Wednesday, April 30, 2008

too busy for words

we are too busy right now. between little league, end-of-the-year activities at gus' school, and just random everyday stuff we are completely stretched. and rich's job isn't helping things (i have to complain once a post--have you noticed?). he actually came home for lunch today for the first time since we moved here--he didn't really know what to do with himself since he had about 40 minutes of time in a row to call his own. he was between surgery at one place, discharging a patient at another and clinic at a third place so he just decided to come home on the way to clinic. it was nice, but awkward. and that in itself is weird.

anyway, back to busy: i have been so crazy busy that i missed my friend becky's birthday! happy belated 40th. her husband is recovering from his third kidney transplant right now so she was a little preoccupied herself. he is becoming a pro at it (not that he necessarily wanted to be one in that capacity).

and more busy: gus has a research project due on walruses in like a week. and we've done almost nothing for it! i learned my lesson at the science fair--he shall receive parental help whether he likes it or not. but not too much (i'm shooting for that second category).

further proof of busy: it took me three weeks to put away what was left of a pile of clean laundry in my room, although most of it has now been worn and is sitting in front of the washer. but i can see the floor now.

that's probably too much information.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

craft-a-coping mechanism

¡el jefe de luchadores!

rich worked 18 hours yesterday. 18 hours. that is half a work week for the average person. and he's back at work today (saturday), and he's not even on call. have i mentioned how much i hate rich's job? let's hope for an alternative to come down the pipe soon. VERY soon.

in the meantime, i've been coping via embroidery--i've been a giant fan of jenny hart and sublime stitching for years, and i need her by me now. plus, as an added bonus, i'm not sure how much time you've spent with 8-year old boys but hygiene isn't exactly their gus' new fancy panties make it a bit easier to get him to at least change his underwear, even if he still refuses to bathe.

gus' fancy panties

the guitar-wielding praying mantis is my favorite

my fancy dishtowels

i love this pixie--maybe i have body image issues?

Friday, April 25, 2008

one of the myriad reasons i love living in albuquerque

this is absolutely hilarious. the second paragraph, which reflects another reason i love albuquerque (lack of consistent spelling) just sums it all up: "The victim says it all started when he and his girlfriend were inside his southwest Albuquerque home watching a pornographic move [sic] at 10:30 Wednesday morning."

they were watching porn at 10:30 in the morning...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

earth day 2008

it's earth day today--did you do anything environmentally sound? i tried to, but probably didn't do enough. it is also "skip the screen" week and i haven't done very well at that either (obviously). in addition to using a screen for this i also got a new high score on bejeweled 2. really, really, really not what skip the screen week is about. i did, however, get a very cool gift in the mail from my friend, cindy: two new books! and it was perfect timing as i just finished "freakonomics" and was trying to figure out what to turn to next. she sent me "under the banner of heaven" and "the last good kiss." nice dichotomy there. i think she intuited that i should be skipping the screen...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

it's 4:00 a.m. and i'm awake, again

my familiar friend (frienemy?), insomnia, is back. it has been coming on for about a week and it is full out here now. this is something i have had most of my life--i had problems sleeping as a child because i was convinced someone was going to break into the house and kill me. then i had problems sleeping because i was certain someone was watching me through my windows. my parents thought i was crazy, so they granted themselves permission to ignore this. and how vindicated did i feel when we discovered i had had a peeping tom throughout most of my high school years! ick. needless to say, it didn't help the insomnia--actually, it made me hypervigilant, which sucks, too. i even staple gunned blankets over my windows but still couldn't sleep. and i have night terrors. i am such a blast to sleep with! poor rich.

when i went to study in rome, i was awake for the first week i was there. that was bad--i almost left italy because of it, and that would have been a great loss. after i had gus, i was awake almost without exception for three straight weeks. the few hours i did sleep were filled with the most violent, bloody, horrific dreams. i was absolutely insane by the time i got help for it--literally. that was bad, too. i probably didn't sleep well for about a year after that, even with medication. after i had sophie, everyone was looking for problems in me so i ended up getting overdosed on too much and too many meds and then had multiple other problems because of that. and i still couldn't sleep. so for this and the countless months on top of months i have spent awake when i would rather not be, i realize i am now on good terms with insomnia and the solitude it creates. also, i did realize that i had the equivalent of seven or eight cups of espresso yesterday, so that probably didn't help. anyway, it is here and i am up so i might as well do something productive. is this productive?

i live in a fairly rural area, right in the middle of a mid-sized city, so we have all kinds of wildlife that you normally wouldn't see in an urban setting. for example, right now i am listening to something that kinda sounds like an owl hooting, which is in turn making every dog in the neighborhood mighty vocal. okay that's not a great example of how rural we are but i'm guessing i have lots of company for my insomniac state. but a couple of days ago we had some visitors to our yard:

guinea hens!

guineas! i love guinea hens. they are so cute and so fat and not very smart, but did i mention they are cute? i have no idea where they came from but i was so hoping they would decide to nest in our yard. they didn't, but i might get some and see if i can encourage them to stay with food. they are darling. sophie was intent on hugging one, which i'm pretty sure scared them off. at least they didn't peck her eyes out or anything. do they do that?

my uncle bert lives in brenham, texas on what was my grandparent's farm (it's his now). he tried to raise guinea hens but he had this relatively feral dog on the property that thought guineas were pretty tasty so he kept picking them off one by one. my uncle actually caught the dog at one point and put a collar on him, but the dog didn't get the message and stayed wild. so uncle bert keeps moving the guineas around to different parts of the farm but the dog still keeps getting them and he's getting really frustrated because he's spending a fortune trying to raise these stupid birds (they are soooo cute!) and the dog keeps eating them. he doesn't want to get rid of the dog but he wants to raise the birds. so one day the dog goes missing for a day, and he is just nowhere to be found. by the second, third day my uncle is a little worried but not terribly so because after all he is feral-ish. the fourth, fifth day comes and he is concerned. about a week goes by and the dog finally straggles back to the farm, looking like absolute hell, with a dead and rotting guinea wrapped in his collar. it definitely put the dog off guineas. for a while.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

2nd grade science fair realizations

gus participated in his first-ever science fair last week! his project was called "auris" and was an anatomical overview of the human ear. it was perfectly appropriate for a 2nd grade project. he worked on it with his friend, randy--gus did the illustrations and randy did the writing (because, sadly, gus inherited his father's aptitude for such...and anyone who has actually had the misfortune of trying to decipher rich's scrawl knows what an uphill struggle this boy will have). i'm guessing a career in calligraphy isn't in gus' future. but otolaryngology might be.

anyway, gus and randy did the whole project on their own without almost no help from me or tammie (randy's mom). and, granted, it was a little rough but this was our first science fair and we figured that all the projects would be like that since they were all done by 7- and 8-year olds. how wrong we were...they were not rough at all. in fact, they were almost all, without exception, suspiciously professional-looking.

without being too catty, let me just say that for next year i am seriously considering petitioning the school to categorize the entries into ones that were clearly done by the students alone with minimal parent involvement, ones that were clearly done with some help by the parents but still largely kid-driven, and ones that were just flat-out done by the parents. i actually saw one poor child looking dejected next to his perfectly-presented project because his father brought it in, set it up, tweaked the components and wouldn't let him touch a thing on it--in fact, he kept telling his son to stop touching it. i felt bad for the kid but worse for the father because you know he worried all day at work that his son had screwed something vital up and people would think ill of the family or some such crap. maybe next year he'll take the day off and guard the exhibition until the judging. gus and randy got very cool participant ribbons--they were ecstatic.

granted gus' school is a tad competitive--we were so thrilled when he got in that it actually made a huge difference in our decision to come back to albuquerque (that and we can't escape the triangle). we even had to fly out from iowa so he could spend the day at school and see how he fit--it was a more intensive application process than for a college. so i should have expected something like this. however, i think next year i'll shoot for the second of my new science fair categories over the first. any thoughts?

Friday, April 18, 2008

my springtime project

newspaper pots!

a very clever woman in portland blogged about these and i am trying it. it is just newspaper wrapped around a bottle or can, carefully slipped off to retain its form, then filled with dirt and seed. i had this wonderful light from iowa that i had to use to keep my african violets alive over the winter (kinda don't need it here) so i am now forcing some gaillardia to grow. i love this idea--i am guessing her soil is quite a bit wetter than mine, so we'll see if it works once in the ground here. go make some!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

guess who's going to hell?

i am. and, most likely, so are you if the reports from a british newspaper are correct. there are seven new deadly sins--updated and modernized for your salvation--to complement classic mode (sloth, avarice, greed, lust, gluttony, envy and pride). and all of classic mode have a polar opposite in the seven virtues (chastity, temperance, forgiveness, diligence, charity, humility and kindness). alas, no such lenience for the new sins.

a couple of years of punitive catholic schooling left me quite bitter about religion in general, which is ironic considering the first place i would ever run away to would be rome...go figure. and all this may be a complete misreading of an archbishop's interview with an italian newspaper, so this may be a complete falsehood that i am perpetuating. you decide (translated text of interview here). regardless, meet the new venial sins for the 21st century:
1. doing/selling drugs
2. causing poverty
3. being too rich (yet not too thin...and isn't this just a rewording of avarice?)
4. genetic modifications
5. human experimentation
6. social injustice
7. polluting the environment

i hit four, maybe five of the seven; the other two/three aren't as appealing but i'm open to suggestion. what is the obsession with seven? can't there be six or nine deadly sins? six is quite an evil number. and i've never liked 15, but that might be too taxing to try and remember them all. if your intent is to update and modernize, then why follow the archaic model? it kinda reminds me of the seven wonders of the world:
1. pyramids at giza
2. babylon hanging gardens
3. lighthouse at alexandria
4. temple of artemis
5. zeus on olympia
6. mausoleum at halicarnassus
7. colossus of rhodes

and the seven medieval wonders:
1. hagia sophia (been there!)
2. colosseum (been there, too!)
3. leaning tower of pisa (and there!)
4. stonehenge (and there as well!)
5. great wall of china (i did see the berlin wall...)
6. catacombs of kom al shoqafa (and catacombs in rome...)
7. porcelain tower of nanjing (?)

and the seven new wonders, as revealed last year:
1. colosseum (is it fair to be listed twice?)
2. chichen itza
3. machu picchu
4. petra
5. great wall of china (again?)
6. taj mahal
7. christ the redeemer statue in saõ paolo

and even the seven habits of highly effective people:
1. be proactive (a word i despise)
2. begin with an end in mind
3. first things first
4. think win/win
5. first understand, then be understood
6. synergize (another word i despise)
7. regain production capability (is this sloth in disguise?)

the seven blunders of the world, as related by mahatma gandhi, are perhaps my favorite:
1. wealth without work
2. pleasure without conscience
3. knowledge without character
4. politics without principle
5. worship without sacrifice
6. science without humanity
7. commerce without morality

i'm guessing that archbishop gianfranco girotti--the architect of what may or may not be the new seven deadly sins--was a fan of gandhi as well. there are many similarities, if nothing else. of course archbishop girotti makes excellent suggestions that we should all try and avoid these things if at all possible (do you really NEED to shop at target?), but do we have to go to hell for driving a less-than-optimal-fuel-efficiency vehicle? i worked briefly at a halfway house in houston for recovering crack addicts trying to reconnect with their families after rehab and i would not have considered a single one of them eternally damned for their addiction (it was far too sad to see them struggle to consider the morality involved in their doing an "illegal" drug).

basically if you live in the west in any capacity other than as a hermit, you're damned. if you have ever driven a car, ran your air conditioner in the summer, shopped at a big box store, experimented with any type of drug, eaten at any type of fast-food restaurant, made an income beyond subsistence level, or bought anything made in china/mexico/india or any of the hundreds of countries with pay scales that are less than ours then you're screwed. vatican city isn't exactly hurting for revenue--it is a very nice neighborhood and i'm quite sure they don't power their expensive real estate on reclaimed vegetable oil. to my mind, there is more than a little hypocrisy involved in this new list (if it is a list).

i have to believe that the vast majority of us are able to live morally and ethically without a list.

Friday, April 11, 2008

catching up

several things: first, ashley's birthday was sunday--happy belated birthday! i hope you had a wonderful day.

second, lindsay and jake are still in new zealand, still loving life. i just found out that in the middle of their wedding ceremony a giant blue heron flew along the river, fishing, and apparently everyone saw it except me and rich (we were focused on sophie). the river was only about 50 feet at best from where the dais was, so it must have looked spectacular. very nice.

third, my aunt stella died. she actually died seven months ago and i just found out yesterday. she wasn't my aunt by blood, rather she was one of my godmothers (i have three). her life was very sad--she had many, many demons--and it is best that she is at peace now. i would have liked to have seen her more recently than i have (almost 15 years) but i know she is in a better place. my mom is very sad about it, which makes me sad in return. bye aunt stella.

fourth, gus' hitting streak continues! he is kicking much ass in little league--either 4 or 5 RBIs last game! good for him.

fifth, if you haven't done so already, it's time to dump your nalgenes. i recommend sigg (until someone proves them dangerous as well).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

adventures of the man eating cow

gus' latest video production is below. it still needs a little tweaking, but i think it's okay to post it here. he has been invited to exhibit this in a few weeks for a macs-in-schools exhibition sponsored by apple! sweet. comment and let him know what you think!

Monday, April 7, 2008

further proof that gus is the biggest stud ever

my boy's on first after his first at bat!

i am ridiculously proud of my son. i really am. he is just the greatest person i have ever known and i feel lucky to have him in my life. and to quote the date of one of my sister's friends at her (lindsay's) wedding, "[gus] is the shit." period. it would have been better if he hadn't said that directly to gus, though. anyway, gus is the shit and forgiveness please but a-braggin' i will go...

gus played in his first little league game ever last thursday--he never even played t-ball before--and he got a hit at every at bat. and no outs. and a ton of RBIs. thinking that maybe this was beginner's luck, rich and i held our breath until his second game on saturday...and he not only got a hit at every at bat he absolutely knocked the bejesus out of the ball! he had one hit way out into the outfield that resulted in three runs; he had no outs, again.

granted, gus is considerably larger than most of the kids playing in the rookie league (and yes i provided a birth certificate, damnit) but he also has really good hand-eye coordination (from all that hockey, perhaps?). that and the use of a pitching machine is totally making him look like the biggest stud ever. EVER! whatever it is, baseball definitely agrees with him. and he looks absolutely beautiful out on the field--he's got this viking-esque thing going on with his long blonde hair and size--he is easy to spot. and he scares the hell out of the kids on the opposing team who try to block the bases when he is running--gus outweighs them by a good 20 to 30 pounds, so it is going to hurt when he eventually collides with someone. we need to work on fielding a bit, but at least his hitting is pretty solid.

my boy gus! i'm so freakin' proud! see below for a single (gus' second ever at bat!)...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

march madness in texas! (part three)

lindsay's dress! click on the image to see mad detail...

part three--the conclusion! we are now at the day of the wedding itself, last saturday. sophie started the day around 6:00 a.m. even though she had essentially juuuuust fallen asleep at 11:30 (her norm is more like going to bed at 8:00 and getting up at 6:30). she was hungry, confused, and generally pissed off. she yelled all morning, which embarassed the hell out of my dad at breakfast (he hasn't learned that you can't shush an almost-two-year old quiet), but we survived. ashley, amy b and i met a couple of hours later for the bridal brunch (where was everyone?) and then we got on the bus for casa blanca on brushy creek.

lindsay did great, aside from having a wicked hangover, and only freaked out once before the ceremony. and it wasn't even a bad freak out, either--after she had her hair and makeup done she started running around going, "i'm pretty! i'm really pretty!! I'M SO FREAKIN' PRETTY!!! LOOK AT ME!!!!! HOLY SHIT I'M GORGEOUS!!!!!" but it only lasted a few minutes and then she went back to normal(ish). she did much better than i did before my wedding--i freaked out by hyperventilating, breaking out in hives and yelling at everyone to get the hell away from me. she handled things much more positively (as always).

by 6:00 we were all ready to go--pictures were taken (not by me--at least not the formal ones); at 6:30 the ceremony started. lindsay and jake did great, sophie and gus got down the aisle beautifully, katie gave a brilliant reading, and no one passed out or fell into brushy creek or anything like that. it was a very sweet and concise ceremony. there were about 300 people i think at the ceremony/reception and much much much champagne/beer/wine/alcohol was a-flowin'. the food was excellent; the bands were superb; the flowers were outstanding; the night was perfect. there were multiple people at work all day and night to ensure the smoothness of the event. truly, hollywood would be hard-pressed to replicate a wedding as intricately designed as my sister's. the level of detail to literally everything was remarkable--i don't think one could say anything was left out or overlooked or whatever. the reception went on until like 1:30 in the morning.

SO, they are married now, and are on a fabulous honeymoon in new zealand for the next couple of weeks. they left the day after the ceremony, as did we. our flight, while considerably shorter, was majorly eventful as sophie screamed from the time we got on the plane to the time we got off (as usual) and gus had a major nosebleed about halfway through. so i had one screaming and doing alligator rolls in my arms and one covered in blood--people stayed the hell away from us, including rich (who was still on vacation in his mind...). actually, one group of old ladies on their way to santa fe kept asking if i wanted my older daughter to sit with them...i finally figured out they were talking about gus and once they figured out that a) he was a boy and b) he was covered in blood, they weren't so interested anymore. oh well. it's good to be home!

the bridal brunch representatives, ashley and amy b

the bride-to-be relaxing for one last moment

don't ask--lindsay and amy e having fun

lindsay's so pretty!

pretty sophie bunny--this dress was my mother's dress, many decades ago, when she was a flower girl at a wedding (see below)

my mom, c. 1950, wearing sophie's dress

pretty gus!

pretty rich!

pretty katie!

pretty ashley!

lindsay with our parents

after the formal pictures, sophie stepped on her dress and ripped the hem out right before the mommy is madly trying to sew it back up

still sewing--i love this picture because the woman in the background, kat, is a seamstress and between she and my mother they are both like grimacing at the disservice i am doing to sophie's hem

sophie getting her hair done

me and my bunny

sophie, lindsay and i having a dance to try and relax before the service

lindsay, ashley, and amy e's back


gus the big stud, after a trying evening on the dance floor

me and my boy dancing

katie, barry and ashley

me, screaming sophie, and rich

sleepy, sleepy kiddos

lindsay and jake, in christchurch, new zealand, yesterday

(p.s. for those of you who are really into wedding pictures, all of the candid ones that i shot can be seen here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

march madness in texas! (part two)

i am still a bunny

in our last installment, we covered we are up to the time between that and lindsay and jake's big day, including the rehearsal (at which i got to meet jake's sister, amy b, jake's brother, aaron, and his wife, tracy, who are all awesome and who i am thrilled to now be related to!) and the rehearsal dinner. and it was possibly the world's largest rehearsal dinner--there must have been 100-120 people there! jake's family is extended, indeed. but for being such a large gathering it was surprisingly intimate--i know lindsay and jake loved it.

the speeches were great--dad gave one announcing the start of "best son-in-law contest" season, as until last weekend he had only had one son-in-law, so rich is nervous. gus gave a remarkable speech that was very, very sweet and surprisingly good (he is only eight, after all). and i got to sit with katie and barry at the rehearsal dinner, which was of course wonderful! i also got to get to know lindsay's maid of honor, amy e, who was a total pleasure to meet. and then we all--actually, mainly gus and sophie--danced to a sweet bluegrass band for as long as we could. we all enjoyed it immensely.

(look for part three tomorrow--the wedding!)

this is how gus spent pretty much every waking moment at the farm (when he wasn't watching cartoon network)

a trip to brenham isn't complete without visiting blue bell ice creamery!

sophie and her hero, daddy

gus and his hero, aunt lindsay

sophie and mommy at the rehearsal dinner (and sophie looks as i have never seen her look before--who is this child? she kinda resembles rosie perez from "do the right thing")

gus at the rehearsal dinner

buzz-cut barry and ashley at the rehearsal dinner

gus giving his speech to jake and lindsay

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

march madness in texas! (part one)

i am a bunny.

we're back! did you miss us? did my one reader and one stalker notice i was gone? well, fret no more, as we are here. gus, sophie and i went to texas almost two weeks ago for easter and for my sister lindsay's wedding. rich joined us just before the wedding (because taking vacation days apparently causes him psychic-verging-on-physical pain...) so he missed out on much of the craziness.

so, i'll start at the beginning--easterish, about 10 days ago. the easter bunny came to the farm and left all kinds of goodies for gus and sophie!

my sisters, ashley (in the foreground) and lindsay (blowing bubbles)--a perfect representation of them both

nice doggie--this lab adopted my dad a couple of months ago and i think we are adopting him soon

gus is on the hunt...

...and aunt lindsay is stealing the reese's-esque spoils

sophie finds an egg that matches my mom's shirt

gus' stash

comparing hauls

sophie LOVES her new uncle jake...

...and she charmed him into flinging her around...

...and forced him to entertain her for forever...

...but eventually wore him out.

the women just watched