Sunday, December 31, 2006

My Favorite Passage from Philip Roth & Obsessed with Baumkuchen

"You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again."

from American Pastoral by Philip Roth.

This was the memorable passage for me from American Pastoral - indeed it is one of the most memorable passages I have ever read. I have often thumbed through the book trying to find it so that I could have it as written instead of as a shadowy memory of something I read that resonated with me. Tonight, I was especially interested in finding it for the purpose of posting it here. I thumbed through the book, hoping to find it, as I have several times before. Then, I googled a few words from it along with Philip Roth and PRESTO! there it was. The internet. My very own go-to-gal.

I just felt like posting it.





"Baumkuchen"

In other news, I made a Baumkuchen today. It is a German cake that is traditionally made on a rotating spit onto which the batter is poured on in layers. Since I don't have a spit, I followed a recipe that didn't require one. First, you make the batter, which has ten eggs in it (!) and then you pour a third of a cup into a prepared eight inch springform pan, broil 5 inches from the broiler for about a minute and fifteen seconds and repeat this process about fifteen times. It is sort of time consuming in the same way that risotto is, but it is sort of fun to do it. After the cake has cooled, you glaze it. I sliced it into twelve wedges and glazed the individual wedges for (if I may say so myself) quite an elegant presentation. I will be posting pictures either here or on my recipe blog tomorrow.

The finished product was different than anything I had made before, tasted pretty good and looked impressive. The downside is that now I am obsessed with Baumkuchen. I am planning to make another one tomorrow to experiment with some recipe variations. There goes my post flu skinniness.

I would love to write more (and better) stuff, but I am so tired, I can barely keep my eyes open.

More tomorrow on the first day of 2007.

Time flies when you're breathing.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

More Boots!

Here they are, Loyal Readers...your BloomingtonGirl's newest boots! Aren't they boss? I flipped for them yesterday, didn't buy them and went back today and scooped them up. They were on sale, by the way. Call me a slave to fashion if you must. They are so cozy and comfy and fun to pet. It is like having a puppy right at your ankles. Chris laughed out loud when he saw them, but what does he know?

We went to an IU basketball game tonight. Every time we go, I always have this moment of "I can't believe we moved to Indiana and I actually care about being at a basketball game." We didn't get our own season tickets this year, but we still go to quite a few games. We are friends with a couple who have four seats and they often invite us and in addition, we share the tickets that Chris's group has. The group's tickets are in the second row, almost directly behind the opposing team's coach...an excellent and exciting place to watch a Big Ten Basketball game. The new coach (Sampson) is so much better than the last (Mike Davis). Of course, I missed the Bobby Knight era, which I am sure was very entertaining. He still is a divisive topic in this town. Folks take their basketball here very seriously.

In other news, Jack is feeling much better, though neither he nor I have our appetites fully back. For him, that isn't so good because the poor little guy is so skinny. For me, it isn't such a tragedy.

Well, I am going to sign off and read more Clarissa. I am on page 456! I believe I might finish it before my next birthday. Yahoo! Chris is reading, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and appears to be enjoying it. At least he has laughed out loud a couple of times. Jack is having read to him Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. We are all enjoying that. It makes me wish that I had magical powers. I would conjure up all sorts of new boots and then I would make a spell for world peace and harmony.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Harry Potter & I Think My Mother is Trying to Kill Me

Here is my little guy dressed up in his Harry Potter Costume that he got for Christmas from his godfather, Sirius Black. From Santa, he got Lego Sets, more Lego Sets and only Lego Sets. The sets were either Harry Potter themed or Star Wars themed and Jack hums the appropriate theme song depending upon which kind he is working on. It is one of the little joys of my life.

Jack was really sick since Christmas Eve, though today he was much improved. He had the stomach flu, a nasty head cold with an ear infection and chicken pox all at once. The chicken pox were very mild, since he had been vaccinated, but still it was a ton of germs to fight all at once.

One of my Christmas gifts from my mother this year was Paula Deen Celebrates! by none other than Paula Deen. If you haven't seen her on the Food Network (as I have not) you might not know that apparently one of her ways to make anything better is to simply add a stick of butter, a cup of mayo or a hunk of cream cheese. (She even manages to put cream cheese and mayo in cranberry sauce!) I've read through the cookbook and I can only conclude that my mother is trying to kill me. It contains recipe after recipe of incredibly unhealthy home cookin' (ya'll) and homey little comments about each hip-widening, heart-stopping dish. To be fair, Paula does dabble in vegetables - she includes a recipe for "Green Peas" - but they are canned and doused with a half a stick of butter. Of her "Whipping Cream Grits" she exclaims, "It's hard to make grits better than they already are, but whipping cream and butter does it!" And, did you know that "A little bacon and whipping cream turn cabbage into a gourmet dish"? Hell, ya'll...I didn't know that.

Other notable recipes are for Spinach Salad ("This dressing is so good, you just might want to drink it." Yeech! ) and for Deen's "gooey butter cakes" of which there are "endless varieties" including peanut butter and toffee.

I wasn't able to choose just one favorite recipe from this heart attack collection; it was a toss up between Collard Greens and Ham Hock Pizza (includes both cream cheese and mayo, believe it or not) and (I kid you not) Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding, made with two dozen Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts and a can of sweetened condensed milk. In this concoction, the butter is in the Butter Rum Sauce, which also includes 3 (count 'em 3!) cups of confectioners' sugar.

It is easy to see why this woman is so popular with Americans and I have to admit that a couple of the recipes might come in handy should I undertake a huge eating binge. Miss Paula does appear to be a very nice person based on the abundant commentary in the book. Unfortunately that commentary is liberally sprinkled with the ever annoying "ya'll". (I don't mind if people say it but annoys me to have to read it outside of dialogue. Call me a Yankee. I plead guilty.

Well, that is enough from your own BloomingtonGirl.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Bright Side

The bright side of having the stomach flu over Christmas is that you don't have to deal with that pesky holiday weight gain. The bright side of having the stomach flu over Christmas is that you don't have to make Christmas dinner, because if you have the stomach flu, chances are at least one other member of your family does and the rest are on their way to getting it, so, nobody wants to eat anything anyway. The bright side of having the stomach flu over Christmas is that you have an excuse for your Christmas Cards being dreadfully late.

There are no other bright sides that I can think of. I am still pretty tired from having the flu, so I am going to sign off now. More tomorrow after I have hydrated my brain cells a bit more.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Oy

A very brief post. I go to bed happy tonight in spite of life's little difficulties. First, Betsy - our sixteen month old granddaughter (I know, I know...I am such a young and young looking grandmother) had the stomach flu during her brief and ill fated visit here today. She vomited most of the night and then had the other thing (my maiden delicacy prevents me from actually using the word diarrhea outside of parentheses) all over my kitchen floor. Tiring for the laundress and house keeper (me, that is) but worse for the poor little peanut and her parents, who, had they had their way, would have just relaxed and enjoyed their holiday as they deserved to do. Betsy was so miserable that she kept bringing her mom their coats and shoes and looking imploringly at her as if to say, "Let's get the hell out of this awful place, Mommy." It was sad. The poor thing associates being sick or injured with our house. The second to last time that she was here, she fell down the stairs. After the unfortunate fall, Jack (an eyewitness) reported that Besty didn't fall on her head..."she rolled," he said, " you know, frontbackfrontbackfrontback." Comforting.

The rest of the day was relaxing. Kate and I helped Jack do some Legos and then we went shopping and indulged ourselves utterly in buying some new clothes. It was fun. Having Kate home is like having a fun girlfriend visit.

And now, at 10:45 at night, my husband is trying in earnest to get to sleep because he has to get up at 6AM tomorrow to go to work (!), and he cannot sleep because the next door neighbor's dog is barking like crazy. Said neighbor is out of town and the other neighbor who is supposed to be watching the dog is not home to let her in. It is unpleasant and annoying, even though we do love our neighbors.

In other news, I am tired and have not yet mailed out the xmas cards. But, take heart, loyal readers...I read it aloud to my humor judge in CT and she laughed out loud several times. I hope you all enjoy it when you get it.

Off to lie in bed and listen to Bea the Barkin' Dog do her thing while I try to read Clarissa.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Exhausted

Ho ho ho, loyal readers. Just a very quick note before I print out some more #$&!-ing Christmas Cards and stuff them into envelopes. Please, PLEASE remind me next year that I meant it when I said this year..."I will never do another Christmas Card again... this is the LAST year." Meg says that I say that every year, but I think that this year has been the worst. And, to add insult to injury, it isn't even the best card we have sent out! Well, how could it be...we haven't even sent it out yet. I have no idea what the photo is above. I googled "exhausted Santa" and this is what I got. I liked the photo but I am glad that I am not at that particular party, though he looks like I feel.


In more sprightly news, loyal readers...here are my new rain boots. I couldn't resist them. The picture does NOT do them justice in the least. I am wearing them as I type. They make me completely happy. Well, not completely. I can't be completely happy when I still have those rotten cards to print, fold and send out. Oy.

Off to bed now. Clarissa beckons. I am taking bets on when I will finish the book. Brownies for the winner.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Christmas Card

I worked all day on our Christmas Card only to have my husband read it (without cracking a smile...can you imagine?) and tell me that he was worried that some recipients might thing our theme this year was not in the Christmas Spirit! I immediately called Meg and read it to her and we laughed out loud at my brilliant humor. So there! I am hoping to get the card out tomorrow - Christmas Spirit or not - but I think that deadline might be a bit ambitious. If you are a loyal reader and fear that you are not on the A list to receive a card, e-mail me, or if this link attempt didn't work, leave me a comment to email you.

Well, off to bed to read Clarissa. It is a great book and long enough to carry me into old age.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Help! I'm Talking and I Can't Shut Up!


It's true, loyal readers. I can't seem to shut up lately. I can't tell whether I am just so excited about Christmas or completely anxious about something else. Either way, everyone who encounters me is getting an ear full of my wacky brand of humor and holiday excitement.

Right now, there is nobody here to listen to me yammer on. Jack is asleep and Chris is at work - STILL! I should be finishing the annual Christmas Card, also known as Joni's Albatross, but here I am, yammering on for my loyal readers. Good money says that I will talk in my sleep all night as well. I hope that the dawn brings some much needed relief for me and all those around me. I hope that I wake up feeling the need to simply keep things to myself.

Off to try to finish the card. Next year, I am taking a year off. (Of course, I say that every year and never do.)

Happy Day

This is a picture of Jack and Chris wishing on and breaking the wishbone of a chicken I baked last week. (Poor chicken.) Just liked the picture.

Today is a busy day, loyal readers, but fret not...I always have time for you. I have been typing my little fingers to the bone ordering Christmas presents on line so that they will arrive before the holiday. As I was doing this, I was getting impatient with one particular website because I had to order each gift separately and check out each time so that the gifts would be sent to their respective recipients. I harrumphed and sighed and then realized that I couldn't really complain too much because I was doing marathon shopping from the comfort of my office chair rather than having to stand in line with the rest of the shoppers at the Bloomington Muh.

Anyway, off to lunch with a friend and then to shop for teacher gifts. If time allows, I shall attempt to finish our Christmas card today. More later. I am feeling rather chatty.

PS...billboard of the Hoosier Barber Shop (which often has such-like wisdom on it)

Forbidden Fruits Create Many Jams

Just a little local cultchah for you.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Pom Tini

I began this post last night on my office computer but decided to finish it on my (very) old laptop in bed. The old laptop can't support the software that can support the blogger site so I couldn't finish it. And, today was such a whirlwind of activity, that I am just now sitting down to write at 9:40 PM.

First, the Pom Tini. I tried one on Friday night. I usually am strict about Martini's, drinking exclusively extra-dry, straight-up, vodka martinis with olives. They are strong, but you know what you are getting. They don't go down too easily (most of the time), so it is not so easy to get completely carried away. (I am not saying that I never have made the error of drinking too many of them, but you know what I mean.) A friend of mine wanted to try the Pom Tini and we had an occasion to celebrate (our kids graduated to Yellow Belts in Karate) so we made some. Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup very good vodka, chilled
1/4 cup triple sec (or if you want to get very fancy, Grand Marnier would probably be good)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup pomegranate juice

Shake in a shaker with ice, strain over some fresh pom berries into a festive glass. Drink up and remark how it tastes a bit like Hawaiian Punch, only better and Punchier. YUM.

Today was busy. Jack and I went to see the Cardinal Theatre Production of A Year with Frog and Toad and it was absolutely enchanting. I LOVED it. That group is so professional. I am not exaggerating when I say I felt like I was in NYC. If you live here and are so inclined, don't miss it. Great fun and well done.

This evening, Chris and I went out to dinner at Tallent, my favorite restaurant. We went with our next door neighbors. It was delicious and fun. And now, I am off to bed.

Tomorrow is Chris's birthday! I have to think up a cake for this important event.

More later.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ho Ho Ho

Good Evening, Loyal Readers! Today, I went shopping at the Indiana Premium Outlet Mall and picked up quite a few perfect little Christmas presents for my loved ones. I can't go into detail here, of course, but suffice it to say that I found really great stuff that is sure to please. I am so excited about Christmas this year and I can't wait for the family to be all together. We haven't been all together since last Christmas, believe it or not.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cooking, Blogging, Enjoying Myself

This picture was taken at one of Jack's birthday parties back in September. He is with Phil, Kate's boyfriend, and Kate. We had a nice dinner at Phil's mom's apartment in NY and then Jack was the lucky recipient of Star Wars Lego booty.

We are lucky in our daughters's boyfriend/husband choices. Nice guys, both.

I recently read some of my first blog entries from late 2003 (!) I used to just write whatever I was thinking or doing on any particular day and often included the recipe of what I was cooking. As I said in my last post, I got all nostalgic from reading about that time in my life. I am so glad that I started writing a blog because it is a record of my life and the life of those I love. I initially got started because of my friend Michelle who was the first person to tell me about a blog. Neither of us knew what BLOG stood for when she told me about one that was written by Julie something or other who wrote about preparing one recipe a night from Julia Child's first cookbook for a year in her tiny NYC apartment kitchen. (Julie Something ended up with a big book deal from her blog.) To chronicle our move to Indiana, I decided to start a blog myself. Ironically, Michelle rarely reads my blog ("I only read it when I am desperate for news when we haven't talked in a long time") and I suspect she doesn't think I am a good/entertaining writer, but I am grateful to her for getting me started. Thank you Michelle. She, by the way, is an excellent writer and I wish that she would start her own blog. I would read it every day (so there).

So in the spirit of my old blog, I will blather on about my day. This morning, I was a pampered wife. I dropped Jack at school, went to a soothing Yoga class and then had a massage. It was relaxing and divine and I felt only a bit guilty. Before returning home, I stopped at the butcher to get a bone-in pork shoulder roast. I coated it in a mixture of chopped fresh sage, rosemary and garlic and let it rest in the fridge for a couple of hours. Next, I browned it in butter/olive oil. As I now write, I am braising it in milk. I started the braising step quite a while ago and unfortunately, it taking far longer than I had though it would to finish cooking. So, here I am, blogging and waiting. When the roast is done, I shall serve it with Brussels sprouts and roasted fingerling potatoes. My husband will top his with applesauce, but what can a girl do? That's the way he likes it, uh-huh, uh-huh. (I heard K.C. and the Sunshine Band on the Radio today.)

OOPS!! I boiled it over. Oh well, what are exhaust fans for?

In other news, I am busy planning my Christmas menu and wrapping presents. Jack wants all things Lego from Santa this year so that has been a breeze for the most part. Did I mention that I found the mother of all Lego sites?
Bricklink
Go there to find a clearinghouse of a bazillion international sellers of all things Lego. You can search for any theme, any set, any set of instructions, any part...you name it. Then, you can buy what you want. I ordered several sets from a Mexican seller - GREAT prices - and I got the stuff pronto. Chris wondered if the instructions would be in Spanish but I reminded him that Lego instructions are pictorial, so he didn't have to worry that we might pressure him to translate for us. Phew. Phew for him & phew for us, if you know what I mean.

I just cut the roast in half to find what I suspected to be true...It is SO not close to being done. I think that raw would be the operative word here. I called down to Chris and Jack (in the basement playing Ping-Pong) and told them to come up for a dinner of potatoes, Brussels sprouts and...cottage cheese. I put the roast in the oven to braise at its leisure and accepted the fact that we will have to eat it as a leftover.

The roast not-getting-done-thing happened to me once before, years ago, when I was hosting a dinner party for eight people at our house in Fairfield. I don't know what happened, but dinner wasn't ready until about 11 PM. One couple had to leave at ten and pick up their son from some high school thing and then return for dinner. I don't know why I didn't throw in the towel at about 8:30 and ordered pizza. That is what I would do now. It was a disaster and I was embarrassed.


After "dinner"....

It is 8:40 now and I have just taken a break to order some purses from a nifty little site full of nifty hand made purses. Bolsa Bonita I think that the people receiving the purses will be very happy and that is all I will say in case some of those lucky folks are reading here...

In other news, my ear has cleared and I can hear again. This is delightful.

I am off to bed to read Clarissa...already on page 325 and boy is it heating up. Poor Clarissa...her family wants her to marry someone she detests and she has refused to play ball. So, they locked her up until she complies. Another man, a rogue, is pursuing her and I think that what will happen is that she will run away with him and become ruined. Women had so few options back then.

Tomorrow I am going outlet shopping for no good reason. I would list the things I am planning to get but I can't because some of my readers (I won't say whom in case they are my daughters) might see the list and know what they are getting for Xmas.

Bye for now, loyal readers.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hola

Hola, loyal readers. I was just settling into our wonderful new bed (it is sheer heaven...have I mentioned that?), and opening Clarissa (I am almost to page 300!). I was so happy to be snuggled in bed and I was delighted to take up my book early enough to be able to read several pages before falling asleep.

But, here I am in my office, blogging instead of luxuriating in my bed with my book. Why?

Because my husband cranked up his little Spanish lesson at his computer, which unfortunately is located in our bedroom. He said that he didn't mind if I stayed while he repeated the phrases that the computer-tutor put forth. But, I couldn't concentrate while listening to him try to approximate the Spanish accent, so here I am.

Chris decided to start learning Spanish a couple of months ago and I have been impressed at his stick-to-it-ness despite the sad fact that languages do not come easily to him. He would be the first to admit that, so I am not speaking out of school. Don't get me wrong, I think my husband is one of the smartest people I know. But you either have a gift for learning a new language or you don't. That's just my opinion but since this is my blog, that is all you get here.

I read that learning a new language when you are older helps carve out new pathways in your brain and that may hold off dementia or something like that. I've forgotten where I read it. Maybe if I studied a foreign language, I wouldn't be forgetting such things.

In other news, I had my last writing class for the semester this morning and while I am going to return next semester, I considered not doing it. I just haven't been writing much that seems any good and I am starting to get a bit embarrassed about it. But, whether I produce anything worth reading aloud or not, just being in the company of this group of great women is so enriching that I decided to go back.

Oh, here comes Chris announcing he is done with the lesson. Hooray, I can go to bed now.

More tomorrow after I return from a shopping extravaganza at the Premium Outlet Mall.

Ho Ho Ho.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Homesick

I have my last writing class of the semester tomorrow morning and I am supposed to be writing a six minute piece to read for the group read-around. I have nothing, nada, zero. I can't think of anything to write about that is interesting or funny. I can think of all sorts of important things to write about but I am not a write-about-important things writer. I write about the unimportant things that fill my daily life and try to make them funny.

In the quest to find something funny to read to the group, I went back to my old blog which I started in late 2003. Geez...has it been that long? The first month chronicles the preparation for our move from Fairfield to Bloomington and the next fifteen months is my journal of our transition to the Midwest up until the point when Chris has his open heart surgery. At that point, I started this blog, mainly because I didn't want local people to read what I wrote and a few people had found the site. At that time, I didn't feel comfortable enough with some people here and worried about what they would think. It is nice to be at a point where I no longer care. Plus, this is now my home (wow, that may be true but it was weird to write it) and I have several friends here who (I am happy to be able to say) read my blog. Anyway, I ramble.

I was reading my old posts and was feeling sort of heartsick for Fairfield and our old friends and our old house, pictured above. When we lived in the house, it wasn't quite as nice looking as the picture because the people who bought it from us gave it a face lift and did an addition on the back as well. The picture is from realtor.com because the house is on the market again. The owners unexpectedly had to move to California and had to put it on the market after they did all that work. Serves 'em right for redoing my completely newly redone (and may I say gorgeous) kitchen. The house has been for sale for an age because it is WAY expensive now and the market is soft.

I miss that old house quite a bit. The neighborhood was beautiful - a bit chilly socially - but wonderful to walk in and look at. The house was cozy and right sized. And, even though it was a really tough adjustment for all of us after Marie died, we made it through and managed to form an intact and loving family unit. Maybe that is why I am so nostalgic for the house...it is where I became a mom and where we became a whole family. Wow, your Bloomingtongirl sure is sentimental this evening.

Which is why it is time for me to end the post and go and read about poor Clarissa.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What I've Been Doing

Greetings Loyal Readers! I've been under the weather AND very busy this past week.

These pictures are of boxes I made for a good friend to use as a promotional item for his brilliant CD. My friend, Dylan Connor, is hoping to get a record company contract (or whatever one calls them in this age of CDs, not records.) he is going to send these packages along with his CD and his promotional literature to record companies. Am I a creative genius or what? I used the CD art to cover a paper mache box and then filled the box with Lucky Guy Bakery HoosierMama brownies. But, because I thought the name a bit too hackneyed for the big city record people, I changed it to Triple Chocolate Brownies.

There, I am done showing off my gorgeous creations. I really enjoy doing custom packages like these. It would be a fun business, perhaps, but it would never make any money.

In other news, I have had a raging ear infection for a week now. I am on my second course of horse pill anti-biotics and am completely sick of being deaf in my left ear. It makes one anti-social to have a hearing defect. I imagine that when I am a deaf old lady, I will be quite happy to ignore everyone and sip martinis in a corner. And, if I get really old, I shall take up smoking again. I don't miss smoking a bit, but I always thought that I would enjoy taking it up again in old age. Silly, I know.

I must go now and get stuff done. The Christmas Card looms large over me...the pressure is enormous. Wish me luck.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Who are these dolls made for?

Just a super short post. This is a Jason Wu doll from FAO Schwarz. It is a line of Barbie sized dolls ranging in price from $50 to $400. This one is representative of the attitude of the product.

People buy all sorts of weird stuff.

Friday, December 01, 2006

BloomingtonGirl Decorates

Greetings Loyal Readers! This picture shows a sample of some of my new accent pillows. Aren't they completely boss? My husband gulped a few times and commented on their bright colors but with some encouragement, he soon agreed that they were wonderful.

It isn't all that visible in the background, but the pillow on the slipper chair is new as well and coordinates beautifully with the other two. Trust me, loyal readers...the pictures do not do the reality justice.

It is about a million degrees below zero here today due to the wind chill. Yesterday it was a balmy sixty degrees and then - WHAM - winter came calling. It's about time, but still, it was shocking. I need to add some earmuffs to my Christmas list on line. I shall do that after this post.

Tomorrow night we have courtside tix seats at the IU/Charlotte basketball game and because it is some big sorority rush weekend, I have been unable to get a babysitter!! My husband might have to take a guy friend while I stay home alone, sipping wine and watching a chick-flick. Hmm, wait a minute now, that might not be all bad. Anyway, I've got two more calls out for babysitters and after that, there remain no more options on my list.

Well, loyal readers, it is time for me to retire to my Tempur-Pedic bed with its lush flannel sheets - oh joy!- and Clarissa. I do hope that I finish it before I start getting glaucoma or detached retinas. I am on approximately page 200 of 1700. Eek.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

BloomingtonGirl's Christmas Wish List

As promised in my post from earlier this evening, here it is...my Christmas Wish List.
  1. A good small digital video camera
  2. A new small whisk
  3. Fuzzy socks to wear to bed. (Your Bloomingtongirl is so sexy...)
  4. Slippers...UGHs or similar. Size 7
  5. Gloves!! Not fancy ones but a couple of pairs in fun colors. What colors? Glad you asked. I have a red coat, a black coat, a magenta coat and a maroon coat. Use your imagination. And, by the way, is it a couple of pair or a couple of pairs? Neither sounds right, but you get the idea.
  6. A 12-inch non-stick frying pan, preferably Calphalon or All-Clad.
  7. A large stockpot, NOT non-stick, preferably Calphalon anodized aluminum.
  8. An Apple 13" Mac Book. (My husband keeps suggesting I need a new laptop. Who am I to argue with him? I would actually enjoy having a new one for writing.)
  9. Ear muffs - furry ones?
That does it for now. Certainly, I don't expect to get everything on my list, nor do I need any of it. (Except for the small whisk, which, if I don't get, I shall buy for myself.)


Tempur-Pedic & Christmas Presents

Loyal readers, this is such an exciting day!! Today, we got our new Tempur-Pedic mattress!!! Can you tell how excited I am by all of the exclamation points?(!!) I have wanted a new mattress for quite some time and now, the happy day is here. Chris and I slept on one of these during our last visit to NY and decided that we would get one.

Since the timing of this purchase is decidedly close to Christmas, my husband suggested that the Tempur-Pedic be a Christmas present. Because I often agree to do just about whatever my husband suggests I do, I responded that I would be happy to consider the bed to be his Christmas present from me and I thanked him for saving me the trouble of having to shop for him. We usually don't exchange gifts (more on that below) but I figured he must have made the suggestion because he was planning on getting me a gift this year and didn't want me to feel bad if I didn't get him anything. He is so very thoughtful.

Now, on the subject of presents, I admit it - I love to get them just as much as the next person. In the early days of courtship and marriage, my husband made a pretty big effort to get me gifts for holidays/birthdays. I made an effort as well. Over time, though, we stopped exchanging gifts for the most part, especially at Christmas. This was my idea and I'll tell you why. There were two reasons. The first reason for non-exchange is that my husband doesn't especially enjoy getting presents unless it is stuff he needs (socks, underwear and other exciting objects) because he is a guy who really doesn't want anything. By the way, I admire this quality in him but have no intention of emulating it. The second reason I suggested that we not exchange gifts is because it became (painfully) clear over time that it was a bit of an ordeal for him to figure out what to get me and then to go and get it. Don't get me wrong, loyal readers, my husband has no problem with me having whatever (within reason) I want. He just wants me to pick it out and go out and get it for myself. He honestly cannot ever figure out what I would like to have as a gift. And I don't help matters at all because I have this thing - I do not want to be involved in another person's effort to get me a gift. It takes most of the fun out of getting one. Is this a bit bitchy? Perhaps, but it is pretty much the way I am.

However, this year, I am going to change my ways a bit. I am going to post my Christmas list on this very blog, just in case my husband wants to pick me up a little something in exchange for the nice mattress I got for him for Christmas. I know, he probably has already picked up something special for me, but just in case, I wouldn't want him to be at all put out by having to figure out what I want. He rarely reads my blog (can you believe it?) but in case he does, my little list will be here for his viewing. I might even update it if I think of more things.

Off to bed. Sadly, it won't be on the Tempur-Pedic tonight because it needs to "breathe" for a couple of days. Or, to put it into clearer terms...it needs to rid itself of the new odor before I can sleep on it peacefully. We will be in the guest room tonight.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Draco Malfoy and Miscellaneous Commentary

This is Jack pretending to be Draco Malfoy. He really likes to dress up as Harry potter characters and since he looks most like Draco, he enjoys acting the part of him particularly.
Jack is an interesting little guy.

Yesterday, I took him to a birthday party to which 19 kids were invited. The amazing couple that threw the shindig for their six year-old girl baked and assembled- in advance- gingerbread houses for the kids to decorate. Each family got to decorate one and take it home. Siblings worked together and only children, like Jack, worked by themselves. Bowls of candy were laid out and each "family" was given a plastic bag filled with icing. Kids were instructed (with firm authority by the completely impressive dad of the birthday girl) that the candy was for decorating only and NOT for eating. Miraculously, not one kid ate any candy. The only person who ate some was the dad next to me - a funny and charming fellow originally from Connecticut (no surprise).

It was a mixed experience, going to this party. On one hand, I completely enjoyed the well organized event and savored watching all the kids interact. On the other hand, I was completely put to shame by these walk-on-water parents. Sadly, though, I can't even feel any envy or jealousy over their parenting and kid-party-throwing skills because I really like these people.

For Jack's seventh birthday, I shall prepare by reading Martha Stewart, Mr. Rogers and Miss Manners. That should help. And if all else fails, I shall take the Fairfield County route and do something like hire a magician.

In other news, I just made travel reservations to go to Herkimer to see my parents on the weekend of December 8, my father's 77th birthday. I shall diet with great determination in preparation for this trip which promises to be filled with all variations on my mother's cooking scheme of spaghetti and meatballs. I wonder whether my repertoire will narrow to that one dish as I age. If memory serves- and at age 44 I hope to God it still does- my mom actually did used to cook other things. But, now, every time I come to visit, she asks if I want her to make "sauce". What can I do but say yes?

In other other news, a working mother friend of mine asked me an important question last week.

"What do you do all day?"

She was curious what the mother of an only child (in school all day) did with her time. She had wanted to ask me some time ago, but thought she should wait until she knew me better so that I wouldn't take it the wrong way. She is the mother of two boys, ages 4 and 6 and is also a full-time teacher. She works hard both at work and at home. Her husband works at a demanding job full time and is an artist/writer besides. Her plate is completely full and I admire her a whole lot. (I do try not to compare myself to her very often because nobody likes to feel like a slacker. )

I gave her a verbal outline of my typical week-day but it didn't seem complete. To answer that question for her (and for me) in a thorough way, I decided that it was necessary to keep a written account for an entire week of what I did all day while my husband was at work and my son was at school. I started today. If it is at all interesting, loyal readers, I shall share it right here in this very blog. (Don't hold your breath...I imagine it won't be at all interesting.) I do think that it is a good exercise. It might even prompt me to get a part time job or to do some volunteer work.

Well, that's all I can write for tonight. I am off to bed to read Clarissa. Man, is that a LONG tome.

PS...I have been determined to use every last ounce of the nineteen pound turkey I cooked for Thanksgiving and so far, I have been quite successful. I plan to post the recipes on my recipe blog when I am finished. I feel like such a mighty homemaker.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Brief



Left top: Jack casts a Harry Potter inspired magic spell on the bird before roasting.

Left middle: Wow! A picture of the bird midway through the roasting shows that the spell is indeed working.

Left bottom: Happy guests enjoy delicious pies and wine. Left to right around the table: John Whikehart, Linda Whikehart, Jenny Nobel-Kuchera, my wonderful husband, Peter Nobel-Kuchera, Glee Nobel. Unfortunately, the picture does not show the beautiful and talented chef nor does it show how elegant the table was before the festivities began.)

The party was a success. I had that wonderful "I-gave-a-great-party" afterglow all day on Friday.

I would love to go on and on about it, but because I have been pretty much been solely in Jack's company Friday, Saturday and today (Chris had to work), I have little intelligence left to write anything else. Don't get me wrong, I love my kid. I'm just a little saturated with playing Harry Potter and Star Wars to be able to think like an adult. I know that my loyal readers will forgive their BloomingtonGirl if she signs off without writing more about the holiday. Tomorrow, Jack returns to school and I can resume my normal routine. So, stay tuned.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Things are Looking Up

This is Jack at his piano recital. I wanted to post the picture of him with two fancy little girls at his side, but I didn't want to do that without their moms' permission. So, here is Jack, solo. I can't believe how big he is getting.

Jack and I play simple duets on the piano now. It is much fun for me and somewhat of a chore for him, since he hates to practice. I actually enjoy practicing but don't make enough time to do it. At the recital, there were two kids, ages nine and eleven, who were far better players than I am. Nothing inspires me more to practice! It is refreshing when my old competitive side rears its ugly head. Yes, I always act as if I am not at all competitive, but I am. There, know you know.

I had the very best massage I have ever had in my life today. I made the appointment because, as reported right here in this very blog, I have had an aching back for several days now. I am happy to report that I feel SO much better after having the massage, that I almost cannot believe it. This massage therapist is also a practioner of Thai Massage, which is a stretching thing...sort of like having Yoga done to you. Stretching without the effort. Sign me up, man. But, I am going to wait a few weeks for my back to return completely to normal. For now, I am just happy to be able to stand up without looking like a ninety-year old.

In other news, I received one of the nicest compliments from a friend today. She had a bit of a set-back on a project she is doing and she said that she really needed a laugh so she went to my blog to find one. There have been many times I have devalued my writing because it isn't scholarly in content or in form. I do realize that I am not a really good writer, after all, but I do think from time to time that I have a good wit. It is nice to know that I can make people laugh. After all, what is more fun than that? Many things are as fun but nothing is more fun than a good laugh. I guess this blog has a purpose after all.

I feel happy about that.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Performance Anxiety

Your BloomingtonGirl is having performance anxiety over Thanksgiving Dinner! Used to be that I got to have performance anxiety over something much more fun than dinner, but, alas, loyal readers, times have changed.

I don't know why I make myself such a wreck when I plan to entertain. I didn't used to be this way when we lived in CT. I threw great dinner parties (those loyal readers who attended such, go ahead and comment favorably please) for my dearest friends. Okay, so they might not have been culinarily perfect, but a good time was had by all and nobody left hungry and few left completely sober.


Since we live a gazillion miles from our families and can't travel this year because Chris has to work on Fri/Sat/Sun, we are having friends/aquaintances for Thanksgiving Dinner. There are two couples coming. One couple I know pretty well, the other not so well. There is a third couple that might come. The couples don't know each other, which could be interesting or not so good. Everyone has nice kids and I am planning a kids table, complete with little kid activities so that they are somewhat directed in their play. I have the menu planned and I am letting my guests bring stuff so that I don't make myself crazy. I have all day tomorrow and Wednesday to get things ready. My napkins are already pressed, my tablecloth laundered and I am consulting the Martha Stewart website almost on an hourly basis.

I keep telling myself that it will all work out just fine and be fun, but I am worried that it won't. I realize it is rediculous to worry because first of all, to be invited to someone else's home and NOT have to do the cooking yourself is enough to make it a great day for any guest (unless of course, your hostess and hosts are horrible cooks and terrible entertainers, which I can confidently say we are not). But, still, I worry that all the kids won't get along (and of course they won't...they range in age from three to six) and I worry that some of our guests will not have a good time or that they won't like each other. I worry that the food won't be that great, or will take too long to cook...etc...etc.

Since when did I get so neurotic about throwing a party???

I have no conclusions to draw about this post other than I shall soldier on and hope for the best. What is the worst thing that can happen? Everyone gets food poisoning? Geez, that would be bad, especially when I am a Food Scientist. Oy.

Well, that is all of my ramblings for the day. Tomorrow I shall post my party preparation progress along with my menu.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Is Your Betty Ready?

I would not dream of letting my loyal readers down by not reporting on this important new product. After all, we know how interested BloomingtonGirl has been in the hair "down there". Now, ladies - and men, I suppose - you have another way to beautify your pubes...you can safely dye them the color of your choice! The new product line that makes this possible is called Betty Beauty. Betty has a selection of different colors for your netherhair - Brown Betty, Blond Betty, Auburn Betty, Black Betty and, the color I can't wait to try - Fun Betty!

This innovative product was developed by Nancy Jarecki, who while at a hair salon in Rome, observed patrons leaving with a discreet paper bag after their color treatments. She asked what was in the bag and was told that it was extra color for "the hair down there - so it would match". Inspired by the absolute necessity of such a product in her home market, she rushed to develop a line for the US.

On the Betty website, Jarecki tells about the research she did in the US to determine how very much pubic hair dye was needed here. She tells us that her salon-owner friend said that her clients would use the product and that she would indeed use it herself! She loved the idea of her pubes matching her chestnut head hair and "she confessed" that she desperately needed something to cover the gray hairs she had recently discovered down below. Horrors!


After polling her salon-owner friend, Jarecki asked her gynocologist what percentage of her patients "matched". Jarecki exclaims, "it turned out that almost nobody matched!" Fancy that, loyal readers. A tragedy and a market waiting to happen!

After this penetrating market research, Jarecki figured that "Sophisticated women, who spent time and lots of money getting their hair color just right, had no solution for coloring the hair down there. They were totally overlooking this crucial beauty area." (Crucial beauty area? Or did she mean crucial profit area?) Jarecki added "We even found some blondes who had tried to do it themselves using off-the-shelf products with terrible results!" Apparently one doesn't have to be a natural blonde to be a dumb one. Jarecki concluded that "It was clear that women (and even some men!) were desperate for a product like this." (Desperate? Wow.)

The Betty kits are $20 each and it is recommended that you touch up your downstairs do each time you color your upstairs do. Or you can "Reapply the color anytime you feel it needs a boost." And, if you want to go back to your original color, you just use the Betty kit that most closely matches it. I guess that you can't just let it grow out...that would be neglecting this crucial beauty area and as we know, that just won't do.


Interested readers may go to the website www.bettybeauty.com
and take a look for themselves. You can also order some T-shirts to proclaim the new you:



In the spirit of full disclosure - and you know your BloomingtonGirl loves to fully disclothes, I must inform you that my down do has always matched my up do, except for that brief unfortunate month when I dyed my hair platinum. But, as I age, I am finding that I am not matching quite as well. You see, my up do is graying at a faster rate than my down do. If I continue with my plan not to dye my up do, I will soon need a Gray Betty (or more accurately, a Salt & Pepper Betty) for my down do. This is very discouraging. Will I never escape being a slave to beauty?

I suppose that I could solve the color problem entirely by getting an extreme wax...you know, the removal of every last hair from front to back - the Kojack - if you will. It is a toss-up, loyal readers. One option makes me a slave to hair color once again and the other option might necessitate a labia lift.

I think that I should sleep on it before making a hasty decision. After all, one doesn't want to rush to action when such a crucial beauty area is involved.

Evolution

Don't fret, conservative readers . This picture is not meant to kick off a debate on creationism vs. evolution, though I did lift it from a most interesting site which sells tapes on topics like why the Earth is only 6000 year old. But, that is a topic for another time and place.

When I saw this picture, I thought of my own evolution since Thursday morning, when I was about as upright as the far left fellow. This morning, I feel somewhere between the slightly hunched and the upright apes. Perhaps if I build a little altar to Darwin and pray and genuflect (in a limited way, of course, due to my back), my own evolution will proceed more rapidly. I'll let you know what the results of that endeavor are.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My Latest Love Affair...

Is with a brand of nail enamel. OPI, to be specific. It is just theee best nail enamel EVER. You can't really see the color in the picture but it is called "Oh to be Twenty-Five Again". Isn't that a wonderful name for a nail polish color? My favorite color is "Lincoln Park After Dark", a deep deep purple that appears almost black. But, one can't wear the same color day in, day out, can one? So, I thought I would give this new shade a chance. After all, I want to have equal opportunity nails.

Some of my loyal readers will realize that BloomingtonGirl does not normally wear nail polish and you may be surprised at this change. You may also worry that I am going a bit soft in the head, writing about my feelings for OPI nail enamel. But, then you will remember how I get onto these silly kicks (this time it's painting my nails) and how I have been practically flat on my back for two days (going a bit crazy) and you will forgive my silliness and weirdness.

It is 9:30 PM and Chris is at the IU basketball game with our neighbor. I didn't go because I knew I couldn't stand sitting on the bleachers for two hours. Jack is in bed and the house is quiet - the way I like it. In a few minutes - as soon as my nails dry - I shall shut down my computer, get ready for bed, take a muscle relaxer and tuck myself in with my book. I didn't take the medicine today because it made me so dopey yesterday. The good news is that I seem to be improving just with the ibuprofen.

In other news, I have actually submitted two pieces to two different publications in the last two days!! And, the really great thing about it is that I am not all freaked out about what happens next. I don't expect to get a reply back, much less get published and I think that's the best attitude to have. You will be kept posted, of course.

I submitted a re-write of an earlier piece entitled "The Napkin Note" to one magazine and a re-write of "The Varieties of Beauticious Experience" to Salon.com. In a few weeks I will forget all about them and submit some more stuff to different places. It is kind of fun now that I don't feel all that self criticism and pressure.

In other other news, I actually had to go to the grocery store today - I walked at a snail's pace and didn't buy anything that weighed over a pound - and I was irritated to see that The Salvation Army guy was already ringing away, shooting me the guilt look. And, it isn't even Thanksgiving yet! Geez. Can't they wait until the official Christmas season to start making me feel bad on the way in and on the way out of every store?

Bah humbug...or maybe it's just Back Humbug.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Decrepitude Calls While the Tea Kettle Whistles


I don't know why this is writing in underline style and I can't seem to change it. But, that is the least of my little problems today, loyal readers. The day before yesterday, I worked out and did some yoga stretches afterward. I was surprised at how limber I was and pushed the stretches farther than I had ever before. Looking back, I can see that perhaps it was a mistake. My back got a bit sore that night and continued to get stiffer yesterday. I went to my weekly Yoga class hoping that the stretching would loosen things up (HA!) and took it very easy. Nothing seemed to get worse so I thought that by today, I would be almost ship shape. Wrong. Earlier this morning as I bent down to pick up one of Jack's toys, disaster struck. My lower back seized up and I was condemned to the floor, wondering how I would make it to the phone to call my friend Mary and cancel our lunch date. I crawled from the den to our bedroom - no tiny distance in this McMansion - to get the nearest phone and much to my horror, it wasn't there. (Those cordless phones are such mixed bag, are they not??) I lay on the floor for awhile after several excruciating minutes trying to find a pain free position. Then, the teakettle started screaming from the kitchen. I have a teakettle that has an actual harmonica in the whistle so when it goes off, it sounds like a train is coming. The sounds makes me feel that I must urgently get to the stove and turn it off. It isn't rational - after all if the whistle is still sounding, there is water in the pot, so there is no rush. Even so, that urgent whistle added to my stress as I crawled on my belly to the kitchen. I then decided to hoist myself into my computer chair because it has wheels and use it as a means to roll around the downstairs. Worked like a dream once I got it over the threshhold between my office and the kitchen. I wheeled over to get some muscle relaxers and some anti-inflamatory capsules and here I am. Doped up and de-flamed.

Later:

It is now evening and I actually made it through the day but I am a hurtin' buckeroo. Besides not curing my back, the muscle relaxer makes my mouth dry, makes me feel sort of dopey and makes me want to eat everything. However, it does not make laugh at anything and everything, which is a shame.

My advice, loyal readers is to never pick up after your children. See what happens?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This picture, taken five minutes ago, shows that I still have my sense of humor and that I am still a slave to beauty.

Just thought you might want to know.

Monday, November 13, 2006

What Next?

This is Jack, posing for the built-in camera on my computer. Note the scar and glasses. He thinks he is Harry Potter.

Right now, Jack is in bed, reading aloud to himself. I am listening to him on the monitor from my office, finishing a glass of red wine, thinking (in vain) of things to write and feeling midly relieved to be alone. I feel a bit guilty that I am not watching Bill Maher with my husband, but I just don't have the energy for listening to people rant about their political views, even if it is funny. I don't know what is wrong with me, but I'm in a bit of a funk. Nothing too serious, just an underwhelming sense of BLAH. I've noticed this mood is seasonal since we have lived in Indiana. The late fall and winter here is overwhelmingly gray and I think it affects me slightly. Or, it could just be my midlife crisis. Only, I am too medium in mood to experience it as a crisis.

I was thinking as I was driving to writing class yesterday morning about how life is a series of things that you look forward to getting or achieving. When you are young, they are smaller things - like what Santa will bring, a band concert, the school play, tests, summer vacation, homecoming weekend, the prom, graduation. Then, you look forward to college. Then, getting a job or getting into graduate school. Then, marriage. Then, kids. Then, you give up your career (in my case) and pretty much your whole self to raise the kids. Then, your kids grow up, or grow up enough not to need you 24/7, and there you are. Or, more to the point...here I am. I gave up my career - gladly, I should add - to parent Kate, Meg and Jack at a time when it was imperative that someone was at home. I think that I knew at the time I wouldn't go back. I spent many years completely absorbed in being a mom. But, now the girls are grown and gone and Jack is at school full time. Yes, he is only six, but the dynamic is completely different.

Lately, I find myself thinking, Now what? I had this pipe-dream for awhile that I was going to pursue some kind of writing career but I've come to my senses. I still may submit stuff for publication from time to time, but the fantasy about writing a book or being some sort of success as an author has ended for me. And this, to be quite honest, has left a void. A void that seems to need filling. Filling with ideas and ambitions (or salty snacks such as Doritos, but that's a topic for another time). Unfortunately, I have no ideas or ambitions at the moment.

So, this leaves me living what my friend calls the quiet life. And, most of me is okay with that. But, there is a part of me that nags at me...you should be doing something. Something important or at least something that looks important. What I am doing is keeping house, doing (lots of) laundry, cooking (I made the best vegetarian chili EVER tonight, by the way), taking out the trash, putting polish on my nails, getting my legs waxed, letting my hair grow in gray rather than coloring it, baking brownies - 460 in all - for a benefit for Jack's school, planning Thanksgiving dinner, eating too much, shopping for Lego Star Wars items on Ebay on Santa's behalf and thinking about how to decorate this house if we end up staying here. Oh, and I am reading Clarissa, which is no small task. And, I think about what I should be doing. I contemplate getting a graduate degree. But, in what? I think about getting a job and then I immediately decide against it. I can't think of anything I really want to do.

If these sound like the ramblings of a priveledged woman, it is because they are. That isn't lost on me. And, I might add, I am grateful every single day of my life for this freedom. I am not complaining about my lot in life. I really have nothing to complain about. And, I'm not bored. I just don't know what my next thing is going to be. Or, if I need to have a next thing at all. Maybe one of the gifts of getting older is to be okay with either alternative...having a next thing or not.

I do know this much. My next thing for this evening is to transfer a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer, wash my face and brush my teeth and get into bed and read Clarissa.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I LOVE Mondays

Mondays on which Jack goes to school, that is. Sadly, tomorrow isn't one of those wonderful weekend ending Mondays. Jack does not have school tomorrow, nor did he have it on Friday. That, for those people weak in basic math, adds up to a long, long, LONG four day weekend with my six-year old.

My loyal readers know that I love my son beyond reason. But, let's face it. School starts at age five for a reason...and it isn't because the kids are ready. The MOMs are ready to have a few hours a day in which they don't incessantly hear "MOMMY!" called and in which they are not badgered with requests, demands and complaints large and small. Back in the day, all my mother had to do - and she did it often - was say, "Go outside and play" and that was that until dinner time, when she yelled for us. In we went, from playing with the other kids in our neighborhood, completely unsupervised. Ah, those were the days.

I started this post a couple of hours ago and now am picking it up again. Jack is occupied with his "play date", a cute little girl from his kindergarten class. I am so grateful to have a few moments to myself. They are in the backyard playing. Jack always gets some sort of costume on when a friend comes over. Today, it was a makeshift Harry Potter get up, complete with a red scar drawn in marker (!!) on his forehead, a black cape and a pair of old sunglasses from which he removed the lenses. Oh, yes, and a Nimbus 2000 broom on which to fly and a wand. I wonder what the other moms think when they drop off their own seemingly normal kids.

Play dates are for the most part, wonderful because your child is out of your hair (selfish happiness!) while he is having fun and learning how to interact with a peer (guilt relief!). But, they are also fraught with anxiety for your dear BloomingtonGirl. You see, and I share this in absolute confidence, I am intimidated by kids. Yes, it is true. I am overly worried about whether they are having a good time, worried that they are picking up bad habits from my kid, worried that they might go home and tell their mothers something that would be a tip off to what a clueless mother I am. I don't want Jack to be either the kid who's boring and weird or the kid whom other mom's think is a bad influence because he has too many violent toys (star wars light sabers, lazer guns, swords), too many toys, period and watches inappropriate movies like Star Wars. Oy. Talk about neurotic. I am going to go back to being obsessed with my body fat level the size of my pores. That's much more manageable than worrying about my kid.

Later this afternoon, I have to go and meet with Jack's teachers for our parent teacher conference. Since when did kindergarten necessitate a parent teacher conference? I don't mind, actually, because I really like Jack's teachers and I haven't been out all day. Chris gets out of it because the unlucky guy woke up with some kind of bronchitis relapse and pink eye this morning. Poor guy.

Yikes! I just peeked out the window and saw Jack's little friend holding a garden hose over our charcoal grill, spraying water everywhere. Great. Now her mom will arrive and find her soaked. I guess I'll rethink that campaign for mother of the year I was considering.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

BloomingtonGirl Weighs In

Not on a scale, of course. That would be too scary right now. I am finally weighing in on the election results. Here in my district, Baron Hill - Democrat - beat incumbent, Mike Sodrel, the anti-flag burning, ten-commandments in the courtroom, anti-gay marriage, don't let Hollywood liberals take over our government guy. From the fliers we were bombarded with, I concluded that those were his key issues. Not one sensible word on the war in Iraq, national security, our dangerous dependence on oil, the impending national health care crisis and oh, yes, last but not least, our HUGE deficit. I voted for Hill - no surprise - but it was tough to do it. He initially ran on the completely stupid "I will lower your gas prices" platform, one that I oppose utterly. And, as I mentioned in an earlier post, he returned Kerry's $1000 campaign contribution because of Kerry's unfortunate remarks. The contest was, in my opinion, a choice of the lesser of two asses. I imagine that many other contests in the country were like this. But, I am quite happy that the Dems will control the congress because it's high time to have some checks on this runaway train we call an administration. I just hope that the Democrats do some good and act as a force for some unity. Time will tell and I am watching with interest. I am disgusted with both parties. I think that it is time for the emergence of a third party - a progressive party that believes everything I do. After all, isn't it all about me?

The picture on this post is of my most favorite kind of voting machine. My dad is in charge of the machines in my home town and he is responsible for working on them, making sure they are ship-shape and not tampered with. (He does this with his Democrat counterpart, of course.) We have talked about the change to electronic machines and he has convinced me that these lever machines are the way to go. From what he says, the possibility of them screwing up is almost nil and they really can't be tampered with. They don't need special storage conditions either, like the computerized ones do. We have computer screens in our district and I never feel as if I have really voted. (My mother also works at the elections...she is the Republican person who signs voters in. In addition to feeling as if she is doing her duty for her party and her country, she gets all the great gossip in our hometown and a hundred fifty bucks to boot!)

In non-political news, we went out last night and Ellis, the cute swim instructor from last summer, babysat for Jack. I suppose if we can have great looking young women parading through here babysitting for Jack, it is only fair that we have an occasional yummy looking young man. We went out for Japanese food and then to see The Crucible at IU. I had never read it nor had I seen it. What a timeless play it is.

More later, when I can think of something witty to say.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Do Your Duty

Get out there and vote today, Loyal Readers.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Jack's New Haircut

Just wanted to post a picture of Jack without the mop he has been sporting for months now. I can't help it if he is the most gorgeous kid on Earth.

Chris and I watched part of Reds tonight. I didn't remember how slow moving it was and how very much of a love story the first half is. No matter. I'd pay to watch Warren Beatty read the phone book. What is it about him?

Off to bed to read half a page of Clarissa before I fall asleep.

My Hip New Boots

Are these not the bees' knees? The cat's meow? I first laid eyes on these boots a couple of months back and have thought about buying them since. Yesterday, I marched right over to the store, put them on and claimed them as my own. Yes, I realize that they are not for everyone, but neither am I for that matter. I wore them to the IU basketball game today and I felt like a complete fashion plate, even though I was wearing jeans and an oversized Hoosier T-shirt. Simply put, these boots rock.

It is 4 PM and I am cozy in my office while Jack watches a movie and Chris is at the gym working out. Oops...movie just ended so probably Jack will be looking in on me soon with some request for food, more TV or to play some kind of game he made up that I (or anyone else he might play) can never understand the rules, much less win.

Tomorrow night is my writing group's public read-around in which each woman in the group reads a five minute piece. I think that I will read my post on Hydrotherapy, partly because I think it is funny and partly because I have nothing else to read at present. Perhaps something will inspire me tonight and I will come up with something new. Not likely, though.

Just as I thought...here's Jack....gotta go!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

BloomingtonGirl Thinks about Paint Colors and Politics

Wouldn't you know it? After we decided that we are probably going to stay in this house rather than sell it, we get a call from a realtor who wants to show it. I don't know why I agreed to it...I guess I was thinking that if someone were to offer the right price, we really should sell it for all of the reasons we first put it on the market. The interested couple came yesterday at noon - after I spent the entire morning making the place spotless - and they stayed twice as long as most of the other potential buyers have. Yikes! The rest of the day, I got anxious every time the phone rang, hoping it wasn't an offer.

Fortunately, we heard nothing from them. Our contract with the listing realtor expires on November 18 and it is unlikely we will get any more showings, given the time of year. If we take the house off the market early, we have to sign papers and deal with some hassle. So, we'll just leave it on until the contract expires and let it go at that.

The picture in this post is, of course, our kitchen. Imagine if you will, the white walls being awash in an eye-catching green. Those who imagine it looking bad may not comment here, by the way. I am going to try some different shades, select one and hire the painter to get it done. I shall post the picture when it is finished.

In other matters, your BloomingtonGirl wrote a letter to Baron Hill this morning. I actually sent him Tom Friedman's editorial from the NY Times this week and a little note with my opinion on one of Hill's recent activities. Hill is the Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Mike Sodrel for this district's congressional seat. I can't stand Sodrel but I don't much like Hill, either. This past week, Hill returned a contribution campaign from John Kerry in protest of Kerry's mangled and ill-chosen comments about the troops in Iraq. I was so disgusted that Hill gave into this nonsense rather than just discussing the real issue - the actual war in Iraq - and not what John Kerry said. The sad thing is, whatever Kerry meant, the guy is right-on with what he actually said. Most of the soldiers who are joining our military these days - most not all - are people who are on the low socio-economic rung of the ladder and don't have better options.

Speaking of politics, we have been invited to an Election Night Dinner party to "watch the returns come in". This is a new thing for us, having never been invited to such a party. It is a mixed crowd politically, but all of the people coming are reasonable and can discuss their different viewpoints without going up into flames. So, I am actually looking forward to it. Other than our district's congressional race, I am most interested in the CT races - Lieberman's and Shay's particularly.

Well, I am off to bed. More later on the BloomingtonGirl Station.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I figured it out!



I figured out how to post photos to this new blog format (obviously) so I thought I would post this lovely photo of my brilliant work yesterday. This is the display for my brownies that was shown at Jack's school yesterday.

That's all for now. More exciting changes on this very blog soon!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Settled

We've had two house showings in the past three weeks. It is surprising because we fully expected that we would get no traffic after school started here. The housing market in Bloomington, as I have mentioned before, is very seasonal. In this price range especially, since there is a small group of potential buyers to begin with.

Over the past week, Chris and I have decided that we aren't even interested in selling the place, mostly because we are too lazy to move. And, I guess we have faced the fact that we are REALLY too lazy to build a house, which is what we had thought about doing in the first place. So, since it looks as if we'll be staying here, I decided to get a few things done to the house that I have been thinking of doing, like painting the kitchen, master bath and master bath built-in vanity. The vanity is cherry and sort of masculine and puts me in mind of a country & western bar. I don't know whether I should do a shot of tequilla or brush my teeth at night. Really, the style of the vanity's makes the room cry out for a dart board. (I suppose if it were placed strategically, it would obviate the need for magazines.) But, the vanity is a big piece, taking up an entire wall, and to remove or replace it would be way more money than is practical to spend. So, I thought we could have it professionally painted white and see if that made it look more bathroomy.

The painter came and gave his estimates and he can start in early December. The kitchen, currently white, will be painted green - sort of a startling citrus-ey green. Trust me on this one, loyal readers. It is going to be divine with the white cabinets and black counter tops. In other nesting news, I ordered a new bookshelf, which arrived today from Crate and Barrel. It matches one already in the living room. I rearranged the furniture in the room and realized I needed a second bookshelf to balance the room. I shall put it together tomorrow while I play Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman". I can't operate a power screwdriver without Helen singing that song in the background.

In other news, I have a few pictures I want to post to the blog but I switched over to a new version of the program here on Blogger and I can't figure out how to do it in that format yet. I will attempt to learn it over the weekend.

Well, that is all for now. Off to bed to read that huge novel. I got through a whopping four pages last night. I hope I live long enough to finish it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Brief & Boring Update

Happy Halloween, Loyal Readers! I have been blogging very little as of late and thought I would check in with a little update on my boring little life.

I have been writing quite a bit lately but not for the blog. I have been doing rewrites of my favorite pieces with a view toward submitting to them to a few magazines. I have little hope for their publication, but at some point, I have to try. Keep your fingers crossed for your BloomingtonGirl, anyway. Every little bit helps. (I hope that the Lucky Guy Bakery Brownies I plan to send in with my submissions will help, too.)

In other news, I worked out today and didn't hack up a lung, so I guess that the antibiotics have done their job. They certainly have done their job on my GI track, but that is a topic best not discussed in polite company. Overall, I am finally starting to feel like my old self again. Hooray!

In other other news, our house has not sold yet and I think that Chris and I have sort of given up on the idea. I had the painter come over this week to give an estimate for repainting the kitchen walls from their now staid off white to a "citrus-ey green" and for repainting the master bath. I've decided to begin to act as if we are going to stay in this house. Yeah, it is way too big for us. But, what can we do?

Well, I am off to start reading the longest novel ever written in the English language. We'll see how long that lasts.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

BloomingtonGirl goes to the Spa



Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
For Valentine's Day, my husband bought me a "Half-Day Escape" at ZiZi European Skin Care and Spa here in Bloomington. It was a thoughtful gift - thought of by Kate, that is.

I didn't get around to using my gift until yesterday when I went in for my package consisting of "Hydrotherapy Treatment" (see photo), a full body massage and a facial.

"Hydrotherapy Treatment" appeared to me to be code for "$45 bath with bubbles" and I wasn't all that interested. I thought of exchanging the bath for a pedicure but then remembered my pledge to keep my toenails polish free for the winter to give the poor little things a break. (My husband once told me that my toenails were the kind that needed polish, but I wear socks most of the winter so he needn't suffer from visual distress by gazing upon my sorry toenails with his delicate eyes. But, I digress.)

I decided to go with the package as advertised and have the expensive bubble bath. Well, don't let the picture fool you into thinking that Hydrotherapy is any kind of relaxing experience. No sir. It is a survival test - a fight against hypothermia and drowning.

Zizi lead me into the hydrotherapy room. There was the tub, filled with water, jets not yet bubbling. Zizi told me to get in and I didn't want to act all modest or anything, so I took off my spa robe and climbed into the tub. There I lay, naked, sort of floating in this completely clear still water, looking, I imagined, like some sort of white pasty dumpling bobbing about in a clear broth. I figured that Zizi would get those jets going right away so at least I would have some bubbles to cover the old birthday suit. No such luck. There was some problem with one of the two jet systems for the tub. While Zizi fiddled with the controls, I lay there in the water, starting to get cold. She assured me that when the jets came on it would get warmer and that she had never had a problem...etc...etc. Then, she handed me a washcloth - I think to cover myself with...but where? Which spot? Top or bottom? I didn't know.

Eventually, Zizi gave up on the broken jets and turned on the working ones (these were NOT the ones connected into the heater). Zizi threw in some bath salts - highly therapeutic ones, of course - and told me she would be back in ten or fifteen minutes.

Well, I am here to tell you that it was a real challenge to relax without going under. And if I went under, nobody would have heard me gurgling for help, so loud was the motor on the so called relaxation tub. The bubbles were so forceful that I had to hang on for dear life. Maybe when all the jets are working there is a better balance of the pressure and one can relax without fear. I won't be trying it again to see if that theory is right, though.

The pillow thingy behind my head sort of floated and slid around, so I couldn't really count on it as a stable place on which to lean. Zizi had told me to place my feet upon this bar toward the end of the tub but with one false move, the bar slipped out of the holder and was gone somewhere beneath the wild bubbles. After that, I had to hold on firmly to the side bars or brace my legs against the sides of the tub to stablize my body. Every time I would get into a stable position, something would slip, making it necessary to start over, or a huge splash of water would hit my face and I would have to find the washcloth to wipe it away. It was anything but relaxing. I would say it was more "Outward Bound" than "Canyon Ranch" and I imagine I burned up many calories fighting for my life.

After what seemed like an age, Zizi came in to rescue me. By that time, the water was below body temperature and I was feeling rather chilly. Sadly, she brought me a glass of fresh cold water (to help the detoxification) instead of the brandy I could have used to warm myself up.

Undaunted, however, I went bravely to my next treatment - the full body massage by Andreas. Some of you long time readers might remember a previous post about Andreas. When I was new in Bloomington, I had a facial at ZiZi and treated myself to a foot reflexology massage at the same time. Andreas did the foot rubbing while Zizi "extracted" the crap from my frightfully clogged pores. The foot rubbing was divine. I can't say the same about the extraction of course.

The massage, I am happy to report, was much more relaxing than the undertow contraption. It was a bit of a waste since I haven't been working out much due to this lingering (and lingering and lingering) coughing thing I have had. But, it was a nice thing to have after the tub torture.

After my massage, Zizi gave me a great facial and threw in a free eyebrow wax to make up for the broken jets. She hates unruly eyebrows and must not know about the trend toward bushy ones.

Before I left for home, I splurged on a pricey new line of facial products because, I am ashamed to say, I liked the way they smelled. For years, I have been a strict devotee of drug store facial products after years of wasting money on expensive overpriced stuff. But, I guess all those bubbles addled my brain and there I was writing a check for fragrant fairy dust in fancy jars.

If I start looking suddenly younger as a result of my investment, you'll be the first to know. More likely, my skin will just smell prettier as it ages...