Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'm still here.

Hello, just checking in again! Still trying to get the medication ironed out, but I'm doing okay. February is such a dull month, anyway, so at least I'm not missing out on anything spectacular. Just lots of TV-watching and crossword-puzzling., and making a few plans for warm-weather projects. I'll feel like being chatty again soon, I promise!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"I'm not dead yet...I'm getting better..."

(Monty Python quote there)

Just popping my head in to say hi, and all's well here. I started taking some medication last week that makes me loopy and semi-coherent--I keep waiting to feel more myself, but it hasn't happened yet. Anyway, I can barely compose a thought, let alone a post, but I'll be back when I get this ironed out!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy V Day...

...from me and the hubby.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tuesday thoughts.

Rainy and cold here today, but that's better than snow, for sure. I'm getting creeped out seeing all those houses buried to the roofline in New York and elsewhere.

This week is doctor week for me--making appointments, making sure all our old doctors are part of our new health insurance network. (They're not.) I stopped by my new family doctor today and liked him and his office staff quite well. I had to have some blood taken for a thyroid test, and I've never had a stick so gentle before. I barely felt it! I'll have to find a new dentist (ugh) and possibly a new optometrist--haven't checked on that yet. I loooove insurance stuff. (drip, drip goes the sarcasm).

Todd's been at this new job for more than three months, and this is the first time we've actually cracked open the insurance packet and pulled out our cards and checked everything. Either we're very healthy or very lazy. Don't tell me, I know which one...

I went thrifting around the corner last Friday and picked up a few non-essentials: a nice heavy white metal basket, which several people commented on enviously as I carried it around the store, a book on expressing creativity through gardening (I need major help in this area), a 100-year-old French grammar book that will be great for using in various crafty ways, and a long scarf/table runner made from granny squares. Granny squares are such a double-edged sword--so nostalgic and homey, and yet often so, so ugly. Terrible things have been done in the name of granny squares.

But this piece is nice--good colors, good-quality yarn (maybe wool?) and expertly crocheted. I'm not sure if it will be a Christmas accessory or if I can get away with having it in the living room at non-Christmas times, since the living room is mostly red and green. I guess I'll throw it nonchalantly over the arm of a chair or something. Who knows? I just liked it.

I was planning to put potted plants in the basket and stick it out on the porch or something come spring, but I think it may be too nice a basket for that. Maybe better suited to holding guest bath towels or something.

Maybe I need to get my "house vision" honed a little bit better before I start dragging home stuff willy nilly, do you think? We have brought home so many yard sale finds over the years that ended up going on to a better home in very short order. It's hard to stop and think about whether you will use something and what you will use it for when you know you have to grab it now or never see it again. That's the pressure of thrift store and yard sale shopping!

And I'm finishing up yet another Civil War-themed book: The Emancipator's Wife by Barbara Hambly, a novel about the life of Mary Todd Lincoln.

Barbara Hambly authored a set of historical mysteries about a free black man living in New Orleans in the 1830s that aren't just some of the best mysteries I've read, they're some of the best historical writing I've read, and really, some of the best writing, period. So I was glad to spot this book at the library the other day.

There used to be a series of children's biographies, written in the 1950s, I think, that were about famous people in their childhood years. Looking back , I see that they had to have been heavily fictionalized, but I used to check my favorites out of the school library over and over. One of my faves was about Mary Todd Lincoln.

Her adult life is hardly the stuff of children's stories, with grief and mental illness and terrible tragedy...but Hambly takes all this sad material and still finds some redemption in it. The characters of Mary and Abraham Lincoln come to life, and they are so sympathetically described, and the story of their marriage is so compelling. Sad, but a good read.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Thursday again?

Thursday night, Todd is in bed, I'm at the 'puter. I'm watching/listening to a Reno 911 episode on a free video site, which is a pretty lousy site, but which I'm linking because you can also watch all the British episodes of The Office there. If you've never seen it, it's definitely worth checking out. But not with kids in the room--the Brits are a leetle more lax with their TV standards than we are over here.

I hadn't seen the British version in a few years, since we rented it. Then the American version
came out and I was quite disdainful of it after watching the pilot, because it seemed like--and actually, was at that point--a poorly warmed-over version of the British pilot. But then the Americans found their own creative groove, and now the American Office is one of the best things on TV--in my humble opinion.

The British version really struck me, on my recent re-viewing, as even darker and harsher than I remembered, after the sunnier American version. But it really has some incredible moments, so check it out if you never have!

I wanted to mention a recent read...the majority of my reading is non-fiction, but I made a foray over into fiction and it came out pretty well. The book was March, by Geraldine Brooks, which has been on my "to read" list, for oh--two years or so!

The book is written in the voices of the parents from Little Women, which was a huge childhood favorite of mine. This book explores Father March's experiences in the Civil War, and the toll it took on his relationship with Marmee, his wife. There are also flashbacks that fill in some of the backstory of
Little Women--how Father and Marmee met, the source of Aunt March's difficult relationship with the family, how the Marches lost their money, etc.

I loved the way the author filled in the blanks of this very familiar story. While Little Women focuses almost exclusively on the March sisters, and sees the world through their eyes, this book gives you the grown-up story, and really explores the harshness of the war, the slave experience, and the terrible hardships that befall Father March. Both Father and Marmee have to look at themselves and rethink every ideal they held dear before the war.

It's beautifully written and haunting...not bad at all. I recommend it, especially if you loved
Little Women. And it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last year.

Finally, I've been surfing around and have come across a few British craft or home decor or lifestyle blogs, several of which mention an event called the Shepton Mallet Antiques Fair. I would give just about anything to attend the Shepton Mallet Antiques Fair, just based on the name alone. Sounds like the kind of place where you'd find Paddington the Bear strolling arm-in-arm with Miss Jane Marple.

This has been a total February week--cold and kind of listless. I've been favoring my neck and arm this week, but it's all feeling better now, and so am I. Tomorrow: laundry. (AAAAAH!)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

You go, Jim.

Senator Jim Webb on the floor of the Senate Tuesday:

"As I have said before, it is inverted logic to claim that we should continue to fight this war on behalf of the troops. The fact is that they are fighting this war on behalf of the political process. They deserve political leadership that is knowledgeable and that proceeds from an assumption that our national goals are equal to the sacrifices we are asking them to make."


"What is truly surprising -- and unsettling -- is this administration's lack of overt diplomatic effort to bring order out of this chaos, in a way that might allow us to dramatically decrease our presence in Iraq and at the same time increase the stability of the region, increase our ability to fight terrorism and allow us to address strategic challenges elsewhere in the world."

I'd call it "freaking scary" as opposed to "unsettling," but...anyway... you can read the transcript of his whole speech here. It's worth reading. I'm glad to have one senator with some amount of integrity anyway--I can't say much about our other Virginia senator, Warner, who axed his own Iraq resolution.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Checking in.

Suddenly, I feel like I'm coming up with a vision of some of the rooms in this house that have eluded me. My scraproom, and the spare bathroom, and the beginnings of a vision of the master bedroom--suddenly I'm looking at all of these spaces and I can SEE how I want them to be. This is huge, as I've been extremely stumped by this house ever since we moved in over a year ago.

Now I just need some large sums of money! Hee!

So I cleaned out the master closet on Sunday, and then pulled everything out of the closet in my study, and started packing stuff back into it, and somewhere in there I pulled my neck/shoulder/arm again, so I've been doing very little constructive work since then. It seems like it takes less and less to totally yank everything out of whack in there...frustrating.

Add in a ripsnorter of a headache (18 hours and counting) and you have my week so far. But at least I have a vision.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

My guy.

The Two Peas blog challenge today:

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, what attracted you to your DH/SO?

My DH and I were extremely young when we became friends and fell in love--I was 17 and he was 18. From this vantage point it seems impossible to find a soulmate at that age, but that is what happened. In the 19 years since then, I've never met anyone who could hold a candle to him.

So what attracted me to him? He was--and is--super smart, which I love, and he was--and is--a fantastic listener. Interested in just about everything, optimistic and willing to tackle almost any challenge. And he's a real wiseass, with a dark yet goofy sense of humor. Throw in big brown eyes with long lashes and a round little butt, you've got the perfect guy. For me, anyway. I'm very blessed.

God bless the Dutch...

...who grow these gorgeous gems of color and ship them over to us to rescue us from the February doldrums.

I do have the doldrums today, though--or maybe the grumpies is more correct. Just generally feelin' grumpy for absolutely no good reason except that I have so many things I SHOULD be doing that I don't WANT to be doing.

And it's not simple cross-it-off-the-list accomplishments, it's stuff like: Eat right. Lose weight. Sleep less. Move more. Be cheerful. Call people. Clean the closets (which may sound like a cross-it-off-the-list item, but which spawns any number of other chores, which spiral into a black hole of household chaos.)

You know, all that life change stuff that you can't just do once, but that you have to decide to do. Every. Single. Day. Over and over for the rest of your life.

Stuff I was determined to tackle, once and for all, in January, and now it's February and I haven't tackled any of it. Where does the mojo come from? Am I trying to re-invent too many things about myself? Is it expecting too much to turn from a lazy slug of a person into an upright citizen who eats salads and goes for walks at the crack of dawn and flosses her teeth faithfully?


In other news, I found a charming yet overpriced green gingham platter at the thrift store this afternoon:

And a handmade pottery mug in just the right color for holding brushes or pencils in my study:

There were two there by the same creator, and this was obviously the second attempt, after the creator got the hang of what a mug is shaped like and how big the handle needs to be!

Todd is playing paintball today and I think that's why I feel so at loose ends. Also this is the first weekend in a month that we haven't been traveling or had company. Funny how that punctuates your weeks, and then a free weekend feels so directionless.

I'm going to try to muck out my study now, wish me luck.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I heart winter.

I saw this quote on another blog this morning:

February, when the days of winter seem endless and no amount of wistful recollecting can bring back any air of summer. (Shirley Jackson)

For me, it should read the opposite:

August, when the days of summer seem endless and no amount of wistful recollecting can bring back any air of winter.
(Janelle Clark)

Yes, I like winter, especially the watered-down quasi-winters we get here in southern Virginia. I'd actually like a little more snow, but otherwise winter here is a pretty good thing--plenty of sunshine, warm days interspersed with the cold--not too bad a deal.

Happy birthday to my friend Matthew, who is eleven years old today, with a terrific life all stretched out in front of him like a groundhog's shadow!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

More Thursday thoughts.

I heard about a website last night called LibraryThing, where you catalog all your books and can browse other people's libraries, get suggestions, form groups, etc.

I'm still trying to figure out if this is worth messing with. The anal-retentive part of me relishes having a nice neat list of all my books...however, this would take AGES to compile. I just entered a few off the top of my head last night and I'm already up to 74 books. The tip of the iceberg, I assure you.

What's really scary is that I've purged my library at least twice in the past year and gotten rid of a good 150-200 books. And you'd never know it. And I suspect there's a box or two that never got unpacked from the move, because I've thought of several books lately that I know I didn't get rid of, yet can't find.

With all that said--is it really worth cataloging such a fluid collection, where I lose 'em, trade 'em in for new ones, and generally just stack 'em around in little piles?

I dunno. Here's the link to what I've entered so far, though.

I pulled out a Dave Matthews CD and listened to it today, after hearing one of my faves on the radio this afternoon. I don't think Before These Crowded Streets is very well-thought of by the devotees, but I like it. He does go on about death, though, doesn't he? I haven't listened to DMB in ages and ages--it's so funny how an album can pinpoint you to a specific moment in your life. You hear it and it's like you were there again. I'm glad that's not really true.

It smells so FABULOUS outside, I wish I could bottle it up and save it for one of those drippy humid stiflingly hot days that's coming just as sure as anything, and sooner than I'd like. We got a dusting of snow today, which turned to rain, and it's just cold and wet and clean-smelling outside. The kind of air that makes your nose shrivel up inside when you inhale it. Yum.

Thursday thoughts.

If I couldn't procrastinate, I couldn't live. Tons of stuff to do, and I sit here in front of the computer.

A new episode of The Office is on tonight--hurray!

My brother wrote a funny bit in his blog yesterday--check it out and see that madness does run in my family.

Time to go clean the kitchen and strum on my guitar a little bit before my lesson.