September 28, 2006

Let's Talk Purses, Shall We?

Well. Not just purses. Purses and bags. In my mind, those items perform distinctly different yet equally important functions.

I like to be prepared. Hence I carry around a lot of stuff. Therefore I need a big bag. No, not a plastic bag. A tote. A shoulder bag.

When I leave our home for work, I carry my big bag stuffed with all manner of things I may need during my travels: my dayplanner, a book to read, antibacterial hand wipes, a notebook in which to jot random thoughts, a bottle of water, perhaps a small snack, an umbrella if the weather warrants. I do so like to be prepared.

Inside the big bag nestles a smaller bag. The smaller bag is my purse.

My purse is an island unto itself. It holds my stash of important littler things: wallet, cell phone, dental floss, cigarettes and lighter, assorted pain relievers, chewing gum, mints. Things I use often and like to have easily at hand. My purse can also be grabbed for quick errands when the big bag may be extraneous.

I envy women who have purses to match different outfits. I'd like to be one of them, but I'm not. Instead I'm the kind of woman who uses one purse exclusively until it is used up. Sometimes it matches my outfit, other times not so much.

I had a disturbing experience recently. Wendy and I went shopping over the weekend and I purchased a new purse. It was time, past time perhaps. Holes had worn in the seams of the old one. Once home, I excitedly transferred my precious purse belongings into their new home.

Monday morning rolled around and, as is typical of many Monday mornings, I was running late. The clock tick tick ticked toward the time, then past the time, I should leave for work. I let the dogs in, did our doggie thing, grabbed my purse off the dining room table, stuffed it into my big bag and slung it over my shoulder. I was off and running.

Halfway to work, as is my custom, I reached into my big bag to rummage around in my purse in search of the mints I always keep there. My forehead wrinkled in consternation as it quickly became apparent there were no mints to be found. "What's up with that?" I thought as I frantically fumbled around taking inventory with my fingertips. "I need a mint! I need a mint NOW!"

I discovered not only was my essential tin of mints AWOL, but so was my cell phone, chewing gum, dental floss, assorted pain relievers and, drum roll please, my freaking wallet. My brow wrinkled further as my anxiety grew. I was naked in the wilderness!

Alas, alack, woe was me! I had been careless. The purse I grabbed off the dining room table on my way out the door that morning was my OLD purse. All that was left inside was worthless stuff that didn't merit transition to the new purse.

I can only imagine this problem would be compounded were I ever fashionable enough to coordinate purses with my outfits. There is a reason I am like I am.


September 26, 2006

Photo Distraction

I just finished reading a book titled The Drowning People by Richard Mason and had a strange time of it. I enjoyed the author's writing style. He's adept with the twist of a phrase and works in little things that make the reader anticipate what's coming without giving it away. The settings are rich, the characters full of body and soul, the storyline nicely paced.

But there was a problem: the dust jacket. Specifically the full length black and white photograph of the author on the back.

It distracted me.

It distracted me because I could not reconcile the prose within with the youthful visage in the photo. The author is a fine young specimen of the male form. A lock of shaggy dark hair falls across his forehead, his face clean-shaven, his slender body slouched with thumbtips in pockets, the tail of his open-collared white button-down shirt untucked over his dark pants.

I can easily imagine him modeling boxer briefs for Calvin Klein.
But I cannot imagine that book coming out of his brain.

I took the dust jacket off and hid it on the bookshelf until I was done. Problem solved.


September 25, 2006


I'm cranky today. I have no real reason. That makes me even crankier.

I labeled myself Grumpy Smurf.
Wendy said, "There is no Grumpy Smurf!"
I said, "Yes there is, dammit. I am him."

Then I saw this. This lady, well, she has a real reason to be cranky!

I wonder how she scored the toss?


September 20, 2006

Got Wood?

Monday I ordered two cords of firewood, our usual winter supply. Today the wood was unceremoniously dumped in our driveway. There was the traditional jumping for joy and cheering, because firewood delivery means something special: fall is in the air with winter close behind.

So deep is our appreciation of a roaring blaze in the fireplace, Wendy and I welcome even the task of hauling and stacking firewood. Into the wheelbarrow log by log, load by load, rolled lovingly through the gate and across the yard to the designated wood stacking location. We have fabricated a tidy rack to safely store our precious logs until it is time to incinerate them to ash as they add warmth and atmosphere to our humble abode.

Usually we stack on the weekend. But it's Wednesday. The thought of leaving our precious firewood heaped unattractively in our driveway until Saturday was unappealing. So after work today we began the hauling and stacking process. It got dark right about the time we noticed the wheel on our wheelbarrow was rolling drunkenly instead of smoothly. Cheap piece of shit wheelbarrow, we cursed. But the timing was good, I suppose, considering it had gotten dark and all.

A cord of wood stacks to the dimensions of 4' high by 4' wide by 8' long. The racks we constructed hold two cords perfectly. Before we broke the wheelbarrow broke itself and it got dark, we had filled the racks about 3/4 full, representing approximately a cord and a half. Yet a significant pile of logs still remains in the driveway. A significant pile. Enough logs that I'm thinking they delivered closer to three cords than two.

A blessing or a curse?
My back says the latter while my frugal nature says, "Score!"


September 19, 2006

Puppy Tuck, Suburban Style

I've always been susceptible to guilt. The source of such susceptibility is a mystery to me. Is it just human nature? Depends on which human, I guess.

Our dog Pixie plays that particular weakness of mine. She is usually rather subtle in her own non-subtle way. This morning, she notched her efforts up and left subtlety in the dust.

Wendy always leaves for work before I'm fully awake. The pups don't mind her departure as much as they do mine. They come on back to bed and snuggle with me, encouraging me to stay there instead of getting up and being a productive member of society.

Three days a week I work my nine-to-five. I leave home at 8:35. (I should leave at 8:25 but time flies faster in the morning. What is up with that?) We all gather in the kitchen just prior to my departure. There, we chat briefly they listen intently as I babble. I dispense a tasty, longer-lasting chew-type treat for them to enjoy while we are off selling our souls earning an honest living. I say goodbye in my talking-to-the-doggies voice, "Pika pika choo choo chow chow chow!" (Don't ask why I say that or what it means. I have no answers.)

Dudley always happily snatches his bone (I call all those things bones, even if they aren't remotely bonelike at all) and rushes off to settle on the couch.

Pixie, on the other hand, turns into Little Miss Coy. She sniffs the bone. She sits and stares pitifully at me like she recognizes that treat to be the bribe it truly is and wants no part of it. I sweetly encourage. She turns her nose up and, leaving the bone behind, slinks off to the dog bed in the living room. I toss the bone on her bed and depart, knowing full well she'll scarf it up as soon as I'm out of sight.

Yeah. She sure shows me who's boss.

This morning she didn't run off and pout. She shimmied shyly over until she was right next to my foot and she tucked my calf! Ah that shameless little vixen! Playing the Tuck Card when she damn well knew I was late for work!

Eh, what's a few more minutes when I'm already late?
It's a small sacrifice for a puppy tuck.


September 17, 2006

Kick Off

We have a friend who has a thing about feet. He professes his own to be beautiful, yet rarely exposes them in public or private. Other people's feet? They creep him out, causing him to shudder and cringe in disgust.

We were at his apartment last weekend to watch football. I wore sandals because the weather was warm. As I made that decision, the thought of our host being bothered by my nearly naked extremities crossed my mind but didn't change it.

See, my feet truly are beautiful. I take care of them. A little foot maintenance goes a long way. I have no cause for foot shame.

Upon arrival at his abode, I snagged a beer and settled into a chair strategically located next to a bowl of cheesy poofs. Cheesy poofs, beer and football are a winning combination. I propped my feet comfortably on the ottoman.

Our host glanced over and, with gallant inflection, offered me a pair of socks.

I wonder what Miss Manners would advise in such a situation.


September 14, 2006

The Calendar Says Thursday...

... but it feels like Friday because we're taking a three-day weekend. It's time for our fourth and final Family Weekend at The Boy's college.

Our car will be packed with a bunch of crap vital things that (a) he forgot to take with him, (b) couldn't fit in his roommate's automobile, and/or (c) I haven't already shipped to him.

I will be forever grateful to his roommate, let's call him C, who has provided transportation for The Boy both home and back to school many times through the years.

Yes, C has a car. The Boy does not, despite the deal I made with him when he was just a kid. I'd read an article about how most smokers get hooked while in their teens. If kids don't smoke before they hit age 21, odds are they never will. Made sense to me. "Son," I said to him, "I have a proposition. If you don't smoke cigarettes before you turn 21, I'll buy you a car."

Considering my own history with cigarettes, I felt the bribe a worthy investment.

He upheld his end of the bargain. As his 21st birthday approached, I contemplated how best to uphold my end. But he shocked me by letting me off the hook. His explanation: our family resources could be better used in other ways, and, while a car would be convenient, he didn't really need one and most likely won't for some years to come. It just wasn't practical.

Alrighty then.

Graduation looms on the not-too-distant horizon. His post-graduation plans do not require an automobile. Yes yes, I'm doing a happy parent dance as I type that. Not because he won't need an automobile, but because he has crafted future plans. Music to any parent's ear, yes?

Pixie will be glad the life-sized replica of Soldier Boy, a souvenir from The Boy's summer role in Sunday in the Park with George, is leaving. It really freaks her out. I'll admit it can be a bit alarming caught in the corner of my eye as I enter the room, an unexpected presence bearing a remarkable, if imperfect, similarity to The Boy.

Peace out, folks.
Enjoy your weekend.


September 12, 2006

Across the Generational Divide

The suburban dog plays many roles, not the least of which is to entertain her adoring humans. Pixie was recently tasked to play debutante in a silly game amongst friends. Adorned with my grandmother's pearls, she assumed a regal, sphinx-like stance for the requisite photo.

Of note, this is the first decent picture we have of her awake. Typically she is in constant motion and therefore difficult to pixellate. Her other gear is asleep. Ever wonder how many photos of a sleeping dog constitute too many? I think I know the answer.

Yet wearing the pearls seemed to imbue her with a sense of solemnity and tradition, as, we all know, pearls are wont to do.

I'm pretty sure she's the first dog to wear that strand.
My grandmother would be so proud.


September 9, 2006

Simple Snare

I used to think I was ├╝ber-cool.
Yes, yes, it's true.
I still do. Mostly.

My favorite midnight snack?

But a girl has to believe in something.
Might as well be herself.

I take great pleasure and pride in my ability to raise one eyebrow independent of the other. My left eyebrow. My quirkable left eyebrow exudes cool, indeed it does. It puts me in a different class, a class above those persons less eyebrow-rific. You know who you are.

On my first face-to-face date with Wendy, there was plenty of conversation. Comfortable conversation. Getting-to-know-you conversation. First date conversation.

Something she said caused me to raise my eyebrow.
Yes yes, that quirkable left eyebrow in which I take such pride.
I flexed that puppy for all it was worth.

And that's when it happened.

Wendy mirrored my raised eyebrow with her own, then, in response to what was most likely a stunned amazed dumbfounded outraged appreciative confused incredulous look on my face, proceeded to waggle both eyebrows at me. One up. The other down. Rapidly reverse and repeat.

And that, my friends, is all it took.
It was like a switch flipped in the cosmos.
As simple as that.
My heart was hers.

I told her later. Much later.
But she still doesn't believe it.
Not about my heart being hers, but about when I knew.
I'm telling it true, though.

My girl, she's a class above.


September 7, 2006

I'm Not a Rock, But I Play One on TV

We took a walk along the Potomac River this evening. Yes, the same Potomac River where scientists recently announced discovery of an abundance of intersex fish. Bass, to be specific. Both wide and small mouth. What are we doing to our world?

While driving to work this morning, I became aware of my brain processing subjects at lightning speed. Thoughts bouncing from place to place, worry to worry, person to person, non-stop, high speed. I cranked up the CD to a volume certain to block out the rest of the world. It worked. But ever since, I've been intermittently bursting into song.
"Freedom, run away!"

What's worse, I wonder. Racing thoughts or spontaneous showtunes?

My office, especially of late, is a fascinating blend of male egos colliding. But I'm finding it more frustrating than fascinating. Well. Frustrating is not the right word. Maddening is more like it.

"I'm simply layin' out the facts for you ...
Ain't no time to relax for you..."

For some reason, I'm a magnet. Necessary business reasons aside, people talk to me about things. They confide their feelings. What is up with that?

My own feelings--which aren't all bad--take a backseat while I'm in the office. There is fear in the air there. Unrest. Upheaval. Fear of the unknown. Fear of change. But change has arrived in all its glory. Their fear will dissipate eventually. Change is here to stay.

"That freedom sun will shine someday..."

Meanwhile, I've got control of the volume and a river to walk beside with my girl and our dogs. What more can a woman possibly need?

"Run, freedom, run!"


September 5, 2006

Father of Mine

A daughter's relationship with her father has got to be one of the most complex--outside of her mother perhaps--she will experience. That is, if she knows her father. I am lucky enough to know mine.

Oh wait. That's just stupid. Why would any daughter consider herself lucky to know her father? I mean, isn't it a father's job to allow their children to know them? I guess it's like any other job. Some dads are good at it, others suck, and there are many levels of competence and/or incompetence in between.

Parenthood is like that. It's all fly by the seat of the pants, hard work and hope. Daughterhood, once one reaches adulthood, is pretty much the same.

My parents divorced when I was in fourth grade. I don't recall feeling particularly tramautized by the event. I left that to my sister. My father, an officer in the Navy, promptly was restationed from Washington, DC to Hawaii. I've tried to imagine what my life would have been had we, as originally intended, moved with him as a family unit before the Big D got in the way. I never get far. What's the point anyway? It was what it was and is what it is. Pragmatism rocks.

My dad and I seem to understand each other. Enough to respect the differences and enjoy the sameness. I'm thinking about him today because I owe him an email and can't seem to stay on task. I'm not so good at the regular communication thing. It doesn't help that we live on opposite coasts. I sit wrapped in my own little cloud, taking comfort in the familial breezes swirling in the distance yet not deigning to disrupt my personal reveries.

I think I may regret that some day.
Hell, for that matter, I think I do already.
I need a swift kick in the ass.


September 4, 2006

Life Is a Game of Pick Up Sticks


I'm feeling better.

Oh. What? You didn't know I was feeling bad?
That's because I wasn't.
But then I fell down the stairs.

Dogs enjoy human bodies crumpled on the floor. Something about it excites them. They mill around and trample on the body, poking with their cold noses and tickling with their whiskers. They greatly prefer when the body is moaning.

I'm glad I could amuse them.

What does the title of this post have to do with me falling down the stairs? Nothing. It's completely unrelated. But the storm that blew through here Friday left a mess in our yard. I spent the majority of the weekend bent over picking up sticks.

I did leave one where it fell. I've entitled it "Stuck Stick". Kinda looks like a lightning bolt if you use your imagination.

Yes yes. I'm as easily amused as our dogs seem to be. Are you?