Monday, June 30, 2008

Domestic Terror

I am trying to figure out how to recount this in an amusing way. But it feels more weird and pathetic than amusing. I called 911 at about 1:50am last night because I was convinced there was an intruder downstairs in our house. I had gotten up to go to the bathroom and while in there I heard footsteps. They sounded uneven, like a little kid’s stumbling stomping steps. So I checked on the kids and found them both out for the count. I listened and then I heard something else downstairs. And then I was sure that I needed the police.

I also heard a voice downstairs while I was on the phone with the dispatcher. After the cops had come and gone, I found that our stereo was on downstairs. If its power is on and nothing is playing it picks up radio signals from trucks and vans. We’re only about thirty feet from the stop sign across the street so the distance is slight. I’ve been startled by random radio noise from it before. So that could be part of what I heard. The footsteps? I don’t know. Maybe it was more noise from the stereo. Or old house special tricks. Or perhaps a ghost. I told Nod that it would be very annoying of a ghost to pick me to apparate to, since I’m the one that doesn’t believe in them. I’m very relieved that no one broke into our house. I’m ashamed that I didn’t figure it out on my own without calling on the police force. And I’m behind on my sleep now so everything seems a little hazy and fraught.

I hope that anyone who reads this will think to themselves, I’m having a pretty good day. I did not experience the fear of believing with all my heart that there was an intruder in my house in the middle of last night. And I did not have to apologize to the nice police officers for taking them from their appointed rounds for nothing. The officers were extremely polite I must say. One of them even said that he’d had a night when he thought there was someone in his house, so he searched through all the rooms. It was nice of him to say.


I bought swimming noodles for the girls last week. They had a good time with them at the pool yesterday. (Poor Katy got another sunburn on her cheeks. Two sunscreen applications were not enough for three hours in the midday sun.) But before the pool outing I was struggling with noodle diplomacy in the house. After enumerating all the things up on the walls and ceiling that I didn't want touched or broken by noodles, I repeated that there was also no hitting with noodles. Then Lexi very carefully reached out with hers and brushed the top of Katy's head. I found myself saying, "Lexi, no one wants to be touched by your noodle."

Oh thank god that reminds me of another winning phrase I read this morning. From the Ink-Stained Wretch, who is describing her reluctant efforts to prep for her swimsuit thusly: Simply in order to ready my body for the Wedging into the Clinging Garment of Truth, I first had to standing ass over teakettle in the shower, deforesting my wimbles with sharp objects. I'm sure you'll join me in blessing her and her wimbles.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer Movies

While in Austin I bought a VHS tape of Sense and Sensibility for two bucks. I had been trying to check it out of the library recently but encountered too much competition. I couldn’t remember anything about Alan Rickman’s performance and found that I was blurring several costume dramas together in my mind when I tried to recollect it. So it was time to watch again. For $2 I was happy to add it to the home collection. It will be very at home next to my copy of Impromptu. Wouldn’t Hugh Grant be proud!

The lovely thing about a crappy memory is how fresh and enjoyable movies can be after a few years. Thirteen years actually, it was released in 1995. Maybe my memory isn’t as bad as I thought. What fun it was to watch. I don’t know the English painters that are being evoked by the director. But I can tell that that was an inspiration. I enjoyed it all the way through. And I enjoyed shedding some tears at the end too. The script does a great job of heaping trial after trial on Elinor. She successfully represses her emotions and copes for her entire family, without any outlet for herself. Until the blessed release of the unexpected offering to her near the end. At which point she sobs for quite a while in cinematic terms. Satisfied sigh.

AR’s performance was strong but he didn’t get to be bad in the least which I have to say is a shame. Kate Winslet is as beautiful as a summer’s day in that movie. Nod says he thinks the fashions of the Regency era are in the running for least flattering to the female form. They don't bother me at all. I am in favor of white lacy drapery and a low square neckline. Nod has never seen the film and watched just a few minutes with me while Marianne is being really mean to the Colonel. He asked if anything good happens for the Colonel in the remainder of the film. I hope to rope him in to watch the whole thing soon.

There are movies in the theater we are interested in. Kidwise we're on the hook to see WallE and maybe the Kitt Kittredge (American Girl) film that Ebert has just given a great review to. Hurrah! Nod and I both enjoyed the trailer for Caspian and maybe we'll get to that by ourselves as the progeny is not old enough yet. And Batman. Who is going to pay for all the babysitting?! Maybe we'll get to see something in ABQ with Granny as babysitter in August.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Girls girls girls

Hey, don't I have kids? Yes I do. And don't I spend all day missing them? Sometimes, not always. But I do worry about forgetting the things that they do and the delight I feel when I'm delighted with them.

Katy is in love with getting up first in our house. She has set her alarm clock for 5:33am and got up at that time two days in a row. Last Friday both Nod and I told her that she couldn’t do that anymore. Her alarm wakes us up too. I’m half annoyed and half charmed. She feels like she’s getting away with something when she gets up and gets dressed, gets the newspaper in and gets her own breakfast. I guess it’s the good kind of independence, ain’t it? If she starts waking up that early without the alarm, her bedtime may be moving back an hour.

Lexi has been experimenting with sullen lately. Especially if she's tired or very hungry. If she doesn't want to do what I say she just turns her face away and stomps off. She's also tried yelling back in my face with a growly "No!!!". Yesterday when she yelled at me I tweaked her ponytail and told her I wasn't having any of that. Later I apologized for pulling her hair. Like mama always says, "Use your words!"

Lexi also doesn't want to get her hair cut. It's down to her shoulders now, and very straight. I really want to get it cut to just below her chin -- pix from last summer with that length are so cute. Don't know if I can convince her on that. And I won't try too hard. It's her head.

We got Katy's room completely cleaned last weekend. It's nice and open again. We got rid of her "lab". It was a bunch of junk that she had collected behind her door, pens and paper and odds and ends. I guess it felt like a fort to her, in between the door and the hamper.

Dancing into Debt

Did you hear that? That was the sound of our fiscal year deadlines clanging down. It was a challenging week at work. I am enjoying the relative peace and quiet that has ensued. I realized while I was in Texas that somehow I have taken on more responsibility in this job. That I am not being paid for. It has snuck up on me. I’ve been here long enough to take things on and now I am more on the hook for getting things done than formerly. Also our entire group has grown and is more active so there’s more administrative mopping up to do. I don’t feel like this is a situation that calls for immediate action. Just watching.


Shall we take on more debt? Why certainly, let’s do that. And the English country dance continues, hand-in-hand we step our way down the line. Maybe it’s like musical chairs. When the music stops will we be at bankruptcy? Or will we have progressed to Nod’s successful business? Or be back at the same uncomfortable mid-point we are at today?

Nod wants to take a sales coaching/advanced instruction course. It’s an at-your-own-pace series of workshops and resources that you have access to indefinitely once you’ve paid your $15,000. What a big bucket of money that is. And yet, if a couple of Nod’s ongoing larger deals were to close this year, we could pay it off along with lots of other things. So everything is relative. Nod says he has talked with people who have partaken and speak highly of it and of the effect on their sales. He’s met with a representative and done an initial evaluation. I also want to check them through Better Business Bureau and the state.

I agree that his business needs a boost. I am relieved that he doesn’t want to chuck it all and re-start an MBA. That would feel like coming to a total screeching halt and beginning again with no momentum and even more debt. I want him to continue doing the work that he likes that currently pays something. So I guess I’m in favor of taking on this chunk o’ debt. I don’t know what other course we should take. I feel like I’m a little blind, like if I had a better strategic sense I could come up with a plan that wouldn’t require another step deeper into the quicksand. But until my strategic sense kicks in, I’ll support this because it is the direction Nod wants to go in.

I just left another message for the recommended roofing company. I hope they call back this time. I’m sure they have plenty of work. But come on, squeeze us in! How did it get to be late June already.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Some sparse notes to ease back into the bloggy thing.

Yesterday I came back from vacation and my boss gave me a file full of mistakes I had made with stickies all over it. I felt very out of control. It was an exhausting day and I came home with a lump in my throat. I was one large self-pity flower last night.

But I achieved an early bedtime and despite getting up three times in the night feel much better today.

Today I am getting things squared away and feel more in control of all the things heaped up on my desk.

It is beautiful outside, low 80s, light breeze, lots of sun. Perfect picnic weather.

Don’t they sell zinc oxide cream anymore? I did find something that was mostly zinc oxide but it wasn’t waterproof. Katy the blond sunburn target needs some serious face shade. I’m going to start just giving her a coat over her nose and cheeks in the morning before she goes to day camp. The swim shirt is entirely preventing shoulder burns, hurray! Maybe the Aussies make a hat with a brim for kids that they can swim in? Yesterday Katy came home wearing one hat and with two others in her backpack. Three is better than none.

My mother-in-law’s boyfriend gave the kids Texas A&M visors, which they love. I wouldn’t have picked them out, but okay, whatever.

Major discovery in the texmex food arena during our Austin trip: Tacqueria Aranda’s #3. I read that there are a total of four Aranda’s in Austin. We got a recommendation to try this one, near MIL’s house. It was cheap and cheerful and very good. I had some stewed chicken there that made my toes curl, it was so good. It was served on shredded iceberg lettuce. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed iceberg lettuce more in my life. There was avocado on the side. Ahh.

If you had told me that I would be happy sitting under a tree next to Lake Travis in 100 degree weather I would have said that was unlikely. But I had a wonderful time on Father’s Day, there was a breeze that was by turns hot (off the land) and cool (off the water). We swam a bit and played in the shade and ate some lunch. Lots of blue water and dry scrub oak covered slopes to look at. Lots of happy people around grilling delicious smelling meats. We ate tasty leftovers which while not as glorious as a grilled steak were much easier to prepare. The girls had fun climbing the tree we were under and we adults only banged our head on its low branch three or four times.

I read The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith in Austin. I am happy to have introduced my MIL to the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. She loves those books. I think this was my fourth, it's been a while. This one was top notch, with a very satisfying ending which I finished while we were driving to the airport. I wonder if any of my British friends saw the dramatization on tv in March?

Well, that turned out to be more words than I expected. Back in the saddle again. Bye for now, cowpokes!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Where I'm at

I’m going to Austin, Texas tomorrow to swim and enjoy my mother-in-law’s hospitality until Monday. Should be fun.

Wow -- I just made the link below and Blogger makes it easy.

Thank you, Cocktail Party Physics, for teaching me the name of a 19th cent. French physicist: Hippolyte Fizeau. (If you want to read about him in the linked article, scan down to the description of the speed of light investigation.) I think I’ll just say that name to myself off and on for the rest of the day. I enjoy the antiquité of Hippolyte, pronounced Ip-poh-leet. And the last name, pronounced Fee-zoh, has such a nice falling-off quality to it.

I move my lips when I read in French. Also when I’m re-reading my own writing to get rid of typos. It helps somehow. Makes me feel a bit like a peasant, but at least I’m a literate peasant.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bullets and storms

I heard seven shots on Saturday night. I didn't call the police, I went back to sleep. I read about the incident in this morning's paper. Some neighbors a few doors down found bullet holes in their houses. The same night there was a double homicide farther downtown but still on our side of the city. It sounds as though two teenagers were trying to rob a dealer. I'll be putting my head back in the sand now, see ya.

More entertainingly we got about two inches of rain in 90 minutes last night. The fam and I had gone to the pool at mid-afternoon. It was hot and humid and there were lots of clouds around so we knew it was a roll of the dice to see if the pool would stay open the whole time we were there. I had been feeling tired and draggy and was hoping water immersion would perk me up. We accidentally timed it perfectly. Nod and I swam our laps, the kids played until they were tired, we ate snack bar treats -- it was the full pool experience. And water did make me feel better. I will grudgingly admit that the exercise probably helped too. I realized that my favorite part of swimming outside may be air drying afterwards. The feeling of the water evaporating, being aware of warm breeze on my skin, makes me feel relaxed and fresh and content. All of a sudden I was a happy sap instead of a cranky draggy one.

Just as we were trying to decide whether it was worth getting back in or not, the storm blew a little closer and the powers that be sighted lightning in the area. Everybody out of the pool! came the cry. (Better luck next time, you people who just arrived.) We happily packed up and wandered over to the playground next to the outdoor pool. Where the kids played for 15 minutes until the rain started.

We watched the rain and hail and lightning play. It was all very dramatic. But no power outage and no damaging conditions so an enjoyable storm.

Here's a youtube link for the Danish and others whose lives are impacted by planning for / around Burning Man.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Blue and Green

Greens and blues, I have trouble with them. I have discovered that light turquoise and a fairly green olive do not mix very well. I know this because the shirt I have on today is light turquoise and my pants are olive. Otherwise I feel pretty well dressed. But there is a bit of a blue/green disagreement going on. My pink and black sandals are pretending that they are still on vacation in Florida.

The ceiling in our upstairs bathroom was finished with a textured white paint. Currently it is coming down in strips and patches all over and revealing a smooth duck egg’s blue paint underneath. I like that color, very much in the middle of green and blue. On the walls where we took down some unneeded hardware we see patches of bubblegum pink paint. So this bathroom has had a colorful past. == Just then I took a moment to fantasize about scraping and repainting it this summer. Instead of relying on the natural gentle steam action of our showers and baths to take down the rest of the ceiling paint over the next eight years, I may scrape it in order to neaten things up. But repainting will need to wait until an exhaust fan is installed, there’s no point to it ‘til then.

I need to scrub that tub and tile, now that I have started thinking about it. It’s depressing since it’s not in good shape and scrubbing it only reminds me how much I wish I could take a sledgehammer to it. Quick, repress that thought! On the plus side I have triumphed over the mildew for the moment. A spray bottle of bleach water keeps it down. Whenever I start to smell it, I just spray the tub and curtain after my shower. It has been a dramatic improvement.

I need to follow my children around with a pad and pencil. I love listening to them play pretend games. The latest variation on the eternal school theme is for K and L to get all the animals and dolls out and arrange them around the dining room walls. K’s pattern making has dictated that no repeats are allowed. So no dog can be next to another dog, and so on. K calls out, “L, I need another animal!” and L scurries to the toy box and gets her one. Hopefully it works the other way too, but regardless, they have been very happy with this work. Recently when this enormous arrangement of toys had to be dismantled for the night L was pulling her usual, “I’m too tired to pick up!” routine. Having her look for animals/dolls of a certain color was a successful parent hack. She was interested in that and both girls did a good job of picking up. Whew. I want to attempt to integrate their efforts with my own. I have a tendency to give up on making them clean up when the whining starts. But it’s not like I want to look at the mess after they’ve gone to bed or pick it up myself. So I must say to myself: courage, work past the whining.

I have been reading Alice in Wonderland to K. Last night we read the mad tea party and Alice has just gotten herself into the beautiful gardens at last. What a gift it seems after all the earlier thwarting (too big, no key, etc.). K knows a couple of girls at school named Alice. I’m glad it’s still a popular name.

It’s been near 90 and humid this week. Our a/c seems to be working okay and we’ve gotten out our battalion of fans. Our plants are all happy and I’m eagerly watching for the first flowers on our tomato plant. I need to get off my duff and build a cage for it before the tomatoes start growing. Last summer the blasted squirrels picked most of the tomatoes before they were ready. And they didn’t even have the decency to eat them, just took a bite or two and then dropped them in the grass. Rassenfrackin squirrels.