Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Cause Worth Considering

I don't normally preach about social issues. This won't take long, and if you don't care to hear about the problems of others in the world and how you can help, fine. Skip to the next post. Given my track record, the next post might be in 8 years, but do what suits you, eh?

As you're getting ready for whatever holiday you celebrate or don't celebrate this winter, I'm asking you to consider, for a moment, what you have in the way of family, friends, enough food to eat, someone to share your laughter and tears with, enough money to pay the basic bills, etc. Most of us have enough. Maybe not a lot, but enough. Now consider the thousands of children in the U.S. alone who are in foster care, parental rights already terminated, who may have a roof over their heads now, but no permanent family to love them or give them a future. Yes, foster families take care of the basic needs temporarily, but when no permanent family is found, these children are moved from home to home, never sure who will tuck them in at night or who will be the reassuring voice on the other end of the phone when they're old enough to strike out on their own.

A lot of people think they don't have what it takes to adopt. I say there are more people who could. Sure, these kids come with baggage. Don't we all? They need love. They need a permanent bond. I'm the first to admit that I don't have all the money in the world. I do, however, have enough love to share, a stable home, enough room at my table to set an extra place, enough space for one more bed. I can make a few sacrifices if it means that a child won't grow up wondering why they don't have a mom or dad or both like everyone else.

Financial concerns about adoption put off a lot of people, too. Yes, domestic adoption of infants is expensive. Yes, it's pricey to travel to China or Russia or Guatemala to adopt a baby. Do you know what it costs to adopt a waiting child from your state's child welfare agency? In mine, the only cost is the attorney fee to finalize the adoption, and grant money is available to cover that expense if you apply. Wow.

I don't want you to think that I take this adoption thing lightly. It's not for everyone. You need to be ready to handle emotional issues, and you have to have the means to provide the basics - food, clothing, shelter. And you need time to bond with a child. It won't be sunshine and roses, but no one ever promised that parenting would be, right?

All I'm saying is think about it. Really think about it. Look into it. While we're wrapping gifts and making holiday plans to hang with friends and eat pie with family, there are thousands of little voices (and some not-so-little voices) wishing that they just had a family of their own to love them this Christmas. They really aren't asking for that much. They don't care if you're wealthy. They don't care if you're single or married. They don't care if you're young or old. If you've got some love and patience to spare, you could be just what some child is hoping for this year.

Whew! Finally.

I'm terribly sorry to have kept you waiting for so long. Hey! Wake up! I know you want to know about this fabulous news of my incredibly interesting life. I often wondered if I'd *ever* get to say this, but we moved into our new house. About a month ago, actually. I'm sitting here in my nice, warm living room, gazing lovingly at my Christmas tree with pretty, pretty lights on it. For the last 3 Christmases, we didn't have room for the big tree, you know. Things are going pretty smoothly now, and we should close on our construction loan soon. I've been cooking up all kinds of wonderful things in my spacious kitchen and taking luxurious baths in my new, giant jetted tub. Ahhhh. Home sweet home. I would take a picture to share, as I promised Robin, but all six of my nieces and nephews were here for the last two days, so there's a toy explosion happening all over the house, and my nephew let the dog in this afternoon just as the snow was good and melty so there are hound-sized muddy footprints all over my beautiful, cream-colored carpets. Then, my niece let a cat in for good measure, so there are kitty-prints winding around the doggy variety. My living room looks like some kind of inter-species animal dance studio. Maybe I should take a pic of that, because after all of my work to keep these carpets clean, it's really sort of funny that it all came down to one afternoon with the little ones.

Christmas is coming, and I'm seriously the best wife in all the world because I bought my husband a pool table for our soon-to-be-finished basement rec room. Last year I got him a snazzy electronic dartboard, so the rec room should be fairly entertaining when it's done. Yay! Since many of our early dates were spent playing pool in smoky dive bars near campus, I'm looking forward to challenging my sweetie to a game and remembering the wanton days of our youth. Ha! How old do I sound now? Let me take out my dentures and play some pool, Grandpa. I'm 28. Sheesh.

My daughter wants a horse for Christmas. Specifically, she wants a "water-poofing horse." We don't know what that means, and she can't tell us. Not that she's getting a live horse of any variety this holiday season, but I'd sure like to know what "water-poofing" is and how it relates to the equine world.

I've lost 40 pounds now, and I'm inching my way closer to what I weighed when I got married. My holiday treat for myself? Wardrobe additions, of course. I have a closet the size of Rhode Island now. It must be filled. I recently bought a very foxy pair of black leather boots - mid-calf high with skinny heels. I love these boots. Other women admire them but ask how I can walk in them. Clearly they don't understand that sometimes, for the sake of looking and feeling really sexy, a little foot pain is a small sacrifice. I'm thinking that I need to revisit my stance on footwear. Previously, I decided that I would curb my shoe shopping because A) I don't really go anywhere exciting anymore, and B) No one here cares if my shoes are Manolo Blahnik or Walmart Special. I'm admitting it now, though. I love shoes. I see a shopping trip in my future, and I think pretty soon the people of my small hamlet will be exposed to loftier foot fashion once again.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

It's OK! I'm Still Alive!

Yeah, I know you were worried in my absense. You checked my blog every day, didn't you? And if you didn't, shame on you, because I could have been in serious trouble. And who would have rescued me all the way out here in the wilderness? Not you if you weren't checking in here to see if I was gone. I'm disappointed.

So, I'm a little ashamed that I've neglected my blog. I'm not sure I can recap the last 5 months or so in any form that you'd want to read, so I'll hit the highlights, or lowlights as they may be called.

1. No, we still haven't moved into the house of hugenormous proportions. OK, it's not that big, but it is five and a half times bigger than the shack of impossibly small proportions where we currently reside. And I used a calculator for that computation, in case you know me well enough to giggle when I've committed math. Anyway, after waiting 3 months for the basement to be poured, and waiting for the buckets of rain to dry, and waiting for the house to be liveable, we are now waiting for the utilities dude to hook up the water/sewer/gas connections. The electricity works, so Maya is no longer flipping light switches in vain. To be more specific, we are waiting now for out water heater to be installed. Apparently, there is something so miraculous about a water heater that it holds up the entire rest of the utilities system. The toilets can't even be installed. You may be wondering, as I am, what the toilets have to do with the hot water tank. No answer on that just yet, but suffice it to say that after 7 week (yes! Seven!) of waiting on this stupid pipes/waterheater/toilets/faucets nonsense to be resolved, I'm fully ready to become known as the county bitch, because I don't think people should have to suffer poor customer service just because it's a small town. Oh, I was going to give you the brief version, wasn't I?

2. I had a birthday recently. It was kind of a crappy day. No one really remembered except my mom. I even got an email from a friend on my birthday, asking me to participate in a big birthday surprise for another friend, whose birthday is upcoming. OK, that actually did make me laugh a little, because I'm nothing if not a giggler at irony. That is irony, right? I get confused after Alanis Morrisette's whole irony misuse thing. I didn't have a black fly in my chardonnay, so I guess I'm good there.

3. I've lost 30 pounds or so since May. I think I've mostly seethed it off, really. All of this pent-up rage over the house situation must have some positive metabolic effects. See, while I'm calling the utility contractor a lying manwhore sonofabitch in my head, I'm burning calories! Whee! If you see me on the street and I look like I'm concentrating really hard, don't disturb me. It's like my own personal Gold's Gym of snarkiness and hatery. Regardless of whether it's the anger or the countless hours I've devoted to my elliptical machine and the impossible bendiness of Winsor pilates, I'm lookin' pretty damn good these days. And these? Are pre-pregnancy jeans. Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about.

4. Coffee. www.intelligentsiacoffee.com. Buy yourself some Black Cat NOW! My day is no longer complete without a ginormous mug of Black Cat. BobQ is a coffee god.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Delicious Catty Goodness

OK, I'll admit it. Though I often hide behind a shy and proper alter ego, the true HC is one catty bitch. This won't come as a surprise to those who know me best, of course. My earliest meow moments were shared with my best friend J. We've known each other since 9th grade, and when it comes to the fashion faux pas of our high school and college classmates, we have looooong memories. To the boy named Kelly who wore the Z. Cav balloon pants well into the mid-1990s, I want you to know that you've provided many hours of giggles, and for that , I want to extend a hearty thanks to you and your fabulously huge pants.

Naturally, we show little mercy towards one another, either. Mostly we laugh about it, but I think J may still harbor a touch of resentment for the time I told her that her new brown lipstick was perfect if she wanted to look like she just kissed a turd. And truthfully, it stings a bit that she still brings up the Perm Disaster of 1998 and asks if I still run from the perm smell near the mall salons. Yes. Yes, I do run. And my perfectly straight hair looks gorgeous fanning out behind me as I seek solace in Nine West.

These days, I have to fulfill my snark cravings online or by phone, as my mostly Amish neighbors don't seem to share my love for all things bitchy. Or maybe they do and they're cracking on my Old Navy yoga pants in German. I hope not, because where could I go with that? Return fire with a dig about the apron being so last season? Besides, which is the bigger sin - yoga pants or bloomers?

One of my favorite ways to get a catty chat fix is checking in with one of the many celeb-mocking blogs. I have a soft spot in my cold, cold heart for Snarkywood, because I've known contributor Martha through Delphi forums for a few years now. Not only is she wicked funny, she's teamed up with two others who share the love of verbal celebrity smackdowns, and the result is extraordinary. If I could snark with these women all day, I think I'd die happy. If you're ever in need of a little pick-me-up, I highly recommend the Snarkywood piece on Donatella Versace, in the March 05 archive. If you can look at Donatella's smooshy collagen lips, incredibly tight and not at all flattering wardrobe and bleary but happy heroin eyes without laughing, there is no help to be had for you.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Back, and Badder Than Ever

OK, don't know about that last part, but I am back. You may remember me. The one who hasn't blogged in about 107 years? Yeah, that's me. Time flies when you ignore your blog, apparently.

I'd like to start off with a plea to the powers of the universe. Please stop the rain. Just for now. The crops have plenty for the moment, and dry weather would be good 'cause mama needs a new basement. The rain may fall again in August after the irrigation lake is pumped down and my husband is freaking about losing 900 acres of soybeans (and after the new basement is cured!). Thanks.

I was talking with some friends today about what life would be like if you were a phone sex operator. I'm told I have the voice for it, but alas, I'm a prude. Couldn't do it. Probably would laugh and ruin the moment. I guess some guys find laughter sexy, in which case I'm like Bridgitte Bardot times a hundred, but I digress.... If you were a phone sex operator, it would probably be really hard to find people that you could talk to about your work. And you know that phone sex operators have some seriously funny, and nasty, stories to tell about work. How could you keep silent? On the flip side, though, picture Thanksgiving dinner, the family gathered round the table, your cousin Tom telling hilarious stories about his shenanigans in the accounting office. You decide to share a work story of your own. "So, the other day at work, I was talking to this guy, and I said 'Oooh, yeah, baby. I like that. Spank me again, you bad boy.' And then the guy yells 'chocolate pie!' And I was all, like, what?"

Also, would it be hard to remember to answer the phone normally when you weren't working? You know how if you work at a place where you have to answer the phone with the business name, after a while it's hard not to do that at home, too? What if you're on the city bus and your cell phone rings, and you answer, "Hi, this is Cindy, I'm hot, horny and totally na-ked." Your dad, on the other end of the line, would be totally freaking out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


A few weeks ago, we decided to burn an old granary on our homesite. It was falling down and we needed to remove all of the old buildings before we can finish our occupancy permits anyway. So we lit it up. The only problem was that the wind shifted and caught the old barn on fire. Granted, the barn needed to go, too, and we were mostly done cleaning it out for demolition, but we definitely weren't planning on burning it that night. My sister-in-law and I watched as one single ember from the granary floated up high in the night air and drifted lazily over to the barn roof. The old dry shingle didn't put up much resistance, and soon the roof was ablaze. I was in charge of making sure the three toddlers on the scene stayed away from the fire, so I stood back and panicked as my husband and others ran in and out of the burning barn rescuing the few final items that they wanted to keep. The fire was pretty impressive, as you can see from the picture.

Seeing the old barn go was sad, even though it needed to happen. It was built in the early 1900s, and my husband played in and around it as a child. He probably sulked in it as a teen. My daughter and nephews found a huge number of little green plastic army guys in there during the cleanup process. Some were stuffed in knotholes and under stall partitions, and quite a few were still lined up near the hayloft rail, where my husband must have lined them up for battle 20 years ago.

Thanks to the fires, and a weekend of cutting trees, the home site looks a lot different now. I spent the weekend hauling tree limbs after my husband cut the trees down. I swear, trees grow extra limbs during the felling process. I hauled about 850 million tons of tree limbs and stacked them in artistic burn pile formations. By the end of the day I was exhausted and pissed at the trees of the world for having so damn many branches. One tree must have heard the curses I was muttering under my breath because it managed to smack me in the ass as I tossed it onto the burn pile. Then, as I kicked it and cursed at it, this time not under my breath, it landed a sucker punch on my head. Stupid tree. I'm lighting that burn pile on my own so I can have the last laugh. Bye-bye, ass-kicking tree!

I asked my husband what kind of tree he was cutting at one point. He said it was "just an old piss-elm." WTF? A piss-elm? Gee, I wonder why that variety never sold well at the local garden center. I think he makes this stuff up sometimes.

After all of the tree-hauling and barn-burning, I'm one tired girl. My muscles hurt and I have cuts all over my hands and I've broken almost all of my nails. I'm cool with the aches and pains and exhaustion, though, because it reminds me that we're so much closer to moving into our new house. We should be able to dig the basement soon, so long as we don't get a lot of rain. I think I'd haul whole trees off the land by myself if it meant we could move in faster. Just call me Tree-Ra!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Laughter and Tears

Someone posted this website on one of the forums I frequent - www.overheardinnewyork.com. It's a blog-style collection of conversation snippets heard in New York City. If you're looking for a few juvenile giggles, and let's face it, if you're a friend of mine, you probably are, this site is worth a few moments of your time. My favorite conversation so far:

Guy: I saw that movie Hide and Seek. It sucked.
Girl: I don't know that one. Who's in it?
Guy: Ummm...that guy from Meet the Fockers.
Girl: ...Ben Stiller?
Guy: Who?
Girl: Are you talking about Ben Stiller?
Guy: No, no, the old guy.
Girl: Robert DeNiro?!
Guy: Yeah, him.
Girl: You call Robert DeNiro "that guy from Meet the Fockers"?!
Heard on -- 1 train

Now on to my play for sympathy this evening. I burned my hand. I really, really burned my hand. And the truly unfortunate thing about the burnt appendage is that I don't even get a cool story out of it. Could I have maimed myself last week when we accidentally burned down a barn? Yes, I could have, but instead, I waited until this week, when I maimed myself by daring to take a ham out of the oven. At least it was a damn tasty ham. So, now my hand is the color of ketchup and I can't bend my swollen fingers. Let this be a warning to those of you who may plan on making a ham in the near future. Look out for the steam. It hurts like a sonofabitch.

And finally, a moment of praise. Received in the mail today: the title deed for our home site. We now own 6.25 acres free and clear. Excuse me while I indulge in a nice glass of chablis for celebratory purposes. As a bonus, the alcohol may temporarily dull the pain in my hand. Yeowch.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Inspiration from Unlikely Sources

Seen on local fire department sign yesterday: PHISH PHRY PHRIDAY. Hee! Phabulous!

I've decided that it's been too long since I indulged my creative side. Yeah, I know, technically writing is a creative thing, but I crave more than that. At one time I dreamed of being a photojournalist. I spent hours behind the lens of my trusty camera and even longer hours in the darkroom slaving over the perfect print. My camera now rests on the top shelf of my closet, where it has been for the past two and a half years. It's easily accessible, and every once in a while I catch a glimpse of it and feel a pang of guilt. It begs to be taken out of its case and out into the glorious springtime sun. I'm not sure what's stopping me at this point. Maybe it's the fact that if I switch back to my beloved film-eating SLR, I'll have to leave the developing and printing to someone else, since I'm sans darkroom these days. Handing over that much control isn't in my nature.

So, for the time being, I've made a deal with myself to keep my digi cam well charged and ready to go. I'm going to document spring and possibly summer in my part of the world and see what happens. I'm going beyond the standard pics of my daughter and pets. Not that I don't love taking pictures of my daughter. The three CDs from her first year alone would tell the truth on that one. I want to capture the spirit of southeast Kansas, or at least try to show a piece of this country that so many people never see. Pasture fires (no, not ones that I have personally set, tyvm Lushes), corn so tall you can hide behind it, my nephews joyfully reeling in catfish from our lake, the perfect golden color of wheat just before harvest, traveling harvest crews, maybe even (but hopefully not) the look on a farmer's face in August when it's 103 and the pivots just pumped the last drops of water from the lake onto a soon-to-be-wilted field of soybeans. Maybe, if I get brave enough to jump headfirst back into the world of photography, I'll steal a corner of our new shop building and invest in the equipment for a darkroom. Then I'd have no excuse but to free my favorite old camera and lenses from their padded prisons. Watch out world, I'm re-armed and dangerous!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Take Me Home Tonight

I've recently returned from a week-long trip to the east coast. I spent the first few days in Reston, VA in meetings that were productive, but so boring that I even risked IMing my friend Mary Alice in the middle of one just to keep from drifting off to sleep. I had to cut that convo short when, as always, MA started to make me laugh and I was afraid I'd be unable to stifle the giggles. In Reston, I also had a chance to catch up with Lyn, an online pal whose sense of humor is just as natural and perfect in real life as it is via the net.

The second stop on the east coast tour was NYC. Despite that fact that the city is about a bazillion times bigger and scarier than the town we currently live in, I had a great time. Thankfully, the meetings in the Big Apple were more exciting and inspiring than those in DC. I stayed at the Waldorf, which turned out to be a good thing, because I felt like I was experiencing a part of NYC without ever leaving the hotel. I could have lived without the exorbitant minibar prices, though. I spent $11.95 on two cans of Diet Coke before my friend Emily rescued me from financial doom and took me to a deli for more reasonably priced beverages.

Em is a fantastic NYC tour guide, by the way. Not only did she drive to Times Square on Saturday night to pick me up, she took me on an impromptu tour of several Manhattan neighborhoods that I hadn't seen yet, providing interesting commentary along the way in her fabulous British/Brooklyn accent. Em can call me daaahling anytime. We stopped for drinks on the Lower West Side (I think) and later ate "Sex and the City" cupcakes that were so good they should be illegal.

Sunday morning I awoke early, remembering why I had previously called for a self-imposed ban on all tequila products. Next time if someone could please remind me that it would be cheaper and faster to give myself a headache by running into a wall, that would be great. That route isn't as tasty, I suppose. My hours in NYC were running short, so I made my way to Park Ave. and located a cab that would take me to the Empire State Building. The line for the elevators stretched around the block when I arrived at the ESB, so I decided I'd have to take in the sights from the upper deck another time. I did some shopping, picking up souvenirs for my daughter, nieces and nephews. After that, it was time to head back to the hotel and catch the shuttle to LaGuardia. The shuttle driver took a different route than what I saw on the way in, which was a pleasant surprise. I got to see the Queensboro Bridge, which was far prettier and more interesting than the Triboro Bridge that I came in on. The driver also treated his passengers to a quick tour of Queens, but I think I was the only one who appreciated seeing something other than Midtown, based on the grumblings from the backseat.

Before long, I was on the runway at LaGuardia, ready to go home. I have to say, though, that landing and taking off from LaGuardia is one of my favorite travel experiences. I was on a small regional jet, which sucked until I realized that it gave me a fabulous view of the water at the end of the runway.

My daughter and husband met me at the airport in Kansas City. I think they had a fun, relaxed time together while I was gone, as evidenced by the fact that my daughter was wearing her bathing suit under her winter coat for the trip to the airport. It didn't take long to get back into the swing of things in southeast Kansas. Spring truly arrived in the week that I was gone. Tractors are working the fields and bulbs are bringing color to flower beds in every yard.

While I wish I could have had a few extra days in the big city to see the sights, I have to say that it's a nice feeling to be home. And I guess, even with all of the complaining I do about this backwoods rural town, I do feel at home here now. As I was driving the 20 miles into town for groceries yesterday, I sang along to my favorite Violent Femmes tape just a little louder, appreciated the wide open spaces just a little more and breathed the fresh, spring air a little deeper. I love the city, but it's good to be home.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Life is Sweet

I spent some time reflecting today about how much I love my life. I've recently read a lot of comments from a few people who are so sad and bitter about their lives that they only complain. Admittedly, much of my blogging has been venting and complaining, The internet is therapeutic, you know. After seeing some of these other people and their constant barrage of unpleasantness, I decided I'd better make sure my blog didn't make the ranks of the whine, whine all the time world.

So here it is, a post only about happy things. We're getting a house. Everything worked out, as I should have known it would. And this house is better than many of the houses I would have settled for. All of those friends who said something better was just around the corner were right. I must have really smart friends.

My daughter is adorable. She's wild and trying sometimes, but she's healthy and makes me laugh more than anyone in the world. Last night, she was being somewhat difficult when she didn't want to go to bed. That morphed into a fit about me putting her PJs on her. It was one of those screaming fits that only a really tired toddler can manage. Very nice. Finally, she took her PJs off and then put hem back on, just so the PJs weren't tainted with my "putting on" germs. Apparently, she felt bad about her rotten behavior, though, because after I tucked her into bed, still crying, I heard her telling her stuffed toy, "Little Dog," about how she wasn't nice to mommy but she "was very sad that mommy put the PJs on." She's talking to this dog in that sobbing, hitching voice of complete despair. I was trying not to laugh, but at the same time, I wanted to cry for her. She was obviously heartbroken when she realized she wasn't acting very nicely. After a few minutes of talking the situation over with Little Dog, she came over to me and apologized for screaming and wanted to give me a kiss. I can't even tell you how much I loved her right then, looking up at me with her tear-stained face. She knew she was wrong and she was trying to make it right. She makes me so proud. :)

My husband is taking me on a date tonight. Woohoo! I believe there will be some negotiations for our 5-year anniversary trip tonight, too. We'll discuss possible trip locations over wine and dinner. I can't complain in the marriage department, either.

And finally, I've said before that we're not wealthy people. However, I do know that we're incredibly lucky to have enough money floating around to pay the bills, to build the house that we want, to have a dinner date once in a while, and to allow us to live out in the country, on our own farm, where our daughter can play outside and be safe. I have the luxury of working from home and not having to report to an office every day. My husband enjoys his work and the has the ability to take time off whenever he needs it, even if it's just to take a long weekend with me and Maya. Maybe what we have isn't enough for some people. But for us? It's plenty.

I don't talk much about all of the things we have, because I realize that there are people much less fortunate than us in the world. I'm happy and secure. I just hope I never forget how lucky I really am in the midst of those little everyday complaints.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I blame the child...

No one really warns you that being a parent can make you feel like you're hovering on the brink between sane and insane. Sure, you can try to pretend you've got it all under control, but can you really, really have control of a toddler at any time? Toddlers, by their nature, are completely unpredictable. Wild cards. Sweet one second and terrifying the next. Just when you think you know what you're doing, the three-year-old changes all of the rules. At least, that's what my three-year-old seems to be doing. It's either that or she was abducted by aliens and switched with a strange alien child.

It's not that I don't adore my daughter. I do. She's a wonderful, hilarious, crazy, energetic drama queen in training, and sometimes part mountain goat, like when she scaled a stack of carpet rolls in the home improvement warehouse the other day. Did I feel totally in control while trying to yell softly at my toddler perched atop the berber mountain? Umm, no.

She used to be compliant at dinner time, happily eating any vegetable I put before her, along with almost anything else. Now, anything I serve had better be free of "dirty" vegetables like peppers or mushrooms, and whatever it is should be doused in ketchup or barbeque sauce. She used to happily wear anything I put on her in the mornings, but now she feels best in opaque tights and a Maryland basketball t-shirt, or some K-State footie jammies (which do look smashing in the grocery store, by the way), or Elmo slippers, a plastic tiara, and a feather boa. I try to ignore the odd wardrobe choices, since I'm a "pick your battles" kind of mom, but the thought of her adorable, coordinating ensembles sitting in the closet in favor of outfits that might also be seen in the local strip bar (sans Elmo slippers, of course) makes me a little sad.

Yesterday she managed to empty a box of potty training wipes into the toilet in the span of a minute as I dared contemplate painting my fingernails. It's like she has a sense of the times when my thoughts shift from her for even a few seconds. She pounces upon those moments, in fact. 75 wipes in the toilet make a very big mess, by the way. Oh, and the baby powder on top made a nice paste that is probably turning the septic system into some kind of superadhesive as we speak.

Today she (and her cousin, who is equally as adorable and maddening) snuck out of the house as I enjoyed a cup of coffee with my sister-in-law. When we snapped out of our brief moment of adult conversation, we found the girls naked in a mud puddle outside the front door. I actually took this discovery in stride, until the girls, surprised at being caught, immediately ran back inside and flung themselves upon my bed, naked and very muddy. So much for those beautiful Egyptian cotton sheets.

Admittedly, her tricks as of late have left me feeling exhausted and much closer to the completely stark raving mad side of the fence. And yet I know that I could not live without this child. That's another thing they never tell you about being a parent. I never knew I would love someone so much, even in the midst of unclogging toilets and wiping Sprite from the inside of my purse and chasing naked, muddy people through the yard and picking individual bits of oregano out of spaghetti sauce and making 867 cups of chocolate milk a day. Yes, I blame the child for my perpetual lateness, wrinkled clothes, mystery stains, wet carpets and absolute insanity. But her charm, her utter mysteriousness, her infectious laugh, the way she works a plastic tiara like it's Harry Winston, and those blue eyes looking up at me from whatever mischief she is knee-deep in.... Maybe insanity isn't too high a price to pay just to be near her.

Monday, January 31, 2005

No, Really. It Was A Beefalo.

So, a beefalo walked through my yard tonight. We were outside enjoying the frosty winter air and preparing to mock my brother-in-law who was riding down the intersecting road on his bicycle. Don't ask why, he just needed a good mocking and I'm just the gal to do it. Anyway.... This bull comes trotting by on the edge of the yard, along the main road. Bulls can be pretty mean, not to mention that cattle in the road is a major accident waiting to happen, so we got pretty excited to see this ginormous beast amble by. We hid the children and waved our arms frantically at the brother-in-law, because you really don't want to meet a bull on a bike. Then we set about thinking of people nearby who may have somehow lost an animal that weighs about a bazillion pounds and is twice as tall as me.

We couldn't reach any of the likely suspects by phone, so my extra-daring husband hops in the pickup to get a closer look at the animal. I, of course, hopped in too, because thankfully, the pickup is bigger than most bulls, so I felt pretty brave about the whole thing. We drove up to this animal, which was actually moving pretty damn fast for something so heavy. Just as I was starting to wonder what faulty genetics had resulted in a bull with such a funky face, my husband exclaimed, "That's no bull, that's a beefalo!"

I should have known that if it was in my yard, it would be a weird animal of some sort. A beefalo is a cross between a cow and a buffalo. No, I don't know why someone would want a beefalo. I suspect it's either the potential for low-fat meat or just a sick genetics program from hell. The very fact that my husband correctly identified the beefalo gave us our first clue as to who the beast belonged to.

You see, just days before, my nephew, Timmy, who is in first grade, came home bragging about how his friend Mitchell's dad had gotten a beefalo as a gift. Knowing that Mitchell's dad had to be the only one on our side of the county with such an animal, we sped off to locate him.

As we arrived at their farm, we noticed some trucks out by their cattle pen. Apparently, they had hired some cowboys to round up this beefalo, who was a regular Harry Houdini of the pasture, slipping in and out of fences at will. These guys were searching through a tree-packed field, looking for a beefalo who was currently 3 miles away heading for town.

They were none too happy to hear that the beefalo had given them the slip once again. We never did see them come back by our house with the animal in a trailer, so it's possible that Mitchell's family will be dining on some low-fat beefalo burgers for the next few weeks.

I don't know what it is with the animals in this county. First the rogue peeping emu looking in people's windows. Then the creepy coyotes taunting me with their yipping right outside my bedroom window. Now the beefalo taking a day trip into town. I don't even want to speculate on what's next....

Saturday, January 22, 2005

As The Living Room Turns

Thanks to the ginormous new TV, we've had to dismantle the entire living room and attempt to get it back in shape. I'll admit, my husband is pretty handy when it comes to things like moving the entertainment center or assembling a new computer desk, but as for actually removing items from said desk or other home furnishing item, he's quite a hindrance. See, I can clean off a computer desk, even one as cluttered as ours was, in less than an hour, tossing outdated items and re-organizing the necessary stuff as I go. My husband, however, has to inspect every single item that he touches on the desk. He re-reads Christmas cards (30 minutes), he flips through magazines (45 minutes), he stops de-cluttering and decides to check out how we're doing on this year's taxes so far (90 minutes). Now, all of this wouldn't be so bad if he were not IN MY WAY as I am trying to re-assemble our living room, which now looks like three tornados and an earthquake struck in the course of one afternoon. So help me, if he complains about how he wants to go to bed at 3 a.m. when we're still trying to put the new computer desk up, let's hope I'm not the one holding the screwdriver at that moment.

A personal note to M. Night Shyamalan: I watched The Village last night. I just want to thank you for casting Joaquin Phoenix as Lucius Hunt. I might have been scared of those freaky monsters, but thanks to Jaoquin, I pretty much spent the movie in a trance-like state, in awe of his supreme hotness. Now, I'm a little peeved that you didn't cast me as his love interest, because believe me, I wouldn't even have to act for that role, but I'm holding out for something better. When you come up with a film where you can cast Joaquin and Colin Firth in some kind of love triangle, I'm your gal. I'm not normally the type to get all aflutter over celebs, but those two - oh my. Come on, Night, I would make one hell of a savory filling in a Mr. Darcy/Lucius Hunt sandwich.

Feria Therapy, Yurt 101

You'll be glad to know that I may pass on buying the yurt, because we may have found a way to build our house after all. In case you're wondering how happy I was about that turns of events, let's just say that the shiny kitchen sink in the model home has a nice set of smooch prints on it courtesy of moi. Some better house news and a hair update were just what I needed to snap out of that disgusting slump. Well, a pedicure would have helped, too, but I digress.

However, it's come to my attention that some aren't aware of the fabulous alterna-dwelling known as a yurt (ahem, Kelley), and so, for educational purposes, I will share a link to help you on your way to yurt enlightenment. http://www.yurts.com/ I fully support the rights of my friends to become yurt dwellers if they so choose, but I'm not calling any of you Ghengis, so don't ask.

Now, can we please talk about my hair? It's pretty cute, and I'll have you know that I am solely responsible for the current cuteness. I looked in the mirror last week and was horrified to see that my formerly adorable highlight/lowlight combination was no longer acceptable for public view. Strapped for cash, I started to panic, but deep down I knew what I had to do. It was a choice. Struggle valiantly against the pitfalls of home haircolor, or let the roots show. Ladies and gentlemen, I am no Sarah Jessica Parker, so I hit the haircolor aisle determined to find a workable solution.

Later, in my bathroom, my hands were shaking as I mixed up the foul-smelling potions that could be my savior or my ultimate hair shame (though the perm escapade of 98 is hard to beat). I love that on the home highlighting directions, they don't mention anywhere that you should try really hard to grow a few extra arms before applying the dye to your hair. During the process, you will look absolutely nothing like the smiling girl on the instruction sheet. The bottom layers of hair went pretty well, which is nice, in case anyone is watching when I flip my hair over to dry the underside. As I reached the top, things got ugly.

First, yes, it really does hurt like the unholy fires of hell when you get that haircolor crap in your eyes, so please keep that in mind if you think a little extra color on your wispy, sideswept bangs will be totally foxy. Second, once your hands are covered in hairdye (another thing not mentioned in the directions - the little highlight comb DOES NOT do it all for you) it's bloody impossible to hold on to the hair color bottle. My chosen highlight color was a nice light red, but they like to scare you with funky-ass colors in the dye bottle. So after the first few times I dropped the dye bottle, I actually looked a lot like Carrie after the prom/blood scene. My daughter came in the room at one point and asked me if I needed a Band-Aid.

After all of the trauma, though, I have to say that my home highlighting skills are pretty damn good. I was nervous as I unveiled my new, non-roots-showing tresses at lunch with some friends. I had reason to be nervous, too, because these girls can smell home dye-jobs from a mile away. Would they have called me out on it? Oh my heavens, yes. Hello, I regularly encourage them to rag on bad dye jobs. My sigh of relief came when one of the girls pointed to my shimmering locks and said, "See, that's what I want done to my hair." Sweet victory! Now, I know that I shouldn't be too smug about this one good hair incident, because we all know that hair karma can be a truly hideous thing, but just let me bask for a few seconds, OK?

Last, I am compelled to tell you about my new TV. Techie geek, I am not. So again, fear struck my heart when my husband asked me to fetch a new TV. Determined to make a good choice, I walked into Best Buy, batted my eyelashes, shook my fabulously highlighted hair and laid myself upon the mercy of the youngest, techiest-looking sales guy I could find. I wanted the biggest, best TV that I could get for a specific amount of money (you think my husband sent me with his checkbook and no spending limit? HA!). My goal was to choose a TV a tad bit bigger than our old one, so that it would fill up the entertainment center nicely. No problem. However, I forgot to take into account that everything looks smaller in the cavernous Best Buy store.

When I got home, my "just a bit bigger than the old one" TV was kind of a monstrosity. For normal people, this wouldn't be an issue. When you live in a freakishly small house and your new TV takes up 80 percent of the living room, it's a little bit weird. Needless to say, this TV didn't fit the entertainment center, either, unless I wanted to fit it in there with a sledge hammer. My husband just shook his head. Not to be defeated, I suggested we put the TV on top of the entertainment center for now. Nothing makes a giant TV look even bigger than hoisting it up in the air to hover over you like a great and shining cartoon anvil. Not only is our entertainment center creaking under the weight of this behemoth, we have to lean wayyyyy back on the couch in order to see the picture. It's like being in the front row of the movie theater where you get a sore neck from the strain. The good news is, I think we may be able to use the TV box as an addition to the shack. Fabulous!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Without Hope

Hopeless. That's how I feel these days. I've been neglecting my poor blog because I just don't have much to say right now that's positive. Here's the thing. I spend most of my day trying to look happy and upbeat for everyone else, and I can't do it anymore. It's not like I can go around lashing out at everyone and snarling, either. So I'm going to rant a bit. Listen if you want, or check back next time if you're only interested in the odd escapades of country life. I do have a rockin' hair dye story to tell when I'm in a better mood.

As you know, if you've read here before, we're trying to buy a house or build a house or invest in some kind of dwelling structure that will get us out of the Shack of Impossibly Small Proportions. Do I feel bad complaining about my house when others in the world live worse than I? Yes. And for two years I've thanked God every night that we have a roof over our heads at all. I'm not ingrateful, and I know things could be worse. But I also know things could be better. How sad is it that my child gets really excited whenever we go into a house where she can actually run in the living room? In our house, she can't even go two steps without running into the edge of the room. She thinks baths are the most fascinating thing ever because she never gets to sit in a bath tub. (Yes, I do clean her, but in the shower, tyvm.) I want the best for my family, and that includes my child having her own room instead of having to sleep on the couch or the floor or with us all of the time.

I know I should keep holding out hope that something is coming along that is better. But how long can I keep that hope up when things just seem to be getting worse? We made an offer on the only decent house near us, and that didn't work out. (We are limited geographically because of the farm.) The loan that we had for the purchase cannot be used for construction, so we can't just build on the farm with it. We saved enough for a 20% downpayment to get a construction loan, but even with our excellent credit the bank now wants a 30% down payment because I'm self-employed. Who would have though that doubling our income would mean that we couldn't buy a house? It just seems that every time we get to a point where we overcome one thing, another stumbling block pops up in its place.

I don't know how much longer I can live in this tiny, cluttered house and stay sane. I know, I could clean up the clutter, right? Well, I'd like to see anyone else live in 500 square feet (only one closet, remember) with a toddler, a home office and a quilting business and not have clutter.

I'm seriously considering purchasing a yurt. How bad does one's situation have to be before they consider living in a yurt in a place where there are tornadoes? Exactly.

If you've read this far, congratulations on your excellent attention span. Thanks for listening. You just made it easier for me to fake a smile tomorrow.