Friday, September 29, 2006

Five under Five

Sometimes, my Friday Five topics come easily, just popping into my head at some unexpected moment. Other times, not so much. Usually, I'll just be thinking about some small, not-quite-postworthy-in-itself thing I want to write about (like how tired I am of people who don't understand time zones or how half the men on eHarmony think The Da Vinci Code is great literature), and I'll realize I can swiftly find four other somewhat related trivial things that sufficiently fall in the same category.

This week, however, nothing's really coming to me. Or rather, everything that's come to me is either too boring to bother enumerating in list form or doesn't prompt enough additional thoughts to make it up to five. (This is kind of sad, actually, as the whole reason I started doing the lists of five is that I didn't think I could make it to thirteen.)

Anyway, here instead then are five ideas that didn't make it far enough to be a Friday Five.

Note: Why do I have a feeling this is going to be sort of like the "Deleted Scenes" section of a DVD? You know, where you watch a couple and then say, "Yep; there's a reason they deleted that"? If that is the case, I do apologize, and I assure you I will try to come up with a better list next week.

  1. Three things that made me smile this week

    • Realizing that the new flavor of my trademark lip balm smells like Strawberry Shortcake's friend, Raspberry Tart. Yum. (Yum to the smell, I mean. Not to the idea of actually eating poor Raspberry Tart.)

    • Seeing, on my way to work today, a bright pink sheet of posterboard proudly advertising the "Sale O' Sales." As a general rule, I'm not much for garage sales (thrift sales, yard sales, rummage sales--whatever you call them in your neck of the woods), but if I were to attend a sale today, I assure you it would be that one. I dig a merchant (amateur or otherwise) with a sense of humor.

    • Walking into Cub Foods yesterday and remembering that it's Honeycrisp season. Whoo! A fruit to get excited about! A fruit for which to wait all year! Apparently I'm not the only one to get behind the Honeycrisp (as if I had any doubt of that). Wikipedia just told me it is, as of this year, the official state fruit. Who even knew there was such a thing? Yay for the Honeycrisp.

  2. Two songs that got unexpectedly yet persistently stuck in my head this week

    • Sisters, Sisters (by Irving Berlin, featured prominently in White Christmas, a movie that has actually always annoyed me, for reasons I can't really explain). I heard this three days ago, during the hit-or-miss morning show on the ever-surprising and unpredictable grab bag that is The Current, and I woke up this morning still singing in my head, "Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister, and lord help the sister who comes between me and my man!"

    • The theme from Three's Company. Thanks for that, -R-.

  3. Three responses I have recently given to the question "What's new?"

    • "Oh, you know. Same old, same old."

    • "I'm going to New York next month!!"

    • "There's a new Shawn Douglas on Days."

      Anyone want to guess which is the only one of these to garner any additional questions and any reaction other than an eyebrow raise?

  4. Three things that annoyed me this week

    • The fact that it is, as my friend Carrie excitedly proclaimed recently, "Skirt and Boot Season," and yet nobody is selling any damn skirts that I like at all. The gauchos that were everywhere last year have been taken in a bit to become some weird cropped trouser things instead, but I still much prefer a skirt to any damn half-pants. You hear me, designers? Skirts, I say!

    • Gilmore Girls. Two words: Logan. Christopher. Ugh--enough. I'd say, "You're skatin' on thin ice, Palladinos," but even they've washed their hands of this exhausting mess by now, so someone else is to blame for beating these dead horses at the moment. And yet, I will keep watching. We all know that I will. Crack that whip, Gilmores, you've likely got me until the end.

    • The news that the Republicans have picked St. Paul as the site of their 2008 National Convention. On the other hand, today's email from the Minnesota DFL did amuse me, with its subject line "The Republicans are coming. The Republicans are coming." As did Al Franken's response to the news on The Daily Show the other night. So I suppose it's all about perspective and the right frame of mind (and about having two years to come up with appropriate pranks to pull in honor of their eventual arrival in my town).

  5. One reason you should stop by Look at me today

    • (Aside from the usual reasons, of course--i.e., that he's smart and witty and nearly always entertaining) Because it's Darren's birthday today. But since probably at least half my site traffic originally came from Darren and/or Nabbalicious in the first place, I suspect you already knew that. Still, it bears repeating since he deserves to have a fabulous day. Happy Birthday, Darren!

And that concludes my Friday less-than-fives. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cleaning lady

I think it's a generally well accepted fact that the best way to wake up muscles you haven't worked recently and essentially shock them into anger, fury, and betrayal is to do some form of exercise you haven't done before, to force your body into something it's not used to. A new student in my yoga class, for example, will come back for Week Two exclaiming, "I was sore in muscles that I didn't even know I had!" I, on the other hand, have been doing yoga for five years, and while this doesn't mean I'm particularly good at it or entirely without strain or pain (on the contrary, after too many chatarangas, I still feel for the next two days like someone's stepped on my collarbone for hours), it is at least a familiar strain and soreness. It doesn't particularly throw me (or my muscles).

You know what I haven't done regularly and my muscles aren't used to, however? Cleaning. Yeah. Apparently cleaning is the way to hurt my body in a way that no machine at the gym and no vinyasa at the yoga center ever does. Give me 30 minutes on the elliptical; no problem. Make me wield a scrub sponge and I'm a wreck.

On Sunday, I cleaned my house properly from, er... I was going to say "from top to bottom," but not only is that trite; it's also untrue. I actually crapped out before getting to the rarely-used guest area upstairs or the mess beneath me in my basement. So really, I just cleaned across the middle and hit the well-trafficked areas on the main level. And by "cleaned them properly," I basically mean I used products and accoutrements other than wet and dry Swiffer. I actually used a mop. Some people would say that's still half-assed (David Sedaris once quoted his family's former cleaning lady, saying "You either want to use a mop or you want a clean floor, but you can't have both), but a mop is "real cleaning" to me.

So, I cleaned my house. I also sealed the many rusting cracks in the molded metal sheet that forms the sad, fake tile of my shower. And then I mowed my lawn, edged my sidewalk, did my laundry, changed my sheets, and emptied the dishwasher as well. And today, two days later, my forearms are still sore, and, when I move my right arm or rotate my shoulder in nearly any direction at all, it actually sort of makes me want to cry.

I am officially a wuss. And a slob. I would never have made it as a pioneer, what with all the beating wet clothes against rocks and plowing the fields with crude equipment and carrying water in from a manual pump outside. And here I was thinking TV and Taco Bell were our primary advantages over our foremothers. God bless my lazy twenty-first century life.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Oy with the poodles already

I don't have a lot going on right now. The evidence? When I woke up this morning, I actually said, in my head, "It's Gilmore Girls premiere day!" And I was excited about it.

I really need to get out more.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

It takes all kinds

I don't know whether to be amused or horrified that I'm currently number three in this search.

On a related note, imagine my disappointment that I missed this event. I suppose there's always next year, right?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Five: The one with the free cable*

A couple of months ago, something magical happened in my living room. Or rather, something magical happened somewhere within the mysterious realm of winding black wires that runs from the back of my television set, across my living room, into a hole in the floor, down to my basement, out to the back of my house, and finally to a pole out in the alley. Somewhere within that uneventful path through which my TV friends mysteriously travel, something tripped up or flipped over, and suddenly, without warning, I had real cable in my house.

Dedicated and sharp-memoried readers may remember the milestone day back in January when I finally abandoned the rabbit ears and stepped up to basic cable. Remember how excited I was just to have TBS at my welcome disposal? Imagine my surprise and wonder when suddenly I could make Jon Stewart appear in my living room as well!

Naturally, I was skeptical of the whole event. Just like Joey and Chandler, the time they found a free porn channel and didn't want to turn off the TV for fear that they'd never get it back again ("Then we'd be the guys who turned off free porn!"), I was equally leery about switching off my set. I thought whatever wires had unexpectedly crossed would suddenly cross back again. But I turned off the TV, turned it back on again, and Bravo was still there. So was VH1. And Comedy Central. And HGTV. And the ever amusingly predictable Lifetime Movie Network. All of them, right there, free of charge.

I figured maybe Time Warner was running some sort of trial period promotion and I'd simply missed the mailing about it. You know--trying to hook me on the good stuff so that when they took it away again, I'd miss it and pony up. But a week went by, then two, then several more, and the free cable never vanished from my home. I waited for my next bill, thinking surely some customer service rep screwed up and put in an order for me, and that's how I ended up with the extra lineup. But nope, the bill came--$12 plus tax as usual. With the next bill, it was the same again. Who knows how long my luck will hold out. And more important, what's next? Will my crawl-along dialup connection miraculously change over to high-speed? Will my crappy-ass ancient cell phone suddenly morph into a multi-color display camera flip-phone with nationwide long distance and unlimited free roaming? The possibilities are endless, and the only question is the source of my good fortune. I've long been mocked and chided for my slow adoption of new technology; do I have an anonymous benefactor trying to bring me into the new century a few years late?

Despite how exciting this all is, however, what's surprising to me is how much I have not actually made use of all my new channels. I'm sure part of the problem is I'm just a creature of routine. I know that The Simpsons is on every weekday at 6:00 and 6:30, so if I'm home, I instinctively tune to that without bothering to explore what else might be available. And frankly, 60+ channels can be more than a bit overwhelming. I used to say I didn't need cable, that I watched enough TV without it and that, with cable, there can still be nothing on that I want to watch, but that it just takes four times as long to find that out. Oh, how foolish and wrong-headed I was. Nothing on that I want to watch? When I've got The Lost Boys, Drive Me Crazy, a My Fair Brady marathon, and old episodes of Little House on the Prairie all vying for my attention? Frankly it should be a wonder that I ever leave my house at all.

Still, despite how handy all these channels were during my Hangover Sunday a few weeks back, I really haven't been watching as much cable as I'd expect. For ages now, whenever someone talked about some apparently great and addictive show, I'd say, "Oh, I haven't seen that. I don't have cable." Now I can see that (whatever "that" is at any given time, shows on HBO and other premium channels withstanding), and yet, I'm still not watching them. It's as though I'm forgetting they're even available to me. I haven't even watched The Daily Show more than a handful of times, and I can offer no good or reasonable explanation for that.

Although The Daily Show is, in my mind, the greatest offense in this scenario, there are plenty of other shows that everyone but me is regularly partaking of as well. And with that long and explanatory intro, we finally arrive at my Friday Five.

Five shows I'm pretty sure I'm the only person not watching

  1. Laguna Beach
    I'm sorry, but petulant and cosmically self-absorbed teenagers made all the more ego-maniacal by placing their tiny minds and social dramas in front of a gawking nationwide audience? I'm sure it's an addictive sort of train wreck to revel in with glee, but I've long ago kicked my Elimidate addiction, and I don't really need a new reason to hate myself at the moment.

  2. Mythbusters
    I know this will be an unpopular and controversial statement, but, um, I've seen one and a half episodes, and I really don't get the hype. Is this one of those things that grows on you with a little more time, or am I just not nerdy or curious enough to fully appreciate this show? It doesn't really matter, I suppose, as it airs during my weekly yoga class and I'm therefore not apt to catch it unless I take the initiative to tape and watch it later. I'm not ruling out an eventual Mythbusters appreciation entirely, as it comes highly recommended by more than one very trusted and respected source and so I really feel I should give it a chance, but for now, I hate to say it: I'm not sold.

  3. 24
    I know Jack Bauer is some kind of modern superhero or god; I'm just not exactly sure why and I don't particularly care if I find out.

  4. Lost
    Remember when Twin Peaks first started? How it was an intriguing little murder mystery that we just wanted to see through to the resolution? Remember how it was good for a while, with its twists and turns and wacky character development? And then suddenly it was all log ladies and paranormal entities named Bob and "Fire walk with me" and all that? Some people stuck with it until the end. I gave up long before that. I've never seen a full episode of Lost, and yet, based on other people's comments and complaints, I'm pretty sure I'd be similarly frustrated and done with it at this point if I had.

  5. Project Runway. And The Amazing Race. And Survivor. Oh, and Big Brother. Basically, if it falls under the category of the so-called "reality" show, it's probably safe to assume I'm not watching it. I know not all reality shows are inherently meritless and evil; I know they don't all siphon out brain cells the way The Bachelor and Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire surely did, but how do I know Project Runway isn't just a gateway drug to something worse? One day I'm innocently watching a single episode at a time; the next I'll be mainlining TLC marathons, discussing the latest developments on Dancing with the Stars, and desperately seeking out Temptation Island on DVD. Frankly, it's just not a risk I'm ready to take. And so, I stay away. It's just the way it is.

* At a loss for a title, I went with a Friends reference here. My other option was to work in some sort of "Please don't tell Time Warner about this" kind of plea, but I'm hoping that goes without saying... Right??

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A [not quite] three-hour tour

So apparently it's fall now... For some reason I seem to forget each year just how abruptly it can come about. On Saturday, I was wearing a sleeveless shirt outside at 11:00 pm and didn't even need a sweater. Today it is 62 degrees in my house. Yes, in my house. I am hoping that removing the AC units from my windows so I can shut the window fully and tightly will remedy this cold front in my home, because I am not turning on my heat just yet. Really, why is there just no transition? Yesterday was the first day I finally broke down and put on socks and proper shoes instead of sandals; today I need a coat inside? It's simply just not fair.

Sorry; did I just spend a full paragraph talking about the weather again? I am a Minnesotan, you remember. It seems to happen a lot with us. Anyway, speaking of cold, Poppy had a fine suggestion the other day. Last week's post featuring my pal Noodle atop my fridge prompted her request to see my fridge magnets in full. Since I actually have more on my fridge than in it, her curiosity is understandable, I thought. I aim to please, Poppy, so here you have it: a tour of my fridge decor, in likely more detail than you ever desired.

Note: This is either the start of a new meme or my lamest blog post ever. The choice is up to you. If you want to take this idea and run with it, feel free to publish your own fridge-front as well. If not, don't go browsing through my archives to look for posts lamer than this. I assure you, they exist, and I'd be more than able to point them out for you if you insist.

Anyway, here it is, in all its cluttered wonder: the front of my refrigerator...

My fridge

You can click that pic for a slightly larger view, but because I had entirely too much time on my hands today, I've also number-coded several items for explanatory aids. (I am a huge nerd, I'm well aware. No need to point it out.)
I have too much time on my hands

The tour, then, if you will...

  1. I like to think myself a crafty sort of gal. I go in spurts where I decide, "Hey, I could make that!" Occasionally, this plan pans out successfully, but just as often it involves a lot of swearing and complaining and, in general, a time investment that is two to three times my original estimate. For a while, I was really hooked on Craftster, and the fabulously creative folks there inspired me to attempt to make all sorts of things (even furniture and bedding, for example). A few Christmases ago, I decided to try to make as many of my Christmas presents as possible. I started knitting scarves, felted purses, and coasters the preceding July, and miraculously, I finished nearly everything on time. I also supplemented my knitting with marble magnets. Nearly everyone I know got a set. All the extras are still scattered on my fridge.

  2. During my semester abroad, a lot of people I knew bought a flag patch in each country that they visited. The plan was to sew the patches on their backpack later on. I, being ever practical to a fault, realized I likely wouldn't be using my monstrous traveling backpack much upon my return to The States, so I purchased stickers from each country instead. The stickers now adorn the cover of one of my three photo albums from that trip.

    A few years ago, I started taking a similar "simpler is best" mindset for souvenirs on all my post-college travels as well. I decided that, unless I saw something that I really, really wanted or found meaningful, the only souvenir I needed from my trips (aside from photos, of course) was a magnet for my fridge. You can see here six such souvenirs: a mini Mona Lisa print from the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh; a replica of a Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass window from Oak Park, Illinois; an ever-so-classy potleaf with "No Problem" message picked up somewhere in Negril; a Heinz 57 pickle magnet from the Heinz museum (also Pittsburgh); a sand sculpture lizard from Cozumel that, frankly, has seen better days (I think I've glued his right lower leg on no less than three times); and a fabulously touristy fake voodoo doll supposedly hand-crafted in New Orleans. I am all about supporting the local artisans, of course, even if it means perpetuating centuries-old stereotypes just for tourism's sake.

  3. The Sculpture Garden's Spoon Bridge and Cherry is one of Minneapolis's most recognizable landmarks. I'd say it is our Statue of Liberty or Gateway Arch, but that might be overstating its importance just a tad. Besides that, we do have the Mall of America, of course, vying for that status as well. Nevertheless, I was indescribably shocked to hear my boss, who has lived in the area for no less than twenty years, say she'd never in her life heard of the thing. Clearly she has never been in my kitchen (or anywhere else in Minneapolis, it would seem).

  4. Chino Latino is a fine, fun restaurant to visit should you ever come this way. I haven't been there in probably four years or more, but each time I drive down Hennepin Avenue, its sparkly glittered facade is still drawing people in. I've acquired at least three magnets there over the years, apparently, as well as two fortune cookie slips that were amusing enough to save indefinitely. The first says "Everything you've ever done is nothing in front of a bus," and the second simply reads, "That wasn't chicken." Considering most fortune cookie manufacturers have taken to publishing meaningless proverbs instead of fake fortunes, I think they could take a cue from whoever makes the cookies for this place.

  5. In the first few years I lived in the Twin Cities, each time my out-of-town friends visited, we would head to Comedy Sportz. Before each show, the cast ambled up and down the aisles pretending to be ball game vendors, but instead of calling out the usual sorts of things (like "Cold Beer Here" or "Get 'yer peanuts"), they'd throw out less conventional things instead. One night, someone shouted, "Letters! Get 'yer letters!" and tossed an "F" my way. The fact that I still have this after at least three moves means I will likely have it for life.

  6. Rosie the Riveter. Do I really need to explain this one? She is, simply, what she is.

  7. At any given time, I have at least three different postcards featured on my fridge. When a friend sends a new one and I don't have a spot to put it or a magnet with which to affix it, I rotate an older one out of its place. Considering the most recent one (from Thailand) has been there over six months, I think my friends are in a dry spell, travel-wise.

  8. Clearly I numbered these before I started writing about them. I already talked about the lizard (see #2).

  9. Once a month the Walker Art Center holds an event called "Walker After Hours." For the low, low price of $14 ($7 if you're a member), you can wander around the galleries either looking at art or looking at all the beautiful people (and wannabe beautiful people) who are pretending to look at art, all whilst sipping overpriced cocktails and clamoring for sporadically distributed hors d'oeuvres. A highlight for me is the art project that's always available on the lower level of the building. The month I created this, they were celebrating the new building expansion, so our instruction was to decorate the building outline with various scraps and colored inks. Since they were heavily promoting the opening, these were meant to be postcards we could mail to our friends, but obviously I decided my hard work should stay at my own house instead.

  10. Have you ever noticed how, once you say you like something, suddenly that thing becomes the default gift from all friends and family members? How suddenly, like it or not, you're building a collection? Somewhere around 1996, I made the mistake of expressing some affinity for sunflowers. I've had this magnet and potholder since shortly thereafter.

  11. Three years ago, I bought a house in Northeast Minneapolis. A few months earlier, my best friend Lisa had moved into a place in the area as well. Since she considered herself an established resident of the neighborhood, this clock magnet was her welcome/congratulations gift to me. I would say it was my favorite housewarming present, but since my sister also collected donations for a dishwasher for my home, you can understand how that's a tough call. Nevertheless, I do still love the clock. It's the last thing I glance at each morning as I rush (typically five minutes late) out the door.

  12. Of course I Voted; didn't you? Oddly, I think this particular sticker is from the time I voted in the least eventful election of my adult life: the September primary of an odd-numbered year. Maybe that's why I decided to keep it, actually.

  13. We don't talk politics when I'm in my parents' house for holidays and vacations. That didn't stop my sister from sticking this in with my Christmas gift last year, however. My Republican father may not appreciate it, but I have no issue at all with displaying George W.'s face beside the message "My daddy bought me an election, and all I got was this lousy war."

  14. Three politics-nerd items in a row? You'd think I was actually volunteering and donating to progressive causes in this important mid-term election season. On the contrary, I felt so defeated after the debacle that was 2004 that I still haven't regained my energy the way I should. Nevertheless, I love this glitter and Barbie decoupage magnet from a gallery near my house, which reads, "Why do we choose from 50 for Miss America and only two for President?"

  15. OK, so I don't really heart Hooters, but I do heart irony, it would seem.

  16. Best radio station ever (and the only one that's ever inspired me to actually place a call-number decal on my car).

  17. Not the best station ever (particularly since it replace the far superior Zone 105, which I still miss), but good in a pinch nonetheless. And they gave me a free magnet, and evidence shows I'll put just about anything magnetic or adhesive on my fridge.

  18. This is not a magnet nor a sticker, but is worth noting anyway, for no other reason than it supports the well-established fact that I am likely the laziest and most procrastination-prone person I know. I received this notice from my health insurance provider damn near a year ago, reminding me that I've not had a tetanus shot in at least ten years. My thought was that if I put it on my fridge, I might remember to do something about it. The reality is that the longer anything hangs there, the more invisible to me it becomes.

  19. I have felt the need to call my next-door neighbor only once since he scrawled down his number for me (which he did the day after my tree fell in his yard, because we assumed we'd have insurance matters to sort out), so I can't really explain why his number* remains on my fridge a year later. I think it just amuses me that he has a name (Lief) that he can express with a doodle. My friend Dale, during a visit several months ago, scoffed at the cutesy-ness of this maneuver, but I could see the gears turning in his head. Having a noun-name himself, I am certain he was trying to come up with a way to draw a dale in place of his name. I should probably check in with him to see if he's made any progress on that.

    * I've blurred out the number in this photo, of course. This is the Internet, after all, and I'm not entirely stupid, you see. (I am, however, not as bright as I'd hoped, because I'll admit that masking the number was actually more of an afterthought than it should have been.)

  20. Oddly, I couldn't tell you where the signed copy that I have of this is at the moment. The clearly less valuable unsigned one, however? That I've got displayed in clear view. I got both at a free performance that They Might Be Giants did during the release of their latest children's DVD venture. It still seems odd to me that I saw one of my favorite bands at Barnes & Noble with a bunch of hipster parents and their toddlers, but a free TMBG show is a free TMBG show, and I'm not going to think too hard about that.

  21. I think this is a pig possibly fashioned from a gourd, but I really couldn't tell you for sure. I got it at a lithography demonstration at last year's Northeast Art-a-Whirl, and it's been in that spot ever since.

  22. Again, it seems I didn't really think things through as I numbered. As I mentioned in #2, this is a hokey little fake voodoo doll from some tourist shop in The Big Easy. How do I know it's fake? Because it's labeled "Goddess to find a real man," and clearly, I am still single. I guess I figured it was worth a shot?

Also pictured but not labeled are a can opener-shaped magnet that for some reason my little sister thought meaningful and sent me (apparently we used to have an identical one growing up?), a metallic American flag sticker that I did not affix myself but in fact came with the house (along with several other things I should really document for my amusement someday), several bottle cap magnets from the One Spot at Target (I'm not the only one who loves to troll the dollar bin, am I?), and a coupon from Famous Footwear that I will most definitely forget to use.

So there you have it. More than you ever wanted to know about what's in my kitchen. So, tell me... what's on your fridge?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Shiver me timbers; is it that time o' year again already, mateys?

I got an e-mail from my dear old friend Doug today...

From: "Doug"
To: "Stefanie"
Subject: Arrrrr.

Maybe you mentioned this on your blog. I haven't read that yet today...


Replies ensued...

From: "Stefanie"
To: "Doug"
Subject: Re: Arrrrr.

Actually, I was going to mention it tomorrow.

I'm so predictable.

Really, I wonder if I should bother. My guess is everyone else will be posting about it as well.

From: "Doug"
To: "Stefanie"
Subject: Re: Arrrrr.

I think you should. It's kind of one of your things.

From: "Stefanie"
To: "Doug"
Subject: Re: Arrrrr.

"One of [my] things?" What do you mean by that??

From: "Doug"
To: "Stefanie"
Subject: Re: Arrrrr.

You always mention pirates. OK, not "Always," but you've mentioned pirates a number of times. I think people would think you forgot about National Talk Like a Pirate Day if you didn't mention it. I think you should mention it today so people don't miss out.


In actuality, I've mentioned pirates exactly* three times, if Blogger's search function can be deemed reliable, but I'll give Doug props for remembering any idle prattling at all from my brain instead of squabbling over details.

To tell the FSM's honest truth, however, I almost did forget about this notable holiday. I remembered it about a month ago, and made a mental note not to forget the date, but my mental notes obviously aren't too dependable, as I didn't think of it again until today, when I received a Hallmark e-card from my younger sister. The occasion? Talk Like a Pirate Day. Shockingly, however, Hallmark isn't yet acknowledging this Pastafarian holiday in their events, list, and henceforth, she couldn't find a Pirate card. Instead, she sent a card featuring a singing Viking monkey. God love that girl; she never fails to crack me up.

In any event, consider this your reminder if you forgot to mark your calendars. Tuesday is the day to wear your eyepatch and your skull and crossbones and to swing your splintered peg leg with pride and shout "Rrrrrr" as many times as you can feasibly (or unfeasibly and abruptly) work it into conversations.

Aye aye, mateys?

* Oddly, I've been meaning to delete this first pirate post for quite some time, as most of the links in it are dead now anyway and I'm entirely sick of being deemed the Internet's authority on the K#nner Tree T#ts playhouse, a phrase that brings more Google searchers to me than any other. At least people have stopped coming here for human castration stories... or, they were until I mentioned it again here, anyway.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ample helpings of TMI all around; come on in and help yourself

First of all--I know! Three posts in one day?? Frankly, I'm as surprised as you are, so I can offer no adequate explanation. Look out; you might want to duck right now; I think I see a winged pig swooping in a little low.

Anyway, I have things to tell you. And by, "things to tell you," I mean I've had a mortifying and awkward moment, and rather than quietly internalize it and wish it away, I thought I'd go ahead and publish it on the Internet. Sounds reasonable, eh?

Before you proceed, I should warn you that this post at least marginally concerns lady parts, and if you're a real-life friend of the male persuasion, you may just want to skip this one. (As for the Internet-only friends of the male persuasion who might be reading this right now? Eh. If you're trolling blogs on a regular basis, this probably won't phase you too much.)

And with that warning, away we go.

I was just having an innocent little chat with my boss, wherein I inquired how her new college freshman daughter is enjoying school (at my alma matter) so far. That innocent little chat somehow unexpectedly segued into revelations about said daughter's sex life (or her mother's hope for a lack thereof), which segued into a report, per my boss's doctor, that there is now a vaccine available for a few particularly prevalent and pesky STDs. According to my boss's doctor, they are apparently recommending this vaccine for kids as young as nine(!) to twelve(!) and upwards to twenty-six.

Now, a normal adult individual, in conversation with the person who monitors and controls her employment, would show the proper level of shock at the "nine years old?!" comment and quickly move along. Me, however? The apparently far-from-normal and always blunt and inappropriate woman who's nearly always got too much to say? That woman didn't stop right there. Instead, she proceeded with, "Huh. I go to Planned Parenthood instead of a regular clinic for my annual exams. It's funny they haven't mentioned that or had posters about it there."

What's that I just said? Oh yeah; let's hear it again. "I go to Planned Parenthood for my annual exams."

Insert eyebrow raise from the woman who monitors my employment.

See, here's the problem. I will talk for ten minutes if you let me on all the reasons Planned Parenthood is an excellent and worthwhile organization that we are lucky to have in our communities. I will tell you how it is a fabulously friendly no-judgment zone staffed by kind and relatable young nurses and sweet, motherly, yet thorough doctors who have a genuine and honorable interest in keeping women healthy and informed and at peace. It is a place built by advocates for women's issues in general, and a place that supports its mission well. The only reservation I have about going there is that I've begun to feel too old for the place. Beyond that, I think they rock (in so much as the place that swabs my cervix can actually, in fact, rock.)

Unfortunately, much of the conservative, Bush-backing American public is unaware that Planned Parenthood is a perfectly excellent and innocent place to get your run-of-the-mill exams taken care of for all your girly bits and lady parts. Instead, they see it as the place that hands out condoms to kids like lollipops and readily dispenses the much-maligned morning-after pill to careless co-eds. I'm not even going to talk about the picketers and the services they're there to disrupt. That is not a route down which I want to venture.

In other words, Planned Parenthood is, to many people, a place where the morally-void sluts and loose, fast women go.

Knowing this, I think I just told my boss that I'm a dirty whore.

This is troublesome to me for many reasons, not the least of which is that it couldn't be further from the truth. OK, I lied. It could, I suppose, be just a tad more radically far from true... One pretty recent questionable encounter and a few long-ago mild indiscretions point to the contrary, I'm aware. But those small infractions to my virtue withstanding, I do think I'm overall more in line with wholesome, Quaker-like oats than with sowing any particularly wild ones, as it were.

But my boss doesn't know me in my off-the-clock world. I can only imagine what she's wondering about me right now.

And this is the reason I should confine all my at-work social time to my cohorts on the Internet. Clearly I can't be trusted to conduct small talk in real-time.

Settle down, cat people. I mean to stir no controversy.

I have a house guest this week. While my newly married friend, Lisa, is on her honeymoon, I'm watching over her cat, Noodle. I think Lisa was actually a little nervous about leaving her with me. Maybe she's just an overprotective cat-mother, or maybe she has little faith in me since I have no pets myself. I'm hoping it's the former--considering a few select people have, on occasion, actually trusted me with their real-life, two-legged children, I'd hate to think my best friend doesn't trust my nurturing skills with something as relatively low-maintenance as a cat.

Really, I think Lisa was just worried that having me cat-sit would be an imposition. She kept talking up how sweet and well-behaved Noodle is... how she never, ever relieves herself anywhere but in her box... how she never scratches on anything except her scratching mat. The cat was a hard sell for her boyfriend (now husband), so I think she's used to some reticence and backlash where cats are concerned.

In truth, I didn't dread Noodle's visit at all. Several people over the past many years have encouraged me to get a kitten, and I've said myself more than once that if I'm to be a proper spinster, I clearly need a cat. I never really thought myself a cat person before (or even much of a pet person at all), but I've met some cool cats* at my friends' and ex-boyfriends' houses over the years, and it's warmed me up to the idea a bit. I thought Noodle-sitting would be an excellent trial run to find out if I'd really like having a furry friend in my place.

* I mean cats literally; I'm not picking up some beatnik jive there.

So. What is the verdict on this little plan? Well, I don't think I'll be visiting a shelter or fancy cat breeder place any time soon. Yes, Noodle is sweet and lovely and all of that, but I'm still thinking of cats in much the same way as children: it's fine hanging out with other people's for a while, but I'm also really glad that someone else has to take them home eventually.

The past week, I've been basically itemizing all the reasons that a full-time, permanent cat is not for me, and since I had no other Friday Five planned for today, that shall be my list.

Five reasons I do not want a cat after all
(based on my friend Noodle as a reference point)

  1. On weekday mornings, I get up at 6:30. Noodle gets up at 5:30. But does she just sit there quietly watching cartoons and having a bowl of Lucky Charms while she waits for me to wake up, like I ever-so-kindly did for my parents as a child? No. Instead she meows and scratches at my door repeatedly until I let her in. If you are wondering why I don't just let her in my bedroom all night, in the hopes of keeping her less lonely, I need to point out that I tried that. Noodle climbing up onto my windowsills and scratching at my blinds at 3:00 a.m. quickly proved that a bad idea, too.

  2. Three times this week, I have walked into my kitchen barefoot and stepped in an unexpected and unexplainable wet spot. No, it's not unusual for me to spill a splash of water or drop a bit of frost from some terribly healthy frozen food item on my floor and notice the resulting small puddle later, but I don't think this has happened three times in the past five days. Since I wasn't sure how else to discern whether the wet spot was water or cat pee, I bent over and sniffed my foot. Oddly, it smelled lemon fresh. My kitchen floor is not lemon fresh, but Noodle's cat litter is. I still can't decide what this means as to the source of the spot, but it makes me uneasy nonetheless.

  3. Though it's a few years old already, I still really quite like my comfy purple chenille couch. So does Noodle. Unfortunately, I like it with all the threads and tufts intact, while Noodle seems to think it would be fun to see what's under all those threads and tufts. These are incompatible goals, I fear.

  4. Much as knitting and cat-owning seem to go hand-in-hand in the quintessential old maid lifestyle, I have no idea how anyone with a cat in their home gets any knitting done at all. Yarn is like crack to cats, and you'd never try to fashion crack into an afghan** while an addict was nearby, would you?

    ** This is a terrible example, I realize. Perhaps if I'd not been woken up by a cat at 5:30 this morning, I could have come up with something witty that made more sense. As it stands, that's the best I can do.

  5. And finally, the only possibly legitimate and not-unjustifiably-whiny item on the list... Despite the fact that I've never really been aware of any strong cat allergies before, I'm guessing that the watery eyes and itchy, sneezy nose I've had only at home and not at work this week can be attributed to Noodle rubbing herself all over my self and my house. I could pop a Claritin every day, I suppose, but if I'm going to develop a drug habit, I'd like to think I'd pick a more interesting one to be dependent on than that.

Still, she is pretty cute, is she not?

Unsolved Mysteries: Highway 36 Edition

OK, so... consensus on that last post seems to be "toilet seat." Now if anyone could tell me why someone would want twelve-plus toilet seat decals on their vehicle, that would help me out.

Seriously, I'm just glad no one's said, "Duh... You don't know that's the logo for [insert name of super-famous band that I should know about but don't here]??" That reminds me of a funny story, actually...

I have a former co-worker who told me he once bought a car on which the previous owner had stuck a large NIN* rear window decal. Being a good Christian, Celine Dion-listening man (youth minister and everything), my co-worker had no idea what the crytic icon meant, but he thought it looked cool nonetheless. Only when someone clued him in did he decide to scrape it off his new car. I guess Head Like a Hole and Closer were not ones he felt worthy of personal theme songs. Go figure.

* Just pretend that second "N" is backwards, OK? I have no idea what the HTML code for that might be.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hey buddy, what's your sign?

Despite the fact that I follow the same predictable path to and from work each day and despite the fact that I typically hit the same intersections and exits within the same five-minute window each time, it still surprises me when I come up alongside familiar mobile landmarks in my commute.

Sure, the guy with the "Boycott France!" bumper sticker on his truck probably takes Highway 36 to Manning every day just like me, but really what are the odds that I would end up stopped directly behind him at that light at least two times each week? And yeah, the woman with the exact same purple Saturn as I'm driving likely makes the same left turn from Cty Rd. 12 where I make a right to head down from whence she came, but what are the odds we'd be passing each other at that intersection at the same time so very often?

I feel some strange, unfounded kinship with the Saturn lady, and the France-hater just makes me roll my eyes and think of Freedom Fries, but there is one car I see regularly that's had me baffled for several months. On his front, rear, and side windows are no less than twelve decals of varying sizes, all featuring the same cryptic symbol. It must be pretty significant to warrant that sort of enthusiastic and repetitive displayage, but apparently I am clueless and sheltered and I have no idea what it means.

Ordinarily I'd turn to my friend Google or Wikipedia for the answer, but until someone manages to invent a mind-reading or picture-scanning version of those tools, I have to ask you, Internets, for some help.

So. Anyone? Who can clue me in? The dude's emblem looks something like this (minus the pink border that I can't figure out how to get my blog template to ignore):

Mystery Symbol

I've basically ruled out toilet seat and Eskimo head on the grounds that, while the symbol bears some resemblance to either, both are ridiculous and implausible explanations. Beyond that, I got nothin'. How about you?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Off with a hitch*

Since a few of you asked about it via e-mail or in the comments (and since I mentioned it often enough that I feel some need for closure and resolution), my friend's wedding was lovely. The weather could have been a bit milder, but when you're planning a fall ceremony on the shore of Lake Superior, you have to know you run the risk of wind and chill. The poor grandmothers of the bride and groom were bundled in so many blankets that I'm not sure they saw any of the event, but those of us in strapless gowns came through just fine.

I don't think I'll make a habit of this photo-posting thing (for many reasons--two very important ones being my embarrassingly tedious dialup connection and my probably foolish desire for mystery of some sort), but if there's ever a time to show my face to the world, it's when I'm rocking the updo and the taffeta** like this.

Team Bridesmaid
(Click for slightly bigger and less jagged. Clearly I don't have the mad skillz with photo resizing.)

I considered garnering guesses as to which member of Team Bridesmaid is me, but more than a few of you have already seen a photo,** so I figure there is no point. I'm in the middle, flanked by four lovely ladies who in no way granted permission to have their faces published on the Internet; therefore don't be too surprised if this post disappears before too long.

And since I'm photodocumenting again, here are a few other assorted shots from the event:

The flowers were gorgeous... (I didn't hear the bride say she wanted to marry her bouquet, but I wouldn't really have blamed her if she had.)


The cake, was, too...


And the resort simply oozed Northwoods charm...


Just some of the many items in the "I Spy" game that was our room. See if you can find the following: a suspended mini-canoe, one of the room's three birch-log table lamps, a pair of tiny snowshoes, tree branch shelf brackets, a paddle, a hardbound copy of The Legal Aspects of Credit. (Apparently books might be at least one area where they skimp.)

Oh, and the toast? I survived. Moreover, I actually got compliments (several, in fact), which means either word spread that I was paralyzed by nerves and people were kindly trying hard to make me feel better or I actually did all right after all. The crowd laughed at things I didn't even think were funny, which was a most welcome surprise indeed. (I'm well aware our friend alcohol likely played at least some part in that, but I'll take any help I can get.)

All in all, it was an excellent weekend and a fine party with wonderful friends. If I have to lose a Singleton girlfriend every now and then to have good times like this, then so be it, I guess.

* I've never understood why people say weddings "went off without a hitch." Isn't getting hitched just what the couple is there to do? Wouldn't no hitch mean no wedding? It confuses me no end, but I should really let it go.

** Not to mention the late-summer tan lines... made only worse by my futile attempt to correct with self-tanner, but just ignore that part, OK?

*** I mean, a photo shot close enough to actually identify me in a lineup; that far-off tractor shot at the fair
doesn't count.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Five reasons I enjoy being single (No, really.)

This may be an inappropriate topic to be pondering on the eve of my best friend's wedding. Or, quite possibly, it's actually an excellent thing for an entirely single girl to be focusing on while she watches someone else tie that knot. Either way, it's what I'm going with today. Five reasons I actually enjoy being on my own.

(Oh. And a note to all you happily coupled types out there? I fully realize there's a valid and advantageous counterpart to every one of these on my list, but that's really not what I want to focus on right now, OK?)

  1. I don't remember the last time I saw a mindless action adventure movie (or a traumatizing horror movie) against my will.

  2. My gift-buying budget is significantly smaller than that of my not-single friends. Moreover, my budget in general is mine and mine alone to discuss. Sure, a second person chipping in for the bills would be nice, but I don'’t have to clear it with anyone else if I want new shoes.

  3. Seriously, no one but me cares what I shave or how often I shave it.

  4. I genuinely like having a good amount of down-time on my own, and I very much value activities with my friends as well. Having no boyfriend to whom to allot any chunk of my time helps guarantee ample time for both of those.

  5. I have only my own family and my own social and work obligations to worry about. I'm not expected to tag along to anyone else's as well.

Besides all of these (and the five to ten others I could easily add to this list), apparently being single is good for my health as well. Who knew? Spinsters everywhere, unite! Yay for the single life.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

What Dreams May Come

I really can't explain what the hell is up with my subconscious these days. I know I said I wasn't going to keep documenting my weird-ass dreams, but I can't help thinking maybe somebody out there has some insight on this absurdity. Amateur dream analysis? Anyone? Here are two more for you.

One: A couple nights ago, I dreamt I was in prison. It was nothing like OZ or Prison Break or anything like that (I’ve actually never seen either of those shows; I’m just guessing for lack of a better reference point). No, it was a reasonably habitable and friendly, no-bars sort of place. There was a common area that looked a whole lot like the church basement where we had school events and sloppy joe dinners when I was a kid, and the whole lock-in thing seemed to be on an honor system more than anything else. I have no idea why I was there, but it seemed to be for some sort of political protest or civil disobedience kind of thing as opposed to a “real” and heinous crime like killing or stealing or whatnot. I actually met a very nice young man there who I seemed to be connecting with quite well, and when I woke up, I immediately felt sad to have lost him. (I surely hope this isn't my brain's way of suggesting I start looking in more unconventional places such as prisons for new boyfriend candidates. I'm really not even close to that desperate right now.) Perhaps strangest of all, though, was the fact that I was in custody (you know you want me to say it: “I’m incarcerated, Lloyd!”), and yet, my biggest (and possibly only) concern was how I was going to send my mortgage payment in from the fake church basement prison. Yes, even in my dreams, I'm an overly responsible and boring dork. Perhaps what my subconscious is telling me in this particular case is that I need to let loose and get out more.

Two: Last night, I dreamt I was visiting my parents at their house in Wisconsin. It was late at night, and I went downstairs for a drink of water, and when I turned on the light, I woke up my infant baby sister--an infant baby sister that I do not have, mind you, and an infant baby sister who was, for some reason, sleeping in a crib in my mother's office off of the kitchen instead of in a proper nursery or bedroom upstairs. She cried for a bit, and then called out clearly, "You've left me alone in here too long! Come hold me!" So I went into the office to pick her tiny self up out of the crib, whereupon we had a meaningful chat in clear and grown-up words that infants generally aren't able to articulate. I asked her if she wanted to go to a movie tomorrow, and she replied, "I'd like that." She then explained how she always felt she didn't get a chance to really know me because I was at college when she was born. I graduated from college nine years ago, so perhaps baby sister had some sort of stunted-growth disorder and maybe that explains the age-inappropriate linguistic ability. Still, I have no idea what to make of this.

In that same dream, I found myself with a need to look up some topic or other, and I went to my parents’ bookshelf for a reference book. The reference book I was looking for (and, of course, unable to find)? Wikipedia. That’s right; I was looking for a bound, printed version of Wikipedia. Again, I am a tremendous nerd, even when I’m asleep. Lord help me.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fair ye well, now

My, my, my. Where did my long weekend go? I am beginning to wonder if perhaps I'm experiencing brief but repeated alien abductions or some such thing, because really, there are frequently large chunks of time these days that I simply can't account for. It started with the ten-minute time warps I seem to hit between my kitchen and my car nearly every damned day as I leave. (Does this happen to anyone else? You're ready to go; you're heading out the door; and then suddenly you're ten minutes late and really can't explain why?) But now the missing chunks of time are getting longer and more frequent. I have no idea what I did all day Saturday, for example. I mean, I mowed my lawn, sure. And I probably knitted a little. But was that all? It seems the case. And before you suggest that I'm blacking out into alcohol-induced comas, I will stop you right there and say I had three Cosmopolitans this weekend, and I'm not such a lightweight as to forget all that happened thereafter. So. Mystery Case Files - Minneapolis. Who wants to take this one?

The missing blocks of time and potential alien abductions probably also have something to do with why I'm entirely unable to believe summer is really already behind us. I'm not even a summer girl, to be honest. I love fall; really I do. But the past week or so, I've been noticing little unexpected flashes of bright color in the midst of otherwise green trees and foliage, and it's catching me off guard like it did the townspeople in the middle scenes of Pleasantville... You know--the part where color starts showing up on cheeks and on apple trees, and everyone sees it as something to be feared rather than a sign of beautiful things to come? I'm trying to adjust my attitude and remember how pretty everything will be in a few weeks; for some reason I'm just reluctant to pack away the capris and tank tops just yet.

I did send summer off with some fine activities over the weekend, however. It started on Friday with the trip to the Fair (the official end of summer in these parts). Saturday some friends and I got in one more night of drinks on an outdoor patio, which was lovely even despite the evening chill that sets in after sunset these days. And finally, yesterday I added another 24 miles to my bike mileage for the year (which basically doubled my grand total for the summer; that's how much I have not used my bike the past four months). I think my attempt to squeeze a bit of summer in at the last minute worked, because this morning, when I stepped out my door and smelled the distinct scent of fall in the air, it actually made me smile. I smiled again when I saw the cute little plaid-skirted private school girl on the corner where she hasn't been for months. There were two plaid skirt girls today, though, and a mom beside them as well. Little sister must be old enough for school this year. Time marches on for all of us, I suppose.

I could continue rambling with no discernible point, but instead I thought you might like an update on how I... er, faired at the Fair. I presented five plans the other day, after all, and perhaps some of you are wondering just how they panned out. Incidentally, I do realize this is a rather belated update on this topic, but uploading photos is painful on dial-up, so I had to wait until today to abuse corporate resources instead.

So then. Anyway. Here are the things I did not do on Friday, despite any plans or intentions to the contrary:

  • Attend the Prairie Home Companion taping. We ended up skipping this for reasons that aren't interesting or important enough to bother detailing. I'm sure Garrison was as awkwardly charming but off-key as usual, but I can't vouch for it in any way.

  • Eat a cheese curd. That's right; not even one. If you live in Wisconsin or Minnesota, you know just how wrong this is, and really I have no good excuse. If you don't live in Wisconsin or Minnesota, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about, but you'll just have to take my word for it that battered and deep-fried cheese is a heavenly treat that is not to be ignored.

  • Eat a corn dog. I decided to act like a Minnesotan this year and finally try a Pronto-Pup instead. It is a banquet on a stick, after all. How can you go wrong with a tag line like that?

    A banquet on a stick

  • Pony up money to see the freak show. (Sorry. Traveling sideshow.) My friends did, however, humor me as I took pictures of the Garbage Pail Kids-like banners hanging proudly in front of the World of Wonders tent.

    World of Wonders

    Unique Monique

    We may not have paid $4.50 to see the real Unique Monique (even the MC seemed dubious about her authenticity; he kept describing her as a woman "who appears not to have a head"--I can only assume law suits and false advertising claims have taken the fun out of his job a bit), but Poobah the fire-eating Pygmy King served up a fine free preview show outside.


  • See the butter head. Frankly, if you've seen one teenage girl carved from butter you've seen them all, I say, so really no great loss there, I think.

  • Try the Hotdish on a Stick. This actually wasn't on my list at all; I just wanted to share the picture. Rumor has it this came with a side of cream of mushroom soup for dipping, which is a nice touch I find hilariously appropriate.

    They'll put anything on a stick to make a buck.

All of that said, here's a list of things I did do at the fair, photodocumented for your enjoyment.

  • Try my first deep-fried candy bar. This photo does not do it justice, but I assure you it was a treat I can whole-heartedly recommend. Yum.

    Deep-fried Milky Way. Mmmmmm.

  • Look at tiny pigs.


  • And tiny ducks.

    Little ducks

  • Get my finger mistaken for a carrot.

    Mmm. Finger carrots.

    (OK, so it didn't really happen like that, but I did say, "Come here; I have a carrot for you!" in order to get Angry Horse to turn and look at me for this shot. He was not amused.)

  • See a calf being born. No, I did not take a picture. You're welcome.

  • Let my inner farmer out for a bit.

    My, what a big tractor you have.

    Just kidding. I have no inner farmer.

  • Stand in line for approximately 75 minutes for a fresh-popped bag from Ye Olde Kettle Korn Purveyors. Oddly, it was actually worth it, I think. Do not underestimate the power of kettle corn.

    Ye olde kettle korn shoppe

  • Ride the giant slide. Again, I have no photo for this, but can I pretend it was enough activity to count as post-binging exercise for the night? Yeah, I thought not. Back to the gym I go. That bridesmaid dress I have to wear this weekend isn't made of lycra, after all...