Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm a Winner!

Courtesy of Witchypoo, I have received my first blogger award. Behold the True Blue award!

Witchypoo hasn't been blogging very long at her current locale, and I've been reading her at Psychicgeek almost since the beginning. I discovered her by way of a comment at Schmutzie's (also awesome, by the way) and have been reading ever since.

While I'm plugging Canadian bloggers, I would be remiss not to mention Schmutzie's husband, The Palinode. At one point he named me the resident armadillo expert!

Anyway, Witchypoo was my first blog buddy who wasn't also my buddy in real life. And now, she has given me my first blog award.

I am passing the award on to these bloggers who have been my True Blue friends outside of the computer. I only have a blog because I wanted to be part of your ruthless internet gang. Now y'all get to post the award on y'all's blogs and confer it upon those whom you deem worthy.

Serenity Springs
Matt (or whatever he's calling himself on MySpace these days)
Sealegs Sophie McPhearson
Tiffany and Jeff, whose blog links won't work right now. Stupid MySpace. I doubt they read my blog anyway. Stupid not blog readers. (Feel free to leave a comment and prove me wrong.)

And most of all The Husband because he's legally required to be True Blue.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Duckling Drinks Pinot Grigio

Villa Masetti
2006 Pinot Grigio
4 Seasons, $14.00

The initial aroma was very distinctly of dried banana chips. I tasted a slight bit of pineapples, peaches, apples, vanilla and nutmeg. It leaves behind a nice soft feel in the mouth.

I enjoyed the Villa Masetti Pinot Grigio just fine, but unfortunately I think it's a little too much like Welch's white grape juice to be worth the $14 price tag.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Feeling Better

All y'all are great. I was grossing myself out with all the whinging and the hand-wringing. "Oh, my life isn't perfect, and I'm not ecstatically happy all the damn time. Wah, wah, wah." Everyone who had anything to say was really supportive and understanding and cut me a lot more slack than I've been willing to give myself. The internet can be an ugly place, and I still get a little stomach ache whenever I see a comment from someone I don't know. But, so far I haven't had to deal with any drive-by meanies, just nice people. Yay, nice people!

As always, just articulating what was bothering me has made me feel 100% better. My job is fine, and my life is good, and I'm working on chilling the eff out. As I've said before, I think my well-fed, middle class brain spends too much time looking for problems to worry about. I need to be careful about making any big decisions I can't take back (like quitting my job) while in the throes of a brain spasm.

I used to be a much calmer person, who couldn't be ruffled by the worst crisis. As I get older, I find myself a lot more easily knocked off kilter. In many ways, as life gets easier, I take it harder. Who knows what my problem is. I mean other than an anxiety disorder, but how the hell did I end up with that? Ah, mental fleeting, so boring, so wonderful.

For right now, I'm just going to take a deep breath, try to relax, and work on a new "Duckling Drinks" post.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Problem Solved

I work at a non-profit, so I'm just going to tell myself I'm doing volunteer work and act all surprised when that paycheck keeps showing up in my bank account. I knew there had to be an easy way out of this mess.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pro Choice?

"Choice" is a loaded term in our society.

"Choice" is used to shame and dismiss those who have the misfortune of being poor, uneducated, powerless. It doesn't matter that all the choices available to you are bad. Once you've made your choice, you're expected to shut up and live with it.

"Choice" is an unassailable right if you are well off. What you eat, drive, spend your money on - it's your choice and no one has the right to criticize your choice. You're entitled to your choice.

Surely there are irresponsible choices, selfish choices, stupid choices?

I'm struggling with making the right choice.

Put simply, I don't like working outside the home. I have a good job working for a cause I believe in for a very fair salary. My boss supports me and works with me to be sure that my position is fulfilling to me and allows me to use my strengths for the good of the agency.

Despite all that, I would be more happy staying home and cleaning, gardening, and cooking. The Husband and I live rather frugally and could probably afford for me to either stay home or work part time. We'd have to give up a some luxuries and save less money, but we could make ends meet. The Husband is also very supportive of me, and is encouraging me to do what makes me happiest.

If I were to make my preferred choice, I would quit my job.

I suppose I have every right to make my choice, however, why should it be a valid choice? Why should a perfectly capable person refuse to support herself? Isn't there something to be said for sucking it up and getting over my over-privileged self? By critically analyzing my own choice, might I be, by extension, judging the choices that others might make? Oh, Heaven, forfend!

Can you imagine a single mom making minimum wage or a subsistence farmer in Africa having this internal conflict? How gross are my stupid little problems? How ridiculous is it that I feel as much stress over the validity of my concerns as my actual concerns? How about another glass of wine?

Oh, thank you, I think I will.

Friday, January 25, 2008

TBR Challenge: One Down

I finished reading Neverwhere: A Novel from my TBR Challenge 2008 list, and it was wonderful. Neil Gaiman invented a fantastical world whose characters are both creepy and beautiful, often at the same time. It has been a long time since I was so sad to come to the end of a story. Gaiman left the plot wide open for a sequel, however, although it's been about ten years since Neverwhere was released, it does not appear a follow up is forthcoming.

The next book I am tackling is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. So far it's a pretty entertaining read, but the plot is hanging on some pretty unlikely coincidences that the author seems to be glossing over. I'm sticking with it to see if these improbable threads are going to be tied up in the end, but my willing suspension of disbelief is being strained.

It's not on my list, but I also spent a few evenings reading Flipping Houses For Dummies. The verdict: I need more money in the bank before I pursue my dream of becoming a real estate mogul. Maybe I should seriously reconsider the whole quitting my job thing.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Stealing a Meme: Household Tips

Being in a state of career (and thus, income) flux, my interest in clever, handy, and frugal household hints has grown recently, which coincided nicely with Witchypoo's idea for a household hints meme. Even those of us who do not aspire to be the next Suzie or Sammy Homemaker probably have a few ingenious ideas to make running our lives a little simpler, cheaper, or easier.

I'm offering up three tips of my own, and ask you to chip in as well, either in the comments or on your own blog.

1. If you find your kitchen infested with fruit flies, first get rid of the source - that old banana or an innocent-looking houseplant or a neglected potato in the pantry. Then put a little apple cider vinegar in a jar, put on the lid, and poke holes in it. The flies will be attracted to the vinegar and make their way through the holes. Those that don't drown themselves, won't be able to make their way back out through the holes and will be trapped.

2. To save on water, whether you want to reduce your bills, your demand on natural resources, or both, keep buckets in the bathroom and the kitchen. While you're waiting for the tap water to heat up, run the water into the bucket and use it to water plants.

3. This one was The Husband's genius idea. A nine-inch round cake pan, with a little bit of a lip around the edge, will fit over the top of a six-quart saucepan to create a double boiler. We used this makeshift double boiler to make candy for Christmas presents.

Bonus tip: Make your own candy for easy, inexpensive, homemade gifts. For example, peppermint bark is just melted white chocolate with crushed peppermints and a few drops of peppermint oil mixed in. Spread the mixture into a cookie sheet, let it cool, and then break it into pieces.

Bonus bonus tip: When melting chocolate it is very important not to let even one drop of water get into the chocolate or it will turn into a grainy, sticky mess.

Bonus bonus bonus tip: Check out Home Ec 101 for lots of ideas from people way better at this housekeeping stuff than I am.

Now I'm supposed to tag some people.

Greeneagles, because I suspect he's a closet metrosexual and probably has a really good tip for getting Bearnaise sauce stains out of silk or something like that.

Holly because she's managed to keep a child in one piece for more than eleven years running.

Traivor because I bet he's a whiz in the kitchen.

Sealegs Sophie McPhearson (whose blog is evidently set on private) because her house always seems to be clean despite her four furry roommates.

Take This Job And, Etc.

I kind of tried to quit my job, but it didn't quite work.

Over the Christmas holidays, with plenty of time to objectively reflect on my circumstances, I realized I don't like managing a staff. No matter how much I hone my time management skills or how well I handle the stress of constantly putting out fires, I just don't like it.

It's really too bad because I love where I work. The benefits are good, my coworkers are friendly, and I believe in our cause. But I've struggled for more than a year to convince myself that I like my job more than I do.

Life is too short to be unhappy, and whatnot, so I sucked up my courage and explained to my boss that I was disappointed, but I needed to start looking for another position. I let her know I wasn't in a hurry to leave, and I didn't want to leave them in a lurch, but I needed a job that was a better fit for me.

She was really understanding, and didn't seem surprised. In fact she told me she appreciated that I was being upfront with her. But, here's the kicker. She was already working on a proposal to split my job into a staff management position and a program administration position, which would focus on reporting, grant contract compliance, budgeting, and all that boring stuff I much prefer. She planned to offer that job to me and should know if it is approved by the end of January.

Basically, she was going to let me quit doing all the stuff I hate and only do the stuff I like and still keep my job. Awesome! That couldn't possibly have worked out better. Of course, now I have to suck it up for at least another month, assuming that the proposal is approved and they hire another person relatively quickly. I'll actually be surprised if I see any changes before March or even April.

In the meantime, my boss is taking it really easy on me. We're already short two staff members, and if I leave now, it will really suck for her. I know this place has a tendency to take forever to make decisions or implement changes, so I may lose patience before they offer me a new position, but I want to stay at least until they fill the empty spots. I'm not so miserable that I could stand the thought of our programs and clients suffering. Not that I'm so special that success depends on my mere presence, but it would be hard to run our department being three people short.

Deep down I really want to work part time, and spend more time around the house gardening and cooking and wholesome, homely stuff like that. But, I feel like I have a "duty" to maximize my financial resources. I'm not sure if that's coming from my feminist, individualistic ideals or my anxiety that allows me to imagine all improbable manner of potential disasters, but that's probably a whole other post.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I Challenge You

Just try to watch this video and not laugh.

Babies are weird.

Found at At Your Cervix.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I don't have any friends from work. I'm in a weird position in that almost everyone I work with is either my subordinate or my boss, and socializing outside of the office is potentially fraught with drama and political ramifications.

However, there is one woman who is my peer and totally outside my department. She's really interesting and funny, and I was thinking about inviting her out with my other friends. That is until she told me she refused to watch The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe because it might give her "Christless" thoughts. Sigh.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Chimpanzees: Childhood Sure Would Be Boring Without Them

My charming, intelligent, and adorable little nephew came to stay with us for the past several days. Oh, and his mom and grandma came, too.

My favorite activity was the zoo on Saturday. However, I was sorely disappointed with the children's zoo. When I was a kid, there was a petting zoo where children and barnyard animals mingled in a salmonella charged free for all. So what if we occasionally got knocked over by a goat or bitten by a duck or infected by feces-borne bacteria? It was fun, and we liked it!

Now all the animals are kept behind fences with large signs that they bite - except for a rabbit in a bucket. The children have to stand in a single file line to patiently wait for their turn to pet (with two fingers only!) a rabbit in a bucket under the watchful eye of a cranky, bored zoo keeper who probably didn't work very hard on her zookeeping Ph.D. in order to be in charge of a rabbit in a bucket. So sad and lame!

This fish tank was cool, however.

I'm not sure which I find more hilarious: this meerkat...

...or this rock hyrax.

(I wonder if it answers questions.)

Quite a few funny-looking birds reside at the zoo.

As well as bored, exotically-horned ungulates.

And then, a fricken chimpanzee flung fricken rocks and who-knows-I-sure-don't-want-to else at us.

It rather traumatized the charming, intelligent, and adorable little nephew. As I was showing him the photos I took, he would shout, "Wock, wock!" whenever he saw the chimps. And I would have to say, "Yes, sweetie, but don't worry. They'll be extinct soon." And then we would both smile with quiet satisfaction.

Homeownership: Yay!

Oh wait. Did I say, "Yay!" I meant, "Holy crap."

A few weeks ago the shower in the master bathroom started draining so slowly that I was afraid it would overflow during a normal length shower. Figuring there was a clump of hair stuck in the pipe, The Husband and I headed over to the local home improvement big box store and acquired some drain cleaner and a hand crank snake thingy.

A big dose of caustic chemicals did not clear the clog, so I stuck the snake thingy down the drain to no avail. The Husband also applied the snake thingy in such a manly fashion that it became firmly lodged in the still-clogged pipe.

So, out comes the plumber to remove the snake thingy and climb up on the roof to thoroughly clean the pipes. He pulled out a bunch of roots and proclaimed the job complete. And, he seemed to be correct for at least a few days. However, the shower started backing up again and was ever so awesomely joined by the toilet.

Once again the plumber calls on our humble abode. He proceeds to install a street level access pipe, so he can poke a little camera down into our plumbing to see what the issue is without stomping around on the roof. It turns out that the contractor who redid the bathroom sometime before we bought the house crammed a bunch of tiles into the pipes.

How? Why? The mystery boggles the mind. Surely it would have been about 1000 times easier to throw this rejected tile into a trash can than to wedge it into the pipes. I can only speculate what the previous homeowners did to this contractor to cause him to wreak such weird revenge on their innocent plumbing.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Where Do I Send My Resumé?

I'm glad that no one was terribly offended by the Amazon links. I can't imagine they are going to be particularly profitable, but it seemed like an effortless way to maybe make a buck penny or two if I'm going to be writing about and linking to books and stuff anyway.

After I signed up, they sent me an email saying they were going to review my site and let me know if I was accepted. Does this mean that there's a job out there that involves sitting around looking at blogs and websites all day? Why isn't this my job? How can I make it my job?

My own job continues to be the source of much angst, and it's only going to get worse on Monday. Someone's getting voted off the island, and I kind of wish it were me.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Selling Out

I'm trying out the Amazon Associates Program. If you purchase an item by clicking on a link or using the search box over there to the right below the BlogRoll, I'll get a small cut.

If you like it, great. If you want to ignore it, that's fine, too. If you really hate it, let me know.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Live Blogging New Years Eve

9 p.m. BAC .00%. Veggie T arrives with a bottle of Captain Morgan rum. We enjoy some nice rummy Silk Soy Nogs.

9:35 p.m. BAC .00%. Traivor and Greeneagles arrive. Receive a text from Holly and family that they won't be back in town until tomorrow. I start on the Hoegaarden with lemons.

9:55 p.m. BAC .03% Sophie Sealegs arrives with spazzy Raz. She is bearing a nice Cab and some champagne.

10:22 p.m. BAC .05%. Playing trivia is proposed. The literary and non-literary types argue about whether to play the Book Lover's version of Trivial Pursuit. Begin 2nd Hoegaarden.

11:13 p.m. BAC .06%. The inevitable reminiscing about drunken exploits begins. Courtesy of the internet, we can illustrate our stories with photographs and video. I regret I missed the Festivus celebration this year.

12:09 a.m. BAC .09%. Happy New Year! I poured everyone a California Chardonnay "Champagne." Nice.

12:23 a.m. BAC .10% We fail as drunken louts. We are too lazy to get the dog naked, let alone ourselves. Sophie Sealegs is double fisting the champagne, to her credit. Greeneagles removes one of three shirts. "More to come, " he says. Traivor blows a .11%. Greeneagles produces a .03%. He has a metabolism like a fucker. Also, he's had 5 plates of food since he got here. Sealegs brings a .08% to the table. Her goal is to drink at least one bottle of champagne. Also, she brought her pajamas, so DUIs won't be an issue.

12:51 a.m. BAC .11% The smoking begins. I engage in double entendre about Traivor's "equipment." Veggie T manages a .05%, but he intends to drive home, so that's a good thing. I try the Barenjager. My verdict: "It tastes like a museum smells."

1:32 a.m. BAC I don't remember. I got distracted. I think we did some trivia.

2:22 a.m. BAC .10%. I need to try harder! I had another cigarette and finished up my Barenjager. We spent some time criticizing our friends' relationships and discussed setting up my vintage Atari. Greeneagles blew a .04%. Like I said: metabolism like a fucker. Traivor managed a .16%. Sealegs is still at a .o8%.

2:50 a.m. BAC .11%. It is literally "on like Donkey Kong." My Atari 2600 from when I was 6 years old is successfully set up. Sealegs continues to add her pajamas over and under her clothes. Veggie T claims that he is blogging this on his "secret fashion blog."

3:05 a.m. BAC .10% *still*. We decide, regarding the Atari, we are "not feeling it." Veggie T is willing to make out with the Strawberry Shortcake game. He discovers the Jungle Hunt cartridge. He "hits that shit." Then we play Ms. Pacman. Somewhere Jeff experiences the ache of loss without really knowing why.

3:26 a.m. BAC .11%. We break out the Super Nintendo to play Super Mario Brothers. Frustrated with my inability to get shit-faced drunk on New Year's, I also break out the tequila shots. Various comments include, "This hurts my tummy," "If I didn't throw up on the floor just now, I'm probably fine for the rest of the night," and "Oh, dear."

3:51 a.m. BAC .12%. Traivor exclaims, "I was looking forward to Bibilatriblia," as Veggie T and Greeneagles leave. He conscripts me into playing Super Mario World literally for the first time in my life. I suck. Big surprise.

4:03 a.m. BAC .11%. Sealegs appears to be asleep, and Traivor is taking Super Mario World way too personally (while hiccuping, may I add). Traivor blows a .17%.

4:31 a.m. BAC whatever-I-don't-care. Sealegs departs. Traivor persists in the Super-Mario-Worlding. The nasty reality that I have to be at work in 28 hours hits me. It takes all my emotional resources not to weep.

Happy New Year, everybody!