Tuesday, January 27, 2009

moments of timeless pleasure?

"The luxuriously deep flavor and smooth texture of Ghirardelli Premium Chocolate is the secret to pure brownie perfection. Indulge in this ultra rich, moist and chewy brownie, and experience moments of timeless pleasure with Ghirardelli."

And I thought I was just making brownies from a mix...

Monday, January 26, 2009

time for a couple of things

Do you ever hear things coming out of your mouth or see your limbs doing things that you would swear are the clearest indication ever that your mother is inhabiting your body and mind and getting more and more dominant every day? Aye...


you know how when you bring a newborn baby home from the hospital it seems that your two-year-old has suddenly grown into a toddler? Same thing happens when you get a new puppy. All of a sudden, the cats (except for Little Cat Weez) are huge. The miracle of birth, I guess.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Question: What did you do this weekend?

Answer: I spent a lot of time cleaning up around the gardens--the usual tidying as well as wiping off fingerprints and cleaning up after a puppy.

Q: What exactly does cleaning up after a puppy involve?

A: Well, there's the food dish that gets stepped in and tipped over every time there is food in it, and the crumbles of half-chewed food that get dropped out of her mouth whenever she eats, and then there are the newspapers that every now and then she pees on (and once or twice she even pooped on), and then there's the pee and poop that she didn't leave on the newspapers. Oh, and the water that starts in her water bowl but gets spilled all around the bowl when she steps into the bowl or trips over the bowl. And the newspaper bits she shreds because, GOSH, she doesn't want to pee or poop on that paper. SERIOUSLY.

Q: Is there anything good about having that messy puppy around?

A: You're joking, right?

Q: Okay, so what else did you do this weekend?

A: Well, Jack hung up a couple of shelves for me.

Q: Shelves? For more organizing?

A: No, shelves that belonged to my gramma

and Jack's gramma. I used the shelves to display some of my gramma's figurines

and also one that Jack gave me for Christmas that he noticed me eyeing at the antique store.

Q: Anything else?

A: Yes, Stu and Shi and Audrey came over for dinner--chili-cheesedogs and burgers.

Q: Wait a minute. Chili-cheesedogs and burgers? Is that a typical Sunday dinner in the gardens?

A: No, but it was quick and everybody helped fix it and it was enjoyed by all.

Q: Anything else?

A: After dinner, we played a game of Apples to Apples. It was side-splittingly, tear-inducingly funny at times.

Q: Really? What were three of the funniest moments?

A: Stu--when he picked "in a coma" as the most accurate description for "dramatic."

Herschel--when he discussed the use of "eyes" in relation to "flirtatious."

And Audrey--wearing Jack's glasses that I handed to her to entertain her for a few minutes...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

i'm not sure how i feel about this

Jr, son of Jack, (of all trades), drives a car that would probably be considered a luxury car. We got a great deal on it (of course) --bought it used from a former co-worker. Honestly, when we went to see the car, I had no idea what a great deal it was or that it was anything that Jr would ever want to drive. After all, he's a single guy in college, so what would he want with a Toyota-ish sedan?

But throw in leather seats, a sun roof, and a luxury car name, and he was in love at first sight. It's a nice car (even if it did start him thinking there might be a really expensive car in his future), but he loves to drive it, to clean it, to be seen in it. And he takes very good care of it.

Earlier today, Jr noticed that a couple of the lights in the dashboard were burned out and he decided he would do the repair himself. He did what any smart guy does nowadays, he googled the repair or the parts or something like that, and sure enough, he figured out the parts he would need and that he would have to go to the dealership to get them.

Jr is still sort of young though, so after he bought the lights, he asked the dealership guy what he needed to do to install them. The dealership guy said he couldn't tell Jr how to perform the repair. So Jr took a $20 bill out of his wallet and slid it over to the guy--who discreetly slipped the $20 into his pocket and said to Jr, "Well first you do blah, blah, and then you do blah, blah, and then..."

Jr thought to himself that he had been only kidding when he got out the money, but decided that it would be worth it for the info.

And then he came home, spent a bit of time trying to follow the guy's directions (had to go back because the directions didn't work, where the guy, upon spotting Jr, said, "Hey, you're back," and gave Jr additional directions) and after a couple of hours, fixed his own dashboard lights.

On the one hand, he had the guts to attempt the repair, figure out the repair, and complete the repair. On the other hand, he, uh, well, I don't even know what to call that $20 thing.


Friday, January 23, 2009

i will try to stay calm as i type these words

Today, in the office lobby, the opwo said (and this is seriously a direct quote), "Cute jacket!!! That is so CUTE!!!! Where did you get it? Is it a Vera Wang? I'm going to have to get one too!!!!"

And then an hour later, in the hallway, "That jacket is SO CUTE!!! And the color is PERFECT for you!!! It looks so good with your eyes!!!!!!"

And yes, there were CAPS and high quantities of EXCLAMATION MARKS floating about the office. And maybe even some jacket envy flickering in her eyes.

And hey--she was talking to me.

Yep, there is a first for everything. I was so not expecting another exclamation mark from her! !! Somehow, in the past six months or year or whatever it's been since she last commented on my attire, I'd realized that it didn't really matter to me what she thought about my clothes or my hair or my shoes or my style. Because I like doing me up the way I do me up.

Jack, brilliant man that he is, picked out the jacket for me for Christmas.

And well, the opwo was right--it is a cute jacket and a great color for me and my eyes.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

it's been a hard days' night

and she's been working like a dog...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

cute is not a competition

With the new puppy in the gardens, we are all about cute nowadays. Well, cute and a bit of newspaper on the floor and some little red scratches all over our hands and that easily identifiable scent of puppy breath on our clothes and skin.

But there are all kinds of cute. Like the other night, when Breanne's family was preparing to go home after a visit when she climbed up onto me and gave me a full-body-contact hug, arms around my neck, body snuggled close, little voice murmuring, "Gamma, I wub ewe."

And then there's this kind of cute.

Seriously, we are happily drowning in cute here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

you'll never guess what we did last friday

Princess JoJo

Can you even look at these pictures and not want to say, in your best baby talk voice, "Ooh, who's the cutest little puppy? Who is it? You are, yes you are, JoJo."

*That 1st photo is her tail...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

watching the wwf--er, i mean, nba

Two questions:

Dirk Nowitzki--thug or not?

Craig Bollerjack--more annoying to look at or listen to?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

better soon?

Today is the first day in almost 28 years that I walked into the gardens and knew there would be no dog to greet me. No wagging tail. No rubbing fur against my dark pants. No dog breath (or dog pooh breath) in my face. No begging for human food or dog treats. No barking, groaning, or panting.

No dog tonight. She is getting fluids and antibiotics for a couple of days--possibly pancreatitus? Blood tests to confirm tomorrow. The vet said she looked perkier tonight. Let's all keep good thoughts and our fingers crossed.

One other thing--don't believe everything you read on the internet. It will keep you awake at night.

Monday, January 12, 2009

and then

Ever have one of those days where you feel unsettled inside and unable to just settle down and accomplish something. Anything.

Today was that day. A little of this, a little of that, but mostly an almost unbelievable inability to concentrate on one task at a time. No focus in the gardens today.

Sometimes I get easily distracted. Today's thoughts and actions included:

Liver transplant research
Checked my 401k balance
Wondered about my friend, Sheri
Worried about my co-workers--health and security
Thought and worried about my dog--is it time or do we still have more time?
Wondered what I'd do today that would annoy the drummer
Wondered if Jr would be billing me for his latest basement project
More liver transplant research
Cleaned up after the dog after work
Read the State Supreme Court 2007 decisions
Yes, indeedy, all of that was going on in my brain while i was trying to accomplish stuff on the outside of my skull, my personal space as it were. Some of that happened--in spurts-- perhaps there were four spurts of focused effort.

Then, when Jack and I got home, Flash Dance, was on the TV. Which might not be the best ever movie or the best ever girl dancing movie, or even all that great (because it didn't even have John Travolta), and even though we missed the scene where she dances in the water, we did get to see the part where she takes off her bra from under her sweatshirt and where she removes her jacket in the restaurant, both moments that can induce serious focus. Flash Dance is the reason movies were great in the 80s. Big hair, leggins, leg warmers, loosely fitting hoodies, irene cara, 80's music in general. 'What a feeling, I can ham it up, Cuz I'm dancing for my life!" Awesome fun. No focus required.

Maybe, in my newly resolved 2009 mood, I will wake tomorrow morning with a new focus, I will have dreamed about the one focus area for tomorrow, and I will glow with focus, I will wreak of focus, those around me will recognize my new focus and I will be the focus of the focus. And I will accomplish massive quantities of focus all the while humming a song of focus and breathing in my focus.

Or perhaps I'll simply feel unsettled again and will spend the day trying to give myself a chance to understand the settling process while humming music from flash dance.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

formula for a perfect saturday

Morning with my girlfriends at IHOP + Afternoon into evening with the kids and the girlies = Swell day

Extra credit for Breanne:

1. "Boppa, you silly. No, Boppa, you cwazy."

2. In response to my question--"What are those on your cup?"--(about the cartoon fish drawings on her cup), "They fish, Gamma. One, two fish. I yub fish."

3. After she and her mom played with and put away 'Gamma's pincesses,' she hopped off the couch, headed off to find her coat and exclaimed, "I'n goin' potty. Let's go home mom, I go *potty."

*Jessie bought the same set of princesses for a Christmas gift, but Breanne found them before they were wrapped. Jessie and Breanne had been giving some thought and effort to potty training, so Jessie thought the princesses would be a good incentive for potty training success. Because who wouldn't want to use the potty if there were princesses with clothing, shoes, and necklaces involved? As far as I know, the princesses are a real incentive to sit on the potty. And if you have to put them away at Gramma's, you might as well go home to your own princesses. And potty.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

you know who you are

I just want to know who did what to Oscar that causes him--after pushing open the door, entering leisurely, investigating the shower, wrapping himself around my feet, allowing me to stroke his back--to bolt like lightning at the sound of the flushing toilet?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

losing weight

I will never forget the phone call I got from Stu in the summer of 2003 when he said his doctor had called to tell him that he had a liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis that would cause his liver to fail, requiring a liver transplant. Stu told me not to worry though because he wouldn't need the transplant for at least ten years and by then, jeez, he'd be thirty.

To him, at the time, thirty seemed so far away, so old. A lifetime.

When I heard the words, "liver transplant," I was stunned. Speechless. Numb.

Without going into pages of detail, let me just say that the time since 2003 has flown by. Stu is now a college graduate, husband, father, and the financial support of his growing family. He, with Shi by his side, has endured many health-related procedures since 2003.

Yet, they have stayed upbeat.

Today, Stu, Shi and I went to meet the liver transplant team. We met a pharmacist and a GI doc, and in two weeks we'll go back and meet a social worker, talk to the finance people, meet with the surgeons, and learn all about liver transplants.

Today, we learned about Stu's current condition and where he's headed. We learned that a transplant could be as much as three years away, or it could happen sooner if certain complications occur. We learned that after the transplant recovery period, Stu will be able to live a normal, active life.

You might think that it's odd that I can sit here so calmly writing about such serious concerns for my oldest. But today, a huge weight was lifted. Since that phone call in 2003, without realizing it, as his mom, I've been carrying the weight of a liver transplant, wondering how my mankid would survive.

Today, I realized Stu is now being cared for by experts, a team of people who have been doing this transplant thing since 1986, who know what they are doing, who each have a role, and who together, will take care of all of the fears I've had for Stu since that phone call.

I know Stu has a long road ahead. I'm certain there will be hills and valleys and turns we will not see coming.

But now we have a team.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

random stuff = really long post

As you probably know, I am a maker of lists. The lists are supposed to help free up some of the memory space in my brain, kinda like using cds to free up disk space on the compy, but sometimes it works and sometimes, well, sometimes the lists are either combined with other lists or are discarded uncompleted, or, as in the case of the list in the photo below, live on for a long time:

This list has been around either since last Christmas or the Christmas before that or maybe even from one of Cory's birthdays in a May in the last few years. Jack and I put together this list one day when we were talking about projects that needed to be done around the gardens that wouldn't cost anything but some of our time. I wrote the list and stuck it on the fridge with a magnet and it's been there ever since. I know it's been there on the fridge for a while because one of the things to be done is to 'install switch in Cory's amp' and we gave him the amp that needed a new switch a couple of years ago. Anyway, every now and then, I clean off the front of the fridge and check out the list. Today I checked out the list and there were three more things that could be crossed off:

Yep, all that is left on the list is to install that switch, reassemble an old picnic table, install the new door locks that we bought before my gramma died in 2005, and assemble and finish a nightstand that Jr started in shop class in high school before he graduated in 2007.

Yes, we move quickly on our projects...

And speaking of projects, I don't think I've shown off the new cutting board Jack made for my kitchen. He started talking about it when we moved into the gardens in late 2002, but--check it out--it was totally worth the wait:

He made it out of maple and edged it in 'blood wood'. Seriously. It is a beautiful addition to my kitchen, and like I said, worth the wait.

And finally, I include a photo essay on the basement remodel. The beginning was over a year ago, when we opened the crypt. Perhaps I haven't mentioned the crypt. Okay, it wasn't a crypt, just a big rectangular hole in the floor. No bodies were found. Just another curiosity we found in the gardens.

Check out the fireplace, the peach-colored walls, the pine paneling and trim:

here's the crypt:

and the hallway:

This is where Jr and the drummer painted a bullseye on the wall of the old bedroom and threw hatchets for points (because who needs darts when you can throw hatchets?):

Here's the drummer after he knocked down the walls and ceiling of the bedroom and hallway:

Here's all of the crap--I mean, construction debris and stuff--we needed to organize. We discovered all kinds of extra wiring in the ceiling and walls that needed to be cleaned up. Notice there is no fireplace now. (Yet another killer project, knocking out that hulking mass of bricks. So glad we've got men in the gardens.)

More crap...including the pile of 2 x 4's that used to be walls...

and, now, it's an open space, ready for, well, more work

Tricked ya' huh! You thought I was going to end up with a finished basement. Not even. We still have plenty of sheetrock patching and sanding and some plumbing to move and then more sheetrock patching and sanding. Then we can prime and paint. Of course, we still need to install new radiators (after more plumbing) and we'll need a ceiling and lights, and oh jeez about a hundred square yards of carpet.

Yes, we have a few things to finish, but man it feels good to be at this point in a project.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

resolution time again?

I think I'm ready to make some resolutions. I know, last year, I just couldn't get myself to make resolutions. A plan to improve was enough. But this year, I'm ready. I'm stronger.

I've thought about possible areas of improvement. I could elevate
last year's plans to resolutions.

Holy cow, I just read my last year's plans and it was a lot. I did have some pretty good plans, and I think I made progress in most, if not all of the areas, but I'm not sure I'm really ready to, you know, commit to so many resolutions just yet.

As I looked back through my old posts, I realized that
I planned to make caramels last year and never got around to it, and I still haven't made any caramels this year. My candy thermometer is still sitting on the kitchen counter.

Perhaps that could be my 2009 resolution--I resolve to make caramels before 2009 ends.

Uh. While candymaking is probably more significant, requiring more effort, than the year I resolved to wear earrings everyday and ended up wearing the same black and sterling silver posts for months, it's probably not, uh, my best resolution. Although, when I think about my homemade caramels, perhaps it could work...

Okay. I think I've got it now. If you've read my blog for more than a couple of days, you may have noticed there are more than a few areas in my life that give me, a) pain, b) concern, c) insomnia, and d) genuine, uncontrollable heartache. I resolve that even in the face of these situations/events/emotions/happenings/relationships, I will keep hope alive. I probably need to get permission to use those words, but I haven't. I'm not trying to use some catchy slogan as an easy out for resolutions. I'm trying to find a way to remind myself that I have a choice--not always a choice of situations/events/emotions/happenings/relationships, but a choice in my response. And I
resolve to choose to never lose hope for the future. I resolve to choose to adapt in ways that allow me to keep seeing the reality, and also the good, the right, the beauty, the okay.

And for 2009, that will be enough.