I am a freelancer in the publishing industry, so words are very important to me. I'm a leftist living in a world gone mad, so politics are very important to me. I'm an environmentalist living in a degrading world, so pick up your damn trash, get rid of your gas guzzlers, and don't touch ANWR, you self-absorbed capitalists!

Do leave comments: let's make this a conversation. If you prefer, you can contact me at friuduric at yahoo dot com.

31 May 2006


My first reportable blog google search: how to get rid of a capricorn woman.

You Houston, Texas, folks are weird.

We Capricorn women are worth holding on to. Sheesh.

30 May 2006

New Floors: It's a Snap! ( ... Yeah, Right)

I have been living, sleeping, and breathing (literally) home renovation for the past few weeks, and if you, dear reader, are getting tired of it, remember that I am that much more tired of it than you can ever be. No, really—I’ll win. You can skim my comments here, comment (if you’re kind), and then click on the next blog in your bookmarks. I am stuck living above the new, post-Buffy (yes, we are still making our way through the seasons on DVD) Hellmouth.

The cabinets are all installed. Except for the crown molding, of which they delivered too little and scratched half of what they did bring. No big deal, it’ll arrive soon. But they also didn’t deliver the toe-kicks. Also, really, no big deal. The counter man has come and measured, and made it sound so easy. This morning I got a call that a lot of what he offered to do to work around our less-than-flat walls is considered “custom work”, so that has upped the cost. (Stegbeetle, I hope you are reading and learning, preparing yourself for what is in store for you as your addition is put in!)

This weekend, we installed snap-in flooring. You’ll see pictures soon enough. But in a 100-year-old house, no wall is straight, no room is square, no floor is flat. What we naively thought would take us one full day of installation became two full days of work spread over three calendar days (they don’t call it Memorial Day weekend for nothing—I’ll be remembering this weekend for a long time to come). During that time we removed the toilet from the half-bath off the kitchen and discovered the 21st century Hellmouth. The sewer gases rising from that thing were just incredible. But with a little ingenuity, we were able to temporarily plug it with an overturned compost bucket and a cement block. (Take that, you creatures of demon-dom!)

The Consort’s skill with circular saw and jigsaw reaffirmed the rightness of my choice for lifelong partner. But the dust! Readers, the dust of those laminate pieces stink! As the official “piece-holder-for-the-sawing-Consort ”, I was often in direct line of dust spewage. After several pieces, I thought I had the smell pinned down. By the 44th piece, I was sure of the smell: scallops. “It’s been a while since you’re eaten scallops,” the Consort dissed. But no, really: imagine a sickly-sweet meat (either scallops or monkfish [ugh!]) cooked in a thin cream sauce that has no herbs or other savory addition. That’s what I inhaled throughout the weekend.

And let me tell you: What is the one thing I can’t live without. Can it be my children? Absolutely not. They can visit relatives, go to camp, I won’t miss’em. Air conditioning on a steamy 90-degree weekend? Heck no. Just give me a fan and a basement to suck the cool air out of, and I’ll be good to go. The Consort? Well, not if it isn’t a DIY weekend. What I have realized I must have, and cannot live without, is a kitchen sink. Life without one just sucks. If the plumber doesn’t come on Thursday, I think I’ll kill someone.

26 May 2006

2nd Friday Post: Update

Here's the scoop:

Our cable connection is dead. The MediaCom guy came, he said it worked fine. It waited until he was gone, then cut out on us again. We are sick to death of this, so the Consort called a buddy of his that does something DSL-ish, and they'll be switching us to DSL sometime soon (next week I hope?).

Anyway, the kitchen guys were at our house yesterday and today (so I couldn't go out, and I couldn't get online). I don't like these two (they giggle when I leave the room; I don't like men who giggle). But their work is fine. The cabinets look really good!

The counter man is coming to measure this afternoon, so we should have a counter on Tuesday (Monday being a holiday). The drywaller will be building out the existing soffit on one side of hte kitchen on Monday (self-employed folks and university profs don't often take those federal holidays, as I know so well). The Consort would like us to put in the new kitchen floor this weekend. I need to paint the fireplace wall. And some of the living room trim. We need to reinstall a new door mirror in the living room. We may restain the dining room floor. We need to get rid of all the dust.

Trixie's dance recital is tonight.

So, I may not be able to post reliably. But I am posting. So don't give up on me, readers!

The Back Porch

For five years, we had a square platform just hanging off the back of the house. The only ones who used it were the dog and the cat, as they revved up for a squirrel chase:

Now, it's a real porch!

I was planning to help the Consort with it (I had even written it in on the calendar). But then I got the sinus infection from hell, so he started on his own. Then I painted for a week straight, so he did it while I caught up on actual paying work.

24 May 2006

Dining Room, Before and After

This is what it looked like before:

Now, some shots of the new, Aztec Brick walls. I don't know if the color will come through true on the web. But we all in the realm love it!

What is that pumpkin doing there? Yes, I've got to bring it down to the basement, but right now it's hiding my stash of chokotoff candies, so it ain't goin' nowhere.

I still plan to paint the inside of the built-in, but I don't know what color to use. White seems so ... trite. (And yes, the dining room is already stacking up with papers and such. No neatness allowed here!)

I just love how the color pops out our dark cherry-stained dining room set. (If I do say so myself.)

There are a few more photos on my flickr site. Good thing I took these shots this weekend, because now the dining room is filled with kitchen cabinetry.

The living room will have to wait, because there's still some trim work I have to do, and you can't see it before it's done. But the Consort finished the back porch railing yesterday, so I'll be posting those maybe tomorrow.

Secret Pal 8 Questionnaire

Secret Pal 8 has started! And my SP is very cool -- she's already sent me a funny card about women wielding drills (for home improvement purposes). As part of SP8 we are supposed to fill in a questionnaire for our secret pals to get to know us. Mine is very late, but here it is. (Also, I've made a new list of posts that have mentioned knitting, etc. on the left over there.)

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

Hmm. I haven’t worked with fancy yarns enough to have a favorite. I’m in the process of making a pair of socks with Trekking, and that’s been fun. I don’t think I like yarns that have too much hanging off of them (like fun fur type stuff).

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

Nothing fancy. They roll around in the bottom of one of my craft drawers, so when I need a pair I dig around until I find two of the same size. (Pretty pitiful, I know.)

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate, or advanced?

My godmother taught me to knit when I was about 12. Then I did nothing for years. When Impera was a toddler, I wanted to knit her a sweater (a Debbie Bliss pullover with ducks, boats, rocking horses, and other little images), so my friend Leanne re-taught me, including how to cast on and bind off, and how to switch from one color to another in the middle of a line.

I am comfortable with knits, purls, yarn-overs, tbls, and dropped stitches (Those done on purpose, like in the clapotis! Accidental dropped stitches make me shout and growl.). I’ve used circular needles and I make socks with dpns. I feel prepared to try cables, but I haven’t yet done it. I don’t know about those bobble thingies.

I would classify myself as intermediate. But maybe that’s too cocky.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Well, yes, and if you want it, I can give it to you. But I use my Amazon wish list kind of like a “to think about” list, for me and the others of the realm. So not everything there is for me. I really ought to clean it up.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

Lemon verbena, lemongrass, … citrus-y things that don’t smell sweet. It has to be subtle (My mother is shocked that I don’t wear perfume and that strong perfume on anyone around me makes me gag. “You used to like perfume!” she says. Well, yes; I used to pee in my diaper, too, but I don’t do that anymore, either. During my pregnancy with Impera, I became highly sensitive to smell, and that hasn’t left me. I am the family canary.)

Oh, I don’t take bubble baths. They have undesirable consequences.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Chocolate. ‘Nuff said.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

Impera has a drop spindle, but we haven’t been able to get it to work. So, sadly, no.

I have made little folded books, I’ve done latch-hooking, quilting, sewing, other needlecrafts (cross-stitch, etc.). Now I’m into things that are portable (socks, crochet squares like for the hoodies I made for the girls). Quilting and sewing take too much time to clear off my work space, cut, sew, trim, hem, … oof!

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I like all kinds (isn’t that what they all say!). World music, folk (maybe bleeding into country, but not really), new age, medieval, jazz, soul, electronica, urban, classic rock (badwidaba, baby), rave, …

But NOT Brittany Spears type of pop. 1980s pop, for sure.

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

I like blues, greens… not teals, though. I wear reds & oranges, too. I’ve got brown hair, brown eyes, so most colors work on me (My sisters might claim that’s only because I have no sense of style [and they may be right, who knows?].)

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

One spouse, two girls (soon-to-be 10 and soon-to-be 12). As my masthead says: a dog, a cat, a rat, and a bird.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?


12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Like I said, I’m into portability. Socks is what I’m doing now. Scarves, hats, …

13. What are you knitting right now?

A pair of lace knit socks. On size 1 needles (teeny!)

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

That’s the best kind.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Straight for sweater pieces, double-pointeds for hats & socks. I use circulars for necklines, but I just don’t like the feel of circulars for tubes (like socks and hats).

I’m using bamboo for the socks, and I already broke one. (they’re 8-in. long, so maybe if they were a bit shorter?). I’m worried that plastic would bend, I don’t know, I’ve never used them.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?


17. How did you learn to knit?

My godmother as a pre-teen. My friend in my late 20s. I taught myself to crochet this past summer.

18. How old is your oldest UFO?

I’m single-minded, so I don’t usually have a UFO (for my regular readers: this means "unfinished.. um, object?"). I guess there was the pair of socks for Trixie that I finished in the winter (that had been a UFO for about 18 months).

19. What is your favorite holiday?

I guess Christmas?

20. Is there anything that you collect?

Not at this time. I used to collect miniatures, and when my mother downsized a few years ago, she sent me all the little things (but she kept the cool antique printer’s drawer I had used to display them, darn!).

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I’ll have to get back to you on that. I have no subscriptions. I borrow library books when I need a pattern, or I buy the Family Circle knitting magazine if I see something interesting (I don’t allow myself that very often, though). I’ve been getting patterns online from knitty.com lately, too.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

I think I’m up for cable knitting. (As soon as I finish those socks!)

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

My previous responses make it clear my answer is, yes!
From center heel to big toe, 10 inches.

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

January 17. Me and Ben Franklin go way back.

On Home Improvement and Broken Modems

Folks, I haven't been able to post because my modem has stopped working. And with the kitchen cabinets arriving yesterday, and the new dishwasher arriving today, I couldn't slip out to my local coffeeshop with wifi until now. Things are looking up (knock on wood). The cabinets arrived all in one piece, the contractor has not canceled the scheduled work date (Thursday AM!)

I promised my secret pal I would post the questionnaire on Monday night, but that was before I know my modem was striking. So that'll come first.

Then I'll post some before/after painting pictures!

22 May 2006

Chew On This

For every $1 of oil imported from the Persian Gulf, the Pentagon takes $5 of the federal budget to "secure" the flow of that oil...

Did I mention I took on a last-minute proofreading gig from a colleague of the Consort's? It's a book on the economic implications of US militarism, and I kept gnashing my teeth as I did it. Partially because of the awfulness of the offshore copyediting job, but largely because of gems like this one.


18 May 2006

I Am Alive

No, I am not dead (although my body would disagree). And, hey, it's only been two days, right? But this week I have been painting the living room (17 x 17 ft) and the dining room (14 x 14 ft). The rooms were Bright Yellow and dark Apothecary Green, respectively, so I have had to do one coat of primer (to block the original color) and two coats of new color (Classic Taupe and Aztec Brick [aka terracotta], again, respectively). Three coats per room, people! (Actually, I still have one coat of Aztec Brick to do).

As I did all this painting, I listened to NPR. So I have:

  • Heard Seamus Heaney recite his poetry
  • Heard astronauts chatter ebulliently on the moon (you should listen, it's pretty cute)
  • Heard a recording of WB Yeats reciting one of his poems (he sounds like Gandalf!)
  • Heard about the new digging for Jimmy Hoffa's body
  • Heard Nicholas Kristof tell harrowing tales of his visits to Darfur

  • 16 May 2006


    May 2006 will be remembered to me as "The Month of Antibiotics." You know that sinus infection that knocked me out the first weekend of the month? Well, the amoxicillin I was prescribed didn't work at all, so on Tuesday the 9th I was started on the 5-day Zithromax antibiotic.

    Well, that got rid of the incredible tooth pressure, but since that first weekend, I haven't been able to hear out of my right ear. I went back in this morning, and yes, I am still congested (oh, really? Ya could've fooled me!). I have just begun a 2-week run of Augmentin (aka, "the horse pill antibiotic.")

    The Neighborhood House Tour is in 2.5 weeks, so although the painting of the living room and dining room is going well, I can't really dilly-dally (have I mentioned that the Consort would like to put up a railing around our back porch next weekend, and maybe squeeze in refinishing the wood floors?). I expect to hear from the kitchen cabinet manufacturer today about the delivery date for our new cabinets (it is supposed to be next Tuesday).

    Oh, and last week I agreed to take on a proofing project for a prof at the Consort's university. Which I haven't started yet. And is due on Monday.

    Sorry I'm not a more thrilling blogger these days. But I will post before and after shots once the new colors are on the walls!

    15 May 2006

    Dante's Inferno, 21st century version

    If, when I die, I find I was wrong, and there is a god who extracts pleasure from the eternal suffering of those who, for 80 years or so, did not believe in it, then I know exactly what my punishment will be:

    I will, for time everlasting, have to spackle and sand ceilings. Bending my back further than is good for it, just because I am too lazy to have to get off the ladder and move it 6 inches. Almost falling (because of such irresponsible behavior; and more than once), and realizing as I teeter that the Consort is away on a business trip, the girls are in school, so the soonest my dead body would be found is 3 o'clock. Having to get down every 3 minutes and pressing the cancel code on the fire alarm system because of the unbelieveable amount of dust produced by the sanding (or by the amount of plaster spackle needed to fix the damn ceilings). (And even when the system is on "test" -- meaning they won't call the fire department -- it still beeps.)

    If there is even a speck of pity in this god, maybe my experiences today (after I clean up all the dust that is on every surface and plaster wall) will get me some time off my eternal suffering. ("Eternal torment on the installment plan".)

    12 May 2006

    An Apology from a Bush Voter

    From a real, live, conservative talk show host in LA:

    "...So, I’m saying today, I was wrong to have voted for George W. Bush. In historic terms, I believe George W. Bush is the worst two-term President in the history of the country. Worse than Grant. I also believe a case can be made that he’s the worst President, period."

    Read the entire apology here.

    I don't agree with his take on Gore, BTW. But I *do* agree with his take on Democrats in general, and the state of the two-party system in the US.

    Let's Hear It for Music Teachers Everywhere

    You have to respect music teachers. Well, we really ought to respect all teachers, but music teachers have to travel. In our district, music instruction is offered from 4th grade onwards, and in order for music teachers to earn their keep, they have to travel to several schools throughout the week (between 5 and 8; so many of them have to cover more than one school per day).

    Trixie, being in 4th grade, chose the clarinet this year. She's been doing very well, if I do say so myself. Now, the music teachers in this part of the city run a 5th grade band every year (but Trixie's teacher invites the 4th graders to participate). Practices were once a week after school. These teachers were able to get 70 -- that's right, seventy! -- 4th and 5th graders to play five pieces, pretty much all in tempo. Look at them all:

    The kids had a ball. It's a great experience. And these teachers don't have a home base, they don't have a permanent desk anywhere; they just love the music. They do deserve our appreciation and our respect. So go give a music teacher a pat on the back, and say "thanks".

    The concert was fun. The kids played the ubiquitous Queen medley (Another One Bites the Dust + We Will Rock You). It's funny because I don't think any of the musicians had heard the original, so although they enjoyed the foot stomping and the hand clapping, there wasn't as much oomph! to that piece as to the rip-roarin' March they performed, or the Latin-rhythm piece. I think I'll see if I can borrow a Queen CD from the library, so Trixie can get a sense of the greatness that was Freddie Mercury.

    11 May 2006

    Earth Day Should be Every Day

    You know the saying, "Buy local"? Well, there's a group at Iowa State University, called the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and they've been doing all sorts of research that bears this saying out (surprise, surprise).

    Sierra Club magazine did a short piece on the fuel impact of different foods. It's pretty interesting, and they use pictures, so anybody can figure it out.

    And since I'm on a roll of preaching to the converted (mostly), you might want to check out the trailer for a new Al Gore movie (yes, Al Gore; meaning he's in the movie, not that he's director or anything). If you have QuickTime (and who doesn't?) you can view the trailer. The movie's called An Inconvenient Truth.

    I still don't agree with the economists who urge the conservative position that we'd waste money trying to fix the problem (global warming) before it's a problem. But that's just me, a "stitch in time saves nine" kinda gal.

    10 May 2006

    The Sickness Unto Death

    So. Some thought I was exaggerating. Well, if you consider being unable to sleep because of intense tooth pressure on one side, and excrutiating ear pressure on the other exaggerating, then yes, I suppose I was exaggerating. I wasn't able to sleep soundly for four nights.

    Others offered sympathy. And I thank you. When I went to submit the first prescription, and they told me there'd be a one-hour wait, I cried. It really was that bad. I'd have watched one of the black & white movies you suggested, but I couldn't concentrate for more than 15 minutes.

    It was very very terrible.

    Luckily, my mother, who was visiting, was OK with that. She took the girls to a movie, kept them company all weekend, and wasn't a burden. Only, every day she asked me if I wanted to go to grab a coffee at the local coffee shop (I don't think she understood how bad the pain was).

    Anyway, I'm climbing out from under the work I postponed over the two almost-back-to-back family visits and the sinus infection, so I hope to be back on the blogging track tomorrow.

    I'm still congested, though. And I can't hear well out of my right ear. And I have lost a measure of energy. And the ringing in the ears ... it just won't stop. Sheesh.

    08 May 2006

    Telegraph From the Front


    05 May 2006


    Did you know that there is a problem when someone wants to take you out to lunch?

    Oh, yes, there is.

    See, when someone comes to visit you, and they are "on vacation" while you and yours are still in "school mode", then, whereas you wake up at 6:30 and have your bowl of cereal right away (because if you don't, then watch out!), they don't wake up until 8. And chat on their cell phone for a while. And then they take their shower, get dressed, and read the paper. By 9:30 you insist they have something to eat (I am a firm disbeliever in losing weight by skipping meals).

    By 11:45, you start thinking about lunch. But they don't (it's only been 2 hours since breakfast, right?). So you know you're going to have to wait until that ungodly hour of 1, or even 1:30, before lunch is had.

    And as you try to focus on work, or chatting, or anything, you realize that yes, there is a problem when someone wants to take you out to lunch.

    04 May 2006

    For My British Readership

    Cowgirl passed this link along yesterday:

    Study Says Older Americans Are Less Healthy Than British

    "Americans 55 and over are much sicker than their British counterparts even though the United States spends more than twice as much per person on health care as Britain, researchers said Tuesday.

    Writing in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from University College, London, also seemed to confirm stereotypes tossed across the Atlantic, concluding that Americans are prone to obesity while Britons drink too much."

    As some of the characters say our favorite role-playing game (Baldur's Gate): "Bring me some ale!"

    03 May 2006

    Word Wednesday: The Importance of Spaces

    From Impera's Middle School:

    REMINDER: The Book Swap is Next Week

    *Be sure to turn your books into your Language Arts/Reading teachers as soon as possible!

    Sigh. 'Nuf said.

    02 May 2006

    A Post, with T-Shirts and Bumper Stickers

    The Roman Catholic Church is considering allowing married couples to use condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS. Some people do that already (and with a sense of humor, to boot).

    You know, terrorists can be pretty darn tough to get rid of.

    Maybe if we just get together, we can get rid of the bad guys. We can stand up for true moral values, not Republican swill.

    So, be proud! And don't be afraid to tell people what you think.

    01 May 2006

    Visit Recap

    We had a Munchkin and a Sweet Pea visit us this weekend, and we had lots of fun playing with the elder and getting to know the younger. Much cuteness abounded.

    But we felt very bad that we did practically nothing. We were able to go for a walk on Friday morning, but Sweet Pea had a cold, and the weather was rainy, rainy, and more rainy, so Sweet Pea’s mom didn’t want her out. (Plus, when southern folks come to the wild north they often don’t realize that we are several degrees colder than their balmy land [And put their faith in weather.com. I only put my faith in NOAA {that’s “Noah”, and NOAA knows from rainy weather!}]).

    The Munchkin did come out in the pouring rain on Saturday morning with her dad and helped the Consort and I man the water station for a half-marathon that passed through our neighborhood. (Yeah, we all laughed at the silly athletes running in the rain, but after an hour of standing in the rain, we realized we were the silly ones: at least the runners stayed warm!)

    Anyway, we four of the realm enjoyed the visit (now we know how to do the toddler tap move “Squash the Bug”!), and we hope this experience didn’t turn out to be a very expensive dud for our cool and hip urban relatives.