Thursday, December 31, 2009

7200, 7199, 7198, 7197, 7196...



I'm counting down to the New Year, and gettin' the doxie ready for our midnight smooch. Yes and alas, readers, my New Year's Eve is being spent solo. Iffy weather conditions kept me from making any sort of travel plans, so it's just as well I'm staying home and reviewing the year that was, in hopes of doing much, much better next year.

Although my finances are finishing the year in worse shape, my body is faring a bit better than it was at the start of 2009. I've discovered that exercising doesn't have to equal the torture dished out by our grade school gym teacher, who extolled the virtues of running till one pukes and believed the way to motivate us chubby kids was through humiliation. (Yeah, that worked real well, Mr. Schwartz!) I had hoped to observe birthday 50 -- now just 113 days away -- with some sort of grand walkabout in the British Isles, but unless somebody actually gifts me with such a trek (or unless I somehow manage to double my salary between now & then), the trip won't happen this year. Nevertheless, I can aim to walk the five flights of stairs in the campus library without requiring supplemental oxygenation . . . .

While true love eluded me in '09, my ventures in the realm of romance did serve to confirm what I don't want in a relationship. Sadly, it also seemed to confirm that the men I am attracted to do not reciprocate the sentiment -- and it's not as thought I've got impossibly idealistic, unrealistic standards. (But perhaps they do?) Still, I'm going to give the Bolivian love amulet time to do its magic, and have every reason to believe that I'll at least have a date before the end of the first quarter of 2010. Hopefully without having to move to another state.

I wasn't a very diligent blogger this past year, and can't promise to improve in the months ahead, but will strive to at least maintain the same level of entertainment and whining that you've come to expect, with perhaps more poetry and original photography thrown in for interest.

And I will continue not to charge for this service.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Seasonal Greeting


A very happy Christmas
to all my blogland friends!

(Intell, right, and little sister, circa 1964 or 1965).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Got Lucky!

Just not "that" way.

Intellikid didn't realize that certain items purchased from Amazon.com do not ship in a plain brown wrapper...and so earlier this week when my Christmas present from her was delivered, her hopes of surprising me were dashed. But all is good, because my dear, darling daughter (who had better never spend that much on me again, at least not until she has graduated from college and is gainfully employed) gifted me with a KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer. I don't even care that it's not the super-duper professional model I was lusting after a few posts back.

I'll pick intellikid up from the Charlotte airport on Tuesday morning -- I guess I'm getting lucky with the weather, too, because Tuesday is the only day in our local forecast next week where some sort of precipitation or other isn't called for. The foot of snow we got here in Bubbaville since Friday morning sure makes things look Christmas-y! Hopefully I'll get a break from shoveling tomorrow, and go finish start my Christmas shopping in Bubbaopolis. It's a tradition for my sister and I to take a day and go to the big city to shop, have a nice lunch with a nice glass of wine, and then shop some more so that at least one of us is sober enough to drive the 50 miles back to Bubbaville. (But first a stop at Sonic for a lime slush to go...did you know they mix really well with Tequila?)

Yep, I got me some. Some holiday spirit!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just What I Needed!


Friday evening our department held its annual holiday booze-fest party, and I'm glad that's done with for another year much fun was had by all.

One highlight of these events is the "Gift Exchange Game," and this year I lucked out -- instead of drawing a useless, tasteless, cheap-O gift like the fugly pottery soap-dish I got last year, I ended up snagging a very cool Bolivian love amulet, pictured right. Tradition says that this charm will bring true love to the loveless, or strengthen the bonds of those already bound.

This timely gift comes (wink,wink, nudge, nudge) within 2 weeks of my giving up all hope letting my Match.com membership expire. As far as I know, there is no monthly fee to wear the amulet, and I am willing to believe that it posesses powers far beyond those of the folks at Match, who have yet to find a way to filter out shirtless, monosyllabic Baptists from my search results.

Now, Fate being the irony-loving bitch that she is, I may not actually need to call on the powers of the Bolivian pixies de amor to get me some find love, but it doesn't hurt to have a bit of auxilliary mojo in these circumstances. And if nothing else, I'll have a nice conversation-starter dangling in my cleavage at the rest of the holiday parties I attend!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I'm easy...

...to buy for when it comes to gift-giving time. In spite of the fact that my April birthday means diamonds are my best friend, I would cringe if someone actually tried to give one of these gems to me. And unless they're organically and locally grown, I really don't want to receive a bouquet of flowers, regardless of the giver's intent. Golden bling don't do a thing for this gal, either -- aesthetically I prefer silver metal, even if it's not worth its weight in gold.

Flowers, Diamonds, and Gold: The Destructive Public Health, Human Rights, and Environmental Consequences of Symbols of Love explains, in part, why I feel the way I do about these particular tokens of affection. In addition to the environmental havoc and inhumane conditions under which such "gifts" are produced, however, I object to the idea that a mass-produced trinket or centerpiece can convey the depth of one's feelings for another.

And I'm not saying that it takes something extra special, like the keys to a Lexus under the tree, to light my fire! No, if there are any secret Santas out there wondering what to buy intelli for Christmas, remember that nothing warms my heart (and other organs) better than a nice bottle of single malt.

Free-range, organic dark chocolates are lovely, too.

Friday, November 27, 2009

It may be too late for some of you . . .


. . . but for the rest, remember that today is BUY NOTHING DAY, a day to resist the urge to splurge and keep your hard-earned earnings out of the pockets of corporate thieves, scoundrels, and no-goods.

I don't advocate going to the extremes that some observers of the no-shopping movement propose -- like abstaining from ALL consumer spending by turning off all power-consuming appliances and lights, fasting, etc. -- but the Black Friday madness has truly gotten out of hand over the past decade or so, and there really is no consumer good out there that is worth killing or dying for.

My resolve would be tested mightily, however, if one of these bad boys was offered at, say, 50% off MSRP.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Make A Wish

For now, all my immediate wishes are fulfilled. Intellikid is home (well, she's within 50 miles of home, since her boyfriend's car ostensibly has a headlight out). I don't have to go to work for the next 96+ hours. My culinary obligations for tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast, hosted by my sis & bro-in-law, are almost fulfilled (the cranberry sauce is made, and the chocolate birthday cake for my sister is baked - I'll whip up the peanut butter frosting tomorrow).

Well, there is one wish that I could put out there: I wish that the Obama I voted for last November was the same one that's in the White House this November. But at least the Oval Office isn't occupied by the same turkey who sat there previously!

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate, and Happy Thursday to those who don't.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Independence Day (therapeutic blathering)


People ask how I ended up here in Bubbaville, because it really isn't considered a target destination for ... well for much of anybody or anything. I answer, 99% truthfully, that this was as far as I could get on a tank of gas when I left my ex.

It was eleven years ago today that I landed at my sister & brother-in-law's homestead out in Bubba County, having made the decision that it was time to get away from TMFKAH*. At the time, I wasn't sure the move would be permanent, although I knew that my actions would change everything one way or another.

Separation wasn't a decision made lightly -- how could I not consider the implications of breaking up a family? -- but in the past eleven years there was never a single moment when I doubted I made the right decision, both for myself and for my daughter. Now that she is older, I hope that she can see that it was TMFKAH's sickness that destroyed any chance she had of a relationship with him, and that little by little, her hurt goes away.

That has been the hardest thing these last several years, watching her suffer, confused, because her father would not return her calls or answer her letters. I know now, however, that he could have inflicted much, much worse hurt if he'd remained in her life. It helps us, too, that I've maintained a relationship with my ex-in-laws and they've always support my decision fully, and love my daughter as much as they can, from this distance.

Life in Bubbaville has been pretty good, in spite of all the complaining I do. Most important of all, I had the support of my sister & a safe place to stay while I decided what to do next, and the years have mostly been good ones. Sure, I have to drive 25 miles to see a movie or buy a bottle of wine, (and to work since I prefer making above-minimum wage), but having the freedom to do so makes the drive worthwhile, and knowing that I have a peaceful home to come back to is worth the journey.

Just a few highlights of life in Bubbaville:
  • I haven't actually been shot at -- not intentionally, anyway. (The afternoon I arrived, pheasant hunters in the pasture below my sister's place peppered her kitchen windows with shot as we sat there having coffee. My brother-in-law ran out of the house yelling at the guys, who apologized, "We didn't know the bird was gonna fly up towards your house.")
  • I only had one wild animal enter my house uninvited. (One afternoon while washing dishes, the living room window exploded with what sounded like a shot. Shaken, I turned to see that a grouse had flown through the window,landed on the sofa, and expired. Shaken, I called my sister to help clean up the mess -- I still found shards of glass when I moved from that house years later. My brother-in-law ate the bird, and my sister made me a pair of earrings from its feathers.)
  • I have herded renegade cows (actually they were Holsteins), disentangled my sister's angora goats from barbed wire while pet-sitting, and chaperoned 6th graders on a field trip to Dollywood. You guess which was more challenging.
  • I have made some new friends who have brought music and joy back into my life. I hope that somehow I have brought happiness to them, too.


So...Happy Independence Day to ME! I will now return to my customary cranky, bitchy posting.

(*TMFKAH = The Man Formerly Known as Husband)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Night Poetry Reading



(Since I don't have a date tonight, I've been sitting here assessing the drinkability of a free bottle of Cab I acquired, and looking through my computer archives to see what can safely be relocated to the Trash. I re-discovered a poem I wrote some years ago when I was trying out Yahoo's personals and discovered that my former Lit Crit professor had his profile posted there. Quelle surprise! I mean, this guy was adorable, if a bit high-strung, literate, articulate, and one would think that he'd have coeds lusting after him day after day and have no need to resort to an intermediary such as an online dating site to get him some find a soulmate. At any rate, instead of putting out the standard bio, Dr. B posted a number of poems critiquing the online dating environment from a male perspective. I wrote the following poem in response, but never had the nerve to send it to him.)




You think you got it bad?
We girls have it worse –
Most guys on Yahoo
Can't write, much less converse
(Although I will grant you
your talent with verse!)
Dudes put up photos
So tasteless, I cringe --
It's obvious they come
From some lunatic fringe.
I'm not all that picky
When going on dates,
But teeth, hair and shirts
Are all admirable traits
For a guy to display
(So in that regard,
You're doing okay.)




Bongo photo appropriated from fotopedia.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Still Life with Peaches and Figs . . .



...but no dates.


Except this update: After a week of relentlessly pursuing me via telephone and e-mail, culminating in what seemed to be a successful and highly entertaining dinner date with Mr. Compatible two Fridays ago, all communication from him has stopped, and my attempts to contact him have gone unanswered.

It's quite possible that I have simply stunned the fellow into silence as he contemplates whether or not he is truly worthy of my companionship. Or perhaps he is bi-polar, and we just happened to initially connect during one of his manic phases. (It wouldn't be the first time that's happened....)

I'm not sure I have the will to sort through all the nuts out there, just to get another date.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pro Choice


One workday a week or so ago, my stomach was feeling a bit queasy, and so I headed off to one of the mini-markets on campus to buy a can of ginger ale. After searching all the refrigerated beverage cases, I was pissed off dismayed to discover that the University's new marketing agreement with Pepsi means no more ginger ale can be sold on campus! Until then I had been under the (false) impression that only the vending machines and dining units were beholden to PepsiCo. (I'm thinking I could make a little money on the side selling black-market Coca-Cola and Canada Dry products in the parking lot at lunch time.)

This morning I heard of another blow to freedom of choice: It turns out that Michael Jordan's son Marcus chose to play his first university baskeball game wearing a pair if his dad's Nike Air Jordan shoes. No problem here in the land of the free, right? Wrong. Marcus Jordan's action was a violation of UCF's contract with adidas who, unmoved by such acts of sentimentality has said it will terminate the $3-million/year agreement with UCF.

What's the point of sending thousands of troops overseas to defend our freedoms if the Corporate States of America are going to deny us the right to choose what to drink and wear?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Musings


Intellikid reports that all is well in Boston. She is dismayed that her class schedule won't allow for attendance at either the Tea Club or Linguistics Society meetings, but that seems to be her worst complaint so far. She is an inveterate worrier, however, and while I'm glad that we have the sort of rapport where she feels free to ask my advice about matters of import, her habit of asking questions I am not qualified to answer is sometimes less than endearing.

Her latest quandary: whether she should change her major from Linguistics to a new Philosophy and Linguists double major the university offers. Do I think she should switch?

My advice: "I think that someone considering a major in Philosophy should work that out on her own, don't you?"

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Confederacy of Tooters


I've just spent the end of last week at a conference in Richmond, VA, schmoozing it up with all the big names in the world of professional tutors. But readers, it's not as glamorous as it all sounds. For example, two colleagues and I had to drive the 350 miles to the conference site in a motorpool minivan with bad rotors and an even badder smell -- which turned out to be the dog poop that two of us had stepped in prior to our departure.

The conference hotel, despite its $140/night room rate, did not provide free internet access -- nor many other amenities -- in its rooms, so for entertainment I spent a few hours each evening in the hospitality suite and people-watched while trying not to abuse my own liver too much, a task made fairly easy because the Shiraz ran out on night one of the conference and I wasn't in the mood for Chablis from a box or Bud Light from a can.

Besides, one of us had to be sober enough to drive back home Saturday morning....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Signs of the Season


Driving home from work Monday I saw indisputable evidence that the year is rapidly coming to an end:  Christmas trees. 

In the neighboring counties in northwestern North Carolina, thousands of acres are dedicated to the cultivation of Christmas trees, which are already being harvested to ship to points far away.  Part of me hates to see so much acreage and resources involved in the production of a disposable commodity, but then we can't have every Paul Bunyan wannabe traipsing the National Forests, chainsaw in hand, in search of their perfect holiday icon.

Meanwhile, millions of pumpkins are being led to slaughter this week.  When will the carnage end?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

That time of year


Last weekend's cold snap brought the first snow flurries to these here hills, and the freeze must have sent my muse in search of warmer digs because I haven't been able to come up with anything postworthy to note here.

Oh, you noticed.

This week things are warming up, in more ways than one. The weather is much more temperate, at least once the sun comes up. That means that we really don't need the heat on in our offices, thank you. (It has been a stifling 80-degrees in my windowless corner of the building!)

Outside the realm of meteorology, there is a spark of activity on the Match.com front, too. I won't risk jinxing any possible positive outcome by elaborating here, but will simply say that I am very pleased to have made contact with someone whose intellect and humor are compatible with my own. It's been so long since I've ventured into the realm of dating and such, however, that I have no idea what I'm doing. Hopefully that will seem endearing and not off-putting.

I'm not sure why, but most of my (at least temporarily) successful long-term relationships (all 3 of them) have started in the Fall of whatever year they started in. (Interestingly enough, one beau and I met at a Halloween party, where he was a cowboy and I was Cousin It.) Obvious biological drives aside, maybe there is another instinctual influence that prompts some of us to seek out warmth for the coming cold days -- and nights -- ahead.

Or maybe it's the dread of another New Year's Eve spent with the dog.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Making amends


... to JadedJ for inflicting unscenic imagery upon him. Click here for something a little bit más hermosa, my friend.

Last year around this time I was forced to spend 10 days in a resort hotel in San Juan, working the conference that my employer sponsored. Alas, the only way to really unwind after working 12-hour days was to head to one of the hotel's 3 pools (or 2 jacuzzis). If that didn't relax one sufficiently, there was nothing to do but walk up the street to one of the local dining establishments to fortify oneself with a mango and rum concoction. Or three.

It was the best worst 10 days of my life.

Now as the morning temperatures here in the mountains dip into the 40s, I wouldn't mind re-visiting SJ ... but as a tourist. Alas, any income allocated to travel must go towards intellikid's airfare home for Thanksgiving. That's ok, though -- I'll just add a trip to San Juan to that list of things for her to do for me when she graduates and is making more money than I.
Or else I could look for a Sugar(cane) Daddy . . . .

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Observations


I've been eating plenty of fruits and veggies lately . . . doing tai chi and strength training . . . feeling pretty damn good, actually. So it was rather distressing that yesterday two people in my building commented on how exhausted I looked. Huh???

Maybe it's just the work environment that makes me look less than perky. When I look in the mirror at home, I think I look fine. Especially since I changed out all the high-wattage lamps for 40-watt ones.

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

Random observation of the day: It takes a very brave woman to wear white trousers when she's got her period. It takes another type of woman altogether to wear see-through white trousers and sheer underpants that allow persons following behind her up the stairs to see her sanitary pad.

(Sorry, guys.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

There's still time . . .


. . . to celebrate Banned Books Week . I'll have to carve out a few hours this weekend to observe the occasion.

Looking at the American Library Association's list of 100 Banned & Challenged Classics, I see I've got some catching up to do. I'm kind of hesitant to admit that I've only read about 47 of the titles listed...even more hesitant to admit that I've read all the Faulkner titles listed (for a seminar course).

(And who the fark wanted to ban Winnie the Pooh for promoting juvenile delinquency? It's so obvious that the homoerotic-beastial attraction between Winnie and Christopher Robin is cause for yanking that from library shelves! )

So tell me, what's your favorite banned book?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Things look different now


Faithful readers will recall having a recent whiny rant imposed upon them, regarding my correspondence with a certain individual via Match.com. By way of promoting meaningful discourse between opposing factions, said individual proclaimed his heartfelt belief that the world's religions could take on the burden of paying for adequate health care for all, if the religions would simply stop investing their assets in new stained glass, choir robes, etc., etc....
I contested that notion on multiple grounds (some belief systems do in fact endorse helping only those who subscribe to the same belief systems, etc, etc....) and challenged Mr. Conservative to outline how he would see the health care system be overhauled while awaiting the spiritual enlightenment of the masses and their ministers.
He needed time to think.
Then, this weekend, a response: A college buddy of Mr. Conservative's is terminally ill, and because of inadequate insurance coverage, he will leave his family in substantial debt. Now Mr. Conservative is scared. His friend, his friend's family do not deserve such inhumane treatment. What's even worse . . . Mr. Conservative knows that it could very well be him in the same situation. His faith in the for-profit health care system is on shaky ground. And it didn't sound like he has much faith that his church-going brethren would pick up the tab if he fell seriously ill, either.
It looks like meaningful discourse has run its course....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Random and Recently Read

"Modern means of communication span continents, bridge oceans, annihilate time and space. Servants of freedom of thought and action, they offer to all men the wisdom of the ages to free them from tyrannies and establish cooperation among the peoples of the earth." -- Inscription on the Communication Building at the 1939 World's Fair (photo)



"I cannot support any health care plan that would cover teabaggers." -- Michael Berubé






Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday night fun


I'm doin' shots on the porch.


........What's your Friday night fun?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How my achievements mock me!*


(*Wm. Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida)

I appreciate the spirit of the "Kreativ Blogger Award" bestowed upon me by Banquet of Consequences blogger jadedj. But he should have known that the "kreativ" spelling on the award graphic would not sit well (do you not recall my rant about misused apostrophes, man?).

However, I know jaded's heart was in the right place (Nebraska), and do humbly accept the honor. (I must point out, however, that if you were really a socialist like you say, jj, you would give EVERYBODY an award.)

As a condition of acceptance, I am supposed to enumerate seven favorite things "that do not involve people." In checking everyone else's lists, however, I see that the interpretation of non-human complicity is pretty loose (it ain't giraffes playing those blues you like so well, jj . . . ) so I'll just play along:

1) What do you know? I like wine, too. The redder the better. And as far as I know, most of the wine I've enjoyed was human-made. I have occasionally imbibed without human companionship, however. But that doeshn't mak mee a luSh...*hic*

2) Books. Also written by humans. But I can't live without them. And don't even tout the wonders of Kindle to me. I crave the clutter of real books -- in fact, I think they are a fine substitute for other forms of interior decorating.

3) A hot bath -- preferably with 1) and 2).

4) Being naked from the ankle down. I prefer going barefoot whenever possible. Sorry guys, but there'll be none of that shoe porn stuff on this blog!

5) Polar bears. I know that they are vicious carnivores, eat baby seals, and all that . . . but they are fascinating and attractive creatures. It would be a damn shame if we let them become extinct. (I wouldn't get in a hot bath with one, though, even if it was the last polar bear on Earth.)

6) The great outdoors. My childhood home was in the middle of nowhere (almost), and the surrounding woodland was as much "home" as the house we lived in. It's criminal that so many kids today are being raised like domestic animals, cooped up indoors with their Wiis, Playstations, DVD-players, and suchlike. They should be out in the back yard beating each other with sticks. But I digress . . .

7) Cooking. Even though I've mentioned how much I liked baking with intellikid, I really enjoy cooking as a solitary pursuit. It's creative and therapeutic and usually delicious, too. So if I'm in the kitchen, you don't have to ask if there's anything you can do to help. Unless you want to do the dishes.

Now the pay it forward part: I am supposed to reward four other bloggers. I don't suppose I can say that jadedj stole my answers? There are blogs aplenty out there that are worthy, but here are a few of my own favorites:

Bethany Illustrated does justice to the words and photos that grace her blog. And she has the bestest job in the world!

Hughesy could almost be my Aussie doppelganger, I believe. Except that her writing has actually been published.

Pantsless Ponderings is everything you could possibly want in a blog. Even a few things you don't want.

And in the "what the hell, it's getting late and I don't have all night" category, I pass the award to Robert Reich . Doesn't he deserve a little fun, too?

I will say that I am sincerely humbled that there are so many of you who don't have anything better to do than stop by this page. Now go outside and beat each other with sticks...my wine is getting warm and my bath is getting cold!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Skirting the issues


While some of you have seen your e-mail inboxes filled with generous offers from Nigerian businessmen, mine has been woefully empty. But I did get an interesting proposition this weekend.

I recently reactivated my match.com account just to make sure that there were still no interesting (or interested) unattached males within a 100-mile radius of my domicile. Saturday I got my second e-mail (the sender of the first deleted or blocked his profile immediately after expressing interest in corresponding -- what's up with that? It's not like I got all polysyllabic in my reply. Much.) This writer - I haven't even looked up where his town is, although it is in an adjacent state - asked if I thought it was possible for an extreme conservative (him) to have a meaningful discourse with someone who is very liberal (me). Well, of course anything is possible.

Now, I am not interested in pursuing anything with this fellow. Not only are we ideologically polar opposites, but judging from his photo I would say he is understating his age by about 10 years (or else I look really, really good for my age), and he says his status is recently separated, which is my book means still married. But I am curious to know how long we might be able to exchange ideas before he comes out with something totally ludicrous.

Oh, wait - that already happened. In his next e-mail he put forth the proposition that if all religions really practiced what they preached, they could pay for everyone's healthcare and there'd be no need for any health insurance at all.

And I thought I tended to be hopelessly naive.

My ex-beau JimmyJames told me that this song always reminded him of me:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Weed it and reap


If as we sow, so shall we reap, then I must remember to wear my glasses the next time I pick up a packet of seeds. I surely didn't think I was planting the mess of weeds cropping up this week.

One lesson that I have finally, finally learned is to not obsess about those things over which I have no control. Still, that is easier writ than done, especially when pertaining to things close to home. This week, the health issues of my dog and my mother have demanded my attention.

My sister has been the one driving Mom to her medical appointments -- most recently to a naturopath -- while I've been charged with ensuring that there are convenient and appropriate food choices available to help her stick with the anti-inflammatory food plan prescribed (I share a house with my mother, which is a whole 'nother circumstance best left to another post, or better still, a session with a trained mental health professional). Well, I did the unthinkable and bought shrimp home to prepare for dinner one evening. "I'm not allowed to have shellfish," said Mom before going out on the porch to smoke a cigarette. Uh . . . .

So, I am determined not to feel responsible for what my mother eats or doesn't eat. Other than the shrimp thing, I do what I am "supposed" to do, cleaning bunches of celery, chopping salads, cooking meals so Mom won't resort to her former diet of cheese, nuts, and English muffins slathered with butter and peanut butter (ick, ick, ick). Maybe if I found a recipe for "tobacco-infused shrimp primavera," she'd eat that . . . .

The dog, a geriatric dachshund, has had disc problems in the past, but we managed it with prednisone and restricted activity, and she seemed to recover fully. Thursday at suppertime, however, she was feeling so good that she leaped up and something gave out when she landed. For a few scary minutes one hind leg wasn't working -- but today, after more meds and less activity, she seems pain-free and is only limping slightly. The s-word (surgery) is something I can't/won't contemplate, not for a superannuated canine. But I dread that the day will soon come when I have to make a tough decision regarding this creature's comfort, and am letting that stress me out more than it should.

But there is a bright side: At least when the dog goes out on the porch with my Mom, the dog doesn't light up.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I'm sure this comes as no surprise




You Are Made Of Devilry, Inspiration, and Class



3 parts Devilry

2 parts Inspiration

1 part Class



And a Splash of Rebellion



Sip slowly on the beach

Monday, September 7, 2009

Take the day off...if you can


Nothing like getting together with friends and family for some down-time on a holiday weekend. My sis & b-i-l had a party last night, where much fun was had, much wine was drunk, and much booty was shaken. Would've been nice if my niece had been able to attend, but being a college student, it was too hard for her to say "no" to time-and-a-half pay to work her retail job instead. (Needless to say, she isn't employed by The Evil Empire, whose sins against its employees are too numerous to list here. )

Those of us who still have jobs have reason to celebrate today, although having our benefits cut, our salaries frozen, and our retirement funds pilfered, there's not that much to feel jolly about.

Maybe a little more Lee Dorsey will help cheer us up:


Friday, September 4, 2009

Felines of Apprehension


On my way back from Boston last week, I fear I saw the Ghost of Intelliwench Future.

I stopped by the home of a former business contact, a woman who was suddenly widowed last summer. She and her husband had no children, so, alone now, she decided it made sense -- was even a moral obligation of sorts -- to fill her spacious Victorian house with as many homeless cats as she could.

I wisely declined her offer to spend the night. Much to her credit, though, one would never guess that she had 30 cats inside (her best estimate) -- I've been in single-cat households that were far more odiforous. But still . . . 3 hours a day spent changing litter pans. I didn't ask how many trips to the vet it takes to get them all their shots (again to her credit, she is not negligent in any aspect of caretaking). I gave a small donation to the local cat rescue society before heading home, and of course checked before leaving her driveway to make sure there were no stowaway Siamese in my car!

In spite of providing haven for a couple of canines during the past decade, I have always been more of a cat person -- but never was owned by more than two felines at one time. Still, I worry that I could become a crazy cat lady. (I'll think twice about installing a garbage disposal if we ever get around to remodeling the kitchen!) It does sort of run in the family -- my Great-Aunt Helen, a schizophrenic, told visitors that the smell in her house was from the cows up the hill, not her dozen or so cats (even though their home was in an entirely residential area) (oh, and she also thought that the BBQ grill was an eavesdropping device). My dad was the beneficiary of his irresponsible friends' cats' progeny -- although once his cat population reached a critical mass of 5 or 6, any extraneous cats were usually wise enough to run away in search of less crowded conditions (or at least a clean place to shit -- dad had no sense of smell and so cleaned his single litter box semi-annually, I think).

Now, I have no intention of carrying on this tradition. But I'm sure my friend didn't envision herself as landlady to a herd of cats, either. I will just have to trust that my own friends and family will intervene if there are signs of my ever becoming overly fond of felines.

At the very least, I hope they will ensure that I never have more cats than rooms, and that I maintain a strict two-cat per litter box ratio.

Funky Friday

Everything I do gohn be funky...from now on.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Left behind . . .

. . . or behind, right. Either way, it's lonely here tonight.

After unloading all of intellikid's stuff at her BU residence hall, the car sure looked empty Monday evening when I got back to my accommodations. I am proud of myself for only spending 30 minutes bawling my eyes out, though.

Latest communiqués indicate, however, that Daughter Dear herself is doing well, if a bit bored today due to being reluctant to venture out into the rainy weather. She spent the week doing a service project with domestic violence prevention and shelter-type agencies, learning how to walk the few blocks from campus to her residence hall alone without getting or looking lost, acquiring the ever-important skill of being able to fall asleep with the lights on, and, apparently, missing my cooking.

Some statistics are in order, I think. Bubbaville, where intellikid and I have lived for the past 11 years (and by the way, Bubba County is home to Copperhead Road ), has a population of around 2,400. Boston University (down by the banks of the River Charles) boasts 4,000 members in its class of 2013. There are two establishments within one block of intellikid's res where fresh sushi can be had. In Bubbaville, you can buy live bait from vending machines. Can you say "culture shock?"

Nevertheless, I think my kid will feel at home in her new home. For me, though, home is a much quieter place this week.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I have to go now


Today I'm leaving for the long drive to Boston.

To get there, I have to drive some 300 miles across Virginia on Interstate-81.

This summer, Virginia closed down 19 of its interstate rest stops, in order to save $9M.

I guess that means there will be less stop-and-go on this trip.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A to Z


I'm going to spend a good chunk of time in the kitchen today -- apple crisp and zucchini bread need to be baked!

Time spent in the kitchen with intellikid has been one of the main ingredients sweetening our relationship. It will be so ... different not to have her around (she's due to move in to her residence hall at BU on the 24th). Certainly, there are some areas of my life that I'll be happy to reclaim, but I will miss the daily companionship and commentary that my daughter has provided.

Still, the moving away and apart is a good thing, and I fully intend to be one of those "I'm-here-if-you-need-me-but-please-don't-call-me-every-day" kinds of parents (an endangered species these days, I know).

Now, if I could only get my own mother to stop worrying about ME....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dog days


The ebbs and swells of the cicadas' cadence are more easily heard now that the new bypass is open, deflecting truck and tourist traffic away from the street that goes by my house. You can actually sit out on the front porch and hold a conversation now.

Or you could, until the new neighbors moved in two doors down. It is a good thing that someone has finally taken on the task of rehabbing the century-old house, but the daily drone of power tools didn't figure into my idea of some down-time at home.

Nor did the incessant yapping of their 4-legged family member.

A poodle ain't a yard dog, folks.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Sick Society



When illness strikes a loved one, it’s time to do something.

My mother is displaying the symptoms of the new disease making headlines. Much more serious than the H1N1 virus, what Mom’s got is the same brain-numbing affliction that thousands of “Town Hall Protesters” are suffering from. I think she caught it from those two guys she’s been spending so much time with, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. (Can’t they be quarantined?)

This is serious. As a consequence of ingesting other folks' opinions, Mom is outwardly depressed over what she perceives as threats to her assets and lifestyle, and to the fantastic private health insurance she has (courtesy of my dear departed stepfather’s longtime service as a state employee, and generously subsidized by the taxpayers of Pennsylvania). She is not a stupid woman, yet she has been utterly brainwashed by the crap she watches on television, by the books her sister tells her she “must” read, and even by the reactionary comments made by the guy who mows the lawn (stuff so vile I will not publish it on my page!). This is not the same woman who raised me.

Bill, Glenn – I want my mother back. Don’t make me pull the plug . . . .

~*~**~***~****~***~**~



As an aside, here is the great Cab Calloway's take on "End of Life Options":

Monday, August 10, 2009

Where's my paddle?

It's over. My summer institute, that is.

My mantra during last year's institute was "Nobody's died yet." This year, my mantra was tweaked just a bit: "I haven't killed anybody yet." And luckily for us all, that held true throughout the month of July, even when I took 20 of the participants on a canoe trip.

Luckier still, we were all only in the same metaphorical boat.

I am scrambling to find a new job before next summer's institute rears its ugly head. Not only have I still not received the pay raise I was supposed to get in January 2008 when I agreed to take the job, but the state employees' health plan has cut its mental health benefits. So I would be crazy to stay in the job, but unable to seek treatment for it.

An ounce of prevention is the obvious cure here, don't you think?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tsk, tsk...


Is it any wonder I wish to disassociate from most of the rest of my species, when the passing of Walter Cronkite garners a mere fraction of the media -- and popular -- attention than that of Michael Jackson's demise? Priorities, people!

(Menopausal Stoners has some share-worthy thoughts relevant to all this.)

It's kind of a wonder that WC hung around the planet as long as he did, considering the state of "news" journalism these past couple of decades. Maybe those of us old enough to remember Cronkite, Huntley, Brinkley, and the other pre-CNN newscasters shirked our responsibility to re-direct the misdirected corporate news entities when they wandered so far off the path. Then again, it was the '80s, and lots of people lost their way back then. It was morning in America, and we hadn't had our coffee yet.

Here's to you, Uncle Walter...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ode to a Peach

(Revisiting a 2005 post I made to Journalspace, because my brain is taking the weekend off!)
It's that time -- roadside stands tempt -- baskets overflowing with blushing local peaches catch my eye as I drive by. A far cry from the grocery store's pithy, pathetic California peaches, prematurely plucked from their natal boughs, these peaches were nurtured to full peachhood. They are the peaches poets write about, singers sing about, painters portray. When I'm feeling just peachy, these are the peaches I emulate.

The peach (Prunus persica to you taxonomists) is perhaps the most carnal of fruits, but I don't need to tell you that. You've already noticed how familiar the soft, fuzzy skin feels, compared its almost anatomical cleft to corporeal counterparts. In fact it is difficult, if not impossible, to describe a peach without resorting to language that violates numerous sections of the Hays Code. And to relate the act of eating one, well.... I blush like a peach just thinking about it.

Eating a peach involves all the senses. Whether your personal aesthetic is prurient or puritanical, you will recognize the honeyed aroma of a ripe peach, and your eyes appreciate its sunset-hued peachidermis. Feel the nap covering its circumference. Hear the embarrassingly necessary slurping and sucking sounds that accompany the enjoyment of a really ripe peach. Taste the just-barely-acid nectar of the fruit that spreads across your tongue like liquid velvet syrup. Do you really believe Eve tempted Adam with a mere MacIntosh? No, it had to have been a peach.

Once the pulp is eaten and any juicy evidence disposed of by the means of your choosing, there remains the peach pit. This crenellated vessel of future generations of peaches deserves further comtemplation. If you're not going to cultivate your own orchard, you may consider the intricate art of peach pit carving. This is recommended over more sinister applications for the stone's interior seed, which contains cyanogenic compounds -- although presumably it would take a peck of peach pits to do actual harm.

Peaches, like life, deliver the bitter and the sweet. Buy peaches ripe, store them at room temperature. If you must refrigerate them, let them warm before eating to enjoy the full spectrum of sweet juciness. Or is that juicy sweetness? Either way, the season is all too short.

(For further reading on the enjoyment of fruits, forbidden and otherwise, I direct you to Christina Rosetti's poem "Goblin Market". Evidence that not all Victorians were so -- Victorian.)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The question nobody asks . . .

"How many times can we ask the same question, Ms. Intelliwench, before you blast us with imaginary death-rays and wish us gone from the face of the Earth?"

It's day nine of the month-long summer institute I organize, and I haven't killed anybody . . . yet. It's getting more and more difficult, though, to sound sweet and helpful when someone asks, ten minutes after I deliver the information both verbally and via handout, what the library's hours are, or what time we meet for such-and-such tour, or where the sign-up sheet for this-thing-or-the-other is. The institute participants are all college faculty themselves, which makes pandering to their inattentiveness even more difficult.

The good news is that I have finally been getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night.

The bad news is that it's only day 9 of the month-long summer institute I organize.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

If I could have anything . . .

...anything at all right now, I would simply wish for 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Is that so much to ask?

Between traveling to Boston and back, the boot-camp-like regime of BU's orientation (even us parents had our every waking hour scheduled to the hilt!), and the "what-fresh-hellish-muckup-will-strike-next" motif that underscores my workdays these days, my body seems to have decided that the hours of 3:30 - 5:30 a.m. are best spent awake. My brain does not like this.

But Boston was lovely, and only slightly rainy. Once freed from the rigors of the indoctrination program at the University (we didn't drink the Kool-Aid), intellikid and I had a day and a half to further explore the city she'll call home for the next 4 years, financial assistance package willing.

On Friday, her shiny new college ID card got her free admission to the Museum of Fine Art, where we spent several hours before heading to Chinatown for dinner. Saturday we breakfasted at a coffee shop that was NOT Starbucks, and overheard the fellow at the next table say to his companion, "Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, but -- damndest thing -- I came down with the swine flu." To test the stalwartness of our own immune systems, we then went to the New England Aquarium, jammed ourselves in among the thousands of other visitors, and made inappropriate lip-smacking sounds while viewing tanks of crabs and other seafood.

To date we exhibit no symptoms of the H1N1 virus. But we're already sick of life back here in Bubbaville. Sadly, I am too tired to do anything about it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Out of the ashes of defeat


There was once a time when I considered laptop computers an excess. This morning however,with the electricity suddenly gone off, I am glad that my employer provided me one of these technological extravagances, so that I can write my blog post instead of doing something more productive like weed the garden or catch up on reading for my class.

Speaking of weeds, that is not a cigarette in my hand, so don't worry that the stress of my life's current frenzied pace has started me smoking again.

I didn't start smoking until I was 20, perhaps in part to emulate Fran Lebowitz, whose sarcastic wit seemed a cousin to mine. I also dropped out of college around that time, because if Fran didn't need a college degree to get paid to write, then neither did I.

I quit smoking in 1998. My writing habit, however, persists.

I finally returned to college in 2004, and found it difficult at first to sit down to tackle my creative writing assignments without a Salem smouldering in a nearby ashtray. (As for smoking after sex, well, I pretty much gave the sex part up in 1998, too, but have not --yet-- forsworn that pastime. I just haven't found a new, er, brand worthy of the effort.) My blogging habit began in '05, with a post to JournalSpace entitled "English Majors Gone Wild." Today my posts are not so prolific as they once were, but I feel compelled to keep a foot in the blogosphere, in part because of the intresting personal connections that have resulted.

The talented and punderful jadedj is one of my longtime blogging buddies. In the aftermath of jaded's unfortunate defeat in what history will surely record as the Blue Yak Banner Brouhaha of Ought-nine I offered j the opportunity to create a custom header for my blog. I acknowledged that PRS doesn't have the same prestige as TBY, but what I lack in number of followers and quantity of posts, I make up for in massive amounts of je ne sais quoi.

Electricity has returned! So now I can proudly unveil the result of this collaboration, my new Post-Raphaelite Sisterhood blog header:


My deepest gratitude to jadedj, who has earned a lifetime membership in the Sisterhood, along with my Aunt Binky's Curry Dip Recipe (as soon as I can get it transcribed!)

Have a good week, everyone. Next Sunday I'll be back to tell you all about Freshman / Parent orientation at Boston U!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Case for Civil War


I know how to solve the US auto industry's woes.

We should bomb Detroit.

Since massive amounts of aid money follow any act of US military aggression, it seems only logical that an invasion of Detroit would bring billions of dollars of much-needed aid to the region.

And taxpayers would be less hostile to "Reconstruction" plans than they are to "Bail-Out" schemes.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Another timely post


Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
- Marx (Groucho)

Time is a scarce commodity these days. My workload from now until August 1 will fill more than a 40hour work week. And for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to enroll in a 6-week summer class, since it only meets on Saturdays.

I haven't had time to figure out how I managed to screw up the layout of my blog, and push the followers, etc., to the bottom of the page. Ideas, anyone?

Anyway, I will try to post & read blogs on Sundays. If there's time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just in time . . .


. . . my sister dropped off my (belated) birthday gift - a gift certificate for an hour's massage. Ooh, yeah.

I used to regularly get rubbed the right way, but since 1) my raise didn't come through, and 2) child support $ stopped, I no longer have any "disposable" income.

I have tried to compensate by slinking around to all the local health fairs to get free 10-minute chair massages from masseusses- and masseurs-in-training -- but it's not the same as the real thing. I may have to contact the local community college to see if their massage therapy students need a willing volunteer to help them accumulate the necessary clinical hours for licensure.

In the meantime, however, I have an appointment to make . . .

Monday, May 25, 2009

Metamorphosis

But not the Kafka-esque kind.


I needed to post a little something lighter after my last rantlet. So I thought of butterflies. Even though lepidopterae have mixed symbolic significance, I choose to think of them always in a positive light. And the symbolism of change they represent is apt, in the context of all the changes happening 'round here.


To my darling daughter . . . I give you wings.


Image Source: Karen's Whimsy

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

With practice

I decided to heed the advice of commenters and not worry about the tears of pride and joy that will inevitably prevent me from actually seeing my daughter receive her high school diploma on Saturday. And yesterday I had the opportunity to practice some discreet weeping at the Senior Honors Awards ceremony.

Intellikid has received a substantial financial aid package from her intended college (Boston University), but nevertheless it falls a bit short of meeting her actual need -- not to mention the travel costs! So it was wonderful news yesterday to learn that she received a scholarship from a local foundation that will make up the deficit, and hopefully reduce the amount of borrowing she'll have to do.

After hearing this fantastic news, I sat bleary-eyed through the rest of the awards presentations, so happy that my kid's dreams are coming true.

(And she knows not to date any med students while she's at BU!)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

If you do it right . . .


"Housework, if you do it right, will kill you." -- Erma Bombeck

Woke up this morning with my throat all swollen, presumably from inhaling fumes from the stuff I used to clean my shower yesterday. So much for better living through chemistry. I'll just use elbow grease next time.

I have fallen out of several habits lately -- housework and blogging being two of them. Now I have less than a week to make the house presentable for the guests we're expecting -- my ex's sister and her brood plan to come down from Pennsylvania for intellikid's graduation. Yes, life . . give me more stress, please.
Of course, one of my favorite ways of dealing with stress is avoidance. To that end, I have picked up a new habit -- watching House reruns on TV. I am seriously addicted, and the prolonged rainy spell we've been having has helped justify my prolonged bouts of inertia in front of the tube. But I can quit any time I want to . . .

I just can't understand some people's compulsions, that there are actually individuals out there who iron their bedsheets, alphabetize their spice racks, and who wouldn't think of sitting down to read a novel if there is an unwashed coffee cup in the sink. I do know that the chaotic state of my domicile and my psychic clutter are somewhat related . . . but which came first?

I bet I can find a self-help book or Dr. Phil episode to help me figure that one out.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Question for mature readers only


(Mature, in this instance, means that you are old enough to have a child who's graduated from high school.)
My question is this: How do I keep from crying like a fool at intellikid's commencement ceremony next weekend?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

By the skin of my teeth*

(*because I couldn't title this post "By the seat of my pants")



Faithful readers may recall that earlier this year I expressed the suspicion that I had cracked a molar. And, typical of events involving a likely large outlay of cash and/or encounters with the medical establishment, I waited to do something about it until I had to do something about it. About a month ago a chunk of said tooth broke off one day while I was snacking at work, and to make a long story short, over the last few weeks I have spent about 5 hours and a couple months' pay rehabilitating said tooth.


(If you're wondering whether that's a seriously damaged tooth, or whether I'm seriously underpaid, you're right!)

Yesterday I had root canal part deux, followed by some minor surgery (lasers to trim the gum tissue -- cool! drills to cut the bone -- not so much!) and felt entitled to be a wimp today, what with the pain and not sleeping much last night. So I stayed home from work, and after a breakfast of scrambled eggs I dozed off an on to the Science Channel.


I'm trying not to be pessimistic about this, but with my knee episode last week, and now this, it seems like my warranty is about to expire. It doesn't help that on Thursday I get to have one last birthday before the AARP membership applications start littering my mailbox.


Yes, this is a shameless ploy for sympathy. You know I'd do the same for you . . .

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gratuitous Kitten Photo



Ooh, look at the kitties! A temporary distraction from the less-than-cuddly realities of life.

The cosmos seems intent on delivering a message of some sort to me; during the past 24 hours I have been visited by what I consider to be more than my fair share of annoyances.

First, I started yesterday with one of those ice-pick-in-the-eye-socket sinus headaches that changes in the weather seem to bring on. That made me even tireder and grumper than I would normally be upon returning to work after a 5-day break.

I have been pondering how far I can go in pushing for the salary increase that I was supposed to get LAST January. Yep, that's January 2008. Because of bureaucreatic bovine by-products, not only has my pay stayed the same, but I can't even get reclassified to the proper job title on paper (or on computer, as the case may be) because the salary I am paid is below the minimum starting pay for the classification of the job I actually perform but can't get paid for because . . . oh, hell. Anyway, yesterday I was seriously considering just cleaning out my office, taking up my old position at the front desk, and wondering what the consequences would be. But because of the sinus thing, I just couldn't be bothered.

And with all that on my mind, last night I sat down to finish the paper for my Research Methods class only to discover that the folder with my notes in is 25 miles away, in my office. I did what work I could on the paper (i.e., figured out how to number the table of contents and abstract pages with Roman numerals while numbering the pages of the body of the paper in Arabic numerals -- just ask if you want to know!), and then decided to call it a night.

I went into my bedroom, and saw the dog chewing intently on . . . the pants to my ONE suit that I can't afford to replace. Yeah, I should have hung the pants up instead of draping them on the bed, but was in a rush to make dinner & get started working on that paper, remember? And anyway, our "geriatric" dachshund hasn't been getting up on beds unassisted for a number of months now. I guess there was just something about my trousers that made it worth the effort. (Now there's a line I never typed before!)

And the fun continues. This morning, in my pre-caffeinated daze, I miscalculated while going down the stairs and missed the bottom step, consequently wrenching my "good" knee. Looks like I won't be kicking any @ss at the office today . . .

At least it's Thursday already.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Random rant with reward (see post)

I could have saved my boss a lot of time and trouble last week. He need not have gone to the trouble to get a colonoscopy; most of us in the office could easily have diagnosed his recto-cranial inversion.

Grumble. Bitch. Piss. And moan. One of these days I'll learn not to check my work e-mail account over the weekend.... Don't worry, I still have a job (and am still not getting the raise I was due in January 2008). I'm just less and less enthusiastic about the whole enterprise. Good thing I have a 5-day weekend coming up SOON!


At any rate, an apology is offered to my faithful readers who've suffered, wench-less, these past several weeks. Things in the real world are busying-up: Prom and graduation for intellikid are fast approaching, I myself have a paper due & a final exam coming up that require plenty of attention on my part, and various of my family members are experiencing medical challenges of their own. With the exception of lunch-hour glimpses at my favourites' blogs, when time permits, I've been tending to escape in the pages of books, rather than in the ether of the interweb. (One of these days, jennifer, I'll get around to putting my GoodReads shelf over on the sidebar...)

But oh, on those occasions when I do venture online, the treasures I find. (Do not stop watching when she winds down about 3 minutes in . . . )

I got to see Ella perform in the summer of 1986, accompanied by Joe Pass for the second set. Lordy.

However, just now I've got some thighs to marinate (not mine, sillies -- I'm making chicken satay for dinner), several more mugs of coffee to drink, two loads of laundry to wash, two bathrooms to clean, a chapter to read, two online quizzes to master, some yard work to do (and it's supposed to frikkin' snow here tomorrow through Wednesday!), and other numerous tasks to try and accomplish. I'll try and make the blog rounds, too...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Back-biting



So glad for the weekend here. I like the work I do during the other days of the week, but my department has got to have more dysfunctionality-per-employee than any other on campus, if not in the whole state university system.



I'm not claiming to be the only sane one there (that goes without saying!). And like a bad relationship, sometimes it can take a while before you realize what you've gotten yourself into.



The job does have its perks, however. For example, at the conference I recently attended, I met with a couple of colleagues from across the pond who are interested in starting a program like the one I direct. I'm daring to hope that this means an employer-financed trip to Scotland!



What's your reason for going to work every day?

(Photo: ponies at Assateague, MD - 1981)