Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Mosts of 2008

Most Liberating: teaching MiniMe the finer points of microwave cooking. She cooks for herself and Muggsy.

Most Anticipated: our summer full of visitors, from both sides of the family.

Most Chaotic: our summer full of visitors, from both sides of the family.

Most Decompressing: redneck cocktail parties in our driveway all summer long. The hours of R & D spent on the perfect fruity vodka drink were brutal, but someone had to do it.

Most Rewarding: working on a state legislator's election campaign (she won!) and filling the role of chairperson for my precinct.

Most Unexpected: landing my dream job when they came looking for me.

Most Overwhelming: fighting a lawsuit without an attorney.

Most Exciting: the call from The Best Man in the spring telling us they would be moving back to Utah after 7 years of living too far away.

Most Entertaining: recalling exactly why The Best Man and Mr. O are like fire and gasoline. The path of scorched earth is getting longer and wider as each day passes.

Most Worthwhile: hand-delivering our Salvation Army Angel gifts to the distribution facility the week before Christmas and seeing how many others had been generous with donations. Makes me proud to know our family was part of it.

Most Cathartic: having a stash to draw from, and a reason to get all crafty again.

Most Confounding: realizing that I don't know how to answer most of the 'why' questions that come from the depths of Muggsy's two-year-old psyche.

Most Civilizing: my new 9-mile commute (and that's round trip).

Most Pragmatic: 6 going on 16. Just shoot me now.

Most Predictable: 40-year-old eyes, arms that are too short, and steadfast resolve not to get bifocals.

The New Year will start, at least for me, with a very clear view of the world.

Most Sincerely, Happy New Year to all!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Solstice 2008

:: An adaptation of Danish and Celtic solstice poems::

As the sun and moon renew themselves and we honor the closing of circles


Once again, we learn that even in the darkest moments


Health, serenity, and healing are available


Bless our connections with the ancients


Bless our connections with each other


Bless our connections with future generations


Bless our connections with the circles of the seasons


Bless our connections with places of beauty and solitude


Celebration is at hand


Celebrate the renewal of bonds of kinship


Celebrate the renewal of bonds of friendship


Celebrate those who have touched our lives


Celebrate the return of the sun and longer days


Rejoice

Above all, peace.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Two peas

Sunny, funny and crazy runs strong among the men in this house.

A boy...




...and his daddy...


...remind me every single day that laughter truly is the greatest gift.

If you see Mr. O today, tell him he's safe. The traditionally lame ideas that become my feeble attempts to celebrate his birthday just aren't coming to me this year.

Unless you count this post.

Happy Birthday, Hon -- hope the fancy new snowshoes you got are enough to buy me out of this one.

Your brother made me do it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A fork in the road

"You're pretty upset that they're moving away, aren't you," she said, more a statement than a question.

"No. Yes. I-I don't know," I replied.

I leaned back on the sofa, wrapped a hand around the tension at the back of my neck and looked away. I really didn't know what I felt.

For three years I had battled for my place in Mr. O's hierarchy. A place that was at least equal to The Best Man, a guy who had been Number One for so many years.

And now? Now I had my chance. The BMan had just told us that he and his young family would be moving to the confines of a remote western town that was at least 9 hours' driving time from our home.

Why was I so torn? I should have been elated. Even if only by default, I finally had a fighting chance.

I fell in love with Mr. O on our third date, the day I learned that wakeboarding is little more than a cold water enema when you're not naturally coordinated. He and The BMan were so patient with me.

And when patience didn't work, they tossed me another Bud Light.

Over the next several months I got sucked in by the magic of their brotherly affection for each other. I laughed myself to breathless tears at their stories, the tales of fun and troublemaking that are the core of college buddy friendships.

The 10 years of history they would always have, the history that didn't include me.

When we quarreled, his refuge was a stool at the workbench in The BMan's garage. When we had something to celebrate, it was The BMan and his wife who joined us. When Mr. O's dad died, it was The BMan who saw and felt Mr. O's devastation long before I did.

When we promised ourselves to each other for better or worse, it was The Best Man who stood by and claimed witness to it.

I knew what I was marrying into. I vowed to accept Mr. O + 1.

So why was this long-distance move such a tug of war between my heart and my head?

Maybe it was the giddy and loveable little boy that took over for Grown Up Mr. O when The BMan was around.

It could have been the pure, unadulterated fun that the two of them had in doing everything from replacing a radiator hose to coloring Easter eggs.

Just seeing the bond between them made my ovaries ache for the generation that would carry on the legacy.

I couldn't figure out if I was happy that I'd finally be in the spotlight, or scared because I had some big shoes to fill, or pissed that I'd have to figure out the formula for finding what made Mr. O the happiest.

I looked across at her.

"Are you afraid that you're getting what you asked for?" she posed.

"You mean am I worried that I can't fill the void?" I shot back.

The therapist in her didn't react, but she belied her buried empathy with the tears that welled in the corners of her eyes.

She knew. Better than I did.

I would miss him as much as Mr. O would.

Thanksgiving a year ago, The BMan and I were solving the problems of the world from our armchairs, long after everyone else had called it quits for the night. They were visiting from South Dakota.

"I can't imagine what it's been like for you guys since everything fell apart," he said, not moving his eyes from the TV.

"Yeah, it's been a bit of a challenge," I replied, trying not to give away the gnawing anxiety that beat me into sleepless submission each night.

I leaned away so I could swipe at the tears inconspicuously.

In silence, we finished watching whatever had our focus for the moment and then I hit the power button on the remote.

The hallway toward the back of the house forced us to see one another as we turned in for the night. I looked up at him, his tender and empathetic expression begging for my recognition.

I reached up to hug him hard, with the sincerity and appreciation I hadn't been able to offer before then.

"Get back here fast. Mr. O needs you -- bad," I mumbled into his comforting shoulder.

"Yeah, I know. We will," he replied.


I count my blessings.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I can, singlehandedly, right all the wrongs in the world

Dear Starbucks Drive-Thru Customer Last Friday Morning,

I know it's difficult to see the smaller cars from your high-altitude perch in that pearl white Escalade with shiny 24-inch custom wheels. But, SweetPea, if you'd just briefly lift your eyes from the rhinestone-encrusted Crackberry you've got wedged between your palm and the steering wheel, you'd see there's an entire world around you, just waiting to be seen. Trust me.

Like that guy back there in the early-model Toyota, who was kindly NOT blocking the driveway entrance to the drive-thru line by hanging back a car length or two while waiting for his turn. Conveniently, that was just enough room for you to swing your blinged-out land yacht into the space without missing a single keystroke in that text message that was clearly more important than paying attention in a very crowded retail parking lot.

I must admit that your deftly executed move simultaneously cutting off someone waiting patiently in line while also blocking me from being able to turn into the driveway from the main entrance of the parking lot would be regarded as masterful in certain circles.

Not in mine.

Although you didn't see it, Mr. Toyota backed up even further so I could pull into the parking lot and park my car in a space as I usually do. Try it sometime -- even though the huge effort required to actually walk the 30 paces into the lobby and up to the counter may be more than you can handle, it's almost always faster than sitting there in that long drive-thru line. You also get to have normal personal interaction with the baristas and other people waiting for orders. No thumb typing necessary.

Really, though, it's no wonder that you didn't see the purpose on my face as I stepped over to tap on your driver's side window. Or my fast-building annoyance as I was getting ready to tap again because you didn't show any sign of hearing it the first time. When you finally looked up, doe-eyed with wonder (see Big Wide World Opportunity noted above) that this could be happening, I waggled my finger in a clockwise circle, giving you the universal sign for Roll Down Your Window.

On account of your clueless response, I used a measured benefit-of-the-doubt voice to tell you that you had just thoughtlessly cut off Mr. Toyota. And that he had just thrown up his hands in disgust, adopted a frown line of day-ruining proportion, and leaned back in his driver's seat to accept his fate. Your genuinely baffled "Really?" was just enough to make my effort worthwhile as I said, with no empathy, "Yep."

I'm sure as you then performed that 37-point-turn to wheedle your way out of line and around to the back of it where you belonged, you were just incredulous that anyone would have the gall to notice much less say anything.

But that's just me.

Have a nice day.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Graduation

I've been looking forward to posting today since...well, probably since I got a wild hair to do this whole NaBloPoMo thing back on November 1.

I knew, just knew, that I'd be somehow better at the end of these 30 days -- a better blogger, a better writer, or maybe a bit better at finding those 'aha' moments of insight.

I scrolled through my November archive to see if I could see a difference in the 30 consecutive entries I've posted here in this little blog.

Nope.

I did enjoy the challenge (most days).

I have documented proof that Mr. O and I saw not just one, but TWO movies in the theater within 30 days. That's a new record for us.

I also have a snapshot of what is in my head in an average month. Well, maybe not average, but close enough.

Otherwise? The only part of me that's better is the one that lives in the moment...pays attention to the little things...doesn't let moments of simple pleasure escape without allowing myself to bask in it.

I think I'll work on digesting those moments, though, without immediately configuring the beginnings of a blog post in my head.

And I'll definitely get back to reading all the wonderful bloggers out there -- which is what I enjoy so much more than writing myself. The talent and insight in this big, bold, blogging world is truly spectacular.

I, myself, am out of words.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles

'Tis the season.

When the doorbell rings, there's a good chance that the chime is announcing friendship and good times awaiting on the other side of the door.

The advent calendars (handmade for each child by Grandma Peggy) go up on Monday so we can count the days until we hear the sleigh bells jingle jangling to announce Santa's arrival.

There's even a Schaererville version of schnitzel with noodles, courtesy of Mr. O:


He does laundry, too. No, you can't have him, and I don't share.

My season officially began at 9:30 this evening, when the tree was complete. With the, er...help of MiniMe and Muggsy, we unpacked all the trappings and somehow got them on the tree without any major mishaps.

I could probably break my arm patting myself on the back for starting a collection of unbreakable and non-fragile ornaments the year that MiniMe was born.

This is my public record. The tree looked balanced, festive and nothing like the one in Christmas Vacation for at least one night.

From here on out? No promises.

Friday, November 28, 2008

< 3

My MiniMe tomboy has some friends that help bring out the single girly bone in her pinky toe, just enough to help balance her decidedly unfussy way of navigating the world. This dark-haired darling is one of the chief influencers:
Her mom has invited 12 (TWELVE! EGAD!!) kindergarten, first and second grade girls to attend the noon showing of High School Musical 3 tomorrow for her birthday.

Part of me feels guilty for not being more firm in my insistence that no, really, I'd love to chaperone. Yes! Trying to control a dozen uncontrollable little girls in the theater is exactly how I would choose to spend my Saturday.

The other part of me is tap dancing with giddiness that I'll have 4 hours of potential productivity while MiniMe is lost in pizza, birthday cake, and Zac Efron hotness.

After I reconciled my glad-it's-you-and-not-me selfishness, I set aside my own tomboy tendencies and found my inner girly girl to make a birthday card for this little glamour girl. My inspiration was Glitz Design's new Gigi collection -- especially when I saw the first four words in the upper left corner of the Gigi Words page. She is nothing if not adorable, sparkly, sassy and flirty:



Then?

I remembered that today is November 28.

Which means in less than 3 days it will be the end of November.

And I will have achieved NaBloPoMo Nirvana.

Not pretty, but a win is still a win.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The calories don't count today

Deep fried turkey.

Sweet potato casserole.

Homemade pumpkin pie with real whipped cream.

Football (it would be nice for Texas A&M to pull off the upset, but Colt McCoy is just phenomenal).

Good friends.

Overfed. Significantly.

Overall, a very happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'll cut the cheese and you handle the meat

We celebrated Thanksgiving Eve and marked the one year anniversary of the decision by The Best Man and his family to move back to Utah from South Dakota.

The boys spent the day in the dust of the Utah west desert with their motorcycles. Although there was some Whiskey Engineering applied to a broken radiator, there were no rattlesnakes this time.

There has been a Playstation 2 marathon. We killed both DUALSHOCK controllers. One died a natural death, the other was the victim of a cocktail in motion.

We had fondue for dinner. I told them that I needed help cubing the cheese and cutting up the steak and chicken.

"I'll cut the cheese and you handle the meat," said Mr. O to The Best Man.

Life is truly a blog entry just waiting to happen, isn't it?

If it wouldn't have been impolite, I would have taken notes as each of us remembered funny stories, leaning back in our chairs around the table while digesting dinner. The Best Wife won top honors for her memory of the time a pickled Best Man woke up with bright red stains all over his clothing. After a panicked call to Mr. O, who reminded him that he had unsuccessfully hurdled a hedge of raspberry bushes the previous evening, he was happy to nurse the onset of a whopper hangover in relative peace.

We laughed ourselves silly.

The moms cleaned up afterwards. The dads wrastled with the kids. Three of the four kids have wounds to show for the chaos.

The house? An absolute disaster. The swath of destruction cuts a path from the bedrooms at the back of the house all the way down the hall, around the corner, and into the family room.

Mr. O and MiniMe crashed on the sofa. Muggsy is half on, half off his bed.

I'm in a state of happy and satisfied reflection. A 20 year friendship is something to behold.

There are so many things for which I am grateful, and The Best Man + Mr. O are a package deal that I willingly married into. I only wish we hadn't spent the past 7 years so geographically separate.

I'm really glad they're back.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Focal distance

My team is really tired of hearing it. Reading proofs, studying P&Ls, and in general any type of work that requires short distance focus leaves me in a goopy puddle of whining, sniveling drivel.

My glasses are on the end of my nose, as I look over the top of the frame like a pinched up old school marm.

Since I've spent the past two hours reading paperwork, I'm now stuck between a myopic rock and a computer screen hard place.

I can't see the #$*%& computer screen without my glasses (unless I lean in so closely that it's impossible to type on the keyboard concurrently), but if I wear them I can't get my eyes to focus properly without creating a cross-eyed mess of nauseated proportion.

I have an appointment with Lasik Plus this Friday. Other than liposuction to address the padding that precludes my need for a chair cushion, it is the only medical procedure for which I long.

ANYTHING has to be better than this. It's either that, or surgically lengthen my arms so I can read at a distance of 4 feet.

And I thought my life started to go downhill when I discovered grey hair in my nether region.

Man. It SUCKS to be over 40.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bottled up

I've fallen asleep twice, just sitting here in my chair in front of the computer.

It's been a long, long time since I've been awake for 36 hours straight.

My senses are dulled. My brain is quiet.

I hear the kids screeching from the bathtub, but Mr. O has that under control.

Slowly I spin, away from the computer, and get ready to trudge to bed.

Pressure valve? Released.

Pssssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What, exactly, *is* sexy?

When we had our store, there was a Schaererville subscription to People magazine. We needed it for the waiting area in the lobby. Really.

Now it's just an impulsive and guilty pleasure at the newsstand.

I bought this one yesterday, because you know who was likely to be included (even if his publicist didn't have enough clout to buy him a cover shot):


MiniMe immediately started pestering me for the opportunity to start cutting it into pieces -- a favorite pasttime for any magazine, from Parenting to Motocross Action.

I hadn't yet read the issue, so I asked her what pictures she wanted to cut out. She flipped right to the spread on Zac Efron.

High School Musical rules our household. If she only knew how close it really came to the place we call home.

She then flopped it closed and studied the cover.

MiniMe: [with a matter of fact tone, pointing to Hugh Jackman] Mom, this guy is not really the sexiest man alive.
Me: Oh?
MM: Nope. [pointing to Zac Efron] He's the first sexiest guy, he's maybe the second sexiest guy [pointing to Hugh Jackman], and he's just not very sexy at all [pointing to Brad Pitt -- !!!!].
Me: Do you even know what sexy means?
MM: [embarrassed...kicking her toe into the carpet...looking sideways at me] Yesssss....
Me: Well? What does it mean?
MM: I'm not saying.
Me: Why?
MM: It's embarassing.
Me: It's okay to tell me.
MM: [kicking toe deeper into the carpet] ...ummmm...
Me: Yes?
MM: A hot guy.

Just lock her up now and be done with it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'll take simple joys for $100, Alex


Watching these kids develop a new generation of the same deep friendship that started with Mr. O and The Best Man almost 20 years ago is pretty high on the list.

Friday, November 21, 2008

S T R E T C H I N G myself

It's not kicking my ass, it's stretching me.

A good thing, I think.

Thanks for the insight, Cath.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Those tough questions


I know the holiday season has officially arrived in Schaererville when the kids ask to watch The Polar Express.
Tonight was the night.
MiniMe, in her sweet and pretty darn close to pitch perfect voice, sings two songs word for word: When Christmas Comes to Town and The Polar Express theme (or, Magic Carpet on a Rail, as she calls it).
Muggs watches it for the train. Of course.
This year, MiniMe is wrapping her brain around some of the messages. She asked me what Billy meant when he said that Christmas just doesn't work out for him.
MM: So does that mean he doesn't get any presents?

Me: Yeah, Punkin, I think that's what he means.

MM: How come?

Me: Well...ummmm...his family might not have much money to spend on things like presents.

MM: Why not?

Mr. O: [from down the hall] George W. Bush!
So much for *that* character-shaping opportunity.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Passages

In the continuum of time, 5 years is relative. Five years ago this weekend, our top priority was chasing the perfect photo. Mr. O was working on his website. We had toddler-sized MiniMe in the backpack and had hiked up to Delicate Arch.

I was impatiently filling time by photographing the photographer, who was patiently waiting for just the right lighting.







At the time, he shot almost exclusively film -- Velvia. We didn't know what kind of success he'd had until we anxiously looked at the newly developed slides a week or so later, on the light table using a loupe.

But when we saw a winner, we were elated.



On the other hand, I was exclusively digital. That LCD screen on the back of the digital camera told me that we'd certainly gotten a few good ones. C'mon...let's go.

Lessons in patience and gratification, through a camera.

And how long ago five years seems.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm not a lawyer, but I play one on TV

I'm knee-deep in preparations for my Objection to Motion to Strike Jury Demand and For Bench Trial on Remaining Issues, as well as the Exhibits to support it.

I'm a marketer. And a journalist. Also? A Defendant pro se.

The marketer in me understands how attorneys operate...which, ironically, is much like a marketer.

The journalist in me is indignant that Plaintiff's counsel is selectively reporting information to create a circumstantial and inaccurate tale.

The Defendant in me is mad as a hornet that my life has been turned on its ear for almost two years because of an ego-driven lawsuit.

I've learned a lot in that time, though.

1. Mostly, I'm strong. When I'm not, there are so many people who fill in the gaps.

2. If I believe in something on principle, then the fighter in me doesn't go down until the bitter end.

3. There are so many valuables in my life that this lawsuit can't take away, no matter what.

4. As painful as they may seem, some things happen for a reason.

5. Wine is a lot cheaper than paying an attorney

Monday, November 17, 2008

And here's where you get the REAL story

Scraping the bottom of the barrel. The only other meme I've done was of my own accord. No tagging, no ties that bind.

This damn NaBloPoMo is kicking my ass broadside. I'm desperate, and grateful to PK for filling yet another day for me.

How's this for random:

1. The only car I've ever owned in my 25 years of driving that had an automatic transmission was from 2002 to 2005. I'm a slave to a stick shift.

2. For a good chunk of my 20s, I had a step-daughter who is just 18 months younger than me. We were pretty good friends during that time and still stay in touch.

3. I used to be on the radio as part of the broadcast team for the high school football team as well as the community college basketball team in the twin towns where I grew up. I also had my own radio show for about 3 years. I even had a pseudonym.

4. Musically, a'capella groups or music with multi-part harmony get my undivided attention. There's also a good chance I'll cry when the national anthem is played. National anthem sung by a barbershop quartet? Niagara Falls.

5. My paternal grandfather owned one of the original Ford dealerships back in the 1920s. Pops went apoplectic when I told him I'd gone German by trading my die-hard Ford Escort for a used Audi 90 Quattro in 1997.

6. A year later, I sold my motorcycle to get cash for a downpayment on a house to call my very own. Man, that was tough. I felt so...grown up.

7. Junior prom? I looked like Scarlett O'Hara with a blond afro. And clearly my date is a kissing cousin of Napoleon Dynamite.

Wow.

And it's said that you have no modesty left after childbirth. I think the same is true for meme posts.

Now the fun part -- tagging. Here are the bloggers who I want to read as they blather on, randomly and obscurely:

Cath: because you, my friend, are a writer

Megan: because you are you, and I'm certain it will be real, and...well, genuinely you

Chris: because you are my newest Utah friend, and I'm pretty sure you're going to blow the doors off "random"

Dory: because you are partly responsible for the NaBloPoMo hell I'm in (but thanks for the badge!)

Beth: because I, too, am the older sister and love your perspective

Kim: because you think fast and have 8 kids...there's got to be plenty of random in your world

JCK: because you and I are slogging through NaBloPoMo in a parallel universe and you have an open invite for requests to write about stuff and this qualifies as stuff...and because this post made me snort Diet Coke through my nose and subsequently load you into my reader

Stop laughing at that prom photo. Were you not a victim of 1984 also?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

007 Droolfest

As PK said, let the drooling begin...er, continue.
Although I was disappointed in the dearth of gratuitous Bond nakedness (I went to see it for Daniel Craig, not the storyline for hell's sake), this film was taken to a new and exciting level of biopic depth by director Marc Forster. There weren't many gadgets, and only a few sexy cars -- however, Mr. O did let out a small whimper before he leaned over and informed me that yes, that was a Jensen Interceptor sitting in the driveway when Bond arrives at the home of Inspector Mathis.
And Judy Densch as M was exquisite, as expected. What a masterpiece of casting she is. Laugh-out-loud line of the movie: someone asks Bond if M is his Mum and he says "no, but she thinks she should be."

Oh, and have I mentioned the other casting masterpiece of the film?

...I haven't...?

...really?

Yowza for sure.

Clearly the universe agrees with me: $70 million on opening weekend. That's almost double what Casino Royale brought in for its premiere two years ago, and it shattered the previous Bond film opening weekend figure (for Die Another Day). Worldwide? It's $322 million and climbing.

DVD revenue. Just imagine.

NaBloPoMo = 1, Ms. Maxwell = 0

What's good for Huckdoll is good for me. As these things go, I'm making up rules just like she is. Survival of the fittest, and all that. So this counts for yesterday. Like a post-dated check.

Likewise, I'm grateful to PK for rescuing me with this. I'm nothing if not random and obscure, so I'm working on it.

Trust me, it will be one for the evidence file.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A celebration...I think...

While major oil companies recorded record profits during the second two quarters of 2008, there were families who had to choose whether to buy fuel or buy groceries.



During one particularly challenging week over the summer, we ourselves poured the remainder of the gas can for our lawnmower into the tank of my car.
Interest in public transportation, ride sharing and other ways to reduce driving miles were the topics du jour at cocktail parties, the water cooler and soccer field sidelines everywhere. SUVs were being traded at a loss for vehicles with significantly better mileage ratings.
Some very good habits were being developed.
The economy has suffered. It's been good for fuel prices.



As much as I'd like to just take it at face value, this gives me pause.
But? I'll keep working on my good habits.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

But come to think of it...

...we did see W. when it came out just before the election. An anomaly.

We tried the luxury approach, looking for reserved seats at the fancy theater with stadium seating and cup holders. But, since it was only on one screen, it was sold out for that Friday premiere night.

So we took our chances at a smaller theater a bit further away. We rushed. We arrived just before the movie started. We guessed that we'd have far-from-stellar seats.

Uh, wait. We live in Utah. Selling out one screen at one theater on premiere night was probably more than expected for a movie like this. We had our pick of seats in the theater.


I was surprised. As much as he disgusts me with what he's done to our country, I left the theater feeling sorry for him. Understanding him a little more. Realizing that we must always choose the leader of our country with an eye first to his or her character and not pedigree.

Because this land is our land.

And because now we know.

Jess, you post the best thoughts!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The countryside is lovely, isn't it?

I've forgotten how much fun it is to tour blogs.

I have some really insightful, energetic, intellectual, wholesome, hilarious and helpful friends in this little circle.

So? Hi. How are you, Friend?

This is a bigger challenge than I thought.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And he just might get lucky afterwards...

Mr. O and I don't get out much. We much prefer our redneck cocktail parties in the driveway during summer months and impromptu dinners with friends who also birthed members of the Short and Loud Club.

However.

This startlingly luscious iteration of an icon will be back on the big screen starting this weekend:

I grew up watching 007 (Pops is a big fan). I watched Sean Connery and Roger Moore swagger their way across the screen, coming to understand that James Bond was the pinnacle of elegance and intellect.

But the Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan years just didn't do it for me. I paid little attention, maybe caught one on video.

However.

There was so much hype about the new "blonde" James Bond (and who is this Daniel Craig, anyway?) that I agreed to see the Casino Royale remake with Mr. O in the theater and a babysitter at home -- a true luxury when you have a toddler.

Really, I just did it for Mr. O -- guys have always loved the Bond Girls.

However.

It was *I* who bought Casino Royale on DVD. The very second it was released.

And *I* who just purchased reserved seats in the theater with stadium seating and cup holders for this Saturday night...and *I* who called the babysitter...and *I* who made a dinner rez at our favorite Japanese restaurant.

Because?

That scene...he's strutting back to the beach...from a swim in the ocean...and...

...oh.

Those...




...eyes.

Just sayin'.

Monday, November 10, 2008

And *how* far from the tree did that apple fall?

Once again, my office...my stuff...hangin' with The Big Girls...

Anyone wonder why I call her MiniMe?

Yeah, I know. Don't remind me.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Legislation by popular vote

Mr. O is Swiss. He earned his U.S. citizenship in 2001. By virtue of marriage (me) and birth (the kids), we are all Swiss citizens.

His family is in Zurich and Winterthur. They have sent us congratulatory notes on being smart Americans for electing a president of such solid character.

While discussing politics on my side of the family is rarely a festive affair, I find it interesting to hear from my Swiss brother-in-law on topics of civic action in his home country.

In his most recent note, he lets me know that:

Three or four times a year, we have to vote on whatever is put up to vote. This is in addition to voting for parliament (representatives) and senators. We don't get to elect a president, the parliament does that. We just received the package with all the information on what we are to vote for. I thought you might it find it interesting to hear what we vote on this coming November 30.

In Switzerland, the populace does not get to elect a president. Let me just say that again, in case you missed it the first two times: voters in Switzerland do not directly elect their president.

Double the size of New Jersey and you've got a rough idea of the size of Switzerland. Here are the federal matters up for popular vote [imagine if these initiatives were voted upon at a federal level in the U.S. instead of legislated through representation]:

1. To increase the statute of limitation on crimes to children of pornographic nature from 15 years to none, meaning you can prosecute at any time in your life. The reasoning here is that children may take a long time to gather the courage to go to law enforcement.

2. To allow people to collect their social security from the age of 62. Now you collect social security at 65. With the new rules, you can collect at 62 but, of course, less.

3. Individuals and organisations such as Greenpeace, WWF can lodge administrative complaints against plans (to build shopping centres, roads etc). We must decide whether the rights of the organisations are curbed.

(Editorial from my brother in law: I'll tell you my feeling on this one - this is the attempt by the conservatives to get the "greens" to shut up. If the law is changed, the organisation will stay and they will be able to prepare these administrative complaints. They only won't be able to submit them. There are, however, enough individuals who will hand them in. This is why I think this whole thing is an absolute silly waste of time from a bunch of repressed conservatives that cannot channel their energies into anything constructive. And this is whether you agree with the right of complaint or not...)

4. Whether possession of marijuana for one's own private use is to be de-criminalised.

5. Whether marijuana may be used for medicinal purposes.

State (canton) matters are equivalent to county-level legislation in the U.S.:


1. Every canton in Switzerland has a different school system. If you move 20 minutes away to the canton of Argovia, school starts at a different time and you may start learning English at another time. Zurichers vote on joining a system where the schools harmonise together.

2. Dogs have been a problem in the canton. At least two children have been mauled and killed by dogs in the past few years, We have to decide if we a) want dog owners to take a test and have their dog go to dog school and b) if we want to ban fighting dogs (like pit-bulls)

3. If the national bank has any profits they are divided amongst the cantons. We have to decide if we want any profits we get to go and pay off public debt. (This is another attempt of the super conservatives to curb spending - I'm not for all the debt we have, but it is just plain silly to say "when we get the profits, we pay back our debt; when we don't, who knows what we do?")

4. Doctors in the countryside can sell medication. In the two big cities of Zurich, Zurich and Winterthur, doctors cannot sell medication. They can only make the prescriptions and then you have to go to the pharmacy. We now decide if the doctors in the two cities can also sell medication.


5. We decide if we lengthen the tram line to the zoo (about 500 meters). About 200 parking spaces will be done away with and the extension will cost 14 million Swiss Francs.

And finally, County and City matters in Switzerland are parallel to what amount to municipal (city) matters here in the U.S.:

1. We elect the 12 members of the Committee of renters and owners of rentals (apartments and houses).City matters1. We elect the 20 members of the employment court.

2. We decide if we - as a city - reduce our electricty consumation to the amount 20 years ago.

3. We extend another tram line within the city. (this is a matter only for the voters of the city; because the zoo is used by everyone, the canton pays for part of the extension and therefore the canton votes on that.)

4. We decide if a "green" spot, not a garden, not a park, but just a field in the middle of the city can be rezoned so that apartments can be built on the land. The land belongs to the city and they want to build inexpensive apartments there.

5. We decide if a former industrial area is to be rezoned so that commercial apartments and offices can be built. This land does not belong to the city.
Swiss voters can also cast ballots via the Internet. I imagine the U.S. will be an election cycle or five behind that trend.

But one thing our proud country can establish is the value of transparency in government.

I do believe.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Back, but without vengeance

Mr. O casts a wary eye upon the new wave of craftiness in Schaererville.

All the useless fooferrah that cost more than his mountain bike paper crafting supplies that were safely tucked away in bins downstairs are now finding new life in my craft area.

But? I'm finding new life there, too.

Stress had blown up the bridge between my left and right brains. The reconstruction has begun.

Look out below!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Tardiness is *so* unbecoming

"Would you like to review the proofs?" she asked, politely.

"Uh, sure. What should I be looking for?" I replied with hesitation.

"Any typos or misaligned text, maybe photos that don't look quite right," she told me.

And with that I sat down, on my fourth day on the job, to review my very first set of proofs.

For this masterpiece:


I've been so excited for this one to arrive -- even my teammates who have seen it all are giddy over it.

And it's finally here...which means I get to share one of the perks of my job again.

Yep, I've got a copy of the book to give away -- probably the last one of the group. On your way down to the bottom of this post, where you get to leave me a comment, try not to smack your lips when you pass the biscuits. Really. It's not polite to drool.

Then? Keep scrolling. I'm also including a lovely paper project for...





...I'm real timely here...




...Halloween.



::sigh:: Guess all the election excitement got most of my time over the past week.
Cheesy Garlic Drop Biscuits
Alisa Bangerter

This is a perfect recipe to pull out if you are short on time because there is no rolling or cutting. The cheese and garlic add extra kick to a plain biscuit, and kids love them. They are the perfect accompaniment to serve with soups or stews, and are great served with a salad.


INGREDIENTS
2 c. flour
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
4 tsp. baking
powder
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. butter or
margarine
1 1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 1/4 c. milk
Chives
(optional)

DIRECTIONS
Mix together dry ingredients. Cut in butter with pastry cutter until mixture is fine. Add cheese and mix well. Add milk and stir until just moistened. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. Sprinkle top with chopped dried or fresh chives if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for approx. 15 minutes.



Enjoy Halloween Tag
Designer: Alisa Bangerter

SUPPLIES:
Cardstock: (ivory) Dye ink: (Black) Stewart Superior Corp.; (Summer Sun) Stampin’ Up! Specialty ink: (Mango Lemonade color wash) Stewart Superior Corp. Color medium: (black chalk) Craf-T Products Accents: (black brads) Making Memories; (chipboard bat, moon) Melissa Frances Fibers: (black striped ribbon) Pebbles Inc. Font: (Black Family) www.dafont.com Adhesive: (foam tape) Finished size: 3" x 4 1/2"

INSTRUCTIONS:
1 Make tag from cardstock. 2 Crumple tag and smooth out. Spray edges with color wash; let dry. Apply chalk. 3 Ink chipboard moon; let dry. Chalk edges and adhere. 4 Ink chipboard bat; let dry. Adhere with foam tape. 5 Print sentiment on cardstock; trim and tear edges. Chalk edges and adhere with foam tape. Attach brads. Attach ribbon with brad.

Even I got all motivated by Alisa's talent and stumbled my way through something that will cover for the fact that I'm a day late and dollar short for Halloween. Many thanks to these friends for the paper I just happened to have on hand. Wherever we land for our big turkey meal this year, I'm bringing these biscuits. With my Halloween Thanksgiving tag:
If you've stayed with me this far, you shouldn't have to put up with any more. Just leave me a comment and tell me the dish you cannot live without at Thanksgiving. My new friend the Random Integer Generator will pick a winner on Wednesday, Nov. 12.
Don't make me draw straws, now...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

And she rose to the heavens in a chorus of angels

Aquanet didn't work.

But? She came through with Plan B: vodka.

Although it didn't help the chair, it sure helped me.

Heloise has nothing on Mr. Lady.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

New Years Eve? No. Election night? Absolutely.

We have a new president, a man for whom I cast my own vote. He's got a place in history with enormous expectation and responsibility now on his shoulders. My hopes are high.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

There is a new (D) State Representative in my district, one I helped get elected through my small contributions of time and conversation with people in my neighborhood. And? My vote.

The ethically-challenged Republican super-majority in Utah has taken a serious hit. We're a two-party state in the making. I never would have believed that to be possible 12 years ago when I moved here, but it's definitely happening.

I'm tired. But satisfied. I did my part. I think I made a difference.

I also think I'll need a nap.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Inalienable rights

This year? I got involved.

I am my precinct's chairperson for the Democratic Party. I'm registered unaffiliated, but the Democrats welcome anyone.

I walked door to door to support the Democratic candidate for the State House of Representatives in my district. Our back fence, paralleling a popular recreational trail, is hosting a selection of campaign signs.

I pushed myself to get deeper into the issues than I ever have, and not just quote sound-bites from campaign literature or news reports.

I've told everyone, as I always do, that the right to vote in elections is a cornerstone of U.S. citizenship. And that casting their vote -- for whatever candidate they choose -- is a right that should be exercised.


Choice. Democracy. Voice of the people. Inalienable rights.

Today is such an important day.

Monday, November 03, 2008

You can't get there from here

I stood in the middle of the room, looking around, not believing where I was or how I had gotten there.

My car, still packed to the roof with the items I felt were irreplaceable or critical for everyday life, sat parked out in front of the apartment building. It was right next to my motorcycle, which was cooling down before I put the canvas cover over it since I would no longer have a garage in which to park it.

Everything I needed to start over was with me.

I looked over at the phone, its lonely existence on the floor across the room reminding me that I needed to make a few calls. From my unlisted number. To my parents, my sister, my friend who helped me pack up the car earlier in the day. To fill them in and tell them I was okay, but that I had a new place to call home.

And maybe a call to him. Or maybe not. I'd think about that for awhile.

The papers had been served about an hour earlier. He would be pissed. And calculating how to talk me off the ledge for his benefit.

This time? It wouldn't work. It had worked half a dozen times before, but not again. Never again.

I was 28. He had owned 9 years of my life. I was too numb for regrets, and too determined for sadness. I had choices, dammit. I was making them, owning them and...liking them.

Somehow, in 9 years, I had forgotten that I had choices.

I could have chosen not to move in with him even though he lied about who he took on a sailing trip when I couldn't go.

I could have chosen not to marry him when I found the recent love letters from a "misguided friend" in the few months before our wedding.

I could have chosen to ask his co-worker's husband for more information on the alleged affair instead of maintaining blind loyalty and turning the other cheek to protect our brand new marriage.

I could have chosen to leave when the young, single mother he was sleeping with had no idea he was married until I discovered her and told her.

I could have chosen to leave when I found him in the arms and bed of his carpool partner.

Shirley diagnosed his sociopathic behaviors, our semi-monthly appointment in her peaceful and soothing office earmarked to discuss my innermost thoughts and feelings. She explained that I had the choice to stay and understand his affliction or leave and start over. Either way, though, I had the choice.

I had the choice.

Such a simple concept, yet so difficult to put into play.

I chose to stay. Until he proved that choice to be overly optimistic.

The signs were telltale. Phone calls at odd hours...the need to make the 45 minute drive back to his office for a forgotten file after dinner...a distraction...a breezy dismissal of my inquiries...

Little did I know that, this time, the affair was not with a woman. It was an affair with something far more dangerous.

I chose to leave.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Blog-colored glasses

I'm learning to speak Blogese. And I now think almost exclusively in terms of what can become a blog post.

It's not all bad (in spite of what Mr. O might think).

I find myself living in the moment a whole lot more and really appreciating little things that used to pass me by.


I find inspiration in so many places. Posts come to me relatively easily now. I'm back in my writing groove.

We had dinner with friends last night. As we started catching up over first glasses of wine, I asked about their metal-front microwave that was covered with a set of magnet words (to describe wine, a set from L'Ecole No. 41). She said they put those up just because I was coming over and they know how much I love words.

I guess I'm authentic, if nothing else. I do love words.

And blogging is one of the greatest gifts I've given myself in the past year. So I'm doing this:

30 posts in 30 days. Count 'em!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Of Pumpkins and Power Tools

How Engineers Carve Pumpkins

How Surgeons Carve Pumpkins


How Easily a Surgeon and an Engineer Can Become a Punchline

Welcome to my world.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

30 down, 1 to go


I admit I'm fascinated with the new tradition of getting BOOed. And I love our local zoo and its pre-Halloween "Boo at the Zoo" trick or treating event. I'm even getting used to trunk-or-treating as a way for the kids to fill their bag quickly without wearing out too much shoe leather.
I'm just not sure I'm ready for Halloween to become a "season" that lasts the entire month of October.
With The Big Day just 48 hours away, we carved pumpkins last night. Those wonderful kits of design templates and custom tools helped me create something that looks less like it was hacked with a chainsaw and more like I have at least a little bit of talent. You'll just have to guess which masterpiece is mine, because I'll never tell. I was in the company of greatness this year.
But, since the boys were involved, I would like to make it clear that I was NOT part of this one:

Some things never change.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Reason, Season or Lifetime

I ran back to the truck, knowing the wailing I heard coming from MiniMe would have Mr. O's nerves worn down to their very last fiber. With map and space assignment in hand, I pointed him down the winding and narrow dirt road toward our campsite.

We approached the corresponding number on the post next to the compact dirt parking pad, and I braced myself for the unpleasant task ahead. Knowing full well that it wouldn't matter whether I did or didn't, I asked anyway.

"Do you want me to hop out and help guide you?" I asked with a sigh.

Before it was all over, we had thoroughly annoyed each other as well as everyone else within shouting and engine-gunning distance.

Except? The folks two spaces up the hill. He, an experienced big rig truck driver, provided impartial pointers as Mr. O wedged our 27-foot trailer into an uphill, 25-foot space. She, with a smile and wave, beckoned MiniMe and I over toward their trailer to get us out of the way.

It's been said that you meet the nicest people when RVing.

A few months ago they sent us an enormous box full of treasures from their home base in Maine. When I say treasures, I mean treasures. Handmade, thoughtful, personal treasures.

For us, a family they briefly met four years ago at a remote campground in central California and haven't seen since. Not only the quilt, but the photos to show the love that went into every stitch. And, for the kids, some adorable seaside additions to their community of stuffed critters:
The delivery of this shipment coincided with a span of time that left me just shy of wanting to weave my own little cocoon and forget about the world for awhile.

My subsequent lack of communication with anyone personally, and even with this, my beloved blog, set many to worrying.

It set her to praying for me, as she always does.

Although I don't worship within the structure of organized religion, I feel like I have spiritual connections with forces in the universe. Signals don't usually have to arrive with a crash and a bang to get my attention.

Many signals come to me through the people I meet. I collect friends. They are with me for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

Is it coincidence that today I got an email from her? On a day when yet another frustrating splinter from the past year found its way under my skin? After weeks and weeks with no response from me to her last email? Saying that reading this blog keeps her feeling like we're closer than the thousands of miles that separate us?

No crash or bang needed.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

+ 60

Two months ago? This sent my heart straight to the pit of my stomach. It is the view from my office window.

This house
is across the street from ours.

Well-trained professionals were minutes between alarm and response, and we traded panic for wariness.
And then, sadness. Our beautiful open space, the trail system that drew us to this place we now call home, was charred. My friend, colleague, and neighbor Cath had some things to say about it at the time that were much better expressed than I could muster myself.

Mr. O rode the trails as soon as they reopened. He reported back with what we already knew: it was scorched. Where the earth was not blackened, it was tinged red with the fire retardant so blessedly applied to save the homes just below the fire line.
Rains came and washed away the soot and retardant. Cooler weather arrived. Fall color touched the mountainside where the fire had not.

We saw hints of green.

Although it will be years before the scrub oaks again show off their fall colors and the deer have leafy hiding places to which they can dart when we share their trails, there are cycles that are necessary. There is beauty in re-birth that we would not otherwise see.
Mother Nature has a way of providing hope in the bleakest of landscapes.


I'll take it wherever I can get it.