Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

Today was the day I selected for a removal of the mop head: Before and after.

Michael thought it was great fun. We cut off a load of hair (the hair on the floor looked like enough to assemble an entire small dog) and completely changed the color. He said he hardly ever gets to do something drastic. I'm very happy with it, although it will take a few washings for the highlights to show up well. The base color is actually very close to my original (some might say natural) color, which no one has seen since 1971. Last week Shana kept looking at my head, saying "what is that color?".

Shana came with me as advisor and general cheerleader. She's been waiting impatiently for the mop removal. She took pictures of the work in progress, went out to bring me coffee, and generally made my makeover her entertainment of the morning.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Natasha and The Nun's Smooth Move

After a week of squabbling over career options, Natasha and The Nun thought that at least a quick lunch at home should be an easy thing to agree on. Both noted the popularity of smoothies of all kinds and thought it might be fun to make one to celebrate the unseasonably warm weather they were enjoying this week. Looking through the available foods in the house neither was completely satisfied with the offerings. The Nun strongly preferred to include bananas, but there were none around. She decided on a fresh orange and frozen mixed fruit with soy powder, vanilla soy milk, and organic blueberry pomegranate juice. It’s a combo she’d had before and knew it to be delicious and balanced, as well as vegan.

Natasha had a different kind of smoothie in mind. She favored a one dish meal in a glass which would pay homage to her Russian heritage, preferably including beets, cabbage, and meat. No beets were immediately available, but there were plenty of onions, a can of collard greens and half a cabbage. There was plenty of soup base in several flavors which should provide a suitable liquid ingredient. She was willing to give The Nun some input in the form of a choice between leftover meatloaf and raw chicken as the meat component. Both were implacably passionate about their choices, and there was no way to compromise without making a drink neither one would be willing to consume.
Violence erupted. The Nun proved to be a surprisingly tough opponent (she’d been to see The Wrestler quite recently) and carried the day handily. Natasha might have fared better if she hadn’t tripped over her handbag, but once the fight started the end was never seriously in doubt. The smoothie of choice (for this day, at least) would be fruit.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Piece of Cake

Or rather - the whole cake. It's been several years since I've made a layer cake, but I've made two in the same week - same recipe, too. Deep chocolaty goodness with a fluffy seven minute icing.

Shana's making spaghetti and meatballs with a home made sauce. It'll be a yummy dinner at our house with the Humps. Maybe later I'll be watching the Academy Awards, only to crawl out of my chair afterwards swearing as always NEVER to watch that again. I may set up to wind my skein of Cherry Tree Blueberry Hill lace weight silk while I watch it so I won't just be blowing off a whole evening to alternate boredom and exasperation. Then the yarn will be ready to go. It's definitely next on the queue (I'll alternate with the sock monkey) and I may have decided on the pattern at last. I'm thinking of the lovely Float Stole in this spring's Interweave Knits. It's a lengthwise cast on, which will help to avoid pooling, and a simple enough pattern to use with a richly colored hand paint.

Yesterday we saw Coraline in 3D. Shana and I agreed - it's wonderful, but way too scary for young children even though it's animated. Late this morning we hung out watching Body of Lies. It's a really good movie, but really depressing. In my opinion, Russell Crow is a better actor now than he was when he won the Academy Award, if less of a cutie. I did get the last of the leg repeats and the heel turned on my latest socks. I'm now well into the gusset. I thought I had already taken a picture of the completed yellow eyelet rib socks, but apparently not.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Waiting for a Cabana

This has been a week of reckless expenditure. In preparation for outdoor fun I've added a trailer hitch to my car, purchased a bicycle rack to go on the trailer hitch, and ordered the much longed for Add-a-Cabana. Shana will pay for half of these expenses, but for now money is running out of my checking account like women and children off the Titanic. We're planned our first camping outing of the year for mid-March, but we will probably be cycling before then. My original intent was to build a quickie inside the car bike rack, but we need an outdoor rack anyway so we can have bikes AND camping gear. We are so accustomed to bringing bikes along on our camping trips that I am reluctant to go without them. I can hardly wait to see how packing up goes when a full campsite does not have to fit inside a Ford Focus. I suspect all of the gear may still just fit because Shana's Christmas booty of dutch ovens will join the equipment. As it was Shana brought the dutch oven down in her car last time because we were taking two cars. If we had taken just one car it would not have fit. I saw something else irresistible on TV today (darn Fine Living Network!). They featured a transparent kayak which looked FABULOUS. For kayaking in the ocean it would be the best thing ever. Unfortunately the price tag for this beauty is out of the realm of the possible. Since I have the SUV with a rack on top maybe if I am very patient a second hand kayak will fall into my waiting arms. I'd like to justify the purchase of a beautiful new kayak with my decision to ride Big Blue for at least another year instead of shopping for a new bike, but I must admit that I don't need either one. The decision to stick with Big Blue was based on the fact that there is no pressing reason to replace it. It seems I already have loads of great toys.

I met up with Alex, Jamie & Vivian for lunch Friday. Turns out I am now "Nana". Vivian set off my car alarm playing with my keys and for an encore spit a bite of enchilada back onto her plate - I guess it did not taste anything like what she expected.
Later today Shana and I will be off to see Slumdog Millionaire, and then to the Bass Pro Shop to check out the hiking pants (our Christmas gifts for each other) and I'll be admiring kayaks.

I'm all the way through the yellow eyelet rib socks, and about halfway down the leg on my latest pair of monkey socks. I feel like I'm racing against the clock because I have a Knitpicks order on the way. Shana saw the Mr. Foster sock monkey kit on the back of the most recent catalog and fell in love. She never asks for handknits, so when she asked for this I couldn't say no.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Natasha and The Nun Try Therapy

The Nun was nearly always trying to think of a respectable job for Natasha, although Natasha never asked her to anything of the kind. Still, the urge to do good was strong and as the Nun had few other entertainments it was hard to resist sounding her out about various brainstorms. Natasha rejected out of hand both of the healthy outdoor occupations The Nun initially suggested. She claimed to be "just not into" Cowboy or Shepherd as a career, although she was interested in meeting both cowboys and shepherds. Neither job supplied the chance for interpersonal contact or inventive wardrobe choices that she craved. As they stood around discussing the options in the park a passerby called out (not entirely kindly) that it sounds like they should try a little therapy.

That sparked a whole new discussion. Natasha liked the sound of it. She'd seen therapists on Oprah's show. The Nun questioned whether a person could practice therapy without a license. Natasha pointed out the delay in income that would result from the education and licensing process. A quick review of the Self Help section at the local book store revealed that lots of "experts" either had no credentials, or lied about the ones they did have. "Alternative" seemed to be the key. Who could say if you were doing it wrong if you made the entire theory and practice up yourself? Besides, what would make a person rich and famous faster than a new kind of therapy? And Natasha so wanted to be on Oprah's show.

There were a few hurdles on the way to success in the field. For one thing, Natasha liked the idea of "group therapy". She figured it would be more fun than one on one. Since neither one knew how to attract customers, they decided to have the one client who offered to let them practice on her and a "group" of therapists (both of them). It might just be the "new wrinkle" that would make their fortunes. Then there was some confusion about the meaning of "alternative". At first Natasha thought alternative was an important part of the electrical system of a car. The Nun was pretty sure that could not be it. She imagined that it must mean the same as "alternating". She and Natasha would ply the client with opposite advice and see if that worked. It did not go well. The alternating approach made a pronounced impression on the client, but not at all in the way they had hoped. As Natasha's dreams of an Oprah segment dissolved, the client ran away.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Attack of the Giant Flatbread

Among other assorted entertaining snack foods, Shana treated me to a package of giant Swedish flatbread. Looks like a mill wheel!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Old Friends, Bookends

I'm not always sure what the dogs are doing when I'm not looking at them, but sleeping is always a fair bet. Roxy and Skippy are buddies. Neither one is young anymore, so a lot of their time is spent companionably sleeping. Skippy always comes over when Aunt Rita visits, but we see him on other occasions, too. When the Hump children come up to visit from Texas they usually bring their big, much younger and livelier dogs. Skippy does not enjoy their company, and often spends the time with us instead. This weekend Inace was here visiting with her siblings and staying with Rita while Nancy and Larry were in Texas. The change proved to be too much for Skippy. The first night she was there he howled all night. Nobody was happy with that, so he came to spend the rest of the weekend with us.

Later in the weekend Aunt Rita came over to make valentine cookies with me - a messy but entertaining activity.

I had hoped to have breakfast with Alex, Jamie, and Vivian this morning. I am lucky enough to have Presidents' Day off, and thought it might be fun to take advantage of the free time. Sadly, although we agreed to have breakfast today, no one answered the phone at their place, even though we had discussed our plans days before and I called 412 times. They don't have an answering machine and I know they turn the ringer off when they don't want to be bothered. Instead of the nice brunch I had planned I had to satisfy myself flaming him with an email about people who are too rude to answer the phone when they know someone is calling to give them a treat (which he will not answer) and a short telephone discussion much later with Alex about what I considered to be minimum standards of how to treat his mother. Much more to be said about this topic, but maybe not today. I'm angry, and unlikely to be reasonable at this point.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Introducing Natasha and The Nun

Natasha and the Nun met on a street corner. The Nun was passing out holy cards and scapulars, which rumor had it could win her bonus points and nice prizes in the hereafter. Natasha was just passing out. Natasha figured that a scapular would just be one more article of clothing to worry about. She'd had enough trouble already continually losing her shoes on the side of the road. It was cutting into her profits as it was and even though she would not have actually paid for the scapular, she'd still feel like she had to go out looking for it when it came up missing. "Time is money" she thought - not for the first time.

The Nun was disappointed, as usual. She had rather assumed that Natasha would be understanding of the frailties of others. Earlier in The Nun's career she had made the foolish error of trying to cut off her nose to spite her face. She'd only met with partial success, but even a little bit of nose missing made a poor impression on the heathens, who were unaccountably distressed by the outward appearance of people approaching them on the street. Most Catholics seemed to assume leprosy had caused the missing bit to fall off. This was both better and worse. It did emphasize the bond of a shared education where leprosy was a much more common topic of conversation than it appeared to be among Protestants, but people did tend to assume that leprosy was in fact much more contagious than it actually is. The Nun felt that it was an extra and undesserved burden to have to explain this when she didn't even have the disease, but good manners and training made her keep explaining.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It Might As Well Be Spring

Oklahoma had its first tornado outbreak of the season today. It's only February. Our usual tornado season runs from March to June, with a lesser season from mid September though mid October, but they can happen at any time. We were expecting some thunderstorms today, and I was all ready to see some small hail, and probably some wind - a 30 mph wind is not an unusual thing here in any season. It's not pleasant, but nothing remarkable. Instead we got golf ball to baseball sized hail and tornadoes. I noticed that it was clouding up, but I was thinking of other things and generally the severe weather starts at the warmest part of the day. That usually gets storms into our area between 4 and 5:00. They usually peter out just after dark. Today they started at 3:30. The first sign of severe weather I had was tornado sirens. Down the stairs we went to the first floor inside hall which serves as our tornado shelter. Since we have no basement the building was constructed with this need in mind. After a few minutes I decided to take a peek outside, and to see what was happening on TV. Our storm coverage here in Oklahoma is always excellent. With a National Weather Service facility here in the metropolitan area and all of the local stations competing against each other for the best & most advanced system we get great information. Every school child can tell you what a "hook echo" or "shear marker" is. You can decide for yourself whether it's comforting or alarming to have an ETA for when the tornado will arrive at your home. Right now it's 8:00 pm and there are still big tornadoes on the ground. I hope this is not an example of what our storm season will look like this year.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Office Decor in Hard Times

Shana has changed jobs recently. Until this month she's been working in a residential mental health facility with children, but recently she transferred to group therapy with adults. It was time for a change, and this opportunity came along at just the right time. As a bonus it's even closer to home. This weekend she had access to her office, and it was time to decorate. Aunt Rita and I went up there with her today to see it and help her fix up her space.

First we moved all the small items out and cleaned everything up. Then we hauled the desk and bookcase around to an experimental position. The office is not very big and we wanted it to be as functional as possible with as few pieces of furniture as possible. We hung pictures, arranged her books and accessories, and tried out the looks and function of the room from both sides of the desk. The ergonomic people will be in next week to be sure her setup is ergonomically appropriate. Then off we went to select some plants. Because Shana's last job was in residential mental health, she was not allowed to have live plants in her office. She did have an office with a courtyard view of a green space, but no plants of her own choosing. Her new office has deep window sills and a southern exposure, so we installed several nice plants to liven up the space. It look really nice, and she's quite happy with it.

On a trip to Edmond this evening to deliver a dinner to Samantha (part of her birthday gift from Shana) I noticed something too hilariously weird and strange not to stop for a picture. Right around the corner from Sam out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw what was unmistakeably a bunch of classical gods and goddesses gathered around a trash bin. I wanted to stop but I was already late because I'd gotten turned around in a construction area on the way. What I thought I'd seen seemed unlikely but too good to pass up. I made plans to drive past that corner on my way home to get a better look. It turned out to be true, and even better than I had thought from the street. I parked just past the house and slipped up the driveway for a better look and a picture. Apparently the current economic times are so hard that the very gods are going in for dumpster diving!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Poker and Pancakes

This weekend has seen lots of activity. Saturday night Shana and I attended a Shounapalooza Poker Night. FD hosted it over at Flamingo, which was the first time I saw the house since we moved out. It looks nice, but it was kind of startling, because once again it looks completely different. The Humphreys kids came up from Dallas to attend, and we had a great potluck. It was all country dishes, and Shana pointed out on the way home that every dish except desert featured pork. I think everyone had a good time, and I would not be surprised to see a repetition of the event in the future. Next time we will have a Euchre table, as some of us are really bad poker players - especially me. I didn't even try to play. Instead I drove everyone mad taking pictures (as usual).

Sunday was Samantha's birthday. We decided on a Sunday Brunch at the local IHop with her dad, since she was already planning to have brunch with him to celebrate their birthdays. Alex surprised her by coming with Jamie and Vivian. Sam thought he was blowing off her birthday until she walked in and saw Vivian. It was all-you-can-eat pancakes with our entrees. The restaurant was busy enough that our waitress took a really long time to get our food to us, but not so busy that we could not sit for two hours visiting. Since we were planning to hang out for a while anyway we didn't mind much that it took a long time for her to get tous. Everyone was ready to pop by the time we left, and I took half of my giant omelet home to have for lunch tomorrow. We had a very good time and a good visit. I think the Birthday Girl enjoyed her party.

On the way home I stopped at the beauty supply to pick up a new Yellowbird hair dryer. Shana and I each had one, but both have died and the last month has seen us very dissatisfied and using an inferior dryer. The Yellowbird is ugly and loud, with an obnoxious color and an old-school appearance like a relic from the 70's but it's the fastest and most powerful dryer I have ever had. It was so worth the special trip to pick one up.

I've got two pair of socks on the needles. One is a pair of yellow eyelet rib socks that are more than half finished, and the other is another pair of monkey socks past the heel on the first sock. I think that this afternoon will see me holed up in my craft room relaxing by knitting and watching movies. Alternatively, I have a beginner's book on digital photography to read with an accompanying DVD for the conceptually impaired. Now that I have a pretty good camera it's probably time to get a handle on taking better pictures. I can already tell the difference in the quality of my pictures even though I am definitely not getting the best from the camera.
As always, more pictures are loaded up on my Flickr Gallery. Follow the link on my sidebar.