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...

Mea Culpa



Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
Loyal readers, I feel I must post an open apology about the book, LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN NATION by Sam Harris that I wrote about on this blog and that I mailed to some friends. As you can see from comments I received ( Comments ) the topic sparked some interesting conversation. That is really what I had intended. I genuinely was interested in hearing what people really thought of the book. I selected a group of people whose opinions I respect, some of faith, others not so much, to send the book to. I didn't send the book to some people whose opinions I also respect because I was certain that the book would be offensive to them, and again, that wasn't my intent. But, even so, I think that there are some who are offended or have taken my mailing in a spirit other than what I intended. And I want to say that I am really sorry that my judgement was clouded by my enthusiasm.

I hope that those offended will accept my apology.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Misc.

It is Wednesday evening at about 8:00 and I am still attempting to stop coughing. This crud sure lasts and lasts. Chris is at work until ten, poor guy. Jack is in bed and I am listening to him on the monitor reading ONE FISH TWO FISH RED FISH BLUE FISH aloud. Very very cute. These cute moments are so important lately to help me remember that Jack can be precious. He has been so nasty to me on and off this week that sometimes it is hard to like him. I suppose this is my payback. I was an awful kid to my mother, though she is gracious enough not to ever admit the truth of it to me. I can understand why she once broke a wooden spoon on me. I talked back constantly. Is there anything worse?

For dinner, I made a Roasted Vegetable Soup from the HAY DAY COUNTRY MARKET COOKBOOK, which is full of fabulous recipes. I am sorry to say that this partiuclar recipe, or perhaps my rendition of it, sorely missed the boat. It smelled terrific but tasted AWFUL. Very bitter. YUK. So, I had a bowl of Crixpix for dinner. Cereal. Food of the Gods.

Speaking of Gods, I just finished a compelling little book by Sam Harris called LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN NATION. I was so interested in hearing what certain friends would say about it that I mailed out six copies today. If you aren't one of the lucky (or unlucky perhaps) six, I suggest that you read it. It won't take even an hour. Whether you agree with Harris in part, completely or not at all, I believe it is a book worth thinking about in this age of US Imperial foreign policy, the wacked out so called Christian Right and Islam extremists.

Well, I am off to watch some mindless TV for a little while (I know, shocking!) and read in bed.

Goodnight from the Heartland, where my congressional representative continues to harp on Gay marriage and flag burning as key issues in the upcoming election. Phew. And here I thought that I should worry about our invasion of Iraq...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Off to School



Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
This is what Jack wore to school last Friday. I don't know what he was supposed to be but he was very keen to be photographed wearing his costume. You can't see it well, but there is also a black cape involved. Fortunately, he removed the swim goggles and other accesories before getting out of the car in the school parking lot.

This is just one of Jack's little creative quirks. Another is the continuing imaginary world of Birdington, about which he wrote several "books". There is Birdington, Bird Island, Bird Land. Sometimes, they go to war over things such as a giant peach cobbler. The main characters in the continuing saga are Bird Bird, Birdy Bird, Bird Bird Birdy Bird, the Ostrich (a bad guy) and the Cardinal (another bad guy). He recently built the "Bird Destroyer" (a shadow vehicle to the Star Wars Imperial Destroyer, I believe) out of legos. It is a strange little world, this Bird world.

We just accept his quirkiness and other kids seem to dig it, so I don't worry all that much about him being a bit out of step sometimes with his peers. What I do worry about is what a rotten mother I can be.

I know, your first thought is to spring to your BloomingtonGirl's defense. BloomingtonGirl? A bad mother? NEVER! You cry. Well, loyal readers, I think that it is time for me to come clean. I have a bit of Mommie Dearest in me and I fear that I am going to @#$! Up my kid.

For instance, I don't allow wire hangers in any closet in the house. Just like Joan Crawford. But, more to the point, I have been working Jack over this week on a part of a song he is learning in piano and the whole time he is crying and pleading with me, telling me he doesn't know it, wasn't taught it, didn't learn it, can't do it. I insist that of course his teacher taught it to him, otherwise she wouldn't have required he practice it and I proceeded to force him to play it, kicking and screaming and feeling like a complete failure. It was a disaster, but it never occured to me that maybe, just maybe, I should give the kid the benefit of the doubt.

Today when we did Jack's piano practice, after the same wailing and gnashing of teeth over the piece, it suddenly occured to me that Jack was absolutely right. The teacher was referring to another phrase in the piece which Jack had learned and could play just fine. I am an idiot.

Jack and I have been fighting a lot lately - how grown-up is this on my part? Fighting with a six-year-old? I've been bickering with him and being just an asshole. There, I said it. And all this bickering leads me to wonder whether I am going to screw him up. Nobody sets out to screw their kids up, but let's face it...most people are screwed up and good money says that mothers had big parts to play.

So, I am adopting a two-pronged approach to this problem. First, I am trying to be a better mother - more patient, less bitchy, more consistently disciplining. And, as a back up, I am researching where we should live when Jack is an adolescent. It should have all the good stuff like excellent schools/low crime...all that. But, just as important, it must have a good number of psychologists from whom Jack can pick to help him repair the damage inflicted by his mother. I'm open to making it a three-pronged approach if any loyal readers wants to pass along a suggestion.

In other news, Chris is working the late shift this week and doesn't get home until ten or eleven. It is lots of work for him but at least he has Friday off. I am going to catch up on my chick flicks this week while he is gone.

Off I go to watch one now...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

More from down under...the weather, that is


flu
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
It has been almost an entire week now since my bones commenced to ache and I began to feel sub human. And I am sorry to report, loyal readers, that the trend has not been upward. Yesterday was misery as the flu god continued to add new and unpleasant symptoms to my list and today was spent mostly in a deep sleep. I was sick enough that we had to cancel poor Jack's sixth birthday party for the second week in a row. So that we didn't have to continue this scheduling/cancelling thing, we wisely bribed him with a large, expensive, much desired Star Wars Lego kit (The Imperial Star Destroyer...ooooh) to get him to agree to just call it a day as far as his party was concerned. It worked. He spent the day happily putting this monstrosity together and whined almost not at all about being deprived of his sixth birthday celebration. Call me a bad mother. I can take it.

I am not the only ailing McGary. My husband has been coughing for two days and Jack seems to be starting a little relapse of his own, so we have renamed ourselves the Phlegm famly. We sound like a consumption ward. So sad. I can't recall ever having all been sick at the same time. I am hopeful, though, loyal readers. As you can see by my revived wit and energy on this blog, I suspect that I might be turning the corner this evening. (Knock on wood.)

We had a house showing yesterday at 6PM of all times. So, Chris and I spiffed the place up between bouts of coughing up our repsective lungs and, in my case, throwing up lunch. It was pretty pathetic and unpleasant, but the house looked great. As usual, it didn't make any difference because the potential buyers were here for only about 20 minutes and we did not get an offer today on the house. The upside is that the place always looks extra nice after a showing and I don't have to use my time this week to do any cleaning at all for the most part.

The funny thing about the process, is that while I am cleaning the house up for the showing, I am saying things like:

This house will never sell.
Nobody will ever buy this stupid house.
Why were we so stupid to buy this house?
I can't believe we ever bought this place.
What were we thinking?

And then, after we return home and it appears that the people were only briefly here and won't be making an offer:

This is a really nice house.
Why wouldn't someone want to buy the place?
It's really pretty, isn't it?
Somebody will buy it.
It will sell.
I can't believe someone hasn't bought it.

I can only shake my head about all this flip-flopping. I am ambivalent about selling our house but I believe that in the long run, even medium run, we will be better off without it. It will be a freedom to live in a smaller place and I don't think that we will regret it.

That's if we can sell it. We just aren't used to it taking so long. The last house we owned sold in a big bidding war in 24 hours, the house before that, in a week. Toto, we ain't in Fairfield County anymore...

In other news, I have been reading the delightful adventures of Lucia and Mapp. In the twenties, E.F. Benson wrote a series of novels about these two odious women and their friends, all petty, rediculous social climbers in 20s small town Britian. They are great books. Well written and amusing and sadly, out of print. I ordered my copy (the whole collection in one volume called MAKE WAY FOR LUCIA) off Amazon. I think that I shall go to bed and read a bit now before sleeping.

I hope to feel much better tomorrow. We'll see.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Night


Alamo
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
Greetings loyal readers! Your Bloomingtongirl has been much under the weather this week with something I can't identify. Sort of like an achy, ambition-robbing flu with chest congestion. The malady seemed to peak right around three this afternoon. I had a fever and I felt as if I would die - not really of course, but you know what I mean. I took some Motrin and I'll be darned if I am not almost cured! It was amazing, really. I went from having every joint in my body ache and having a huge, no HUGE, headache to feeling pretty well in about forty-five minutes! I am waiting to see whether I have truly turned the corner or just need to be taking lots of Motrin. This is fascinating, I know.

So, what is this photo, you wonder? It is a piece of Alamo Potter, which I collect. Sadly, I didn't bid enough for this particular piece on ebay and didn't "win" it, but I have many other similar pieces and even when we sell this house and I liquidate my entire cookie jar collection, I shall keep these pieces for our next abode. Speaking of selling the house, we have a showing tomorrow. I hate having them because you have to whirl around the house and make it look perfect and then you don't get an offer and it all feels like such a waste of time. But, if you don't show it, you can't sell it. I hope that this one is the one.

On Tuesday night, Chris and I went to see "The Birthday Party" by Harold Pinter, whose name I consistently mispronounce as Pintner. I just can't get it right for some reason. Anyway, it was another Bloomington gem...good theatre, good price and five minutes from home. It feels good to be getting back into the swing of doing those kinds of things around here again. It reminds me why I like this town so much. And that helps when I am getting bombarded by insulting stupid fliers from the Indiana State Republican party about critical election issues such as gay marriage and abortion. You already know my opinion about gay marriage and as far as a woman's right to choose...I think that the train has left the station ladies. The court is stacked and it doesn't matter what the views are in congress, so why even bring it up? I think that Roe v. Wade is in trouble. I am not happy about it, but I didn't vote for the asshole who set the judicial stage for it to happen. But, there I go again! I mustn't work up a head of steam so early in my illness recovery. A relapse would be ill advised.

In other news, well, there just isn't any to speak of. So, loyal readers, I won't.

Until next time, anyway.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Best Weekend of the Year


Lotus Fest
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
No kidding. Hands down. The Lotus World Music Festival here in Bloomington is the best weekend of the year. What is the Lotus? Glad you asked, loyal readers. The Lotus is an annual event that brings together different musical groups from all over the world for a series of concerts that take place from Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon. The groups are different every year, for the most part, and they hail from places as far and wide as India, China, Tibet, Sweeden, Norway, Africa, South America, Iraq, the Balkans & right here in the good old US. This year, we saw an unbelievable variety of stuff : Hindustani Slide Guitar (played by one of the best slide guitarists in the world - AMAZING!), British/Nordic folk fusion, Iraqi Maqam (a poetry/music form unique to Iraw that was mesmerizing), to Brazilian dance music, Balkan Urban Beat (a wild dance band) and an accapella four woman group that was incredible. In years past we have seen other amazing stuff. The main part of the music festival is on Fri and Sat nights. You buy a pass for both nights (or just one) for 50 bucks and you move from venue to venue seeing the concerts you want. The venues are all within several blocks of one another and the streets downtown are closed so it is easy to go from one to another. It is a wonderfully festive and happy atmosphere. Truly magical. Words can't do it justice. Believe me, it is worth the trip to Bloomington to experience Lotus.

in other news, I have been sleep deprived for about three weeks now and it is starting to catch up with me. I have been going to bed too late and having to get up too early. (Jack is on the 5:45 AM phase again!) That is probably why I haven't written in what might be a record amount of time for this blog. I have been pretty busy with what feels like lots of busy work and I don't seem to get anything worthwhile done. I also have to confess that I have not found anything too interesting to write about lately and that might be because I have sadly been lacking my normal sense of humor these past couple of weeks.

Worry not, though, loyal readers. Your Bloomingtongirl will be having a nap (!) this afternoon and will soon start bouncing back to her old self. If not, I shall ask for a volunteer to take over this blog in order not to let you all down.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The State and the Union

Two days ago, we got another flier from the Republican Party of Indiana. It was a campaign ad for Mike Sodrel, the Republican incumbent for the Congressional seat in this district. Don't worry, loyal readers. This won't be a rant - mostly because I am too tired and a little because I am starting to think that it is all so hopeless. Along that line, I have been checking out real estate in Vermont, Maine and Canada...but I digress.

Remeber that Sodrel's opponent is Baron Hill. The 8 1/2 " X 11" flier says "Baron Hill has a problem with traditional marriage." Next to this ludicrous statement is a photo of a picture frame showing a bride and groom on their wedding day, only the glass has been shattered. To support the headline statement, we are told that Hill voted against a constitutional ammendment banning same sex marriages. (There was no discussion of Hill voting against a constitutional ammendment abolishing traditional marriage, which might have convinced me that he did indeed have a problem with traditional marriage.)

Then, the subject matter changes to abortion and a few lines paint Hill to be pro-choice - and of course, that is not a good thing as far as these Republicans are concerned. I don't see what this has to do with marriage, but they probably figured that nobody would notice the inconsistency.

Down the page, in larger letters it says, " With Baron Hill, values are negotiable."

On the other side of this flier is a photo close up of a bride and groom's hands clasped. Above this picture is a photo inset of Sodrel with the words "Mike Sodrel Defends Marriage". The text below the picture of the couple's hands reads: "One woman. One man. That's Marriage."

Then this: "That's Mike Sodrel. Straight Talk. Conservative. One of Us." ("One of Us" is in Italics...but I can't do that on my blog.)

Now, I don't care what your position on gay marriage is- though I don't particularly get why anyone is bothered by it. What gets me is the crazy notion that if one is not for denying homosexual people the right to marry, that somehow makes one "against traditional marriage". What does one thing have to do with the other? Nothing. That's what. If two men or women want to get married to each other - if ten million such marriages happened - how would this weaken my marriage? The answer is, not at all. If such unions are against your religious beliefs, well, and I won't mince words here...tough shit. Last time I looked, this wasn't a religious nation. Well, not constitutionally, anyway.

So, here's the thing. If someone -and I mean Mike Sodrel or others like him, those self-proclaimed traditional marriage defenders & supporters- If someone really wants to defend traditional marriage, then that someone should go after the number one destroyer of that sacred institution. Divorce. After all, about half of all marriages are put assunder by divorce. I have never once heard of a traditional marriage breaking up because of someone else's homosexual union. So, I must conclude that divorce is indeed a far greater threat to traditional marriage than gay marriage is.

So, I guess that now that I have brought this to Sodrel's attention - because I am certain that he reads this blog - he will go after that evil institution and make it a campaign issue. Imagine this flier: "Baron Hill is against traditional marriage! He never once tried to make divorce illegal."

But, now that I think about it, that'll never happen. Why? Because at least half of Sodrel's consituents who have been married are now divorced or will be in a matter of time and this just won't sit well with them. Homophobic fear mongering is definitely a better way to get votes. Now, I know those readers who believe that Sodrel is simply showing his unwavering values by honestly defending traditional marriage will think their BloomingtonGirl is being cynical.

You can believe what you like. After all, it's a free country. Unless you are a homosexual who wants to marry the person you love. Then, not so much.

A Quote

A quote from Sam Harris, author of LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN NATION.

"The President of the United States has claimed on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. If he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim any more ludicrous or more offensive."

Think about it.