Monday, December 27, 2010

Forging new ground

Where I work has a fairly generous vacation policy, by and large, but at no time is it better than at THIS time of year, because the whole darned business is shut down from 24 Dec, through this week, with regular business opening back up on the 3rd of January.

Yes, it's sweet.

Made even sweeter because (and at first I thought this kind of sucked), the company decided last year that keeping track of who was carrying over vacation was too much work and made a 'use it or lose it' policy regarding vacation time. So, given that I'd carried 5 days (the max) over from last year, and had 17 days to take on top of that, and by the beginning of November still had to take something like 12 days or lose them, my work schedule in December went like this: Work a half day every Friday, then take Dec 22-06 Jan off, inclusive.

Almost 2 continuous weeks off work. DANG!

I've not had this much time off, all in a row, as vacation (maternity leave doesn't count), in I think ever. A girl could get used to lolling about, READING, getting bored of the internet, taking actual baths, indulging in some high-grade personal care, and napping. She really really could, but, semi-unfortunately this girl won't have a chance to fully realize the lolling potential as she's engaged in that fabulous game: "Let's Remodel the Kitchen!" with her loving and capable spouse.

Yes, vacation includes a full-scale re-do of our dumpy little kitchen. Biff had had enough, thank you, of the wavy floors, the crappy cabinets, the horrible low ceilings, etc etc and decided the time was NOW to gut and reclothe the most-used room in the house. He does this for a living, so I decided to just go with the flow and see where the current takes us. Plus which, it's mostly funded by him, so who am I to say he can't spend his own money on gorgeous new cabinets, fantastic ceiling fans, real wood floors, and the like? Exactly - I have no say in it, and so must ride out hte wave of new purchases like the adoring spouse I am. Never mind that I'm mentally clapping with glee when he says' I bought a new stove today' or 'let's get the one we REALLY want,' even though that one costs a bit more. Yes, I'm kind and patient where spending his money is concerned, and as it turns out, it's something I'm really quite good at!

Spending money is the fun part. It must be noted: I've never lived through a kitchen remodel before. It is quite the learning experience, not all of which is as fun as spending money!

Thus far, since (um) last Thursday (I think) the upper cabinets have been ripped out, the older ceiling deconstructed, the beams holding up the older ceiling torn out, many new electrical boxes and circuits and mysterious things installed, NEW framing put up over the oldest ceiling, and yesterday we sheetrocked the newest ceiling and started installing beadboard to finish the ceiling. Today, the plan is to finish the beadboard install and paint the ceiling. Oh, and some dudes are supposed to be here to install a SolaTube so that we don't have to be putting on the lights at 2 in the afternoon in the kitchen. Hooray!!

The part of the kitchen remodel I didn't expect but find rather lovely (because Biff insists on it) is that, every night after flinging dirt and sawdust and coal dust and cellulose insulation and nails and other associated gunk all over the kitchen, we take a half an hour to thoroughly clean up. It's a pain in the ass, quite honestly, and i might not do such a good job of it so consistently because I have a problem with being breathtakingly lazy most of the time, but being able to walk through the kitchen without shimmying around a panel lift or the drywall cart or a pile of pink insulation or a table full to overflowing with tools is, honestly, very nice and lends a far more sanitary air once the cooking starts, because in addition to working all day in the dang kitchen we're determined to cook as long as there's a stove in the dang kitchen. (Ed note: Now that, friends, is how to build a run-on sentence!) Come early January, there won't be a stove for a period of a week or so, so we need to keep the Tiny House smelling like someone loves it as long as possible.

We might be a little crazy, but we're crazy together, so there.

Therefore, my extra-long vacation is a combination of the lolling about, bursts of work (I call it work but I'm really just a tool wrangler), and cheffing. It's time off I can live with, and time I intend to fully exploit before heading back into the world of work (I call it work but I'm really just a word-wrangler with an incredible capacity for sitting) and all the crazy that awaits in the cube farm. Word is there's a move afoot to move us across the building (because, clearly, someone in facilities doesn't have enough to do), something that fills me with hate and rage, so I'm simply not going to think about it and instead fully vest myself in the Laurie Notaro marathon/recipe search/intensive hair care regimen/excessive coffee drinking/omphaloskepsis.

Oh, and the construction too. There is that, after all.

Tiff out.


(pic by Bob Biess)

Monday, December 20, 2010

What the heck is this pile of ashes doing here?

Whoa - what happened to last week? Last I knew it was the 15th, and there were aliens populating the inner space between my ears, and now it's full-on Christmas madness which has chased poor Virdmar (was that his/her name?) nearly out entirely. Poor poor Virdmar. He's been left out there starting at a confusion of stars for days now, and I'm not entirely certain anymore what's supposed to happen to him.

Speaking of which, I had the Things read the start of Virdmar's story, and it seems they quite enjoyed it. After reading, I had a 20-minute conversation with Thing 1 about where he thinks the story should go next. I presented my 2 ideas, we talked over their merits, and have decided that option #1 is the better way to go with this one. Yeah, who needs a spaceship populated with programmed offspring, anyhow? The idea of Comm and Dette have spent the past near-eternity cranking out subroutines (heh) kind of appealed to me, but that's not where the tale is going to go, and I have my 15-year-old editor to thank for it.

So, sorry Malach, no space sex for you. Yet. I might wedge some in just to keep up the interest. And no, I won't be having the Things read THAT installment.


Having an editor is a good thing. They can keep you going when ideas are floundering, and it seems that they might even have a few ideas of their own, if my recent experience is any indication.

Also, if it's any indication, a book I edited for a client of my ex-husband's (got that one?) has shown up, signed, on my doorstep, with a very nice thank you penned in as well. Seems I've made the book a 'smarter' read, which pleases me.

I spent some time re-reading some of the most troublesome passages last night, and I have to say that she took my ideas to heart and has indeed made the book more understandable and relatable in those rough spots. Sometimes my thoughts were not easy to decipher, as I recall adding in marginal notes like "What?" and "no" and other oh-so-unhelpful guides. However, enough meat must have been offered up for her to chew on, and so I send you a link to the place where you can get a better idea of what it's all about and maybe even order a copy? Maybe?


Must go - there's work to be done, dishes to wash, and an inexplicable plethora of fuzz on the carpet that needs to be vacuumed.

Y'all rock the remainder of this Monday, and I'll see you soon.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh, I'm just trying it out.

After about the third Farnsworth crenellation, Virmarn began to weary of space. Oh sure, the initial super-torques using the ampmotor were great, and even a couple of years figuring out the math behind the Scarlett-Fermi phenomenon were amusing, but after a while things, even never-before-seen--things, get old hat. Nothing is very interesting for long if there's nobody to share it with, after all, and the hyper-connectivity of his youth was not a good starting point for a city boy who got bored one day and decided to hitch a ride on the next craft to the Outer Reaches.

OK, hitch isn't exactly right. He'd been at Novosibirsk U and was due to graduate at the top of his class in thermoatomic sciences, and had been promised a ride on the Bolt in exchange for free tuition for his doctorate after he got back, so hitching is a little disingenuous for a class-A genius, but still. Something about the way he got on board seemed, now that he'd had the time to think about it, a little abrupt. Even though it had taken him a full year to agree to the terms and conditions of the contract being offered, first being sure to ensure that Novosibirsk U would be be in existence when he returned (it was, after all, to be a very long flight), it now seemed that things had proceeeded at a very rapid pace indeed. After 6 years in flight, with no-one but the Comm and the Dette to talk to, he realized he should have bargained for a professorship on his return, at least.

It was not good to worry though. The people he'd talked with before setting off were no longer alive, of that he was sure. Periodic entrenchments in the Zip made the time between maneuvers bearable, but separated him further and further in time as well as distance from those who were his peers. By the time he returned, if in fact he'd calculated the last Wurmstrumian hole-skip correctly, even his great grandchildren would be dead.

It concerned him that he'd had to calculate the last skip by hand. Apparently something had gone awry with either the ground-based talk line or the butlerships that had been providing both information and protection. Whatever it was, he'd had no datastream capability as of wakeup, and so had needed to rely on cruder methods for setting course. Who knew what had happended to the support staff, really, as the last Zipout had only been a few hours ago and the last of the ZoneOff was still leaching out of his bowels. A little while longer and it would be possible to think again, which made him concerned about the skip calcs he'd done on first waking up, but there was nothing to do about it now, the coords were in the machine and he'd pressed the Easy button before before cooler heads (his, presumably) could prevail. Now there was nothing but the waiting.

The waiting was agonizing. Comm check equalled nothing, again. He hadn't been responding since Virmarn has come out of the Zip, which was troubling, as the Comm was usually the one that ordered up the wakeup when something needed to be done. The only thing Comm had done was cue up a song that Virmarn like to hear coming out of Zip, and now Virmarn couldn't stop it from playing. After a few hours (more or less) it was becoming aggravating, no matter how enjoyable the beat and volume had been on unZip.

Dette was a little better for wear, but not her usual self. She had responded to an earlier entreaty for warmth, but tepidly. She'd said something about being 'busy', but that was a concept she'd not been able to grasp before the last Zip. Also, she sounded tired. This was what concerned him the most, because no matter how much actual time had gone by, neither Comm for Dette had ever seemed weary before. Virmarn knew programs could get tired, after all he'd read Red Dwarf, but it couldn't have been that long since he'd gone into Zip, because there were all those flock fields and Roku Stanchions to navigate around, which required his awakening, which was, of course, why he was here. Surely no more than a dozen real years had gone by, so why were Comm and Dette so, unavailable?

Virmarn fixed himself a cool toddy (one drink free after an unZip, his contract read), sat in the cool gel of the captain's chair, and unfurled the dashboard emap. Positioning on, nav site on, time/speed/vectoring on, check and check.

The screen flickered on, blips and blots began to appear, and in the chaos of light that ensued Vidmarn was utterly unsettled. There was nothing he recognized. No flock field, no Roku stanchions. Instead of the great bright skymarks he'd been expecting to see, the screen was pockmarked with a million tiny holes of light, an incredible show of glitz and glitter the likes of which he'd never seen. Where was the Drift of Cannulus, the Harbor of Fenestration, the Digger of Vast Holes? None of the typical great sky gaps were present, none of the gigantic tracts of empty space that he'd grown up with and expected to see through many more crennelation jumps. Why, there weren't supposed to be this many stars in one place for eons and eons and eons from where he'd set off, and even then they were only figments of the Astronomer's and Artist's imaginations! This was, in a word, incredible.

And troubling. Clearly, Vidmarn was lost.


More later.

Tiff out.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No really, December, knock it off

This cold has got to stop. This unremitting cold, that's turned nasty and wet to boot, must cease soon, or the tip of my nose is in danger of falling off. I simply cannot get warm, even when wrapped up at home in the relatively balmy 66 degree heat.

There's only one real (though temporary) way to fix the problem. That's right: BAKING.

It is time for the baking of things. Chocolate chip cookies, anyone? How about red and green jello cookies? Bourbon balls?

Other suggestions?

In about an hour (after the grocery run for butter. *snerk*) it shall begin to smell like heaven in the Tiny House. After the cookies are going , there will be some bread dough and chili making to prepare for a visit from friends tomorrow. When one is cold, one must keep moving or risk freezing in situ, which I understand is terribly uncomfortable and to be avoided at all cost.

Is it freezing where you are too? It seems like the whole US is coming down with a cold. How do you combat the cold, aside from cranking the heat and girding your loins in preparation for the receipt of the heating bill? Do tell, won't you?

Tiff out. There's butter to buy!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Don’t bogart that motivation, my friend.

Have you ever been faced with a project and timeline that is easily achievable, only to find yourself a virtual 2 breaths away from said deadline with nothing done on the project at all?

Hey - Me too!!

I was having lunch with a group of folks the other day who have the same job as I do, and we all agreed that it is the way of our people to procrastinate, divert attention to less-important projects, or flat-out waste time until such time as there’s almost no time left, at which point we get right on the ball and in a frenzy of nightmarish productivity we turn out the product, generally on time and 85% well done.

Begs the question: what the heck is WRONG with all of us?

Is this the kind of behavior that runs rampant in your field of work? I can’t believe that only writers suffer from the ‘wait ‘til panic sets in’ behavior in their work ethic. Surely engineers, programmers, and others engage in this poor excuse for professionalism, right? RIGHT?


All the other jobs I’ve had before becoming a writer were ‘daily production’ type jobs: waiter, teacher, radio announcer, etc. Those jobs were satisfying in a way that writing doesn’t lend itself to (at least as I perform the act): you showed up on time, did your time, and walked out knowing you’d done what was expected of you for that chunk of your day.

Kind of nice, but at the same time HAVING to be someplace for a period of time, the race against the clock, rankled. I’m never happy, that much is clear. If I’m not forced into daily proof of my worth, then I don’t make many of my days at work truly worthwhile, but dang if I bristle at someone making me show up and produce.

So, it’s a struggle.

However, now that I’m staring wild-eyed at yet another deadline that coming at me at a hair-raising pace, I can once again feel the adrenaline surge starting, and you can just BET that I’ll be all OVER this project, very very soon.

Like, last week would have been nice.


Anyhow, that’s what on my mind. Do feel free to offer some shaming in the comments, or perhaps some moral support as I’ve just offered up a little of my failing as a human being which of course means I deserve a lot of ‘there there dear’s and suchlike. They’re ever so much better than shamings, don’t you think?

Tiff out.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

With Love from Dee Dee McPherson

Hey look – there’s this blog thing laying around. I wonder what it does? I see that someone’s been using it to write in, but hasn’t been here in a while. It’s been days since they used it last, so obviously they don’t need it anymore or are on vacation and probably won’t mind if I play with it for a while. I mean, you wouldn’t just leave a perfectly good blog thing if you were going to USE it, would you?

Anyhow, I’m betting that whoever owns this blog won’t mind if I use it for a little while. They can’t be the ONLY one to get tot enjoy it, right? And if they’re not using it, someone else should so it doesn’t get all rusty and start smelling like the inside of a packing box left out in the sun for a day that accidentally contained mothballs and old socks. That would, quite literally, stink. So, I’ll take it out and give it a good airing, so that when the person who DOES own this blog comes back they won’t be all ‘ew’ at how musty it’s gotten. It’s too pretty for that. I mean, really, just look at the girl up there in the header - she doesn’t deserve to be the icon of a stinky old blog, does she? I think she deserves to be resident on a shiny pretty blog that smells like vanilla icing and tastes like Skittles. She needs a little glitter, a little pizazz, a little caring for!

I don't think I like the list of big words over there on the right. I wonder if they’re real words, or if the person who called them ‘porn’ is somehow pulling a fast one on us? Not like I’m going to look them up, because for every big word there are, like, 4 perfectly good little ones that need to be used. So who really cares what ‘hordoleum’ means? I’m thinking whoever own this blog might get rid of that and replace it with something shiny, like a link to a game site or something. Same for the tired old blogroll, because seriously, nobody does that anymore? I’ll bet half the links are dead. Plus which, if it was a good blogroll (not that anybody does that anymore, right?) it should at least roll up in some cool way, and not just sit there taking up space. A touch of animation never hurts anything. Same for the archives. Sheesh, at least give the reader something to play with! I guess I could tinker around with those features, but like I mentioned before this isn’t MY blog, and who knows if the person who really owns it is savvy enough with the coding and widgets to even USE them? Besides, it’s not like this is The Huff Post or or anything that lots of people actually read. I guess it’s good enough to have static archives and an outdated Blogroll if there’s a fair chance nobody’s going to use them.

Not that I don’t LIKE this blog, but it could be shinier and fresher. Where’s the ‘wow’ factor? Where’s the cool individualized header with some neat tabs or a floaty navigation bar? Where’s the autoplay video of the owner and the list of favorite Twitter sites? Man, it looks like whoever owns this blog doesn’t even TWEET, can you believe it? What are they, like, 40 or something? Not tweeting is SO old-person-ish of them. How do they expect to get popular if they’re not twittering about this blog? Come on, even a pretty blog like this (minus those issues I just mentioned) won’t attract attention and traffic if word’s not getting put out. Someone needs to talk to whoever owns this thing and get them into the 21st century already, you know? With a little social networking they could have a real following.

Oh man. It looks like they don’t even have a link to their Facebook page. I’m saying Facebook because the more I look at this blog the more I think the person who owns it is old. Clearly, if they were hip they’d be linking to MySpace, amirite? Facebook would be more their speed if they were, like, more than 30. Which I think they are, being as how all those things I’ve just spent time pointing out.

So, yeah. It’s a perfectly good blog, but could use some work. Not that I’m trying to make the owner feel bad or anything, but shoot, there’s just so much they could do with it that’s not happening. Maybe if I hang around long enough they’ll come back and I can tell them about how they could really work this thing for max impact. Everyone could use a little help, right? It would be a good thing to point out how, with my help, their blog could really shine. I’m sure they won’t mind if I just, you know, hung out and helped.

Because, honestly, the design isn’t the only thing that could use some sprucing up. I’ve read some of the entries and there’s not ONE mention of Twilight or Justin Bieber. Seriously, I know. They totally need my help.

So, I’m going to go get myself a tall skinny no-whip soy lattachino and wait to see if anyone comes by here to pick up this neglected blog. Then I’ll nicely tell them all about my ideas, and then they’ll probably want to pay me for the great advice, and then we’ll whip this thing into super-sparkly glittertastic shape. I’m so excited!

Oh, and hey – if you read this and have any ideas for whoever owns this blog about what YOU would like to see changed, and maybe what they can write about that’s not boring or stupid or so old-personish that nobody can relate, I think there’s a comments feature you can use. Come on, it’s fun, and who knows when the next time be that you get to change the course of history? Probably never, so grab it while you can!


Friday, December 03, 2010

they're making me do it

I'm 15 minutes late for leaving work. That's right, my melancholy (and otherwise) babies, I'm leaving work at 2:15 in the afternoon. What's better is that it's vacation time, I'm going to be taking every Friday afternoon off from now until the end of the year, when I', taking 2 days off before our 1.5-week company shut down, then tacking 2 more days onto THAT, for the longest stretch of time I've been off work since I was on maternity leave.

Yep - almost 2 whole weeks off, and the company is MAKING ME. 'Use it or lose it' is a policy I can totally take seriously.

Crap - I've already wasted 5 minutes of vacation time writing this - what am I, nuts?

So, bye.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Let's get ready to Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrramble

What does it say about my life lately that all the people who are marked as ‘available’ on the Office Communicator are IT HelpDesk people?


So, Happy Hanukkah to all y’all out there who celebrate such a thing. I was listening to the commie-hippie-pinko-liberal radio station (NPR) this morning on my way to work, and on it was an interesting story about the holiday and how it’s evolved over the years.

Bottom line – BOTH Christmas and Hanukkah used to be kind of ‘meh’ occasions, until someone decided to bump up the volume with gift-giving and festivus poles around which young people dance clad in robes of baby hair while their elders beat on drums made from the skins of albino bats. Also, CANDLES!

I think I have that right. I might not have been paying very much attention.


So, the holiday season is in full swing. We’ve had the spooky one, the stuffing one, and now the Big Daddy Holidays are upon us, when we crack out the lights, open the champagne, and drive ourselves NUTS trying to make everything ‘perfect’ so the ‘memories’ can be made and everyone will look back on the perfection and forget all about the evil and pettiness and hatred they’re conducted or been exposed to over the past year.

Because, seriously? Nothing chases away the memory of your house burning down quite like twinkly lights. It’s like the bad never happened, right?

Not, I might be full of enough hyperbole to have swallowed my own tail (or is that paraboly? Hmmm), but don’t most of us go whole hog for our chosen mid-winter festival and drive ourselves crazy in the so-doing? I know I used to, but somewhere in the past few years I’ve taken down the crazy a few notches so that it’s possible to actually ENJOY Christmas (my chosen mid-winter festival).

This year, to further continue with the notch taking, it’s quite possible that we’ll celebrate by renovating the kitchen. We are partiers like that. Heck, with a choice between spending gobs of cash to go someplace that might be fun and tearing out the cabinets, flooring, and ceiling, I’m pretty sure most of us would choose the latter. There ain’t no fun like DEMO fun, amirite?

Now, I’m not a Scrooge, nor even a Grinch. I LOVE me some Christmas, and fight to keep the tree up every year for 'just a little bit longer,’ but this year (as in the few previous years) the Things are going to be with their Dad for Christmas and The Biffster and I, while clever and inventive people, don’t find much jolly about sitting around wondering why there isn’t more FAMILY in this most family-oriented of holidays. So, why NOT embark on a huge project to fill the time between eggnog breaks?


Plus which, I'm taking something like 10 days off right around then. The 'use it or lose it' vacation days policy is MAKING me do it. *Snicker* Shoot - it might take us 5 of those days just ot decide on what kind of wall treatment to use, for, sadly, we cannot retain out current cute checkered paper. What would YOU suggest we do for decor in the most-used room in the house? I'm all ears.


I’m off to try to vanquish and Spin Doctors tune from my head. Y’all be good now. Tiff out.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

From the time machine

Here at No Accent Yet, we do like to go on the occasional ramble through the archives, just to see what we were up to in the past.

For example, 5 years ago, we were clearly all about the umbrage taking. If you take the time to click and read, I think you'll see why. Only 1 comment, but that's because I lost all the old Blogger comments somewhere along the way. As it was, the blog was only a month or so old, so it might well be that there were never really many more than 1 or 2.

Four years ago, I was blathering about Firefox, and mentioned a Wordsmiths story. That post got 14 comments. Seriously? 14?

Apparently, 3 years ago the Wordsmiths were still going strong, and I posted a story that many folks seemed to like. This was during my 'in every story at least 1 person must die' phase (which I'm not I'm over yet), so gird yourself for it if you choose to read.

Two years ago I didn't post on the 30th, but I did write about cheese, and upcoming big events. The cheese post got 15 comments. Who knew there was such INTEREST??

And then last year I neglected to write a post on the 30th as well, but made up for it on Dec 01 by nattering on about meeting my new in-laws for the first time.

I think about what has changed in my life since I started this blog, and am amazed at what has transpired. Many changes in scenery, the end of one marriage and the beginning of a shiny new one, new jobs, new bosses, company takeovers, kids growing up, deaths in the family, and so much more. Five years doesn't seem like a long time, but when I think on everything that's happened during that time, I'm amazed.

Also amazing - some of you have been there with me for the entire time. The comments tell that tale well enough, even for those of you who have changed their identities during that time the stream of connection still flows.

So, thanks. Thanks for reading, sharing, being part of this dusty little corner of the internet, for sharing, for caring enough to comment or participate, for 'being there' out in the ether, letting me know that at some point you're hoping I do another dead person or browser-related post, because clearly you're just WAITING to comment heartily thereon.

Buncha weirdos, all y'all. I love you for it. :)

Tiff out.


(photo courtesy of It's a tortoise. No really, it is! Honest!)

Monday, November 29, 2010

This is me, practicing.

Hey y’all! Have you had your fill of shopportunities yet? Has Kohl’s aggravated the living bejeebers out you with their continuous stream of advertising? Are you inundated with catalogs hawking everything from fleece blankets to beef? Is the ValPak, which is of course like money in the bank being delivered right to your door!), reaching such a thickness that it might not fit in your mailbox? Is all this consumerism about to drive you bonkers, as it is me?

Well, set right back and take a break from all this crass commericalism, and we’ll spend some time together talking about ‘not much.’ It’s a great topic, the not much, because it can encompass everything from the weather to kids to meal planning to what the next door neighbors are doing. Which, in my case, ain’t much, because we don’t have any next door neighbors, but the ones across the street are pretty interesting right around now. Yep – the ones kitty-corner left have been gone all weekend, but apparently didn’t take their dog with them because the poor beggar’s been in the backyard all day long, and I’ll bet all night too, which is terrible because it’s been freezing around here at night (literally). I sure hope they at least have a dog house for the pup. Why, I might just take a short walk this afternoon with a pair of binoculars to do a little bit of spying, then call the SPCA or something if that dog stays out another night. It’s inhumane to treat a poor animal like that.

The folks across the street, well, there aren’t really folks across the street, because the house renovation that started in February isn’t yet complete. The folks doing the reno have put things in, taken them out, put other things in, painted a couple of different times, and now seem to be just poking around doing not much at all. There’s been a little interest in the house though, in the form of a family driving past it then asking me if it had rented yet. Rented? Hmm, I’d been told the owners/renovators were going to SELL it. I wonder if they’ve changed their minds now that it’s been almost a year since they started work on it? Might be they can earn some money on it by renting and kepping the place in their name in case they ever want ot move to town. They’re not getting any younger, and it might be nice for them to live in a place where he can walk to the store for his smokes and the grocery isn’t but a couple of miles away. Conveniece is important when you get to a certain age, isn’t it?

The young couple two houses down just painted their place a nice shade of green. They’re quiet, with a couple of little kids, so we like them as neighbors. Not much goes on down there, which is a nice change from the few families who lived there before they bought the place. We’ve had some interesting groups live in that house, but none of them stayed long. I prefer non-transient neighbors, it gives a person something to expect and rely on, in a way.

Then there’s the couple down the end of the block. They’re older, friendly in a ‘we’ll say hi but not invite you over for dinner’ way, which I like, and have a few kids who occasionally visit in their big loud trucks. The gentleman of the couple used to work at the Mill before it closed back in ’78, which I think is really interesting; he’s like a relic of history. When you meet someone like that, don’t you just want to pepper them with questions about what it was like, back in the day? I know I do.His commute was a short one, as the Mill is, quite literally, in their front yard. I think they’re happy to have us as neighbors, because they say nice things about our garden and do stop for a bit of a chat sometimes as they’re headed out for their nightly walk.

After them there are no more neighbors down the street, because our street ends. Oh, the Mill is back there, but we don’t think of them as neighbors. We DO see them walking up our street from time to time, even though our street and their parking lot don’t join up it’s not hard to climb the small embankment from their place to our street and from there go to downtown or the convenience store up on the corner or the high school.

Now, the folks on the other side of the cross-street, well, it looks like them getting a shed didn’t stop them from keeping most of their stuff in the yard, but I do have to say it’s at least more organized than it was before, and thank goodness they seem to be getting along better these days. Plus which, that big ol’ garden was nice to look at this summer, so as far as they go things are looking up.

Beyond them we don’t really know too many more people except the woman who has lived in this neighborhood all her life and can probably tell you who used to live in your house back all they way until these house were built. Lots of folks who used to live here were related to one another, so there’s a lot of ‘cousin’ talk when she gets going. After a generation or so I get confused, especially since the narrative includes where those folks are now, who they married, what church they used to go to, who has since died, and on and on. When it comes to talking about not much, the woman is the Queen of it all. It’s clearly a Southern thing, as some other older Southern ladies I know can and do go on and on about mot much in particular and everything in general, until the words flow together in a river of verbiage, and I start not paying attention.

I am not from those venerable examples of How to Talk About Not Much, and so it has been an acquired skill, one that I am proud to say I’m improving on with diligent practice. After 5+ years in the south, I’m starting to understand how it goes. You take a topic and insert as much detail as you can, including minutiae about semi-relevant but seemingly unrelated topics, then just keep on talking. To do this you must first of course develop an almost encyclopedic knowledge about your chosen subject, which naturally means that you have to remember facts and dates and names, then be able to recall all of them with a high degree of accuracy. THEN, you must engage your chosen conversation partner with occasional queries like ‘don’t you think?’ or ‘ain’t that a shame?’ or similar, to ensure they’re paying attention. Once all you’re getting in reply is a grunt, you know it’s time to close with ‘well, I sure have enjoyed talking with you, but I got to go,’ which is the catch-and-release phrase that pays when you’ve just devoted a good hour talking about not much. It’s never too late to appear like you have someplace better to be once you’ve talked someone into a thousand-yard stare.

Now, shall we talk about the weather, or are you ready to just go someplace quiet and pray I leave you alone?

Well, I sure have enjoyed talking with you, but I got to go. Tiff out.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey. It's what's for dinner. And lunch. And dinner. But NOT BREAKFAST

Clearly, turkey and stuffing is a miracle food. I had some yesterday at about 2, and have not been hungry since. Even though I ate breakfast (Hi, Dunkin' Donuts egg and cheese wrap! (and coconut donut)) and some lunch (and a fine good day to YOU, 6 inch tuna salad Subway!) today, there was no hunger involved at either affair, and so it is that I must surmise that the turkey and stuffing have expanded to fill the corners of my appetite so expeditiously that there's no room for even a small twang of peckishness to seep in through even the tiniest of mental (or gustatorial) openings.

Add to that the remarkable powers of T&S to induce sleep (as witnessed by the many inert bodies lying around after dinner yesterday) and I'm thinking we ought to investigate its ability to fight cancer or contact aliens or something.

Don't even get me started on pumpkin pie. That is some awesome sheet, right there, and fodder for at least one blog post on its own.


So, a trip that took 6+ hours on Wednesday took us 4 hour and 15 minutes to do in reverse today. Hooray, holiday traffic!

Every dang year I make a mental not to NOT travel on the day before Thanksgiving, and each year I agree to travel to other environs for the feast I forget that rule and shoot myself directly in the foot with both barrels of a very big gun loaded to the gills with 'told ya so.' Sheesh. I'm 48 - when do you think I'll LEARN?

Please, feel free to NOT answer that question. 'Rhetorical' is a word for a reason.


Also, now that we're back home there's all that laundry to deal with. I'm tempted to just take all the clean stuff that's lying around in piles and put it back in rotation to be washed again, and call it progress. Seriously. There's only so many loads you can have out to fold before the job simply gets too big and one must call the purp defeated and start over.

I'm thinking 4 loads is about my limit. And yes, we're there.


So, this is all to say I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are well on the road to recovery after exposing yourself to the wondrous entity that is the T&S. There are some that would say it can be as long as a week to fully get back to normal after testing your gastrointestinal tract so severely, but I'm hoping that by tomorrow all will be well and I'll once again feel like doing.....anything.

Until then - Tiff out.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Live blogging the band rehearsal

So, it's 7:09 p.m., and there's a band in the living room warming up for practice. It's kind of awesome, akshully. They're tearing apart a new song, and putting it back together. The old 'woodshedding' is happening and it's fun.

I hope the Things, who are in their room hiding out, are learning something through their bedroom door. I hope they're learning how to be BIG ROCK STARS so that, one day, Mama can rest on her laurels, safe in the knowledge that those residual checks will keep her comfy and warm for the remainder of her days here on earth. Also, that her boys are HUGE in Japan, where anything can, and very often does, happen.

Just ask Grant.


We're going to Gramma's house for Thanksgiving. It will be awesome, as the trip kicks off with an' all grill, all the time' dinner at my younger brother's house, then the Big Day at Mom's (including a parade on teevee, I hope) with lots of folks, then a nice long Friday morning before heading back home.

I LOVE quick-hit family trips. Each moment seems so much more important - like you need to make more of them than a regular minute, or day. Memories in an instant - awesome.


New Band Name - "Butter Twisting Virgins."

And no, you can't borrow it.t


Oh - I figured out the sing they're practicing: it's "Fly" by Sugar Ray.

And now I go, to memorize all the words, for what is a groupie without encyclopedic knowledge of her chosen band's songs?

Nothing, that's what.

Oh crap - they're moved on to Maroon 5. I'll never keep up. Oh well, the ol' '1 ,2 3, watermelon" should come in handy next time I get to a show.


And, the laundry room remodel is finished.

That's all. Tiff out - y'all have a wonderful T-day and keep safe until we talk again.

Monday, November 22, 2010

sometimes there's a whiff of mischief

It was a foggy morning in WFNC today, with conditions ranging from 'picturesque' to 'pea soup,' depending on how far downhill you went. Naturally this meant that people felt it incumbent upon them to a) stay home drinking soup through a straw, b) stalk menacingly across the marshy spots in their neighborhoods, or c) drive like morons.

If you answered C, you win a prize. Morons, how they did abound.

I dislike morons in the morning, and thus set out to thwart moronitude whenever possible by doing what morons hate most: driving responsibly. It makes them crazy! One fine example of moronicity was the dude behind me in the interminable and dreaded middle school car pool line who spent a lot of energy trying to crawl right up Tink's bumper or being otherwise vehicularly menacing. We were in the parking lot, friends, a place built for PARKING, not 'racing up as fast as you can only to have to wait to drop off your kid.' To this fellow then, I wrote this letter, in the hope that maybe through a twist of serendipity he stumbles across it in a web-ramble and is struck by how him being a moron affects all of us, and not in a nice way.

Dear Sir: In case you were unaware (for I do like to give people the benefit of the doubt) there is only so fast one can go in the carpool line when waiting for the cars ahead of us to disgorge their precious cargo. Whether I go 10 MPH or 50 matters not, for there will still be a line we must wait in. RACING LIKE A MORON, IN THE PARKING LOT, makes no sense at all and therefore I shan't engage in such idiotic behavior, nor should you.

Also, just because your kid managed to LEAP out of your car at lightning speed once you attained the drop-off area does not mean that the instant they are deployed you should try to swerve around the car ahead of you (that car carrying me and MY precious cargo) to oe'ertake the precious 'one spot ahead in line' position, because hi, you're in a school parking lot, there are kids walking into school right in your swerving range, the car ahead of you will be ready to pull forward in, like, 2 seconds, and damn, just take a chill pill and relax for the next time blip. There is NOTHING you need to get to 2 seconds faster than what you'd achieve by just staying in line and acting like an adult.

Nor, as you are by now so keenly aware, shall I cut in front of a bus trying to turn left out of their dropoff area, because there is a sign that says I must let them out, and I as a mostly law-abiding citizen feels it necessary to engage in a LITTLE common courtesy on behalf of the bus drivers who, if interviewed, would likely be effusive in their thanks to those people who DO let them out such is their miserable lot in life that small mercies are appreciated well out of proportion to the effort it takes to perform them. Do you, sir, WANT to antagonize and aggravate the school bus driver? Yes, your precious snowflake gets dropped off by YOU every morning, as do mine, so what the bus drivers think about you may not be your concern, but I have noticed that they have very large vehicles and I'd be loath to go head-to-head with one in a battle for 'who gets to go first.' They would win, every time, no matter how tough you think your Jeep is.

Lastly, sir, as a final show of 'how to drive reasonably when you can't see 100 feet down the road because of the dang fog,' once we get onto the main road you must have noticed that I drove the speed limit, and no faster, which of course served to aggravate the living hot snot out of you, hot shot, but that's your problem and not mine. I'm not going to kowtow to your bumper-riding antics, nor your frantic swervitude, and in fact I might SLOW DOWN more just to give you the holy hopping maddies and hope that maybe your heart will flutter in adrenaline-induced arrhythmia causing you to reevaluate how your aggression is harming you and as a result you have an Epiphany and turn your wicked ways around. A girl can dream.

Love and blinkers on!



In other news: the new dryer is in place and functioning well. Would that I could say as much about the paint I placed on the walls of the laundry room/pantry yesterday afternoon. It appears that painting over paneling, even paneling that been thoroughly washed and dried, is a tricky affair, causing some paints to slump and drip and ooze in the drying process, rendering the walls a lumpy ugly mess of tacky that even calling it a 'faux finish' won't improve.

Seriously - it's like being on an acid trip, without the acid. The freaking walls look like they're melting.

The good news is that the washer and dryer and the new shelving unit above them cover a fair amount of the terrible paint job, but covering 'most' still leaves 'some,' and it's that some that's tackying up the joint in fairly spectacular fashion. Fortunately, Biff 'has a plan,' which should mean that by the end of today the rework should be done and we can move the mountain of crap that's on and under the kitchen table back to where it belongs, before the neighbors call that "Hoarders" show and stage an intervention.

Who knew so much stuff could come out of such a small space? It's like there's some weird bending of space in that room, so that what doesn't seem like much while it's in there expands 3-fold once you take it out. The whole pantry/laundry is MAYBE 4 x 8, yet the entire kitchen is engulfed in what came out of there. Perplexing, and amazing. I can't wait to see how much room is left over once it all gets put back (minus the junk we deemed 'junk' yesterday and just threw out). Why, we might have room for a chicken hatchery, or small garage! A workshop for elves or a place to spin wool! A spot for a pet giraffe (who will, of course, shrink down remarkably in size once it crosses the threshold), or a nook for a printing press!

Goodness, the possibilities are nearly endless. I'm sure I haven't thought of even a tenth of the great stuff we could cram into that little room, given its remarkable powers of space warpery. Feel free to leave your thoughts about 'what to stick in that empty corner' in the comments, and then have a lovely day.

Tiff out.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gee, I wish I knew this 5 years ago

On my iGoogle page, I have a few little gadgets that present me with news, weather, 'how-tos' and the like. Normally, I don't read the 'how tos,' because I am remarkably well-versed in so many things already that adding to the stockpile of awesome might throw the earth's orbit around the sun out of balance, and then we'd all go wheeling off into the great unknown expanses of the galaxy, destroying our chances of even MAKING it to 2012 to see if the end times really will come upon us, and I can't have that. So, I keep the 'how to-ing' to a minimum.

You're welcome.

However, today one of the tips caught my eye, and thus I share it with you: how to be a more awesome blogger.

Just 12 measly steps to creating a blog of such wonderment that Dooce will weep at her unthroning from the queendom seat of the blogosphere, that Matt Drudge will begrudge you a place at his table of power, that Crazy Aunt Purl just might have you do a guest post or 6, such will be your amazing skill set where the bloggery is concerned!

Go on, read it, and understand that up until now, your blog has been doing it all wrong. I know NAY has been. Why, just on the topic of 'research' alone I've failed you, dear readers. What is this research of which you speak? Find SOURCES to back up any opinion I might have, AND make sure they're credible? Gives me the willies, that does. Or, don't mix up topics, stay with one genre, respond to comments, solicit guest posts? Oh dear oh dear, I've fallen rather flat on those accounts as well. At least gone are the days when I'd present a dreary fiction story one day then a rant the next, a giggling little blort about some news story the next, and then, dear Lord, a RECIPE post to round out the week; so improvement is possible I suppose.

We don't do much 'branding' around these parts either, not do I make the rounds of blogs as much as I used to. Clearly, NAY is headed down a long slow decline into senescence, and it makes me sad that I COULD HAVE BEEN SO GOOD if only I'd known about these 12 steps to certain success a little over 5 years ago when I started this infernal thing.

So, I ask myself, and you, dear readers: is it too late to change? Should I focus NAY with laser precision on one genre of post, and if so, what ought it to be? Do you want me to respond to your comments, or is the very act of commenting on your own enough of a high? Does it thrill you to see me comment on YOUR blogs, and am I even doing THAT right?

Twelve steps to bloggy greatness. Like many other 12-step programs, some phases will be easier to achieve than others. I'm interested in starting small - won't you tell me how?

And then have a wonderful day.

Tiff out.

(Picture courtesy of My First Dictionary, a horribly amusing place. Go see!)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Breakfast of Champions

As the previous few posts should tell you, I’ve been ill with a bit of a bug. FOR OVER A WEEK! I, for one, am wholly tired of it, and wish to return to good health this instant. However, it would seem that the bug that’s bitten me came from a particularly hardy stock of germies, and refuses to leave in toto. Thus, it was the I found myself experiencing yet another coughing spell this morning on the way to work, hunched over the steering wheel, trying to squint through the effort-induced tears that squirted out helplessly as I gagged and sputtered through paroxysm after paroxysm. I was driving so erratically at one point that folks prolly thought I was texting and driving! Horrors!

And then, after one last gasping heroic cough from deep in the diaphragm, out it came – a gigantic glob of lung butter that shot up and out so forcefully it would have hit the windshield if I, in my wisdom, hadn’t SUCKED IT BACK IN.

Say it with me: ew.

So there I was. Driving down 98 highway with a mouthful of mucus (slightly salty!) and noplace to ‘put’ it. Can’t spit it out the window – there’s too much and I’m going too fast - I'd risk backsplash! Don’t have a napkin or tissue to spit it into, and I’m not even sure they’d hold as much as what I thought I had in there. So, with all other options seemingly right out, I did the only remaining thing. That's right, I swallowed it, like a warm oyster.

I felt bad about that in more ways than one, because that was one snotball I would have liked to examine further. At the very least I’d have like to have been impressed with what my lungs created, because face it, it’s not every day you get to see something a body part has made besides boogers and poop.

You KNOW I'm right about this one.


We got word at work yesterday that come the beginning of next year (or sooner!), our cubicle homes are moving. Yessir, in an effort to ‘consolidate’ or ‘maximize space’ or ‘piss off the minions,’ the powers that be have informed us that as of January, we, the writers and programmers and statisticians of our little company, will be sitting in THE NOISIEST PART OF THE BUILDING. Because, naturally, when you have a group of people whose job it is to think and write and draft detailed analysis plans and program outputs, you want to put them in the part of the building that has the maximal number of distractions. To wit:

  • Near the main employee entrance? Check.
  • Near a stairwell? Check
  • Near TWO stairwells? Check
  • Near the “good” coffee maker and fridge and sink and first aid station and copier station? Checkcheckcheckcheckand check.
  • Near the primary central corridor, which is 3 stories high and clad in nonacoustic materials, which amplify everything to the point where normal humans develop hearing like a dog? Big check.

Clearly, someone in the head office has no idea how we do our jobs. Clearly, someone in the head office has an OFFICE, with WALLS, and a DOOR, and can shut that door when they need to do some major thinking, like how to utterly frustrate the people who make the company run.

Meanwhile, in a real face-slapping move, the marketing folks who have started to invade our formerly quiet corner of the building, are likely staying put. Right – because those are the people who never met a speakerphone they didn’t like, hold teleconferences in their cubes with multiple people in attendance (some even just standing right there!), believe the phone is like a second heart and wouldn't be without using it as near to 24/7 as possible, and who are engaged in a furious game of ‘spout the buzzword’ with anyone who dares have a conversation with them. THEY are clearly the ones who need the quietest corner of the building in which to work! Clearly!

This is all elevated in the ass-chappery because, well, I hate moving. It’s been nearly 3 years I’ve been sitting in this corner, and I like it. It’s a backwater, an eddy, a nice protected spot, and I can look out the window and there’s a wall facing the door to my cube and I’ll likely not have any of that again so it’s one more rung down the corporate ladder of real estate.

The trajectory of my work environment has gone something like this:

Lab bench
Office with real walls and a door (step up!)
Office with glass walls and a door and a view (step up!)
Office with real walls and a door and a view if the person across the hall from me had her door open (lateral move)
Cubicle in quiet corner (step down)
Cubicle in noisy spot (huge step down)

Therefore, if the current arc is any indicator, the remainder of my work environments will likely be the following:

Open plan table in giant echoey room
Potion of countertop in ladies room
Cardboard box in basement
Where’s my damned red stapler?

I’m looking forward to that last one. The others? You can keep ‘em.


Hope y'all are faring well. Keep it up!

Tiff out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bumpy gritch

Hola, mi amigos!

Greetings from the land of"'Oh my Goodness It's Getting Worse"! Here in OMGITW current conditions are sneezy with a 90% chance of snot. Occasional outbursts of coughing are expected, so watch out for flying gobs of spittle! In traffic, you can expect nearly total blockage of the nasal passages. Also, road crews are testing the new municipal snot system, which promised twice the delivery rate of yesterday. Our reporter on the scene tells us that the difference is impressive!

In other words, I'm groaning again about being sick. You know how bad it is? It' so bad that I JUST NOW blew my nose and before I could wad up the tissue a bead of snot dropped into my coffee mug. THAT IS BEYOND GROSS!!! There is so much snot coming out with each blow that it can run in streams from the tissue! And this? Is after I took medicine to help alleviate my symptoms.

Also, as the sore throat meanders away, it had invited the 'puke coughs' to come in an keep me company. You know the puke coughs, right? Those are the ones that are so violent and sudden that you think you'll just go ahead and vomit while you're coughing, because your diaphragm clearly wants you to die.

Way to go, diaphragm. You do know that without me you're pretty much nothing, right? That without ME, you have to reason, no purpose! Do away with me and you're just committing suicide, and we all know that suicide is wrong and sad and we have so MUCH more fun to have together, so please, stop the violence!


I'm no good at being sick. Being sick sucks. However, I understand that I am in good company, as reports of ailing friends are popping up all over, so I suppose we can all whinge and moan in chorus, accompanied by our whistling lungs, while trying to not puke and blowing our noses raw at the same time.

If you're in the group of the afflicted, please feel free to be grumpy about it in the comments. If not, you'd best be admiring the style and substance of the comments from those who ARE sick, for if we cannot be well, at the very least we ought to be accoladed (new word!) for suffering in style.

Maybe tomorrow I'll stop being so egocentric and take time to comment on something other than my struggles, for even a monumental as they are, a topic change every now and again is a good thing.

Tiff out.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Take the sandpaper out mah throat, NOW

Oh my. It's got me! Someone, help! HAAAALP!! A big bad bug is in my system, making the scratchy thraot and the watery eyes and the drippily nose, and the groany tummy of DEWM, and I am most upset at this turn of events. Bugs = bad, you see, esp when they are nuzzling 'round the foundations of my general good health, eroding it and lowering my overall value to society.

In other words, I despise being sick. Being sick is for people who are not invincible, who are weak and prone to disease, which is not me at all. Why, usually my immune system is a thing of stalwart beauty, a warrior princess! The macrophages, T-cells, B-cells, and (my favorite) the Natrual Killer cells all work in gorgeous harmony to STOMP OUT any chance invaders.

But...not today. I've been overrun with microscopic marauders. Little brats. Little germy nasty brutes. How DARE they vanquish the forces of my phalanxes of antigen presenters? It's nearly unthinkable, and highly disturbing. Why, right now they're in my personal body, breeding, usurping the SOPs of daily life with unholy chantings to "produce more mucus!" and "get out there and scratch that throat! Go on, make the host weep with frustration and pain!" My least favorite battle cry this time, however, is the guttral urging of the microbe generalissimos to "turn off all ability to even want to be nice to people!" a setting that is a natural to me as cow pies in a pasture.

This truly grates my cheese, so in a moment I shall have at them with the Dayquil-generic-equivalent, for I am through trying to attack from the flanks with tsunamis of water and hours of idleness. It's time to swallow hard and accept that I am no match for what's happening with the hikacking my my very own person, and take some dang medicine already.

I might be losing the battle, but I shall NOT lose the war!

Friday, November 05, 2010

just how far can laziness take a person in life?

Things I am totally liking right now:

chocolate-covered peanuts
hot tea
lounge pants
the vet appt to finally fix Lola the Cat
Netflix on Demand
pizza night!
my family
and, for some reason, the gigantic pile of turkeys in the meat section of the grocery store.

Maybe that last one is because I adore Thanksgiving. The whole idea of it is wonderful. Day off during the week, bonus 1. Day AFTER that off as well, bonus 2. Parades and football on teevee, with nothing else to do with the day but cook and EAT? Bonus 3. And this year, getting to spend the day with extended family, bonus 4. Oh, and Mom asked us to make 'slap yo mama' potatoes, so that's a huge bonus 5, because that is a food that needs an excuse. Hoo, my, yes.

Thanksgiving also finds me in a very New York state of mind. This is, undoubtedly, because for years when I was a kid we'd all go to my Aunt's house on Long Island for the big feed. EVERYONE in that house but my brothers and I had big ol' New York accents, my cousins especially, so that gets put in the subliminal 'part of the holidays' interior decorating I can't help but do this time of year. It's not Thanksgiving without a parade, football, and a longing to go to New York.

Weirdness, I know.

Thinking about those days long gone some more, I recall that there was always a bowl of nuts that had to be hand-cracked, and a crudite tray with celery and olives put out before dinner. I'd spend a long time cracking those nuts, trying to get a walnut to crack perfectly along the seam, then digging out what I'd hope was an unshattered 'meat' from the papery inner husk. I was not so much into the veggies, for there are no distinct memories of me eagerly tucking into a handful of celery. Clearly, patterns of preference are set quite early in life.

Sometimes it would be nice enough out that we could rake up a pile of leaves in their big backyard, then spend some time demolishing it by focused frolicking within it. Or we'd create skits to present to the adults later in the weekend if the weather wasn't great or if it was dark out (which naturally happened, as late November sees the sun set at disturbingly early times!). Oh, the adventures of 'The Smiling Smurdleys' were, I'm sure, things of great art, and I'm sure the parents enjoyed them after a glass or two of red wine. There are pictures, somewhere, of kids and adults alike, and everyone looks happy, so let's go with the mutual enjoyment of the activity slant, shall we?

We had some good times at their house, and good memories have come of it. Why, I'll bet in 35 years' time I'll be the crazy old lady in the nursing home who thinks she's 11 and consistently tries to get the ambulatory among the population to go out and jump in a big ol' pile of leaves come turkey day, such will be my impaired memory yet undiminished enthusiasm over Thanksgiving. We'll shuffle outside on the pretext of 'getting some air,' I'll share a nip from the bottle of bourbon a helpful grandchild will no doubt have smuggled in to me, and we'll carefully leap into a leaf pile I paid one of the orderlies to confabulate. OK, some of us might just walk slowly into it (hips!), and some might just breathe in the delicious scent of a bunch of perfectly dry leaves, but I'll bet all involved will remember what it's like to be young and indestructible as a rubber chicken, and life will, for a minute, be very good indeed.

That's my plan for right now, anyhow.

Is it pretty common to love Thanksgiving as much as I do, or do you prefer other, less gluttonous holidays? Feel free to share, and then have a lovely weekend.

Tiff out.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Oh for Pete's sake, another recipe post?

Dang straight it's another recipe post. When I stumble across something nommy, I do like to share the love, as it were. Today's love comes in the form of Lemon Curry Chicken, which will be presented for your information right after a few tidbits.

Tidbit 1) I like the word tidbit. It's adorable, don't you think? Tidbit. Tidbit tidbit tidbit. Saying it is fun! TIDBIT! Also a fun word - tad. It's the twin to tidbit, but just a little bigger. They're fraternal words, I suppose. Their big brother is 'touch,' as in 'a touch of the flu.' So, touch > tad > tidbit. Now you know.

Tidbit 2) Almond-scented soap is awesome. I fully expect someone to want to lick me today, is how good I smell right now. Indigo Wild soap FTW!

Tidbit 3) There is a good possibility that we've seen the last of the 90 degree days around these parts. I KNOW!!!! That is a squee moment, right there. Yes, It's freaking NOVEMBER, and so we really ought to have been well and truly done with them long ago, but as recently as a week ago the temps were in the mid 80's and it felt like we were living in Tampa such was the heat and moistness. Weirdness. Now though it's gray and cool, which is more like New Jersey. Not that it's a BAD thing, mind you, just that to wake up 800 miles north of where you went to sleep is ... odd.

OK, I have run out of tidbits. On to the recipe.

This is adapted from a recipe by Treva Davis (who I do not know but who was identified as the originator, so here's a tip o' the hat to Treva), originally from her "Spice of Life" cookbook which is no longer in print but which I like to imagine is full of oddly-tinted 60's-styled photos of 'exotic' foods that call for ingredients like the mysterious 'ginger,' and 'red pepper' flakes, for Treva is (was? I simply don't know) a lil' daredevil when it comes to challenging people's palates, old-school style.

(<--Hello, we bring dessert, '70's style!)

Anyhow. Do not be daunted by the long list of spices called for in this dish. Treva only uses curry powder, coriander, ginger, and turmeric, but here at the Tiny House we are an adventurous lot and thus threw in other things we knew would taste good. And, OK, she wants you to use apple juice and white wine as the liquids; we do not have apple juice or white wine at home, so I just went wild with the substitutions (vinegar for the acidity, mirin for the sweetness). Also, if you're out of sour cream and yogurt, fear not, for Treva only puts on the honey at the end and doesn't bother with such things as 'sauces' or, I think, 'mouth feel.'

Actually, now that I think of it, the recipe below is similar to Treva's pretty much in name only. Who knows? It might be better her way!

A) Mix together in a medium skillet the following:
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1 TBSP mirin (sweetened rice wine)
  • 2 TBSP cider vinegar
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1/2 c minced onion
  • 1/2 c diced red pepper
  • 2 cloves minced garlic

B) Add 3 boneless skinless chicken boobies, sliced sideways in 1/2" slices (or thereabouts. No need for a ruler). Tofu might also work if you're meat-averse. Mix well, cover, and marinate for 30 minutes.

C) Turn on heat and simmer for 25 minutes or so.

D) Mix 1/2 c sour cream, 1/2 c plain yogurt, 2 tsp honey, add to chicken mix, let bubble until warmed through. Serve over rice. Basmati is always a good choice.

There you go. Another in a series of 'recipes that make your house smell like someone loves it,' and it easily serves 4.

And that's all I got for now. Have a wonderful Wednesday, y'all!

Tiff out.

Monday, November 01, 2010

I wrote a thing, then erased it because it really wasn't all that interesting.

Ah, well then. It's Monday. AGAIN. I am neck-deep in the new time tracking system here at work, which means that after about 5 minutes of trying to figure it out I abandoned it and came here instead, to the cozy bosom of the internet to write about something utterly unrelated to work.

It's my way of prioritizing. YOU, sweet intelligent internet buddies, come first, always. I miss you when we don't talk, I long for your company, I reach out to you in words and occasionally verse and once even in song.

Today, it's verse, because I just decided it would be.



There's nothing quite like
The slice of drywall knife
through yielding pumpkin flesh

They ooze ochre gore
Glops of innards heaved up
through a fist-sized hole

Impertinent stabs form the start of eyes
The blade saws ragged holes
Chunks fall in the shape of screams

Toothpicks jammed into wobbly bits
Hold the Jack o'lanterns down
Candles burn their guts for hours

Pumpkin-scented smoke wafts through eyeholes
Earholes, noseholes, mouths
Hot air blows like defeat through its orifi

The tortured orange gourds stare unblinking
Beaming welcome to the candy-starved,
dripping juice from rent flesh.

One night a year the pumpkins scream
howling silent shafts of heat and light
all for candy and pretend.


Heh. That started out WAY different in my head. It was going to be such a happy little peom too! But, there you go. No telling what's goign to come out once the stopper is removed from the ol' cranial vault.

Now, to cleanse your palate, here a picture of a Viking in my kitchen. Enjoy.

(Cute, ain't he? All I had to do was tell him what was in my wallet and he offered to cook dinner! Not gonna say no to THAT!!)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Don't blame the duck, he just wants grapes

Duck walks into a bar and asks the bartender: hey, got any gwapes?

Bartender: No, this is a bar. We don't have any grapes.

Next day the duck walks in again and asks: hay, got any gwapes?

Bartender: no, I told you yesterday we don't have grapes. Now get outta here or I'll nail your feet to the floor!

Next day the ducks walks in again: hey, got any naiwls?

Bartender: NO I don't have any nails!

Duck: Got any gwapes then?

(this joke available online, with gifs! The internet is a wonderful thing.)


So, I pretty much suck at telling jokes. I can't ever remember the punch line, have no rhythm, don't 'build' them correctly, and forget most of 'em as soon as I hear 'em.

Sadly, I've not yet forgotten the duck joke. And now you won't either.


I was listening to NPR (pinko liberal commie radio, funded by a bunch of filthy hippie intellectuals and Novo Nordisc, a Swedish company probably staffed by half-nude vikings and marajuana-ridden legal prostitutes!) the other day, and there was a bump about some guy who is a neurologist has written a book about visual issues and how they relate to perception of reality (or similar theme. I forget details sometimes too). What was interesting wasn't so much the subject matter - though I do enjoy me some altered reality - but was more that this guy has two fascinating visually related deficits himself: face blindness and a tumor in his eye that causes him to hallucinate!

Freaky-deke, right?

Dwell on this, brothers and sisters: dude walks around not recognizing people, ever, not even his wife, and what little he can pin down as memorable is distorted by an eyeball tumor that makes him see things that aren't there!

If I were him, I'd be whimpering in a corner somewhere nice and dark, hoping the walls don't resume shimmying and that the person I think is my wife doesn't appear with 6 eyeballs and a carrot where her nose should be.

This, kids, is why I never took hallucinogens when the opportunity presented itself. Reality is a big enough bear to keep under control - to purposely alter it so that what you KNOW is there becomes something else entirely or things that you never expected (eg, an extra hand, tigers in your bathtub, flowers sprouting from the carpet) seems downright insane.

Of course, I don't have much depth perception and operate on monocular vision because my left eye is seriously nearsighted and my right one is farsighted, so it might well be that my reality would be your worst nightmare. I don't know for sure, but it might well be that what YOU see is very different from what presents itself to me as 'real.' It could be that I'm walking around half-baked all the time because of my vision issues.

Or that might just be the lingering effects of the '80s. We may not ever know.


There's a cute new computer in the Tiny House. Not by any choice of ours, mind you, but rather because the old computer (clearly, 3 years of service was all it had in it) completely crapped the bed last week and is, by all accounts, now a mere paperweight.

Most of the time, a dead computer can be revived by experts to at least be able to take the data off the hard drive. Well, our computer is an overachiever, for there is NOTHING on the hard drive that can be recovered. No pictures, music files, work-related items, pictures, estimate worksheets, and did I mention pictures? 3 year's worth of them?

Did I also mention that we're getting pretty good at kicking our own butts over not backing up the files?

Let this be a lesson to you. BACK UP YOUR DISC! Save those files to someplace NOT your hard drive. Someplace NOT subject to sudden catastrophic disc crashes. Someplace safe and snuggly, where the bits and bytes can live in peace and safety, certain that they're not going to be utterly destroyed by a power surge or other misery. Because someday you might just want to look at those pictures again, to maye print them out to put in a book, to share with friends, to jar memories. And if you do not BACK UP YOUR FILES you will not be able to do this.

I'm just sayin', is all.

PSA over, Tiff out.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Yesterday was spent mostly figuring out how to get as little done as possible while still doing things, because after Saturday's festivities I was mighty tuckered out.

Yes, throwing a block party for 600+ people is rather exhausting, do you even need to ask?

Two+ months of planning and preparation, asking favors, cajoling volunteers, guilt-tripping local businesses and friends, placing advertising, asking for publicity, doing all the things necessary to do on a list that made it to the '10 pages or more' stage are now over ,and those 2+ months of all that time and effort are being counted in my book as 'totally worth it.'

The success of our party is all that more sweet because last week at this time I, the apparent pessimist of our crewe, wasn't sure if we could pull it off. There was just so MUCH left to do, and so little time in which to do it. In the end though providence smiled on us and everything came together, including the weather (which I think was ordered pretty much straight from heaven, that's how glorious it was (and what's the bill going to be for THAT, I wonder?)), and everyone involved, from chairperson to smallest child, seemed to have had a good time.

So yeah, Saturday, despite being holy Batman busy, was Awesome with a capital A.

In the end, we gave away dozens of cupcakes (1 at a time at the cakewalk), served over 500 people a free meal, heard 2 great bands perform, played a lot of 'cornhole' (heh heh heh), hung out with friends (some of whom came from over an hour away (Hi Renn!)), and saw a few new faces at church the next day, all because a bunch of people wanted to get to know their neighbors.

Yep - it all worked out. Wonder how THAT happened?



Ridiculous work thing #254 - we have had a week to completely update our training records to avoid problems with record keeping in the future. This has involved reading many an SOP, recording the reading thereof an an approved form, signing and dating the approved form, taking multiple online training classes and documenting the taking thereof by printing out certificates of completion, researching current job descriptions and procuring a copy thereof for the files, and updating the ol' CV to be current as of this very minute.

1 week. All while doing our regular jobs.

Oh, it's nothing but fun around the cube farm, yessir.

I thought for a moment about boycotting this whole thing, but my inner Girl Scout is apparently far more pushy than my inner demons (that's probably good news), and thus I have finished 80% of the training and all the other paperwork attendant to this effort.

Frankly, I'm as shocked as the next person at my compliance. It's simply not like me to expend so much effort on something as low-personal-return as this. Maybe someone subliminally planted the idea that on completion we'd all get cookies or something, because that's about the only thing that would get me to kowtow to the powers that be like this.

Mmmm, cookies. They have powers.


Going to leave it hanging with that one. It's time to refill the ol' water bottle and get ready for meetin' time again! Aw-riiiite.

Tiff out.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shoulda stood in bed

Waking up this morning was tough. The window was open, cool air filled our room, the sheets (glorious 500-count bamboo sheets, how I love you!) and comforter were the perfect weight and warmth, the pillows had conformed to the precise right shape and loft.

So, when the alarm went off, it got snoozed. ONCE. The second time it went off, it got shut off and the 'eff that' button got pushed, and HARD. Which is why it was very much later when I finally crawled out of bed.

Yes, it is a work at home day, why do you ask?

With a prep time of 0 minutes and a commute of 2 minutes, or the time it takes to boot up the computer, rolling out of bed at 9 isn't the liability it would otherwise be if I was expected to present body and soul to the Gods of the Cubicle. 'S verynice.

It's wonderful to have a job that allows the work at home thing to happen. On those weeks when the Things are with their Dad, and we don't have to be out the door at 7:30 to drop them off at school, working at home can be almost leisurely, like a little vacation almost despite being spent in front of the same computer facing a similar list of tasks.

At least it's a different chair my butt is at risk of growing into.


I mentioned a comforter above, as I'm sure you recall. What a nice word, comforter. It says what it does, which is neat.

Another good word is duvet. Doo-vey, baby, a fluffy confection of goose down piled between two layers of fabric, then (as you see here-->) the feathers are kept in place by some well-placed quilting. Duvets are wonderful for cooler weather, providing tons of warmth without a lot of weight, a good thing for those of use who suffer from 'trapped toes' syndrome, that uncomfortable feeling when your feet are weighed down by tucked-in sheets and heavy blankets. Duvets help folks avoid TTS, which is just one of the valuable services they provide.

Duvets, in other words, are lovely things. Expensive lovely things, it should be noted, and so care must be taken with them to keep them in good shape for a very long time indeed.

For example, sometimes they need to be cleaned, and this is a tricky proposal. Down needs special care, as it can clump and not dry completely, which can lead to mold and other icky stuff that you do not want happening to your 400 dollar coverlet. So ,when a duvet needs to be cleaned, the experts say to take them to a dry cleaner, who have experience in such things.

So, we did.

And when we unwrapped the duvet after its cleaning by the experts, we found that maybe the folks we took our lovely expensive duvet to are not experts at all, or maybe their expertise is in ruining expensive lovely duvets. What we got back was NOT a fresh-smelling confection of fluffy pillows containing newly-cleaned and lofted down, oh no. What we got back was (and I'm slightly sick thinking of it) a mishmashed conglomeration of random totally EMPTY pockets and others stuffed FULL of feathers, of partially filled areas, and torn seams. In short, what we got back was lumpy mess, utterly useless.

So we took it back. Rather, I took it back, and made it very very clear that I was deeply unsatisfied with what had happened to our lovely expensive duvet, and that they needed to fix it or make consideration toward helping us purchase a new one. Y'all, we didn't pay 35 freaking dollars to have them ruin our lovely expensive goose down duvet, because if I wanted to RUIN IT I could have done that myself very nicely, I'm sure.

The duvet was left at the shop, with a promise from them to call when the seamstress was done fixing it.

Weeks went by. No call.

Two weeks ago Biff went to the shop wanting to know why they hadn't called. Can you guess what they said? Well, if you guessed that they said "oh, we haven't looked at it yet (because someone just threw it up on a shelf and promptly forgot about it," you'd be right.

Biff let them know this was unacceptable, the counter kid agreed, apologized, and promised to have the seamstress work on it that week. Things were looking up, at last.

(You should hear ominous 'dun dun dun' music starting right about now...)

Last week we got a call from the dry cleaners, asking for our mailing address because 'they were unable to fix the duvet.'

- blink blink-

Yes, folks, they are going to MAIL us our duvet back and, apparently, wipe their hands of us. Because that is good business! That is how they get the good press!

Well, we are not giving them our mailing address. We will be going there in person. OK, clarification: Biff is going there in person, because every time I think about how they're willing to brush us and the ruin of our 400-freaking dollar duvet off I get hopping mad. You really wouldn't like me when I'm hopping mad, trust me on this one.

Seriously. They're wanting to MAIL US BACK OUR WRECKED DUVET, and that's all we get for our 35 dollar investment in their services? FREE EFFING SHIPPING?

I cannot use a wrecked duvet. If their freaking seamstress couldn't fix it, what are the chances that I can? What do I need with a wrecked lovely expensive bag of feathers at this point?? I mean, other than weeping in disappointment into it, or letting the cats use it, or turning it into a giant mishmash of dog bed, I cannot use a giant bag of clumpy feathers that used to be a lovely expensive duvet, can I?

No, I cannot.

And it's coming on cool around here; it's turning into perfect duvet weather. And us without a duvet anymore. At least my boiling blood will keep me warm, dammit, but it's not the same as a lovely duvet's worth of lofty comfort.

Should I be so very incensed over the turn of events? How loudly do I complain? What recompense should we demand from the cleaners? What should we really EXPECT is our due in this case of duveticide?

Your thoughts?


This has turned into a really long update. Clearly I shouldn't go several days in-between, because the words do tend to pile up. I'll stop here, and wish y'all a happy Thursday.

Tiff out.

Monday, October 18, 2010

There are ashes in my hair, and it's not even Lent

When I was a young Girl Sprout, we used to do Troop-y things like make God's Eyes and tie knots and practice the Pledge, but my the best thing was when we went camping. We'd set up our canvas pup tents (this was back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth), find firewood, unpack the marshmallows, and have a good ol' time for a day or two.

Mostly what I liked about camping were the fires.

I'll let that soak in for a moment.

Yep - ol' Tiff was, and is, a genuine pyrophile. Camping is a wonderful reason to have a fire going all the dang time. Breakfast is cooked in a thick cast iron pan over a fire, coffee is perked in a spatterware enamel pot banked in the fire's coals, dishwater is heated in a dish-soap coated pan (the soap on the outside prevents the pan from getting scorched, you know). Lunch is not a fire occasion, by and large, but dinner, ah...dinner. meat and veg done up in a foil packet and buried deep in the coals to sizzle until perfectly done, or biscuit dough wrapped on a peeled green stick and toasted over the fire then filled with jelly to make doughboys, or chili suspended in the dish pot over the fire bubbling happily away while girls get showers after a long hike and the leaders more than likely take a nip from a flask they carry for just such occasions. After dinner is cleaned up there are the s'mores and baked marshmallows toasted up to a perfect golden brown on the end of yet another peeled green stick. If overdone, the marshmallows could become flaming torches of sugar, burning with intensity and a glorious smell.

Mmm, flaming marshmallows. Pull off the crusty outer coating and inside there's a gooey warm mess of mallow ready to be gingerly tugged off the stick. Who cares if your fingers get sticky? Nobody, that's who, because there's a pan of dishwater waiting, cooling, for little girls' fingers to be dipped into before being sent to bed.

Tonight I kind of wish we'd had some marshmallows, for the bonfire in the backyard was perfect toasting temp. As it was we wound up toasting only ourselves and the rest of a small group of friends (just their outsides, and not even until done!) while we planned out a big event coming this weekend. S'mores would have made it more delicious, I'm sure, but we wouldn't have gotten nearly enough done with the siren song of sugar calling us.

So, as a nod to the troop leaders of yore, we celebrated the ebbing flames with a glass of tipple after our friends headed home, while getting bathed in smoke smell and poking at shifting flames.

As a result, I now have ashes in my hair and smell like a bacon factory, which I take as a good thing. My Mom, however, might not agree. She would always wrinkle her nose a little after I came home from camping, telling me I smelled like smoke, which might have been a generous way of saying 'get in the bath girl, you reek,' and probably not from smoky origin. Mom is not a camping sort, which makes it all the more curious why I adore the smell of smoke and all the accoutrement of camping. Tonight, with ashes in my hair, I remember those camping days and am happy.


We, the small group, as mentioned, are planning a big event, as I'm sure you know by now. I'm excited to be a part of a wonderful team of people who take this thing very seriously, and can have a marvelous time poking at fires while discussing the business at hand. They are a group I could totally go camping with.

I wonder if they know how to make sand candles? Because those were my third favorite thing about camping, after the hikes.

Are you in favor of fires and camping in general, or is your idea of 'roughing it' having to cook your own pizza instead of ordering out? Do tell, and thanks.

Tiff out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

iGoogle, do Yoogle?

Last night was one of those nights I should never have even thought of trying to sleep. After putting the Things to bed at 10, I started watching one of the best of all time shows ever, "Monsters Inside Me," but after a few tales of people with worms and stuff I nodded off on the couch while Biff did something at the home computer and it was all strangely unsatisfying. Like I was waiting for something to happen, or felt anxious about something NOT happening, and so when I woke up at 11 I was grouchy and sleepy and probably a little rude.

Oh yes, my friends, I am a wonderful wife and mother. Mostly. OK, largely. All right, I TRY, but not at 11 p.m. At that point I'm on autopilot and feel lucky to change out of my lounge pants and into PJs.

Shut up - don't tell me YOU don't have graduated levels of comfort. You do, and you know it.

So, anyhow, then I went to bed.

And then my brain went apeshit on me and dreamed failure dreams, then woke up, then fell back to sleep, then dreamed confusion dreams, then woke up again, rinse and repeat. I was up at 1:30 when Biff came to bed, back up at 2 when he got back up, fell asleep, woke up again at 2:37, felt anxious, peed, fell back to sleep, was up at 4:37 (how punctual!) laid there fretting, tossed, turned and finally just said fuck this and got up.

All the while, of course, I KNEW why I was so strange and irritable: work. The project I was supposed to deliver today didn't get delivered, I KNEW how much of it was my fault (about half)and my head was going around like Regan Macneil's, spinning infinite strands of excuses and self-hatred. It is at these hours that my powers of self-castigation are legion, and I can whip up some hurtful flails of loathing tipped with shards of glass-sharp disgust, then go all Shi'ite and whip away until all I can feel is an aching head and a twisted knot where my stomach should be.

It is also at these moments that the way forward becomes horrifyingly crystal clear, which is why one could have found me at 5:30 this morning writing a note of apology to those who thought they might have gotten the project today, booting it to tomorrow. It was also at 5:30 that I started working furiously, trying like mad to catch up to where I was supposed to have, in my mind, been by now.

Oh, and those people at work who I thought for sure would have been disappointed in my lack of adherence to timelines and failure to perform? Made not so much as one peep about the delay. As a matter of fact, one person was still, uh, giving me comments on draft 1 today at noon (due a week ago, if that's any indication), so maybe I'm just making myself crazy?

Be that as it may...., it's almost 9, and I'm starting up again. I'll be jiggered if the team doesn't have at least 3/4ths of this horribly complicated beast by tomorrow to look at. I fought my way through the worst of it today, dong the tasks I've put off for a week, and mapped the rest of the plan out in each subsequent part of the project, so that all I need to do is follow the trail of comments from point a to point 8 bajillion, and I'm done.

In truth, it feels good to have gotten done what I did today, but lo doth it suck to have to spend my night in a furious rampage of 'shoulda done.'

My God, if I worked all the time like I did today, this company would only need to have 2 employees: me, and the cafeteria lady.


Tiff out. Or on. Ya know?