Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Presence vs. Presents

Happy Almost New Year! Almost Twenty Ten. Wow.

I just changed out our big at-a-glance wall calendars at the office. Once I got them moved, I went and got the official company "Closed Holidays 2010" list. Those days are all now blocked off in green so we don't schedule work crap on those days accidentally. Sometimes the deadlines require that we work anyway, mostly during Thanksgiving and Xmas (like, even today...) and when that happens we take other days. This year that meant our "Thanksgiving" trip to NYC/CT/NJ. *That* was a whirlwind drive!

Another bit of housecleaning was to make a list of my acupuncture treatment for tax purposes. I have been told this can be itemized as medical treatment but have been unable to get any sort of official confirmation. All the appointments were on the old calendar, so before taking it down I made a list. I have a few CPAs I can ask about it, but I know there are so many little loopholes, that I still might not have any sort of difinitive answer. If it works into turbotax, I'll go with it.

I was able to wrap up my official GratitudeProject2009 list. Everything is done and out the door. Sort of. Sally's gift is done, packaged and in my car ready to mail, but it is going to Canada so I couldn't just post it from work as I don't know how to set the machine for international. I will get it officially in the mail next Wednesday for sure. It has been done and ready for more than a month but I just haven't been able to fit in a visit to the post office. The one time I tried I discovered that our official office for our house has been torn down and is not new town houses.

GFB also asked if she could be added to the list as she found out about it very much after the fact. I added her, but haven't added the end of 2009 deadline for myself. Still trying to decide what she is getting.

The xmas holiday for us was pretty awesome. It began when we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with Elizabeth's nephew Greg and his wife and our kids and some various friends at Greg and Laurie's compound. It was a cooperative effort and truly an enjoyable day.

Then we went on the previously mentioned whirlwind. It takes 30 hours to drive to NYC from Houston with minimal stopping along the way. I mean all totaled our stopping was probably 4-5 hours. But it was also all necessary. By minimal I mean that we didn't break it up over 3 days. In the future, we will be flying to NYC unless we have the luxury of many more days to make the trip via automobile.

While up there we got some time in NYC at our beloved Pearl River Market. I should have bought more tea, cookies, and soba noodles, I think. The tea is in good supply for the moment, and I haven't been adventurous yet with the noodles, but the butter cookies I bought are gone and I had...umm...none of them. We'll just have to go back.

After NYC we slipped over to visit Weese and MAW in CT. It was delightful and I shall say no more.

From there we went to NJ to see Aunt Patty and my mom who will be visiting for most of the winter which translates until Aunt Patty gives her the boot. It was a hoot seeing them and we wish it could have been longer. Elizabeth has dubbed them the Ya-Yas. What was supposed to be a nice quiet dinner for 5 ended up being an awesome dinner party for about 10. The only thing missing was Aunt Patty's tassies(holiday fare of old), but the alternate dessert wastotally awesome, a mandarin cake with pineapple whipped cream and pudding topping. I need to make that some time soon. I came away from the dinner party with a recipe for Potato Casserole that we enjoyed at WTXB6.

After NJ, we had GFI for the weekend. After that we had WTXB6 and GFD for the weekend. Then it was xmas weekend, last night we capped it all off with dinner with GFS&V(who had to miss WTXB6) and now it is soon New Year's weekend. All of this, from Thanksgiving to now, that was Xmas for us.

Peoples' *PRESENCE* is way better than presents. In fact, in discussing the holidays last night, we realized that we haven't bought or made a single** gift for Xmas. We have made a lot of GratitudeProject gifts, yes, but there were no Xmas gifts. No more stuff that is bought just for the sake of stuff.

Welcome 2010.

(** I did sort of buy one gift for Elizabeth. While in Los Angeles, we came across an awesome store called Zinnia and I had them send a mystery box of stuff they sell for crafting, but that was more something to treat us both to a surprise rather than a specific holiday gift.**)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays!

We have been making art every Sunday this month. It started with a couple of cool chicks from CTm Weese and MAW. Then it was at our house with GFI who was visiting from CA. Yesterday, it was with GFD who was visiting from IL. I made this xmas card yesterday for my mom and Aunt Patty and thought I would share it here before sending it out.

I recently came across artist Teesha Moore . More precisely, I came across a list of you tube tutorials she has done for making a 16 page journal out of one sheet of 22 X 30 watercolor paper. I like the idea and have most of what I need to get it going, but I have been making a few pieces in that style as a sort of warm up. The card above is one of them. The image below is another.

First Kiss was a lot of fun to make and I did it on Make Art on Sunday with GFIrene. We had a lot of fun cutting and pasting that day. I first found the peaches and knew they would be eyes, and then I started to envision the owl, and then I found the fish. All of a sudden they were kissing and the collage took off.

missing from this image is the border which is just strips of magazine ads. I used some pastel pots to lay in color for the background and then began embellishing with markers. The process was a lot of fun. and I thinak Teesha Moore for taking the time to make the videos explaining the process. I think the only thing I need to get started with making the 16 page book is the waxed thread for binding the book. I think I might be able to pick that up in the next few days, but the process can get started before then. I am going to set the pages and maybe paint backgrounds tonight. Maybe. I haven't knit in the past few days, so I might do that instead. Or too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tomorrow might be summer again, but today, it's definitely fall...

I have to make it official. I just increased the acceptable distance to travel from the office to pick up lunch to eight and a half miles. This is to include Spring Creek Barbeque in the offerings of places I can run out to when our efforts to be more frugal and healthful in our eating wane ever so slightly.

My knitting guild meets at SCB on the last Monday of the month and this is how I learned of the place. Sure, I have driven by it often enough, but bbq places can be a dime a dozen 'round these parts and I already have a favorite (that would be Goode Co. on I-10) so why bother trying another that I had never heard of?

Well, last month I had the slices beef sandwich which was pretty good, definitely good enough to eat once a month before a guild meeting, but it did nothing to shake the standing of my favorite. Then, last night, I had the chopped beef sandwich. It was nothing short of perfectly delightful. It was so delightful, that when my boss gently urged that she might want me to go pick up some lunch, I complied immediately with the SCB plan.

There potato salad? not so much. There banana pudding? I'll let you know after I have my afternoon snack.

I took the elevator down to the main floor of our building and braced myself for the heat and humidity of mid-day to wash over my 68 degree popsicle extremities. I opened the door and low and behold, it's Fall. Do you hear the glorios splendor that this announcement brings. Fall. In Houston. And it's still September. Heat of mid-day, and it was only a blessed seventy-seven degrees with only 53% humidity. I want an office window that opens! At least until tomorrow when this freakishly Fall weather disappears.

Might be a good night for some chiminea action.

Monday, September 14, 2009


What a lovely birthday weekend. Too late in the week, Elizabeth and I discussed the fact that I should not be working on my birthday (Friday, 9/11 in case you've been under a rock). I say too late because our admin at work had already asked me what I wanted for my birthday dessert and sent out the appropriate email announcement to the rest of the office.

As fate tends to be kind to me, I finished my work on Friday at 1:56, just in time for my office dessert to kick off the birthday weekend, and I consciously finished my work day but did no further work. Happy Birthday to me. For the office dessert gathering, I have a theory. If the admin likes you, she bakes something herself. Truth be told, I think she likes everyone, just some, less so, and they get store bought. Me, she likes. My answer to her query was peach cobbler or pie with vanilla ice cream. She made a peach cobbler in a 13X9 baking pan and I can't even hazard a guess about how much butter she used, but I can safely say it was definitely an all butter crust. There was about a 4 inch square left over and as I walked past her desk to leave on Friday afternoon, she asked, "You didn't like your cobbler?" I just rolled my eyes to acknowledge she was crazy, and she told me I had better go get my leftovers. I threw it in the fridge when I got home knowing I would eat it before the weekend's close.

Elizabeth had asked me what I wanted to do for dinner Friday morning, too early to know for sure, but I had been jonesing for the cornmeal crusted fried shrimp and cheesy bacon grits appetizer from Shade. Regardless of what else I might think I want, Shade is always a good bet. Their menu changes with what's seasonally available, but it is always been fabulous. We should be going there at least once a month. I ordered the shrimp and the trio of soups. The trio changes with the soup chef's mood I think (or at least with what is available) and usually there is one soup I think I want and two that I think, eh, not so much. The waiter rattled off the three soups and they all appealed, so an easy choice. There was a carrot ginger, potato bacon, and a tomato/shrimp/rice. All three were excellent, and the tomato had a bit of zing. The shrimp were also dipped into the carrot ginger. tres yumm all around.

My entree was a scallop and shrimp dish that was in a ginger saffron broth. It included rappini, chorizo, fennel and vermicelli. Oh my. If scallops are on the menu, I am likely to be ordering them. The only scallops I have enjoyed more were from Tupelo Honey in Asheville, NC. I am not likely to be having that any time soon and these certainly make my tummy happy. Elizabeth had a salmon dish that she thinks was just divine and she rarely orders fish, so there you go. If you are in Houston, you need to be visiting Shade.

The waiter came and handed us the dessert menu. We promptly handed it back. Was he insane? We were just too full to even look at the dessert menu.

It was still pretty early so we went on the next leg of the birthday adventure. elizabeth had told me that her plan involved going domewhere and dropping about $300. Now this is pretty vague. She said we could do it at any point during the weekend and since we had planned to go in to work on Saturday, and it was still early enough, we would go do it then and there after dinner. At dinner she looked over at me and said, "Go ahead and guess..." I always do (she mentioned this, too) and it always makes her pout, but I always then tell her how it goes toward our fated compatibility. How to soften the blow...hmm...

"Well," I gingerly offered, "If there is a choice of places ( a small clue she had offered, that it is a specific thing she wants to buy me, but really, I need to pick) then my first guess (deliberately a throw away to ease her pout) is a yarn store." Her smile brightened and she said "No!" We all know that yarn stores are already closed by this time on a Friday night. So my second guess (really my first), was Williams Sonoma (or Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel). Bring on that cute little pout.

About 5 years ago for xmas, the boss gave me a WS gift card and I used part of it to buy a six inch Wustoff Chef's knife. I had seen an episode on FoodNetwrk where Sara Moulton had gone over different kitchen knives and how some were so much more useful than othere. She particularly waxed poetic about how much more useful she, as a woman, found a six inch chef's knife as opposed to an eight inch or ten inch. Her babble sold me on the idea, and I was woefully lacking in a decent kitchen knife and found mydelf more and more leaning toward cooking fresh at home. I had done a little research and decided that Wustoff Classic was where I should begin. I totally heart that six inch chef'f knife still, and it has just recently become in need of sharpening.

The Wustoff Classic legacy has continued in the form of a bread knife, paring knife and utility knife as well a diamond steel. I have been eyeing the paring and utility knife for some time, but other things bump it down the list. No more. Unless I get worked up over a particular kind of cooking that rrequires a particular knife, I think I am set with just these four. I don't want miscellaneous knives that I just won't use.

shopping is exhausting. At least it serves a purpose. It allows the fabulous dinner to settle enough that you might think that you can consider dessert. We stopped on the way home at Brenner's. When it's your birthday, 2 exits past and u-turning is definitely on the way. I ordered the croissant bread pudding and elizabeth ordered the chocolate mousse cake. We both had only about three bites and had the remaining boxed up. I also had a Praline Freeze cocktail. Tuaca, Frangelica, Cointreau, all blended with vanilla ice ccream. Essentially a Tuaca Milkshake in a martini glass. I could have one of those every night and I might just stock the ingredients on the next visit to Spec's. The bartender also poured a sample of a Black Muscat dessert wine. Too sweet for Elizabeth, but it didn't go to waste.

So here it is, the end of my birthday, and we have three luscious dessert leftovers in the fridge. Oh my.

On Saturday, we went to work from 10-4 and then on to Empire cafe to continue the birthday merriment. I had the salmon salad and some shrimp bisque. Elizabeth had a chicken dish. Very yumm and very filling. I hit the ladies room before we left, and on the way there passed the counter of cakes. Since we stood in line to order, they had put out a new one, the yellow cake with chocolate buttercream. I was too full, but that is my favorite cake there these days, so I got a slice to go. Saturday evening I was knitting away and when it occurred to me it was time for something sweet, what I really wanted was two chocolate cremem oreos. Four awesome desserts in the fridge and I wanted Oreos. I could have played the bday card and asked Elizabeth to go to the store. She would have. But reason and sense converged and I had some cake. I ate a good portion of it and the saved some for later. So, so, good.

Sunday morning and it was time for my peach cobbler. I put all that was left in a shallow pasta bowl and hit the micro. Not only did I heat up the cobbler, but I used a plastic spatula to scrape out all of the pan juices. The peach gravy. Once I ate it all, I set about the tak of licking the bowl clean. Yes it was that good. I put the dish on the counter and thought about putting a post it note on it to confirm it was dirty. I confessed my misdeed to the cook this morning as I passed her desk and thanked her heartily once again for my awesome cobbler.

Phase two of birthday merriment begins on Thursday at 6pm when we load up the car and head to Sedone. We'll be spending a few days amidst our people, the gays. Woohoo for continued bday merriment.

Monday, August 31, 2009

It was a totally dead-pan response

As it's widely known, I have custody of more than a thousand negatives from photos my dad took in the 50s. I heart them a lot and my brain is in a tailspin about things I can do with them to give them a new artistic life.

When we went to visit my mom last November, an additional stack of about a hundred of them had been found. Adding that to the 900 I already had pushed my total near 1,000. On Saturday, I got a small package from my mom who found them when she was cleaning out a cabinet of ammo she had finally gotten rid of.

I originally got custody of the negatives in 2006 when I went home for a visit. When I planned to go, there was some minor upset from my mom because she was going to be visiting my Aunt Patty in NJ so she would miss my visit. I can't remember now why I couldn't change my trip, but I knew my mom would get over it. As it turns out, that was the last visit I was to have with my dad, so I 'm really glad I went then and that we had a nice week together.

The only real drama to come out of it from my mom was when she learned that my dad had given me the negatives. "I was going to do something with them. You need to send them back."

My reply was hasty and came out more abrupt than I intended. "You''ve had those negatives more than 40 years and haven't done anything with them so now it's my turn..." She was really put out with me.

When I was visiting with my dad, I asked him if he wanted to go through the negatives and see if there were any in particular that he would like me to scan first for him to have as prints. He didn't really think about it at all and he responded quite readily, "No, I went through them and removed all the nudes a long time ago."

It wasn't something he seemed to want to discuss further, and though I was curious about "all the nudes" and whether they ever existed or not, I was more sure he was kidding, or that by "removed" he actually meant destroyed.

When I got the new batch from my mom, I learned that "removed" actually meant separated and stashed in the ammo cabinet that no-one ever goes into. As I looked through the new negatives, I saw several for prints my dad has as 8 X 10s that I really like, and just as I was about to forego looking through the rest until I could scan them, there she was, naked on the bed. Who, exactly? Likely no one knows.

There are about a dozen nudes, all of the same woman. Fortunately, there is also a photo of her fully clothed so I can scan that one right away and send it off to mom for possible identification. I am currently considering a matchbox series. Move over Vargas.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I have a coworker who might be obtuse. I say might be in acknowledging the possibility that it is I who might be the obtuse one. It's possible.

I find it bothersome that this is nothing more than a language barrier, she being of the younger buzz word dropping I might have gone to school for this variety, and me being of the older I've learned how to do this on the fly so maybe I am not explaining myself properly variety.

One of us is clearly obtuse.

Clearly the answer is to not over-think it or just not give a fuck. This is only one small part of what I do, updating a website that has paid subscribers. I feel that they should have a certain ease of access because they are paying for it. The real issue is that the file naming requirements produces a redundancy on the page that upsets my Virgo sensibilities.

I think I just need chocolate.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Trust your body

When your body is talking, it's wise to pay attention.

A month ago, my acupuncture student had a schedule shift. While I am very flexible in terms of when I can go for treatment, really, any day, any time, Dr. Zhong is only at the clinic on Wednesday morning. He has been following my treatment for more than a year, and he is known at the clinic as the herb guru. He knows his stuff people!

When my friend Elisabeth moved her acupuncture practice from Houston to ElPaso, she recommended the clinic where she went to school and in particular that I see any student supervised by Dr. Zhong as he still mentored her and was already familiar with my file.

My first student graduated and isn't quite ready to start her own practice. I really liked her and would have followed. My second student was okay, but English is not her first language and I often had to struggle to understand her. Her schedule shifted and somehow, she didn't understand my request for a student of Dr. Zhong.

My third student, hmm... I suppose I liked him well enough, but I was a little put out to be seeing a man. I tried really hard to specifically not judge the experience based on gender, but really it did make a difference, and I say that is equanimously as possible. In addition to his he-ness, he is followed by a different Dr. A Dr. not the herb guru as the herbs he switched me to made me pretty sick.

Sick is totally a relative term, but I was almost willing to go to a regular clinic (it was the weekend) because I had a major headache that I knew was not sinus or stress. I also had major joint and muscle acheyness, to say nothing of the fact that my disease was a little out of control. And let's not forget the fever and chills running rampant. And let's not forget, I was emotional and crying at the drop of a hat as well as feeling increasingly antisocial.

I had been given different herbs and it took about three weeks for all of this to build up to feeling like crappola. Then, after eb playing the concerned card, it occurred to me finally (D.U.H.) that it might be the herbs. I didn't take them the next day and I felt about 40% better by noon. Then I didn't take them the following day and I was feeling normalish. On the third day I took what was left from my previous prescription (for three days) and I called to reschedule my appointment from student 3, stressing that he was not the problem, and that it was essential to me that I have a student of Dr. Zhong. Nothing else mattered.

Student 4 has the same disease I do and has gotten treatment for it so she knows what works for her and that can guide her in working on me. She also used to get treatment form Elisabeth (who I started with) so there is some synergy going on.

Seems this time fourth time might be the charm. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tissues or not?

I finally updated CG again. Sometimes I feel like a total slacker for not posting there more, and then I post and remember all things happen in their own time.

Tonight we see the Indigo Girls. I am excited to finally be seeing them. I think we have had occasion in the past and either just found out too late or been out of town. As it is, we just found out about them playing here last week so we nearly missed them again. I guess all things in their own time applies to this as well.

Time to scoot and it's a looooong weekend! Woohoooooo!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Be Generous...

I lifted the following from Annie Modesitt's blog . I like the idea of spreading the love. And besides, Be Generous is one of the 37 Days principles... I wasn't able to be one of Annie's first 5 peeps, but I thought I would join in regardless.

The first five (cinq) (cinco) (5) people to respond to this post in the comments will get something made by me.

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations so please read carefully:

  1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. (No refunds... no exchanges!!!!)
  2. What I create will be just for you, with love from me.
  3. It'll be done this calendar year (2009) and when you get it, you have to let me know it arrived.
  4. I will not give you any clue what it's going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. I may even create something totally unbelievable and surprise you!! It will be handmade and may be any medium I choose. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure!
  5. I reserve the right to do something knittish or crochetish or not - it may be just weird!
  6. In return, you must post this text into a note/post of your own and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to it. If you don't, it's just bad karma heading your way.
  7. Send your mailing address to me at queenmaxine at yahoo dot com.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Power of One

One compassionate word, action, or thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring him joy. One word can give comfort and confidence, destroy doubt, help someone avoid a mistake, reconcile a conflict, or open the door to liberation. One action can save a person’s life or help him take advantage of a rare opportunity. One thought can do the same, because thoughts always lead to words and actions. With compassion in our heart, every thought, word, and deed can bring about a miracle.

–Thich Nhat Hanh, from Teachings on Love

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Since I am no longer employed at JCP, I can no longer access the internal JCP web, and therefore am unable to email my peeps the Friends and Family sale coupon. I did, however, get my own coupon in the mail yesterday. The sale is this Sunday and you get the associate discount, an additional 20% off on most purchases. If you need anything from JCP, shop this Sunday and ask any associate for the event coupon.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Left of Center

I knew when I parked the car that he would be waiting for me when I came out. Maybe knowing this is what led to me being able to maintain an equanimous mind during our confrontation. And really, it should be far left of center. As left of center as possible still allowing my fat ass to get out of the car.

For the most part, I have given up on Starbucks as a drive-thru experience. At least when I am in the store, if it isn't scalding hot, I can taste my chai latte and know if it needs more chai or not, but even if it is hot, I am watching it as it is made and can intervene at that time if I think the chai hasn't been properly dispensed. I just want my chai right. Is that too much to ask if I am being very specific when I order? It is too much to ask about 50% of the time, but I am developing patience to win the war.

The down side of this is a day like today. I want a chai and it is pouring. I wanted a chai enough to get out of the car in the pouring rain, but only if there was a space near the overhang. There was such a space, and the rain let up just enough, however, there was a big honking truck dangling precariously over the parking space line. I parked there anyway, knowing he would be waiting for me when I came out.

As it turned out, this man was in line right in front of me and we had exchanged pleasantries. We discussed the dynamics of making a decision on which sandwich to choose for lunch when it is hours away and you might change your mind by then. It was cordial. Light. And somehow I knew.

Make my order. Watch barrista like a hawk. Ask for more chai without even tasting. Taste. Ask for yet more chai. Next time it is this same girl barrista I will give her the Chef/Barrista chai pumping comparison test because she has failed three times now.

Chai in hand, I head out the door, and as predicted the window of the truck comes down right away.

Truck Man: (with his cordial smile still in place, but as I find out, it turns on a dime) Next time, you might consider leaving enough room for the person next to you to get into their vehicle.

Me: (equally cordial) Next time, you might park between the lines and not over the line into the next person's space.

TM: (his face was red and he gestures wildly) Well that's because that asshole (one space further right of me) was over the line.

Me: (lay on some sugar) So perhaps you made a poor choice when parking your big truck in a space not big enough to accomodate it's grandness while still affording you enough space to comfortable enter and exit your vehicle. (can you tell I have had this conversation before?)

Truck Man's face was still red, but now also all scrunched up like a cartoon character getting ready to blow his top. I could tell in this instant, he was consciously contemplating whether or not to cuss me out. To his credit (there's no way this man was going to win if he raised his voice further and started cussing me out) he chose to retain some gentlemanly dignity, but only some.

TM: Oh, go eat your sandwich!

Me: (doing my best to scrunch up my face and mock him a little while remaining equanimous and not crack the fuck up) Oh, go buy a small car!

TM draws in a deep breath as if he is readying himself for a long explosive rant and then as if a lightbulb went on over his head, he exhaled and said nothing, just continued looking at me.

Me: Good choice. Have a nice day.

Friday, March 20, 2009


This morning, I went to collect my chauffer for the day from his other job. He was ready on time and even willing and able. Chef has finally taken some driving lessons and has an appointment to take his test on 4/3 and damn but that biy needs practice. So I actually extended the olive branch and told him we were going shopping and out to lunch.

All in all, not too bad. I see the irony of it all because the same things I have to tell him as critique, my father had to tell me, mainly to be committed if your going and give the damn car some gas. I think that is the chief difficulty and I have to give myself big points for expressing this in a much kinder and gentler fashion than my dad did to me.

I might even go clean out the car so it is presentable when he goes to test in two weeks time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I was really awake whn I got out of bed this morning, and now, a mere two hours later, I am really jonesing to crawl back. There is a certain listless quality companion to the frigid temps we have been experiencing of late.

Frigid. Yes! It has been frigid here in Houston, seemingly forever though realistically I suppose it has been less than a week since it was eighty degrees. On Saturday when I was driving to a knitterly meetup, I thought I saw a snow flurry or two even though I know it likely wasn't colder than 40, but 40 in March, in Houston, well, that's just criminal. I even wore socks one night out to dinner. Mismatched lovely hand knit socks with my sandals, and I was totally cozy at that point.

Today however, there is something disturbing in the listlessness. I feel on the precipice of something, though not necessarily in a bad way. I can't even vaguely identify what is disturbing about it all, but that label totally captures the feeling. Maybe I should just go home and crawl under the covers and knit a while.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

some knitting

Since I keep forgetting to take a pic of this and finally it is finished, I decided to throw it onto the scanner this afternoon. The scanner makes the colors much more muted, almost as if being viewed through a filter of sorts, or maybe under a piece of waxed paper. The Pueblo Stole is glorious. It is the first project where I actually felt as though I were knitting fabric. I think part of the reason it took so long to finish was how totally ennamored I was with it and that I just didn't want it to end. Now that it is done, I never want to take it off. If Lauren Bacall sees it from the stage tonnight and begs, I will resolutely have to decline. I seriously heart it that much.

The sock pictured below was like this also, I was totally digging the knitting, but unlike the Pueblo Stole, I knit the first sock in about 5 days, which for me is really fast. Of course I have not yet been motivated to begin the second sock, but it will happen soon. The pattern just really kept my attention and the repeat was easily remembered.

I have something new on the needles keeping me from the second Guernsey sock. No kidding? No kidding. I bought a Fleece Artist Lady of the Lake sweater kit when we were at my mom's in November. The colors are bright and leafy in a chocolate, red, orange, gold sort of way. There are burgundy and purple flashes here and there, too. The sweater is knit in two different yarns and the pattern is daring and brilliant in a very simple way. Let's all take a moment to hope it fits when I am finished, I kinda think it will. It is just a little obsessive at the moment, but in a new to the needles sort of way. My downfall with sweaters in the past has been the bigness of the project bringing on monotony or boredom, but so far I have to say that won' be the case this time. As a side note, any of these pattern names can be googled or searched on Flickr if you are at all interested in seeing many versions of them.

45 minutes more to kill at work and then it is off to the theater and Mz. Bacall via California Pizza Kitchen. My favorite go-to pizza there Pear and Gorgonzola, has been off the menu for a while, so something new will have to do.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Guernsey Sock

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Big Sit

This morning marks day seven of The Big Sit. Woohoo!

It is an interesting prospect on the weekend. I am up every day usually around 6, and then I have sat first thing, then let the dogs out of their crates. On the weekend, however, I am up and let the dogs out, then go back to bed for a while, and when I rise after that I sit. This morning that was about 830.

We have a terrier mix, Sawyer, who is 7+ and about 40 pounds. Then there is Nola, the MinPin weighing in about 12 pounds who is 6+. Finally, we have Lilli Munster, the Yorkie whose weight and age are currently the same, just over 3.

Nola is never a challenge to my morning sit, because there is almost always someone still in bed, and if someone, anyone, is in bed somewhere in the house, that is where Nola will be found. Sawyer can also pretty much take it or leave it and not be interested in Mom meditating, but when he does show an interest, he will sit facing me, upright and alert. It’s startling when I open my eyes and he is there just being.

Lilli Munster, well, she is my challenge. I try to consider myself her meditation teacher and I try to lead by example. Some days she gets it, some days not. She has classic monkey mind. Today, she would bring me a puppy thing (stuffed toy) and put it directly in my palm. I would treat it as a passing cloud and place it in my lap without acknowledging Lilli in any way. She did this thre times. Then suddenly, Sawyer was sitting in her way. She put the puppy thing in my other hand, I put it in my lap. Sawyer then snatched it and ran, instigating a round of chase. This happened several times, and I managed to keep my composure long enough to finish my sit.

Katherine (our Yoga and meditation teacher of old) told us that when we meditate, if a thought or distraction arises, treat it as a passing cloud...notice it and then let it go on by. She said there will always be environmental influences from the outside and the challenge is to let them just be.

At 20 minutes on the dot, Sawyer was again sitting right in front of me and just before I opened my eyes, he placed a paw directly on my heart center and leaned in with all his weight. Lilli was curled up in my lap.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

We made it 50 days...

Sometime toward the end of last year, I had a moment of clarity and decided that one of our goals for 2009 should not only be a serious reduction to our credit card debt, but also a total cessation of use of the demon cards. Surprisingly, this really hasn't been terribly difficult because most of 2008 was a time of transition.

I think what facilitates the ease of this decision becoming reality the most is the fact that in our mid forties (well one of us is there...) we are pretty much home bodies. This is speaking to normal day to daym not vacation time, but the first vacation of the year has been totally paid for in cash. This is major for us, and the only reminder we need is to not celebrate this monumental occasion excessively while on said vacation. Admittedly we do still need to work on that one.

In the title of this post I say we made it 50 days, but realistically I think we made it more to 75 or so as this started before the holidays, but for accuracy, we consider the first of the year as marking the beginning of the concerted effort.

We still haven't had our official putting away of the credit cards party, but both eb and I carry just one in our wallets now and have agreed to emergency use only. So what constituted today's emergency?

For some time now, I have been putting off coing to the eye doctor. I really can't remember if I was due January 09 or 08, so I am either close to right on time or a year past due. For the past 6 monthe or so, I have been wearing glasses that are about 12 years old. My sun glasses are the current prescription, but my regular glasses broke and the frame had been discontinued soon after I got it, so, no luck in replacing the broken stem. My old glasses, though I know it is a huge no-no, were close enough.

I was putting off going to the eye dr because I decided I had to see someone new. When I went last time, the doc I had been seeing for about 5 years totally dismissed my questions about it perhaps being time for bifocals and made me feel crazy for even suggesting it. Truthfully, I was never really fond of my Woody Allen lookalike eye doc, it was a matter of convenience that I stayed with him as long as I did.

A friend of mine is a bit fanatical in her choice of any type of doctor and one day when we were discussing the whole bifocal dilemma, she told me about her doc and how long she has been with him and finally, today, I went to see him. I got the most thorough exam I have had in a long, long time. And I liked him right off, even though he is...a doctor.

The credit card came out because what I paid today, close to what I expected to pay, was only half the final bill, which means I will in all likelihood whip out another credit card when I pick my new car...I mean glasses up next week.

The doc asked me why I haven't done lasik. I told him what a wuss I am, and also that the expense when weighed against a possible vacation, seems too high to me. His only reply was to think about how much vacation I might be missing seeing less than I potentially could. I think he also knew that sticker shock might settle in. If I have to replace these glasses with any frequency, lasik might be moving up on the decision list. The doc seemed pretty confident I would come around and he told me when I was ready that he would refer me to the right person.

It isn't like I don't know several people who have done it, and I don't really know what I am so afraid of, but the idea of being awake and alert when that is going on just totally creeps me out.

Home body mode is secure for the time being.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Flash blogging to get it out of my head...

McD*nald's is your kind of place
Hamburgers in your face
French fries up your nose
Pickles between your toes
And don't forget those chocolate shakes
They come from polluted lakes
McD*nald's is your kind of place

Where does this shit come from? Most likely this is a camp song, sung to pass the time while hiking up to Lookout to camp out or to the waterfall to swim. Definitely not a dining hall approved camp song.

More importantly, why this morning???

Friday, February 13, 2009


The check is in the mail. Woohoo.

I just mailed the check for our first effort at being part of a Community Sponsored Agriculture program. There are several available throughout the greater Houston area, but most of them don't have a convenient pick-up point, and the ones that deliver to the home don't yet deliver on our side of town.

In the interest of omproving our quality of life, and because I have the luxury of a very flexible schedule, I decided that I was going to make the commitment to better living regardless of where I had to go for pick-up.

The other concern when making the decision is cost. Being new to it and not knowing what to expect, it's hard to commit to the $$ that some of the programs cost. Broken down by week, they really aren't excessive, but if you are paying in some cases annually, in some semi-annually, it can be a considerable chunk of change.

In my research, I came across Wood Duck Farm. They have an established presence at one of our local farmer's market, and they are starting a CSA program this spring. Their set-up for it seems to me like a bit of a pilot test program, and I think if it is successful it will continue forward. I like that the smaller scale means a smaller initial $$ investment. It lets us try it on in a comfortable manner, and there is a pick-up location about a mile from home.

And now we wait for it to begin...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Alec Baldwin is the new William Shatner

I tried to embed the video directly, but as you might see, that didn't work right. Here's the link in case you haven't seen it.

So I saw this commercial and that was my immediate thought. "Priceline Ne Go Ti A Tor." Has Alec had some work done or what?

In other news, EB and I went to see Maya Angelou on Saturday. It was lovely to be awash in such glorious energy. I bought her latest book, Letters To My Daughter once I got the tickets to see her and I read it in a day. It isn't to her daughter, but to women and girls everywhere. Some of it is pretty deep. And jarring. It really is a worthy read.

Not a whole lot else I feel like blogging about at the moment, maybe more later.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It all started at 5:35

That's A.M.

Nephew one, nearly eight, busts in to the bedroom and says:

N1: Aunt Maxine, I really need something to eat or I think I might throw up.
AM: Do you want me to cut you up an apple?

N1: No. That just won't do it.

I had to think fast because cleaning up vomit might just make me do the same. Really. I was reviewing what I had seen in the fridge and trying to think what might fill the bill. His mom says he will eat whatever we eat, and of her, that might be true, but we, umm, eat a little better than she does. We're all about cultivating our food snobbery.

AM: There's a bagel. Do you want it plain? Toasted? With butter?
N1: What I really like to eat is corn with peas.

I look in the fridge and lo and behold, there is a bowl covered with saran wrap of corn with peas.

AM: OK! Corn and peas it is.
N1: Don't make fun. It's not nice and I really like it. Really.

I'm not one to take being admonished by a seven year old(there is no nearly eight at this point, he's seven) and especially not at 5:35 in the morning, but he was all curled up on the couch looking pitiful and I was still concerned he might yak, so I cut him some slack. His corn and peas were warmed and I let him have them right there on the couch and I went back to bed.

About half an hour later, he is standing right next to the bed.

N1: Aunt Maxine. I have to get into bed with you guys because it's freezing on the couch.

Not one to argue half awake I help him settle in between us where it's nice and warm. He went right to sleep and I was graced with his corn and pea breath. Charming.

About 730, nephew two enters the picture. I could hear him calling s brother, looking for him. He had fallen asleep on the couch last night before seven. When I was up with N1, I noticed he wasn't there and even though he has his own keys to everything, I was pretty confident his four year old industrious self had in all likelihood awoken during the night and gone up to bed. Aunt Betsy (that's eb) had asked me if he was still sleeping after the N1 ordeal and I told her I thought he must have gone up to bed. She went and confirmed because she's good like that.

The bedroom door was closed and it was sort of like hearing a game of MarcoPolo. I could hear him calling and I then called him. He didn't hear me or was just distraught at not finding his brother. I finally got up and went out to see where he was and he was on the couch all sad looking.

N2: Where's N1?
AM: Getting warm in bed with us. Want to come?

Head nodding was the only answer. There really isn't much room left in the bed when the two of them are hogging the middle and Aunt Betsy and I got up around 8. N2 followed. N1 is still sleeping off his corn and peas.

It's a good thing we were both freezing our asses off enough to wear our pyjamas to bed last night.

PS...I alomst forgot. According to N2 (he with the heavy southun accent), you fry eggs in the payun.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Please tell me she was kidding,,,

Earlier this month, Persetta graduated. She was my TCM student doc for the last 6 months. I go to the local college of acupuncture for treatment every two weeks.

LiAn is my new TCM student doc. I was a little hesitant going with a second year student (Percetta was a fourth year), but LiAn is who Percetta and DR. Z(the supervisor and recognized herb guru) both recommended. I was expecting her to be a little less sure of herself, but let me tell you, she is confident with the needles and somewhat aggressive about it. These are good things. There are subtle differences in my results that aren't really something I can verbalize, small improvements difficult to quantify, but improvements nonetheless.

Yesterday I had 41 needles. LiAn said, "Some of your needles today will be bigger."

I held up my hand and told her, "Stop right there. I don't need to know more." Percetta knew how wussy I am about the whole needle thing and that I didn't want to know anything about it, that I trusted her to just do her thing. I don't need to see them. I don't need to know they might be bigger. I don't need to know that bigger needles go deeper.

Well, I forgot that all, and now I know. I need to clue LiAn in on my next visit. When she mentioned this and I told her to stop, I also opened my eyes. I was laying down on the table, glasses off and relatively relaxed. As I opened my eyes, my heart was racing just a tad. My spine tensed up and being already full of needles, I couldn't really move to stretch it out, so I asked LiAn to pause which she did, until I could breathe a little and calm my racing heart. From my vantage point, prone, eyes open, and glasses off, the needles on either side of my nose came into focus and they looked like small finishing nails. In my face. That did little to help slow my racing heart so I closed my eyes and tried a few deep cleansing breaths. I was relaxed again in a few moments and LiAn quietly went about her work.

After the needles came out and I met LiAn at the desk, She told me, "Your pulse slippery today, so new sweet. No fried. No cheese. No spicy"

"What's left," I innocently queried.
"No sweet. No fried. No cheese. No spicy."

No food love? Oh my.

The new rule journey begins today. I think no spicy will be the greatest challenge, and I am modifying that right out of the box to less spicy. I told LiAn this and she frowned and basically conceded we have to start somewhere.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Birth Day

Twenty-four years and a few hours ago, I was in crazy pain. I was twenty years old and at that very moment, I had the harsh realization that maybe I didn't know quite everything. Harsh. Very harsh.

Sometime the night before, I was awakened in the night to these sudden and sharp pains in the small of my back, pausing just a moment, and then searing up my spine. I thought I was going to die. Then, my water broke and the only thing that came to mind was a big "Uh oh..."

At the time, I lived in a house on the hill in a fairly wealthy section of Lake Placid. The only way this was affordable was to have five of my nearest and dearest move in with me. It was a four bedroom and I shared a room with Chef's father. It was downstairs and had an attached full bath. Kathy had the other downstairs bedroom, also with an attached bath. Upstairs was Kim in her own bedroom and Danny and Val, sharing the fourth bedroom. Both upstairs bedrooms shared a bath, and each were equipped with two twin beds. The place had oil heat, but we mostly relied on the woodstove downstairs in the living room, and since we were all coming and going at various odd hours, it was pretty easy to keep it going most of the time.

Kim was my best friend and we had fully discussed her taking me to the hospital when it was time. It was very naive of us to presume that "time" would be convenient to our schedules, and that making the 15 mile ride to the hospital wouldn't be that big a deal. We hadn't considered that it might be the middle of the night. Or that I would be in excruciating pain. Or that it would be one of the worst snow and ice storms we had ever known. Or that Kathy would be the only person home at the time and
not the person I wanted in attendance.

I think it took us well over an hour to get to the hospital, and it was a miracle we didn't freeze to death in a ditch on the side of the road. As bad as the pain was, I couldn't fathom giving birth in the back seat of the car, and home delivery was in no way an option.

My OB doc, Dr. V, was a pleasant older man. He was nearing retirement and had a new young partner. A very handsome and sexy new young partner, Dr. M. I made it my entire treatment schedule managing to see only the aging Dr. V. and having done nothing more than shake hands at the initial meeting with Dr. M. You know who was on call that night. Damn.

Had I taken child birth classes? Umm, no. Had I read up on the process? Nope. I was 20 and figured anything I needed to know would be explained along the way. I didn't ask a single question. I had no idea that an epidural might leave me paralyzed. But when that answer to my excruciating pain was offered up very matter-of-factly, I signed the consent form and held very still for that long thick needle to be inserted into my spine.

And then, the next thing I knew, from about my boobies down, I. Felt. Nothing. Not a thing. It was as if my body just stopped at my boobies. My contractions were still charging away as evidenced by the monitor, but I didn't feel a damn thing. I was liking it.

Since that illustrious time in my life, I have learned a wee bit more. I know, for example, it is quite ordinary to have an epidural and still be able to push. Mine was administered a tad too high. No pushing for me. All of a sudden it was time and my thighs and knees were right there on the table along side my shoulders and upper arms. This struck me as terribly funny. I was laughing uncontrollably at the sight of it all and it still gives me a chuckle today.

Delivery was a breeze and suddenly there was a baby on me. Kathy had to hold him there because I still could feel nothing. The nurses took him away after a few minutes and I was cleaned up and wheeled back to my room.

The next three days were a bit of a blur because I had a nasty reaction to the epidural. "I suppose she's allergic," one nurse quitly said. I was violently ill for three days. At one point it felt as if I was vomitting with every breath I drew. And in spite of it being 94 degrees in my room and me having multiple layers of blankets, I was freezing.

In the middle of all this, round about day two, I met my almost mother and sisters-in-law. Almost. I had been dating Chef's father for more than three years, two of those years living together, and I had met his youngest sister. Turns out she was the sane one in the family. Kathy had told Chef's father how sick I was. She told him that she could take him to see his son (and maybe me, too) at any time because she took those days off. Did he show up once? No. But I was lucky enough to meet his mom and sisters under those charming circumstances. Go team.

When I went home on day six, I had plenty of help to figure the mom thing out. Mostly, I sat in the rocker in front of the fire and drank a lot of juice to try to rehydrate a little. Someone always brought home some homemade soup from the deli for the first month or so, and it slowly became apparent that I was seeing less and less of chef's father. At that point, I really didn't care.

Enough thinking about the physical pain...Happy 24th, Chef!