Sunday, December 27, 2009

I love Robot Chicken.

I have a song playing in my head I've never heard before.

This happens from time to time, as do the perfect opening lines for stories and the just-right taste of whatever meal I'm to cook next.

To clarify - When I say a song is playing, please understand the the WHOLE DANG THING is going on; words, melody, harmony, instrumentation, possibly even some wicked sound board action mixed in. It's freaky, and so weirdly nice. This song will fade in a few hours time until there's nothing left of it but the smile on my face, but in the meantime I'll hum along with whatever my brain is doing and enjoy this small gift.


Oh, and speaking of perfect opening lines for stories, there's one going on (I hope) at facebook right now. A line popped into me ol' noggin' a while back, which prompted me to begin writing a story in my head while washing dishes (a zen practice not to be overlooked). While I quite liked my story (it being immediately dark and horrible), I wondered if it was too curious a thing to ask if a nation of people could work together to write something collaboratively. Curious, meet me.

If you're on the FB, you know how to find me. See if you can create something new on this long winter's night!


Thus endeth this parenthetically gifted post of nothing much at all. Here's hoping your Sunday might finds you as richly satisfied and bone-tired as your wants permit. It's a good feeling, that one.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Very nearly a screed, but then things turn around.

(Author's note: I've been having some trouble adjusting to Christmas this year; my inner Scrooge has been hard at work with the humbuggery....which is a great word that ought to mean something fun is about to happen, but in fact means that everything a little sour-tasting to the mental mouth. If ya know what I mean. So what follows is admittedly a little grim, and I might take it down, but dang it, all these cretins who try to ruin everything with their guns, or bombs, or anger, or selfish acts, or general douchebaggery while saying they're using those weapons for the work of God or that 'righteousness' is on their side need to feel my wrath, and how. Hooo boy.)


Peace on Earth.

Goodwill toward men.

Joy to the world.

What great ideas! It sure would be nice if those phrases were hauled out on a daily basis and used so energetically that they became threadbare. Our existence would be so very different if those who purport to believe in such things lived them instead of setting them to music and belting out a few rounds one week a year. I’m not just looking in the general direction of Christians, even though those expressions of collegiality do come straight from their songbooks.
No, this plea to actually live the basic precepts of one’s religion/spiritual bent/conscience might well be applied to everyone to rather good effect, because really, it’s a safe bet that there are more people in this world who believe in being good (or at the most only a little bit naughty) than those who take as their life’s motto “be wicked unto death, for in such wickedness is your eternal reward.”

(I just made that up, but you get the idea.)

We COULD overcome worldwide negativism if we all just did what we're told to do, ever dang day instead of for just a couple of weeks a year. The current paradigm of expressing merely seasonal cheer, the inconsistent application of auspicious wishes, the fragility of forced joy, aren’t enough. The best of things should be lived the most days possible, with genuine goodwill, deliberate actions toward peace, and generous application of joy.

So yes, I do say Merry Christmas, Happy New Year. Add to that joyous days, thoughtful weeks, heartfelt fortnights (LOVE the fortnights), and self-aware months, and you begin to have an idea of my best wishes for all of you who choose to come by this little place for a visit.

So hey, let me say, Feliz Everyday, baby!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Don't try this at home

We took a lil' road trip this past weekend straight into the gates of Hades.

This past weekend was to have been the big family Christmas gathering, usually a time of abundant merriment and warm basking-type feelings. It’s about 230 miles from the Tiny House to my Mom’s house. Normally, a car trip between points A and B takes about 4.5 hours, including rest stops. This past weekend? It took 10.

We left on Friday night, thinking we could ‘beat the storm’ that was roaring out of the Gulf of Mexico and that was bearing straight down on our intended weekend’s lodgings. It was a fine plan, certainly better than waiting for Saturday morning to leave, as was the original plan. Ah yes...if only we’d left an hour earlier, we may have been sitting smugly in Mom’s living room at 8 or 9 having thwarted the snow, but instead conditions veered sharply southward about 90 minutes into the ride. Light sleet turned to light snow, then heavier snow, then really truly heavy snow. Just seeing far enough ahead to drive looked to be nearly impossible; the snow was belting at the windshield so hard it looked like we were going into hyperspace drive. After 3.5 hours of driving in steadily crappifying weather and very dark darkness Biff, bless him, had had quite enough thank you of the treachery and pulled into a hotel parking lot just in the nick of time to get what had to have been one of the last rooms available. Sweet relief. Let me tell you that it's been a loooong time since I've been so happy to be sleeping in a strange place. A bonus – there was a WalMart and a liquor store not but a couple of blocks from the hotel, AND there was a restaurant attached so food was readily available. Not a bad place to accidentally find oneself, and a serendipitous choice because further north on 95 there's NOTHING, hotel-wise, for miles and miles.

After a restorative night’s sleep, we haggled about continuing the trip north, as it was STILL SNOWING and wasn’t looking like it was going to let up. Clearly, the weather people had been spot-on in their predictions and we were headed into the belly of the beast. Mom offered to put us up for another night where we were, and we dithered on the point, but made the decision to keep on going, because there were only 80 or so miles to go and how bad could it be?

It is at this point, dear reader, that you realize that the last sentence was blatant foreshadowing.

Friends, it was Bad. Even the full light of day brought no relief. There was slipping, sliding,and rampant douchenozzle-ing by far too many other drivers. It also continued to snow, a LOT. Poor Biff was subject to many of my alarmed utterance as he drove along, for I am perhaps the world’s worst passenger, convinced that nobody but me can see 1) brake lights ahead, 2) vehicles sliding, 3) cars stuck in the median, 4) 18-wheelers swerving, 5) etc etc. Ultimately it was best for me to simply shut my eyes and pretend to nap, saving me from a heart attack and us from a possible fight at my stubborn need to CONTROL EVERYTHING.

When I did take the odd peek, I could spot innumerable wrecks and spin-outs. A semi’s engine blew up right behind us. Tink’s muffler scraped the snow-hump in the middle of the lane on many more than one occasion, and all the while snow keep falling. There was tire spinning, arduously slow progress up hills to avoid having to start again from a dead stop, perilous slides downhill. There was the smart choice to finally leave Route 95 behind after about 5 hours of 5-MPH plugging along, and then there was the 30 minutes spent digging Tink out of a snowbank at a Chevron station in Quantico, where a miracle occurred in the form of 5 Good Samaritans who appeared just as it seemed we were well and truly stuck to dig us out and give us the shove needed to get us, once again, on our way. Sometimes what you need is the kindness of strangers, even if you can't always rely on it.

With snow-caked boots and freezing cold hands, we climbed back in our trusty little car and headed into the last 22-mile leg of the journey just as the sun was going down. Only 22 miles. Only 22. On a road, unfortunately, that hadn’t seen a snowplow in at least 2 hours. It was clear there HAD been a plow by at some point, as the mounds of snow in the shoulders was a good 2 feet tall (and which were truly the only viable road marker at far too many points along the way), but in general there were 5-6 inches of humped and hillocked snow to drive through/over/around. After such a long day of hard travel, those 22 miles ahead loomed large. After about 40 minutes of truly difficult driving, there was brief talk of turning around and spending another night on the road at a hotel we’d passed. But no, once again we decided to press on.

Dusk came, taking with it the shadows that demarcaded where the best-traveling could be had between the snow humps. Every so often there’d be a break in traffic and we’d swing around a slow-moving car, taking up the lead and making progress at a breathtaking 25 miles an hour. I began praying for safety as dusk turned to dark. I know I was clenching my hands together so hard my fingers were cramping. Fear became a very real passenger on that dark snowy road with who-knows-what just over the spindly guardrails.

And then, about 6 miles from Mom’s, a distant twinkling of lights. Was that an actual snowplow? No, it was not. That twinkle was in fact THREE plows. Three gorgeous plows, scraping the road nearly clean. Three beautiful plows, making the last part of our nightmare journey just a little more tolerable. Three stunning plows, easing us safely into home base. A prayer answered? I should think so. They peeled off right at the entrance to Mom’s development, and after that point we only had to negotiate one super-slippery hill, tires a-spinning, to get onto their street.

Who cared that Biff and I and my stepdad had to shovel about 2 feet of snow off the driveway to get Tink a place to spend the night? Not me. (It should be noted that I didn’t do much shoveling, as my stepfather shooed my inside pretty fast) Released from the confines of Tink, released from the fear and worry, I would have shoveled 3 driveways in thankfulness.


Final snowfall total at Mom’s? 26 inches. All of which we drove through. Every single stinkin’ last bit of that trip was, in some way, covered by the super-storm that shut down entire cities and delivered the largest one-day snowfall total in over 70 YEARS on the DC area. Oh, you might say it was a stupid thing to do, all that driving in that kind of weather, and you're probably right, but it makes for a pretty good story that, fortunately, has a happy ending.

The fact that our neck of the woods in NC got NOT A FLAKE will not be expanded upon here. Nope. We courageously risked out necks for family, and thus will have something MAJOR to lord over them for years and years to come. And that, my friends, makes this treacherous story have an even happier ending. Nothing like a good lording-over to make the next family gathering that much more festive.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


(This one is all over the place. Apologies in advance.)

After a lovely meal out with pleasant people at an enjoyably appointed restaurant, it’s very nearly impossible to accommodate the notion of returning to work, which of course is why I’ve spent the last 90 minutes doing very little of a productive nature at all.

That is just how I roll. Me n’ every available time-waster on the internet are pretty much going steady at this point. Except for the naughty sites. I don’t do naughty sites at work. That would be bad. Very, very bad.

Heh. Speakinna which...last night Biff and I were wasting time on the internet in parallel, him on the home box and me on my work laptop. I was looking up sites that show pictures of bad boob jobs, because I’m thinking that when I turn 50 my gift to myself is going to be to have them suckers hauled up to where they were when I was….35 and I want to know what BAD looks like, when Biff ambled over to show me a few pictures of a cabinet job he just finished. He likes to share. I think it’s sweet.

Anyhow, up on my screen, because I did not think it necessary to minimize it, there was a photo of NOT a bad boob job at all, which naturally caught his eye. Hard to argue with a photo of a perfect pair of D cups, ya know? After tearing his eyes from the screen and wiping up the gobbets of drool from his manly chin, his question to me was like “why are you looking at pictures of boobs” and then of course I told him of my plan, which hearteningly he heartily endorses, and life was good.

Apparently though he was not expecting me to be ogling other ladies’ ta-tas on the WWW. Clearly, he learned a thing. Hey man, don't judge me - I was simply doing my research into what I DON’T want and what may be possible for me if I do decide to hoist the sweater puppets up a few inches.



On a semi-related note: Anybody ever go to an ‘adult novelty’ store? I’ve been in one, once. I felt about as smooth as a cobblestone street in that place. What a tremendous amount of items available to enhance your love life! The mission I was on was a simple one, but dang – with about 100 styles of toys to choose from, how’s a girl to decide?

Ultimately, after about an hour of trying to look suave while debating the merits of this model over that model (like, are LIGHTS really necessary on this thing?) ‘simple is best’ won out and me and the shopping partner beat feet without pausing to examine the various slings/straps/cuffs/costumes/lotions/lubes that populated the rest of the store. It was all a bit overwhleming, if you want the truth.

Does that kind of reaction mean I’m just immature about stuff like this, or do y’all have similar stories of your ‘first time’?

Curious minds (mine!) want to know.


Also – what’s for dinner at your house tonight? Recent weeks have seen a distressing lack of creativity in the Tiny House kitchen (when I’m cooking). Suggestions for tonight’s meal are most welcome.

Leave ‘em in the comments please, and have a lovely rest o’ the day.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This is the one that ends well

Tiger Woods owns a 155-foot yacht.

Thought you’d like to know.


Isn’t a 155-foot yacht a little excessive? Wouldn’t a nice 60-footer do? Really now, how much time does he spend on that thing? Couple weekends a year?

Unless the length is compensating for something….


Also – it’s the middle of December. Hi holiday season! Nice of you to come speeding along like you have. While we HAVe a tree, and cards, and some gifts have been purchased, nothing is complete. No baking has been undertaken, no egg nog consumed, no tinsel draped. There are 2 wreaths on the Tiny House, but no garland, no bunting, no geegaws or frounces have been applied to festive the place up.

I am maybe a little bit Grinchy.

Christmas comes at a very bad time of year, doesn’t it. After the glory that is Hallowe’en and the gluttony that is Thanksgiving, Christmas comes ho-ho-ho-ing into our lives with expectations and history, with high hopes and exhaustive lists of Things To Do To Get Ready, and man it’s a long list. Simpletons like me (ie – people who value simplicity) can get overwhelmed with the prep work, and as a consequence can turn a lil’ bit grumpy or….unmotivated. Doesn’t help that yrs trly is a world-class procrastinator and as such denies the passing of days to The Big One until it’s almost too late.

So tonight, after getting home at about 9, those dang Christmas cards will get done. There’s only a few dozen of them; how long could it possibly TAKE?

Then maybe I’ll start wrapping. Or putting something on the pine tree that’s been standing in our living room for over a week. Yes, really. It’s that bad.


Also, nobody wants to hear about how roundly awful life at work as been lately, what with the busy and whatnot, so I’ll refrain from mentioning it, much. But…wow. The holiday break can’t come soon enough. I’m hoping by the time it’s over I’ll be good and bored and ready to come back into Crazy Central.


I hope all y’all are keeping well, and that life is nothing but sunshine and puppy tummies all around. Here - have one now, and then have a lovely afternoon.

Tiff out.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Simulated Interest

If I'm really good at faking my own death, I figure the insurance money will keep us in pretty good stead for a few years...perhaps long enough to get massive amounts of plastic surgery and begin life over as a sassy, plucky administrative assistant who by dint of extraordinary powers of insight and intellect for someone who appears to be as young as she is, rises quickly through the ranks of the non-profit for which she works, attracting the attention of corporate gift-givers who offer her a position in their front offices which she takes, but only for enough time to amass a small fortune before leaving the hustle and bustle behind to live out the rest of her days traveling the world with the LOHL and only what will fit in a modestly-sized backpack.

Just a thought.


So yesterday I was dropping Thing 1 off at the 9th-grade center (an assemblage of modular units, really) and I think if the woman behind had gotten any more mad at my NOT PASSING THE STOPPED SCHOOL BUS she might have exploded her head, all 'Scanners'-like.

See, the cars line up in the left lane (traffic only goes in one direction once you're on the grounds), the buses of course take the right to drop off the kids in the morning. If you're done dropping off your kid, but there's a stopped bus next to you, law says you can't go until they pull in the little "stop sign on a swing arm" thing. You're stuck there for the 2 minutes it takes for the kids to leave, then once the bus goes? You go too. Those are the rules.

Well, yesterday, I stopped in place even after Thing 1 was safety out, because there WAS A STOPPED BUS next to me. This is when some steering wheel pounding began. When that ol' stopped bus finally went, so did we, but don't you KNOW we promptly got stuck behind a line of cars waiting to take a left turn. This is when a bit of shouting started. Then, at just the right, at the exact moment when traffic broke a little and we could start moving up, don't you know that another bus pulled up next to us and extended the "thou shalt not pass" sign. Oh well. Here we sit for another 2 minutes...and it was during this time that she lost it. Oh.My.God. She was 1) pounding her steering wheel while 2) gesturing frantically at us with her lit cigarette while 3) shouting something I'm sure was less than complimentary and 4) beeping her horn. It was a moment of pure beautiful road rage, but dangit - it wasn't going to get me to PASS THE STOPPED BUS OF THE LEFT just because she had to be at the Lee Press-on Nails clinic in 26 minutes.

Truthfully, the frantic wavings became so comical, her horn bleats because so irritating, that I thought I'd play a little.

So I pulled up. A FOOT. She practically rammed her Ford F350 quad cab right up Tink's butt-bumper, such was her enthused reaction to movement. I pulled up a tiny bit again, and I see her behemoth lurch forward and jerk to an abrupt halt. One more squinch up, and the BUS DRIVER starts honking their horn, because it's clear we are ignoring the stop sign onna steek, endangering the precious cargo. This is when I turned around in the seat, did the "SEE?" jazz hands thing to lil' Miss Impatientpants, and thought about how nice it would be if her hair caught on fire.

Sometimes, I can be a little bit mean.


Don't forget to email me if you want to do a holiday card exchange with friendly readers and bloggers. I think ti would be kind of fun, and would love for massive amounts of people (maybe 10?) to think so too. Thanks to all of you who have responded positively thus far; it's for YOU that I'm going to shop so very carefully at the Dollar Store Target this weekend for just the right card.

And that'll do it for me. I think I'll leave early today to make up for coming in late. Gotta balance out both ends of the workday, eh?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The geeky, busy, CHEERY one


BBC News (12/9) reported, "A drug being tested to treat cancer could also help patients suffering from asthma." It's well understood that "too many uncontrolled eosinophils can damage other cells that line the lung, contributing to inflammatory conditions such as asthma." But, scientists at Edinburgh University discovered that the drug, R-Roscovitine, "caused the eosinophil cells to undergo a form of cell death known as apoptosis, a natural process where unwanted cells are removed from the body." The discovery, investigators say, "could lead to an alternative way to treat asthma in patients who are resistant to steroid treatments."

Folks, I spent 7+ years doing research into this kind of thing, with eosinophils as the primary target of research. We didn't really ever come up with anything, so the blurb above came as great news to me this morning. To have a therapy that doesn't rely on steroids is terrific news, and if you know someone with severe asthma you'll understand why I'm pretty excited by this. To shut down one type of cell that, when activated, can release all manner of molecules that alert not only the immune system but can also start an inflammatory cascade is kind of like finding a drug that will cure 80% of all cancers. Seems to me this is pretty big news.

Yes, I'm a geek. A proud one. And sometimes, that geek flag is run up the flagpole to its highest setting. Like today.


It's been a while, hasn't it? Life has kind of spiraled out of control, and apparently a break from posting was the first thing to be sacrificed at the altar of Life Craziness.

So things have been happening. LOTS OF THINGS. Which may or may not be described here; only time will tell. For now I just needed to crack open the tough outer shell of insanity that's been keeping me imprisoned lately, just to say hi.


And a request: despite me feeling really Grinchy about Christmas this year (we've had the tree up for days and it's not decorated yet!), I am a big lover of holiday cards. If any of y'all would like to do a card exchange, please email me at, and I'll start a list that can be emailed out to all interested parties next week. Then we can all send cards to each other, and it will be like Christmas in Virtual Mayberry!

Cards exchanges are cheap, easy, and kind of fun. In years past I've done a card exchange with other almost completely anonymous bloggers, but that opportunity has passed me by this year. So hey, why not take matters in to own hands and try to get something going among the people I know? Hope you'll play along. You'll get a card from me, and from other lovely people who like to be jolly and who probably smell like hot chocolate (with marshmallows!), so what's not to like?

Deadline for emailing me is ..... Sunday.

Hope to be mailing you soon!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wailey wailey wailey!

I’ve spent so much time hunched over my computer in the last few days that I’m going all Quasimodo. The space between my shoulder blades hurts if I look down, my forearms are going numb, and I think perma-squint is just over the barely visible horizon.

Clearly, I need better posture.

Work is blowing up big time, and not just for me. Last night at around 11 p.m., as I was trying to put a spit shine on some documents that are NEEDED URGENTLY I was surprised to be getting email replies from a couple of folks who should know better than to be online woring at such a crazy hour. We’re all trying to forge on with a horribly complicated project toward an unholy deadline, and so there we were, tippity-typing away at nearly midnight. Sometimes? It just happens. Then of course this morning while I was supposed to be prettying up another document for final-final (honestly! Really! No more changes!) review, someone else identified a gap that MUST BE TAKEN CARE OF IMMEDIATELY and so there’s nothing to do but drop the formerly hot-potato issue and pick up the new bushel basket of steaming tubers.

High glamour.

So here it is almost 1 p.m., I haven’t started the thing I said I’d get done last night, I’ve run my hands through my hair so many times it looks downright greasy, my neck feels like it’s going to snap in half, and there’s not yet been any lunch. This last one must change, before I get irretrievably butt-welded to this stupid office chair or my back refuses to unfurl from its cramped-over position.

But first – some good news: I still have a job! Got the notice today. The new job (which of course we all know I’m already doing and have been for the last 2 years) now comes with a slightly different title and….get this…..a BONUS! Yep – every year, if we’ve met our goals as a company, we all get a wad of cash at year’s end. This is a most sweet development. I like bonuses, of nearly all kinds.

So there’s that.

Let the rejoicing commence!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Inspired to blog? Yes, I think I am.

In the interest of time I won't post this backwards, as I had intended, but rather forward, which is the proper way to move through life except of course if you're a spotter in a ski boat, in which case facing forward means YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

Where was I?

Oh yes, right here. Where I left off.

In the afterglow of a wonderful weekend. Family, friends, DRIVING, friends, family, and more friends. Plus, a hot tub. Hey people? I met my new in-laws for the first time on Thanksgiving day. All 100 of them. Aunts, Uncles, cousins, step-ish cousins, something-ish half-nelsons, and others who bore enough of a faint family resemblance (like me!) that they could get a cut of poultry and a scopp of the most feckking delish stuffing ever made. Yay for me fitting in with the crowd. Also? There was basketball in the gym after, so that was good.

After that there was some hot tubbing at de hotel, and then Biff and I made Chinese stir fry for the immediate family at his sister's house. How freaking bold is that? "Hi, I just met you and now will COOK YOU DINNER!" What gall I have.

Everyone (as far as I know) survived.

OK. Everyone did. Adorable dog included. Thanks the Meijer, for the Meijer is the best of everything that is mega shopping, including large amounts of liquor and a 'foreign' food aisle that would make Brit ex-pat weep in thanks.

Where is this post going, anyhow?

Things were a bit of a rush, but the best kind, The kind where you can't wait to get out the door to find out what the next thing will be, the kind that feels like you're about get a new bike, the kind that maybe might include a rollercoaster ride. That kind, you know? Sandwiched between 2 stupidly long car rides, I found out this stuff:

  • Biff is better than me at the alphabet game, by far
  • His sisters are really really pretty. Good skin runs in their family, apparently. Grgh.
  • I love me some hot tub. ESP those with supah-jets.
  • The term "happy sock" never gets old.
  • Deer hunting sounds like a dang good thing.
  • Stiff beds in strange places, when shared with someone you love, can feel like home.
  • Holiday Inn Express cinnamon rolls? SIN ON A PLATE.
  • There are people in this world who, once met for the first time, feel like old friends. Y'all know who you are, and thanks for two wonderful visits. Next year? BLOGSTOCK!!! Now who's got a farm? We need plenty of room for rocking the ball dents!

And that, dear friends, is that. I'm tired. It's 11:20, and I think after Genesis we have Daft Punk up next for dancing porpoises. No way I'm missing that.

Tiff out.