home last night. I bought some pinking shears on eBay last night. I think I got an excellent deal ($3.50), but I probably shouldn't have gotten them. They're 5.5 inches long, end to end. That's pretty small. I should have gone for some 7 or 9 inch shears. Oh well. They're less than ten dollars including shipping and they're Wiss brand. We'll see when they get here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Emergency Brace

Day Two of The Brace. What brace, you ask? Well, the brace the emergency room doctor gave me when I went in Monday night after what felt like my cracked rib and punctured my lungs but was actually a sprained/strained oblique muscle. Muscle pains I can deal with which makes me all the more glad for it not being in the punctured lung realm. 

I felt foolish for going to the emergency room but I couldn't go on any longer without knowing how to get relief. You see, I went for a bike ride - because I felt totally fine - and when I got back I coughed a little which caused the end-all pain for me. 

It hurt to move, bend, use my arm and breathe. Breathing is not supposed to hurt. So in addition to the elastic brace, they gave me some muscle relaxers and authorized me to use the Vicodin from my surgery. I've barely taken anything since I don't want to be loopy. 

In the meantime, I've become quite aware at how much I use my "core" muscles, including my oblique muscle in everyday life. It makes me want to do Pilates or something when I'm done healing. Either that or eat more donettes*.

*donettes are those little powdered donuts that you get from Hostess.

Saturday, January 08, 2011


I'm in pain. Out of the blue, my back under my right shoulder blade started hurting. It came on slowly and not as though from an injury. All of my experience as a Hypochondriac Doctor (i.e. diagnosing all of my injuries both real and imagined) could not logically come to terms with this. The only injury that I could dial back to was the incident In Which I Was Dragged By The Dog. Could I actually have an injury start to hurt several days after it occurred?

This was yesterday. Last night I slept sandwiched between my two daughters. Only not a comfortable sandwich with fancy bread served on a fine china plate with pickle garnish and linen napkin, no I was that grilled-cheese with Wonder Bread made with the iron. In the midst of my smash-a-thon, rolling over was a painful challenge. I was wincing and groaning with every move and believing that getting old sucks.

When I showered this morning, I noticed that I had a bruise on my boob. My boob! When I pushed on my chest, I found that the pain traveled from the front of me through to where the back pain was. I was able to finally duplicate and isolate the pain. That links the injury to the incident. I did not withhold the pain medication and met my friend Tylenol for a trot to work.

(Should I be worried that while I'm typing this my cat is hunched down next to my dishwasher like she's about to catch a critter of some sort? Picture Tom staking out Jerry's hole.)

Now I'm wondering if I should see a doctor. It doesn't seem as bad as that, but those ribs and sternum are protecting some things that I need. My heart is in there! I'll decide tomorrow. It's time for bed. The cat and I are going downstairs now.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

What A Drag!

My poor dog has not had his regular walks since the girls have been on winter break. I usually take him after I drop them off at school and we find interesting and different places to go around the school. I enjoy the change of scenery since I'm tired of the same loops leaving our house by now.

You can imagine how excited he was to be out and about on the girls' first day back to school today. He was doing a lot of pulling, like a bad-dog, but I forgave him because I felt guilty he'd been cooped up. A couple yanks of the leash and he chilled out a bit. We were a mere ten-minutes into my walk this morning when disaster struck.

We had just gotten to the top of a little hill when it was time to decide whether to go around the street loop or continue up the big hill towards the open space. I must have been distracted or daydreaming because all of a sudden Mooch took off. Before I even knew what was happening, I was in the air.

I let out a guttural scream and hit the dirt and mud on the fly. Too shocked to let go quickly enough, I was dragged a few feet before the leash left my hands. Stunned, I looked up to see my dog with his nose in the fence of a yard where there must have been a dog on the other side.

I got up. I didn't even brush myself off. I could feel my knee throbbing and it felt like blood was dripping. I checked to see if I ripped my jeans - I did not - and started walking back to the car. I was done. I scraped my hands, arms, legs, chest, stomach and my chin on that dirt and mud. I didn't even care if my dog followed me or not. I didn't call him or grab his leash or even look at him. I just walked.

Mooch, interest in the fenced dog complete, started following me. He walked closer to me than he did when I had the leash in my hand. Then he trotted a bit ahead of me at an angle. When I realized that he was trotting at an angle so that he wouldn't step on the big retractable leash handle that he was dragging I just started laughing. I took the leash off of his collar and started fantasizing that he would get hit by a car when we got to the busy street we were approaching.

Alas, he did not. He even got in the car without any coaxing as is normally required.

When I took my clothes off to take my shower, I had dirt clods fall out of my sleeves and mud caked into my belt buckle and my watch band. What a drag!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Resolutions in the Can

I'm not saying that cleaning out my cupboards was a resolution. It might have been, but I'm not saying. So I just cleaned out two-and-a-half shelves and I can already tell that it should have been my resolution last year.

I thought that finding something that expired in 2007 was bad. Yikes! Three years beyond its prime is pretty old. Can you believe it was so old? Then I found something older. I found a little canister of Gatorade that expired in 2005. My husband tried to save it saying that something like that never expires. We looked inside and let me just say - that stuff actually does get old.

I let him decide if the cans of clam chowder can stay since they only expired in November of 2010. I don't eat the stuff anyway, so what do I care if it's old?

But that wasn't the worst of it. I found some sunflower butter that should have been refrigerated after opening but wasn't that expired in 2004. I know for a fact that I've cleaned my cupboards since 2004. How did that one survive? Unrefrigerated? How did I miss that?

Now I have to figure out what to do with the stuff. Do I just chuck it all because I'm a little tired of the whole project by now or do I open all the cans, dump the stuff in the garbage, rinse out the cans for recycling? I feel like doing the first but if I don't do that last, I'll feel very guilty. Besides, what will the rats eat tonight for dinner?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Years Revolutions

Whatever my husband is watching on TV upstairs has a lot of swearing. I can't hear what they're saying, but there is a lot of beeping. That I hear.

I worked today while my family laid around the house. Which reminds me, I don't know if that should laid or lain or just hung out. I don't really know what they did, but did I mention that I worked? At my job. On the HOLIDAY! I pretended to be totally incensed to have to work, but I really was. There are a few holidays that really mean something to me and New Years Day is one of them. And Christmas. And Thanksgiving. And St. Patricks Day. And Veterans Day. And Arbor Day. I don't know when Arbor Day is, but I'm going to ask for that day off to make up for having to work today.

I was going to write about resolutions but got sidetracked on my potential revolution and wondering if that tickle I feel on my neck, under the cat, could possibly be a tick. I hope not.