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.

27 June 2007

Life Behind the Blog Posts

I’ve just taken a look at my list of entries for June, and I’ve been posting pretty regularly. That’s not a surprise; I try to post at least 3 times a week as a general rule.

However, except for some pretty flimsy mentions in passing, I haven’t talked about the Elephant in the Room. That may be due to the fact that I warned you all not to talk about it too much; I don’t know.

So, the sabbatical move. The Consort went out to New Hampshire two weeks ago, with the job of finding us a place to live for the next school year. He whittled it down to two, before dragging me (from a distance!) into it. Even though I told him I was happy with whatever he chose. But noooo – my life had to be stressed out as well. Urgh. House A cost twice as much per month as our mortgage here (keep in mind that a prof on sabbatical at Mr. Duck U receives 70% of their regular salary). It was available July 15, out in the woods, beside an apple orchard, came partially furnished, with a sunny office on the south side (important for the long snowy winters of NH), a counter island in the kitchen, a 45-minute bus ride (each way) to the school for the girls, so remote that we’d have to get another car for the Consort to be able to get to his office without stranding me, and too far out for anything but dial-up internet (remember, I need to keep working during this year adventure). House B (faculty housing) cost one and a half times as much per month as our mortgage. It was in town, across the street from the middle school both girls would attend, on the bus line into town, near the town pond and bike paths, beside the Connecticut River (for exploration adventures), wired for cable internet, came unfurnished, was available September 1 (school begins August 29), and was small (how small? When the Consort said it didn’t come with a dishwasher, I replied, “that’s OK, we can buy a used portable dishwasher for the—” “No, it’s too small for a portable dishwasher,” he interrupted) (another example: He took the camera with him, so he could take pictures for the girls and I to be able to see where we might live. He took. not. one. single. picture). He couldn’t make up his mind. He came home. Those two days after he returned were hell. We talked. And talked. Trixie was looking forward to living in the woods and taking a long bus ride to school. Impera told us in no uncertain terms, “You may not realize this, but I’m a city girl, you know.” (At least we knew whatever decision we made, we’d be able to fulfill the Parental Imperative and make somebody unhappy.) We’d decide to come to a decision, and within the 15 minutes before discussing it, we’d each change our minds three times.

In the end, we chose to be reasonable about the whole thing and take House B, in town and tiny. This was disappointing because I had visions of hosting friends and relatives in a cottage in the woods. But! Considering the savings, we will be able to do more fun adventuring than we would have, otherwise.

The second part of this sabbatical move is getting our house rented out. I put together a blog with pictures and descriptions of the house and rooms. I created a list of links to local businesses. I took out an ad in our city’s paper. It cost me 69 bucks for a tiny 4-line ad (hence the decision to provide a Web link with lots of detail). I put a free ad up on our local craigslist. This experience, by the way, has taught me that newspaper ads are completely last-century. I got two phone calls from the ad, and neither panned out. We have gotten close to ten contacts of interest from the craigslist ad!

Now, I am a listmaker, I am a preparer. To find myself, two and a half weeks from our desired departure date still without the house rented out (and still calm about it!) is very unlike my preferred style of being. I’m OK, for the most part, although I have burst into tears at random times, with the Consort and Impera telling me everything will work out fine.

The Powers That Be do seem to enjoy serendipity. For example, did you notice that we picked the house with a September 1 move-in date? Hmmm, July 15 to September 1—that’s six weeks. Well, it so happened that on the day that the Consort was flying back to Iowa from the house hunt, his sister (who lives near where we’ll be in NH) received 30 days notice from one of her tenants (she owns a big house split into several apartments, lives in one of the apartments, and rents out the other 2 or 3). She’s offered to let us rent her empty apartment over the 6 weeks we’ll be “homeless.” See? Serendipity.

The households who have shown interest in renting our house are quite a hodgepodge. There’s the new prof who would like to rent it, but needs to find a roommate (there’s another new prof who might be the second renter, but he’s been “out in the field” and unreachable right now). There’s the campaign organizer who has folks needing a place to live at least through the Iowa caucuses (that’s in January, and we’d like to find someone to rent our place for the entire time we’ll be gone). There’s the Army recruiter and his family who came over to look this morning and need a place starting July 9. There’s the law student and spouse who are thinking about renting the place sight-unseen (they live several states away) for their clerkship year coming up. There’s the med student and spouse who will be coming for a viewing this weekend.

One of these is going to work out. Right? (On second thought—don’t answer that.)

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on, behind the blog posts.

Clearly, I'm Not the Life of the Party

I don't know. If I had to do something for 100 days, even if I was sick, I think the result would be life-long aversion. Making something into a chore ain't the way to get the spark back.

But maybe that's just me?

25 June 2007

Birthday Girl, version 13

I could post a series of pictures of pictures. But I won’t.

I could post an essay with a glimpse from each year. But I won’t.

Instead, I’ll post a list of the things I hadn’t expected.

I hadn’t expected “the eating thing” to be a reality for girls as well as boys. I figured it was just growing boys who ate one out of house and home. But no! Teen girls require 7 well-rounded meals each day, too (plus snacks).

I hadn’t expected your voice to change. Again, the deepening voice thing I expected from the boys we know. But you? Oh my gosh. Your voice isn’t a little girl’s, anymore. (Thinking about it, I should have realized. Women don’t have little girl voices, so they have to deepen at some point, right?)

I hadn’t expected such an understated sense of humor from a kid. You are queen of the one-word reply that speaks volumes. (I especially like it when your one-word answer is directed at your dad. I don’t really like it when you call me out for something. Somehow, it isn’t so funny, then.)

I hadn’t expected you to be just as comfortable being “one of the guys” as being “one of the girls.” You aren’t a tomboy. You aren’t a girly-girl. You are a kid who has great friends.

I hadn’t expected to have to nag you to wash your clothes. Or fold your laundry. I hadn’t thought you’d be just as happy to keep your clean clothes rumpled in the laundry basket until you pulled something out to wear. (Do your shelves have any clothes on them anymore? Or are they sitting empty and lonely in your closet, taking up space that could be better used for storing old games or boxes of papers to keep?)

It’s been fun being your mom so far. And, because of the person you are, I’m looking forward to starting the teen years experience. (I hadn’t expected that, either.)

Happy 13th Birthday, Impera!

PS: The wrinkled clothes thing? I still don’t understand that. But it’s OK. I just won’t stop teasing you about it.

22 June 2007

But then! Some Humor

So I just posted my cranky cell-phone-on-walk mini-rant, and I settle in on a project written by an ESL author.

I find the following:

"[This country] has become a locomotive for the region's growth."


Oh! He meant "engine".

That's cute.

The Most Pitiful Thing I See

Mothers taking their babies for a walk (in a stroller or in a front carrier thing) and chatting on their cell phone the entire time.

Woman, talk to your child! Interact with your child! Or at least be present in silence for your child! Can you not turn that ridiculous piece of crap off for 20 minutes?!!!

Good lord.

21 June 2007

Advertising at its Best

This, this is what advertising ought to be like.

Tell me what you think of this German commercial. (It's a YouTube video, for you office bots)

19 June 2007

The Random Eight

Mizmell tagged me for this a while ago, and EditorMom tagged me for it last week, so I figured I really ought to get this done. I offer you, eight random things about me:

1. I owned a jeep my Senior year of High School when I was 18. It was a tricked out green Jeep Wrangler named “The Gremlin.” I bought it from a guy who did all the tricking out and had purchased both the hard top and the soft top. His girlfriend made him choose between it and her. I loved my Jeep. I wanted one because I had seen the movie Red Dawn, and the kids who escape from the communists are able to do that because the older brother has a jeep.

2. It became part of the family fleet when I went to college, and I didn't own a car again until I was 30. It was a Saturn (when owning a Saturn meant something cool).

3. I am very emotional when I watch movies. I cried when I saw Hero, and (most recently) Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself (I highly recommend that one!). Songs don’t make me cry. I find it interesting because the Consort is the opposite: songs make him tear up, but not movies (no matter how poignant).

4. I was in a Saturday Night Live skit. Really, I was. It was during that terrible 1981-1982 season. The father of one of the girls in my class knew someone who knew someone, and they needed a few pre-teens in Catholic school uniforms. She asked me to be a part of it because these were supposed to be French schoolgirls, and, being Belgian, I was the closest thing to French they could find. (Actually, I don’t think she knew the difference.)

5. I loved being pregnant. I loved feeling my body grow, the first tentative butterfly kicks of the baby, the maternity clothes, the care in choosing what to eat, all of it. If I hadn’t had such strong reasons for not having more, I’d have at least 6 kids by now.

6. When I was younger, I played the piano, the flute, and the violin. Now, I can read music well, I can fumble through making notes come out of the flute and the piano, but the violin fingerings have disappeared into the ether.

7. I would learn the drums if I could be a teen again. Percussion is my favorite part of music. And marching bands – I love marching bands! It’s all I can do to hold myself back from joining a band as it marches down the street during a parade.

8. I’m terrible at measuring distance. I always use the excuse that because my childhood was spent straddling the metric world of Belgium and the English measurement world of the US, I never got a good sense of either. That’s baloney. I’m just not good at gauging distance.

When I tag people for memes, they pointedly ignore me. But I love to learn things about my readers though memes. So, if anyone wants to do this one, let me know. If you don’t have a blog, you can give me your eight random facts in the comments.

18 June 2007

Conversations with the Girls: Father's Day Edition

Impera—Or, Time to Call Protective Services

Impera: Dad!!! Why did you make me drink that rum? Now I can’t walk straight and everything looks wobbly. Sheesh!

Consort: Oops! Ha ha…*

Trixie—Or, TMI! TMI!

Trixie: Oral sex sounds like the grossest thing! Why would anybody want to put something that someone pees out of in their mouth? I bet that you guys haven’t done such a gross thing.


Trixie: Right, Mom and Dad?

[Imperatrix curiously finds the book she is reading incredibly interesting. Look at the fineness of the paper! See how the ink grips the fibers!]

Consort: Trixie, you want to be careful what questions you ask your parents.

*Just to clarify: Impera and the Consort were playing World of Warcraft, and were about to begin a quest. Impera had forgotten to sell items or store them at the bank, so her backpack was full. The Consort suggested she should drink a flask of rum she had picked up on a previous quest to unencumber another slot of her backpack. The programmers who design WoW have a great sense of humor. When you drink alcohol in the game, several things happen to you. First, you start walking funny and the world goes tipsy on you. Then, when you type in something to say to your game partners, it comes out a bit garbled and lisp (‘this is so funny’ comes out ‘thish is shoooooo funny’ on screen). I think the programmers have a fabulous time developing the game.

14 June 2007

Consumer Yearnings

Sometimes I become obsessed with the most cockamamie products.

For example, who doesn't need a soymilk maker:

Ooooh! Shiny! But, it also makes almond milk -- for medieval cookery recipes, of course (which I make, what?, once a year at most?). And porridge. I've always liked the sound of the word, "porridge".

There's also the whole massage table desire. If we had one, I'm sure I could teach the girls to give massages, and then we can trade giving a massage for getting a massage (the girls love massages!).

Ahhhhhh, massaaaaaaaaaahge.

And what better time to purchase useless items like this than just before we go spend a year in a tiny (yet centrally located) rental, halfway across the known world?

13 June 2007

Ex Vee

Really, we've known each other for XIX. We were so young.

We had our lives in front of us, and we chose to tread the path side by side.

I'm glad we're traveling together.

And when we're old, we can watch the sunset together, too.

I love you, Consort.

12 June 2007

Walking in My Own Footsteps

I have never been a sheep, to follow obediently in other people’s footsteps. In fact, I have a strong contrarian streak (you’re not surprised, I know).

Back in college, everybody was raving about this Irish band called U2 and their just-released album, The Joshua Tree. “Their songs are so poignant!” Hmmm, they seem a bit over the top to me. “But, the song ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’, doesn’t it call to you?” Nope. “Surely, you must feel something when you hear ‘With or Without You’?” What I feel is a heavy dose of angst.* “Exactly!” (And they’d wander off with a smile on their face, thinking they had won, while I chuckled to myself, knowing the truth.**)

There was also this band from Athens, Georgia (and their hometown was always spoken that way, “Athens, Georgia”—like maybe we’d be confused and think they meant Athens, Greece? And why didn’t anyone worry that we’d think they were from the Baltic state, eh?) People swooned. People carried on. People felt R.E.M.’s . . . angst. *Shudder*

I did finally come around. (After college.) Because both R.E.M. and U2 are talented, and write music that can be (yes) poignant. I just didn’t want to like them, simply because everybody else did. (Yes, I meant that comma in there.)

I’m thinking about this because there’s been this product that I’ve noticed people raving about lately. I would come across positive mentions online and in print magazines. (I don’t subscribe to any “women’s magazines”, but I’ll buy one every now and again [and I’m shocked every time at how little substance and how much advertising there is in one issue].) I’d assume that any product mention in an article has to be the result of product placement subsidies (for example, have you noticed how Real Simple magazine always seems to mention Carmex lip balm? Hmmmm? Both within the text of articles as well as in supposed “real-life” reader response sections?).

I did buy this product, mostly so I could confirm that it wasn’t any better than other varieties of this same product. And, I couldn’t imagine it would be worse than others, plus, I needed some of this kind of product anyway, so why not buy this brand this time.

I was wrong. Oh, so wrong. This stuff is as good as the articles say. I can’t believe how well it works. It’s opened up a whole new world to me. I find that I don’t hate this one part of me as much as I hated it before.

Surely you know what I’m talking about? Clearly, it could only be this:

Burt’s Bees Coconut Foot Crème. Oh, my goodness, my heels are sandal-worthy (not that they were cracked and yellow and gross [yeeeeesh!] before, mind you, they just weren’t ever this good).

I soaked my tootsies in warm water for 10 minutes, used the pumice stone, dried them, slathered on some of the crème, put on a pair of cotton sock, and went to bed. (About 2 hours later, I tore off the socks, because it’s early summer and I can’t sleep deeply with hot feet.) But the heels! They are perfect! And the soles, they are—what? Good? I don’t know what words one usually uses for feet, considering I don’t like to talk about feet or think about feet, even. But whatever word one uses to describe joy in one’s soles, that’s the one I’m looking for here.

Now, I guess I ought to try that Carmex stuff.

*I learned to hate the word “angst” and all it represented. So many young college philosophers would use “angst” to describe every single life experience—breaking up with someone, having to drop a class they were flunking, the cafeteria running out of tater tots on a weekend morning—that just hearing the word would induce the gag reflex and the rolling of the eyes reflex. Still today, if I say (for example) that someone is feeling angst-y, that’s a clue that I’m not feeling very sympathetic to their problem. Be warned.

**Did you read the *? Because if you did, you’d get the joke.

11 June 2007

Making the Basics from Scratch, #2

When I was in elementary school, I my friend Paul O’S told me that his family had pizza every Friday night. “How boring!” I thought. “Why would you want the same food every single week?”

Foolishness, thy name was Baby Imperatrix.

I recall this often (I’m a pro when it comes to remembering silly things I’ve said or done). Because now we, also, have pizza every week. It seems my girls thrive on ritual and routine. So, for example, on movie night (the one night a week we use the TV), we usually have pizza, in front of the TV. It used to be Freschetta or Di Giorno frozen pizza. But since January, three out of any four weeks I’ll make pizza dough and sauce, and everybody covers their pizza half with whatever they like. For Trixie, this means cheese and olives. For Impera, it means cheese and cheese, with some cheese. For the Consort, it means cheese and pineapple. For me, it means whatever I happen to feel like putting on it (olives, blue cheese, chevre cheese, roasted garlic, sliced tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, …).

This weekend, it was so nice out, we had our pizza in the garden, and then went inside to watch a movie when it started to get dark out.

Pizza (makes 2; serves 4 [at our house, anyway])
3 1/2 cups flour (I use a mix of whole wheat and unbleached white)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 Tablespoons + a drizzle of olive oil

1. Combine water and yeast, set aside for 15 minutes to foam. Mix flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the yeast mixture and 2 Tablespoons olive oil to the dry ingredients and stir until it begins to hold together. Plop onto the counter and knead until smooth and elastic.

3. Brush the inside of a clean bowl with a drizzle of olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and roll around to coat with oil. Cover with plastic and leave in a warm place to rise, about 45 minutes.

4. Make sauce. Saute a chopped onion in oil. When the onion is softened and golden, add in a 28-oz. can of diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for as long as you like (20 minutes is good). Turn off heat, and blend the sauce either in a blender (messy!) or with a hand blender (what my parents have always called a “Mix-Soupe”). Set aside.

5. Preheat oven to 420 degrees.

6. Divide dough into 2 balls. Roll each into a decent sized circle, depending on how thick you like your crust. Set each on a greased cookie sheet (sprinkled with cornmeal), and fold over the edge all around.

7. Ladle sauce onto pizzas (you’ll have extra).

8. Sprinkle on to taste: oregano, basil, herbes de provence, mozzarella, colby jack / cheddar, parmesan. Then add whatever toppings sound good to you tonight.

9. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, switching the cookie sheets around in the oven halfway though.


08 June 2007

Inventions that Just Don't Work*

  • Automatic flush toilets. Either they flush too often and freak out the little children in the stall beside yours, or they don't flush at all and you spend your time waving your hand in front of what looks like the sensor, until you run out of patience and leave the stall unflushed.
  • Automatic sinks. They will work fine when you begin the process, but when you wish to rinse your hands, the sensor will not work and you will spend too much time waving your hand under the faucet, until you run out of patience and leave with your hands unrinsed.
  • Automatic paper towel dispensers. These will work fine for the person ahead of you, but the sensor will not work for you, so you will spend too much time waving your hands in front of the little dot labeled as "Sensor", until you run out of patience and leave the restroom with your hands undried and unrinsed.

    *Or, "The Trials and Tribulations of Driving on the US Interstate Highway System"

  • 06 June 2007

    An Excuse to Pontificate

    First, some things to disclose: I was raised Catholic (many evangelical people in the US [at least] don’t consider Catholics to be Christians, to which I always respond, WTF??????). In fact, my entire elementary and secondary education was in private Catholic schools. Then I went to college at Georgetown University (where I met Jesuits – now that is one cool set of priests [and they’ve been excommunicated as a group, what?, three times throughout history? Like I said, cool dudes]), so, depending on your point of view, my college education was either religious or not (or the work of Satan). I no longer consider myself a Christian of any variety.

    Anna asked what I thought Clinton meant when she talked about “People who wear their religion on their sleeve.” When I was younger, religion had nothing to do with politics. We would read about how flustered a portion of the population was when John F. Kennedy ran for president in the sixties. He was Catholic, and some people wondered whether the Pope would be pulling the strings in a Kennedy administration, or—worse yet—if the US would be sending tax money to the Vatican! Neither of these things came to pass, of course.

    But now, it seems that many Americans equate being a believer (i.e., being a Christian, for the most part) with being a moral person. And that’s just hogwash.* Consider George W. Bush (my “wear-your-religion-on-your-sleeve” example). He is born-again. He instituted bible study sessions at the White House. He firmly believes (and has stated more than once) that his god speaks to him. Personally.

    Now, if someone says that their god approves of what they are doing, then how on earth can there be discourse about whatever issue is currently facing the nation (or your family / community / state)? You can’t argue with god, and this person can’t give you any proof other than their fervent belief that a deity—human conversation is going on.

    “Listen to me.” Why? “Because God is on my side.”

    Who says this? George Bush does. Al Qaeda does. The Taliban does. The crusaders did. The Christian European explorers did. Hmmm. Not very good company, in my opinion.

    This brings us to something else I see in people I’d say wear their religion on their sleeve. They know, with their whole being, what god likes, and what god dislikes. How audacious is that? Yesterday I came across the following bumper sticker text (it wasn’t clear if this is an actual bumper sticker or simply a message this person wishes they could find on a bumper sticker):

    Are we talking about the same god here, because yours sounds like kind of a dick

    Where would this sort of sentiment come from? Well, I’m certainly not a biblical scholar, but where in the New Testament does Jesus support war? I thought he was all about turning the other cheek. Where is it recorded that he would hang with the Pharisees and other town big-shots (did you know that god wants you to be rich? Yep.) I thought his ministry was all for the poor and marginalized (Would Jesus really not support universal health care? Or financial support for single mothers? Or quality education for poor children? Or drug programs for HIV/AIDS patients?**).

    Imagine an endless, omnipotent essence. Do we really think it gives a flying feck how people have sex? Do humans get all in a bother about how birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it? Of course not. And we at least share DNA with birds, bees, and fleas (educated or not).

    And I truly would like someone to explain to me how the god of love (no, we’re not talking Eros here) would deliberately send some of its creations to a place like Hell. Really. I just cannot wrap my mind around that one.

    Now, if someone asked me what an omnipotent essence would desire in its creations (because I can be audacious that way, too), I’d say that it wouldn’t want us to do anything that crushed the human spirit. Female circumcision? Out. Sexual discrimination? Out. Manipulation of the poor for material gain? Double out. Destruction of the environment? Triple out (because let’s not forget that the same essence that would have created humans would also have created the rest of the planet; and a real omnipotence wouldn’t play favorites with humans—that’s just wrong).

    Did I answer your question? I think so. But I did ramble on a bit. In any event, this is just some of the stuff that freaks me out when I realize how religious our politics has gotten.

    *The NPR story I linked to yesterday mentions that one reason Democrats are embracing the “faith” issue is that some feel Kerry lost the 2004 election because he refused to talk about his faith [I think he lost because he seemed to want to be president more than he wanted to stand for anything in particular. But that’s a story for another day.].

    **I have a tremendous amount of respect for Christian groups that do work to make a positive difference in the world. Groups like the Catholic Workers Movement and proponents of Liberation Theology (just because I found the title so evocative, I want to add the link to this Web page: Liberation Theology: A Cancer in our Clergy. A cancer. What a hoot!)

    05 June 2007

    Gag. Me. With. A. Spoon!

    This morning, I heard a report on the three leading Democratic candidates at a Faith Forum* last night. What I heard was so disturbing, I actually thought about pulling over to the side until the report was over.

    Clinton: "I take my faith very seriously and very personally … And I come from a tradition that is perhaps a little too suspicious of people who wear their faith on their sleeves."

    We should NOT be ashamed of our rationality. Wearing one’s faith on one’s sleeve is a bad thing. Religion should be a personal relationship between the individual and their god. Bragging about it is like name-dropping. And that just turns me off, in spirituality as in social interaction. (In all honesty, though, if I were to have bumper stickers on my car, the one I’d want on there is the one that says, “My Goddess Gave Birth To Your God!” Hah.)

    Edwards: "I have a deep and abiding love for my Lord, Jesus Christ."

    That kind of talk always gives me the heebie-jeebies—whether it’s Christians talking about their “Lord, Jesus Christ”, or Muslims peppering their speech with “Mohammed, blessings upon his name”, or anybody else saying anything by rote, for that matter.

    The questions were as cringe-inducing as the answers. Asking Hilary Clinton how faith helped her during her husband’s very public infidelity, or asking John Edwards to confess to the audience the biggest sin he ever committed—what is this, news or warped reality show? Clearly, Soledad O’Brien is not the type of person I consider to be a serious newscaster. (Of course, I don’t know if there are any real newscasters left in our sound-bite, entertainment news society.)

    It doesn't seem that Barack Obama gave as many juicy soundbites during this exchange, seeing as the only quote of his being reported is "The danger of using good verses evil in the context of war is that it may lead us to be not as critical as we should about our own actions." Right on! But I know he uses faith imagery often in his speeches. Blech.

    Now both parties are trying to curry favor with religious fanatics. Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave. (He must be pretty dizzy by now, I’d venture.) I feel like I’m living in the end days of secular humanism. I suppose I’m a dying breed.

    *Hosted by the “liberal Sojourners/Call to Renewal evangelical organization.” Excuse me, but how can one take the two words “liberal” and “evangelical” and use them both to describe the same group? Impossible.

    04 June 2007

    Calling All Cat Lovers

    This cute little kitty's been hanging around our neighborhood lately:

    He's quite a sweetie. Loki doesn't mind sharing the backyard with him, and he's very friendly. (Note in that first picture, he's right at our front door.) When he's hungry, though, he lets you know! I was under the impression that he was owned by the neighbors. It seems, however, that the Consort believed the kids when *they* said the kitty was theirs. I checked with the adults in the house, and they said, "Nope, not ours." (Note to self: Your spouse is way too trusting of others.) I have never done this before, but late last week I gave in and put some food for him on the porch when he let me know through the window that he needed something to eat:

    I think he's probably about 6 months old. The Consort thinks he's an adult, but, being a verifiable alley cat, has stayed on the small side. The girls want to keep him, but for two reasons, I said "No." #1: I made a rule a long time ago that we'd only have one of any type of pet. (In the Consort's family, there were always tons of pets. My MIL, as a dog breeder, has more dogs than you can count -- and that's just the house dogs.) #2: We'll be leaving on sabbatical soon, and it's already going to be a squeeze driving out East with a dog who hates car rides, a cat who'll be zonked out with valium (I've already got the pills), and a rabbit.

    But this one's really adorable. Anybody want a cat? (Cate?.........)

    01 June 2007

    Summer Adornment

    I’m not a big wearer of jewelry (although I love to look at jewelry) because, like makeup, it seems like such a good idea but I don't have long-lasting follow-through (you know, taking off the makeup every evening, or taking the time to put it on in the morning; or, taking an earring off because you’re on hold on the phone and it pokes the side of your neck and then forgetting where you placed it [because you pace when you’re on the phone] and hoping it’ll turn up when you clean the house, … that sort of thing).

    In the summer, though, with décolletés (I’m a big fan of turtlenecks in cold weather) and fun times out in public, I usually get a fresh burst of jewelry-wearing craving. Four years ago, in early summer, in those first few weeks of summer break when I worry that the girls were getting bored, we went to the local bead shop, picked a packet of glass beads and made ourselves summer necklaces:

    It was a fun afternoon craft, and all three of us did wear those necklaces pretty much every day that summer. The variety of colors ensured that our necklaces would go with most anything we wore.

    Two years later, the girls reminded me of the fun we had making necklaces, and could we do it again? Sure! We visited the same bead shop, and decided to make necklaces with our names on them. We each chose the beads and colors of our preference, and came up with this:

    (Note to self: Those “organic” shaped stone beads are poky on your neck. Don’t chose those again!) We wore these most of the summer, too, although the first necklaces made an appearance now and again.

    Last year it was my turn to remember the fun and ask the girls if they wanted to make a 2006 edition summer necklace. Yay! They did. The theme we chose last year was to use the same background beads on all three, but individualize the decorative ones:

    Now we’ve got three summer necklaces, and although I wanted to have a 2007 summer edition, I worried that if my choices got too varied, I’d be back in the typical jewelry quandary (i.e., choice, which equals wasting time when getting dressed [I admit to a rather strong lazy streak]).

    By chance, I stumbled on the Etsy site of Kathryn Reichert. Have you ever Etsy’d? I often follow links to Etsy vendors, but I had never purchased anything. (I think Etsy is a great idea, don’t get me wrong, I just often have a hard time justifying spending money [good thing I work from home and don’t have to purchase work clothes, etc.) Her simple silver posey rings intrigued me. I showed the girls the site, and they thought getting rings this year instead of necklaces was a dandy idea. And hey! We could create our own message for the rings! First, we thought we’d go with words like Adventure, Wander, or Quest. But then, after a look in the thesaurus, and a subsequent Web search, we decided to go with some classical Greek terms:

    Trixie and I chose Arete, which represents the idea of “living fully” or “living up to your full potential”. Impera chose Aristeia, which is the classical notion of “a warrior’s prowess or excellence” (she is a proponent of the idea of strong women who do That Which Is Just, you know?). Kathryn, if you read this: Thank you! We are so happy with our first Etsy purchase. Everybody else: Go take a look at her offerings, and check out that bottom picture on the posey ring page, your order comes wrapped in vibrant ribbon – the package looks beautiful even before you see your jewelry.