Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Finny Holiday

The holidays take on a special twist at our place. Special like alternative and slightly bizarre, not special like frilly antique ornaments and Christmas carols around the fire. In fact, we're so devoid of holiday-ness at our house that the non-denominational but festive nonetheless wreath on the front door seems like it might have been put up on the wrong house.

Until last week.

Every year this happens. I submerge myself in blatant denial of holiday festiveness from the first moment I see plaid bows going up in stores until the last few days before Christmas. Then, out of nowhere, I suddenly feel this unyielding desire to become the merry being that I've been almost running down in the Target parking lot for the previous two months.

I think it's all the sugar.

Anyway, holiday cheer sprung forth this year in the form of a lot of baking.

For friends and coworkers:

For neighbors:

But, really, what could possibly contain enough sugar to sweeten this maniacally Scroogey soul? Something so fantastically indulgent and so unforgivably extravagant that it could only come from the most magnificent point on the globe: Rome, Italy.

Oh yes. Behold the greatness of it's very existence. The 3Kg (6.61 lbs) Holiday Bathtub of Nutella. Straight from Rome by way of Washington carried carefully and lovingly by one of my dearest friends.

Please note how it towers above the wee tape dispenser. Remark upon the golden sheen of it's lid. Observe the festive gift box inside which it is carefully stowed for gift giving.

I ask you, how could one not inflate suddenly with holiday cheer upon receipt of such an overwhelming holiday bounty?

One must.

And so here I sit - ass on couch, in front of the warm fire, listening to the lewd Cialis commercial playing between quarters of the Pats game, feeling extra merry because I'm full of foreign sugar and free to stare at Bubba's face for a whole week while we're off for the holidays.

Suddenly, I don't hate the holidays so much. And I'm grateful for my big spoon.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fugly House 2006

I was getting a tad panicky because Christmas is less than a week away and I've hardly scratched the surface documenting the illuminated hideousness surrounding my neighborhood.

Yes, there are some people panicked about buying Christmas gifts, and then there's me - worried about making equal fun of all the tards in my neighborhood. I realize I'm going to hell, no need to remind me.

After my short panic, I realized, with great ironic relief, that just because Christmas will pass, it will not mean that people will immediately run out into their yards with ladders and dumpsters to get rid of the "decorations" on their houses. No matter how much I wish it to be so.


I mean, Damn it!

I am conflicted.

So, anyhoo this charade on the blog may go on past Christmas, since the array of animated lawn creatures and multicolored strings of lights won't cease to exist in any significant manner until well after the New Year around these parts. Just to warn you in case you show up after 12/25 and see me still marching around the blog with my middle finger in the air.

For now though, let us rest our merry steaming eyeballs on a few candidates for this year's Fugliest House:

This gem was sent in by a non-blogging friend who reads up on the blog from time to time and felt compelled to out her neighbors and their "Visible from Space" compilation of candy canes, window signs and haphazardly arranged lights. While we both admit it's a little hard to discern exactly what is going on in this photo due to low light, I can assure you that, even in person, it makes no organizational or thematic sense. No, it's just a giant shitshow which emerged, we're sure, from an enormous Wal-Mart shopping bag.

I had aimed to get a better shot of the house when I went over to attend my friend's holiday open house this weekend, but it was raining when I got there and I wanted a drink. At least you'll be happy to know that I've branched out to other neighborhoods so that the merry-finger pointing can be shared all around.

All I want to know here is who, exactly, is manning the sleigh. If Santa, and what I assume is Ms. Claus, are hanging out on the patio, how is it possible that the reindeer are taking flight? Are they trained to deliver gifts on their own now? Does Santa just sit his fat ass on the porch and wait for them to return and give him the hooves-up? It looks like even Christmas is being outsourced now.

Oh, and net lights are stupid.

When I see displays like this, I can't help but wonder why the person didn't finish at least ONE of the objects they were trying to adorn instead of spreading the lights halfway across five different vertical objects. I assume this work was done by someone approximately 6 feet tall, with limited patience being trailed by someone about 5'5" carrying a big wooden spoon. What I'd like to see once, just once, is a tree that is covered with lights from the base of the trunk ALL THE WAY to the end of each branch. Then, at least I'd know it was a tree, and not some bizarre lawn sculpture keeping their giant broomstick waving snowman company in their front yard.

Or, if we're in the time saving mood, I could just swing by with a blowtorch and do everyone a favor.

I've got a news flash for these folks, Santa is NOT stopping here. (See the sign? Yes. We all do.) Even though they have the runway clearly marked and the arbor announcing Merry Christmas for all the western hemisphere to see. As it turns out Santa is leery of nuclear testing grounds and the glowing trees are a dead giveaway. Even if he does decide to come in for a landing, he's going to have to shoo the Snowman Family off the runway or pummel them with reindeer hooves. It will be a Christmas massacre for the books.

For now, that's what I've got. But this weekend, I fully intend to take a long dutiful walk around the area and get shots of the worst offenders. I've gotten some anonymous and some blatant direction on where to conduct my search. It appears that there are other hellfire sinners out there who would rather slyly slit boxes of inflatable Santas at their neighborhood Target with keychain pocketknives than endure a city block of fossile-fuel sucking yuletide cheer.

See, it's not just me.

Friday, December 15, 2006

[BOOK CLUB] The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson

I won't lie, I *may* be over Bill for the time being.

In true Finny fashion, I binged on the too-good thing and gave myself a stomachache. Like when I was about 10 and decided that a good afternoon snack would be a bowl of Oreos covered with Cool Whip. Eaten with a spoon at hand-in-the-cookie-jar speed, I made myself sick enough so that I didn't go near an Oreo for a good decade. And I've never looked twice at Cool Whip since. Thankfully, my last dose of Bill in the Thunderbold Kid was pretty good and I had some good laughs, but it was no Walk in the Woods or Sunburned Country. So, in the end, I didn't barf, but I'm not going back for more, at least not now. I feel like I'm not yet at the Cool Whip stage with Bill, but I'm definitely approaching the Oreo stage.

Thunderbolt Kid was an amusing look at what it was like for Bill to grow up in Des Moines starting in the 1950's or so. I didn't get a lot of history or drama, but I did get a good idea of what it would have been like to go to school with a perpetual pants pooper or be a paper boy in a nice midwestern neighborhood.

I liked the nostalgia of drive-in movies, his first experience with a billboard, his quest to touch boobs and the way he described how his uncle flocked fellow diners while he ate potatoes, but beyond that, I didn't really find myself gasping for breath from laughing like I had in the past.

I thought it was because I'd gone from reading his new material to reading his old material. I thought for sure I'd pick this newest work up and immediately be thrown to the floor with hysterical laughter. I thought I had just gotten turned in the wrong direction and was about to right myself with a brand new book, hot off the presses and full of hilarity.


I think the thing that I never fully latched onto was the weaving of his childhood fantasy of superheroship at random intervals throughout the story. I'd have rather him just made fun of a few more passersby than waste precious page space trying to tie his childhood experiences together with intermittent references to the zapping of neighborhood dogs or stories of imaginary destruction and devastation while wearing a raggedy old thunderbolt sweater.

But I won't be a total downer. Especially since it was my idea to go straight to another Bryson book after The Lost Continent, and I dragged you all down with me. I did have some good chuckles and I do really like his smiling picture on the inside flap of the book. So it's not a total loss. And I was, at one point, laughing on the couch loud enough for Bubba to call out from the office to see if I'd gotten my hand stuck in the dustbuster or accidently squooshed the cat. Which is more than I can say for the majority of books I've read in my lifetime. So, at the end of the day, Bill has set the bar so high that I'm not sure even he is up to the challenge. But the good news is that he has a quiver full of fabulously entertaining books - some just more than others.

So, I hope you all were able to enjoy the book, smile a bit and then look forward to something a little different, perhaps something with more riveting historical flavor.

Perhaps written by someone who's untimely death in the Nazi concentration camps left her masterpiece unpublished until 60 years later when her daughters uncovered it and released it for printing. Someone who knows what it's like to flee ones homeland for uncertain fates.

I'm imagining humanity, drama, introspection, honesty and a good look into the day to day experiences and struggles of people ousted from their lives in the face of an invading war.

I have high hopes.

Suite Francaise

Join me, won't you? Let's meet back in the New Year - say 2/1/07. I'll bring my big fat mouth and a G&T.

Oh yeah - don't forget to vote (and comment) on The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, (poll at right). Then get to reading and having yourselves nice holidays and all that.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Legend of Winter Blackberry Pie

Sure, we've all heard of blackberry pie. Most of us have probably had it and loved it. Maybe in summertime with some vanilla ice cream melting ambitiously on top. It's pretty fricken good.

But have you heard of Winter Blackberry Pie?

Because at Finny's house, it is something of a phenomenon.

About six years ago when I started dating Bubba, I started this phenom by innocently freezing the remnant filling from my regularly scheduled blackberry pie. Because I have an issue with waste. Because as I was staring at this last few cups of pie filling all I could think of was sweating my ass off on the hottest day of the year (every year I manage to choose the hottest day somehow) so I could make this pie. Because I could, then, not bear the thought of watching it slide down the garbage disposal.

So, despite lack of space in our freezer (this was back in my Green Box days, a story I'll recount another time), I wedged the bulging Ziploc between the ground beef and a tower of Green Boxes for futures.

Futures came sometime in February when, due to an extreme lack of funds, I was staring helplessly into my freezer for something, ANYTHING, to make/bake/fake for dinner. It was then that I spied the bag of purplish goo frozen into an obscene shape hanging out in the back of my freezer. It was lying next to a discarded frozen pie crust.


So, after a long-ish dip in a sink of hot water, the blackberry filling went into the crust (this was before the pastry-cutter came into my life and changed pie crust forever), pie went into the oven and the real reason Bubba asked me to marry him came into being. And, yeah, we ate pie for dinner because that's just how we roll.

Winter Blackberry Pie = Your normal blackberry pie produced in the rainy doldrums of winter when it can be truly appreciated and upheld as the ultimate winter dessert and reason to propose marriage to its creator.

So, now, every summer when I come home with a TJ's bag full of Ziplocs each containing the approximate amount of berries for pies and batches of jam, I clear out a little space in the freezer for the fateful bag of leftie-over filling from which will be produced the ever-famous Winter pie.

Because Bubba smiles real big when I make it and I get to reminisce about summer while it rains and the fireplace warms Rocket's ass.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Finny gets Freaky

Tag, I'm it.

Despite my year+ on Blogger, this is my first meme-tagging moment. Call me a late bloomer.

And to make my tagger feel better after her recent admission of acronym-itis in the comment field of this post, I should say that I felt compelled to look up the true definition of "meme" online (an idea, project, statement or even a question that is posted by one blog and responded to by other blogs. Although the term encompasses much of the natural flow of communication in the Blogosphere, there are active bloggers and blog sites that are dedicated to the creation of memes on a regular basis.) True, "meme" isn't an acronym, but it's something of a nerdy-online kind of word that I wasn't 100% clear on. So, whatever. I'm a dork.

This meme, as it were, asks me to pick up the nearest book in arm's reach, flip to page 123 : line 5 and put the words from the next three lines into my post:

..."previously set free-for drug-related offenses and parole revocation in particular-were instead locked up. Between 1980 and 2000, there was a fifteenfold increase in the number of people sent to prison on..."

I feel compelled to put some context around the above three lines which are in Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

The theory they are writing about, which the aforementioned three lines work at explaining, is that the drop in crime rate during the 90's was explained, by some, to be the effect of incarcerating more criminals for drug and parole related crimes. This, however, is not a theory shared by the authors of the book.

In fact, the theory they present is much more controversial and definitely worth a read through. I think I whipped through this book in an afternoon and did find many of their theories to be at least provocative enough to consider if not totally rational and acceptable.

I won't lie though - conservative thinkers should come prepared with helmet. Some questions are asked in this book that are probably illegal in our redder states.

Now comes my turn to tag - please forgive me for this chain letter-esque activity. I figure, at least it's book related, which I do enjoy, and you three always have shit going on that I find interesting. PS, no hard feelings if you don't meme-along.

Laura in AK - I would love to see what book you have nearby since it's probably something wildlife related, or perhaps sleddog-ish?
Africankelli - since Shelley put me down for getting her into blogging, I think you deserve the same treatment you big enabler, you.
And Farmgirl, even though I know you don't have time for this since you're probably out in the back 40 managing the sheep or busy at the stove with one of your recipes that I will copy and pass off as my own.

The End.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Let the games begin

For those of you who were with me last year, you might recall (maybe with great joy like I do) the new holiday-time tradition that I devised to soothe my aching eyerolling muscles.

I won't lie, some people have called me mean-spirited, grinch-y, a bitch - because of this new (fun, hello) tradition. But I won't be dissuaded from speaking my true feelings.

Those being that I FEEL like people are a skoshe too liberal with lights, ornaments, lawn decorations, inflatable holiday characters, the use of generators to maintain their festive metropoli and, in general, a mite careless with the consumption of fossil fuels to charge these displays.

Plus, they're usually really ugly.

Sure, I imagine that there are some people out there that have even the most marginal tact and taste and, despite all odds, are still inclined to bedeck their homes with colored lightbulbs and seasonal frippery, so I acknowledge the fact that there *may* be homes out there that are not, in the typical sense, FUGLY, but I don't care about those. I care about the ugly ones. Because they are everywhere and they bug me.

So, let us kick off the '06 round of "Which House is the Ugliest?" with a teeth-grinding comparison of last year's fugliest house:

with this year's updated display:

Notice the addition of the two enormous inflatable candy canes.

Stand in awe of Harley Santa and Sidecar Snowman on their green inflatable motorcycle.

Rejoice in Jack in the Box Santa lingering diminutively next to Penguin atop Igloo unlike last year when Santa towered above man, beast and churning snowglobe alike.

And, finally, appreciate the whimsical carelessness with which the pastel-hued twinkling lights were strung to highlight only the widespread lack of parking space in the driveway.

Year over year, this house can be counted on to be a true gem of fugly house decorating. Which is why I was willing to swerve haphazardly across two lanes of traffic and park, albeit momentarily, but illegally across the street in order to photograph it on my way home from the store the other night.

I was actually pretty inspired during my drive home and ended up abandoning most of my honed safe-driving practices in order to capture some of the more offensive techniques in the neighborhood. And before we part ways and go off in search of fuglier examples to celebrate this, my now one year old, fabulous tradition, let me leave you with a couple more good examples of Fugly, for reference purposes:

Example: Psychedelic funhouse Christmas
Example: We can't decide so throw all the lights at the house and see what sticks

Feel free to send me the most glaring Fugly examples so we can all point and laugh from our own remote locations: finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.

Happy hunting.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

City Swap

After multiple trying endeavours with the various shipping facilities in my area, I have finally managed to ship my City Swap gift.

Let me just say - fucking phew.

Ugh. I won't go into the specific details of my encounter with the individual at The UPS Store, but let's just say that I will not be going back. Ever. Since it appears that these stores are manned by people from a far-off land so distant that they are completely unfamiliar with normal shipping practices, the materials used in the process of shipping and really just human interaction in general.

To put it in perspective, at the end of my UPS Store experience I was actually looking forward to my trip to the post office and was considering any uniformed USPS officer as my personal savior. That takes some serious damage.

However, to get back to the real reason for this post, I would like to put some method behind my City Swap madness so that the poor soul paired with me will understand the contents of the package and not think that I totally missed the point of the swap.

The point of City Swap was to find the unique bits of your city and shower those bits upon your swap buddy. Sounds simple and lovely, no? Especially if you are from a city as glorious as, say, Rome, Sydney, New York, Milan, etc.

No such luck.

As much as I love where I live (San Jose, CA) I can't say that there are a lot of bits that are uniquely San Jose that I'd want to shower on anyone. I mean, yeah, we've got the Sharks, but who really gives a deuce about hockey? I live approx one mile from their stadium and hadn't even been to a game until two weeks ago for godssake. And after that, what IS San Jose besides obscenely sprawling, crawling with traffic, home to some of the biggest tech companies in the world and jam-packed with geeks?

So, this left me with the issue of finding something -anything-unique and pleasing in San Jose so that I could represent my fair home proudly on an international stage.

I gave up on the Sharks as my answer because nobody wants a Shark's head on a keychain anyway. And anything computer-ish and dorky was out because, well, I'm not ready to admit on paper that I live and work amongst the geekiest population of people on planet earth.

I finally decided that the best thing about San Jose was the one thing that convinced me to move here from the more scenic Peninsula in the first place, my little neighborhood of Willow Glen. See, San Jose on the whole is, IMHO, not all that glam. Yeah, we have a fancy pants shopping center, an international airport, a homeless problem, some passable restaurants and a museum that people are always yamming on about, but that is not enough for me to want to associate it's zip code with my mailing address. However, my little corner of the city is.

We came down here about five years ago for a 4th of July BBQ at a friend's place and when we left, we vowed we'd buy our first home here. Perhaps we were a little lit from the festivities, and had unrealistic expectations about what we could actually afford (um, nothing) in the area, but we were determined to live on one of it's tree-lined streets within walking distance of the cutesy downtown so that we could walk our future dog to our future coffee shop and mow our future lawn while chatting it up with our friendly future neighbors and do (A LOT) work on our future Craftsman house. It was all very pie in the sky and ridiculous, I'll admit.

But after killing ourselves to make it happen, I can say every day that I'm glad we did. We walk to our current coffee shop along the tree lined streets on the weekends and chat it up (so much) with our current friendly neighbors and its just generally love fest all around.

That is what I wanted to share with my swap buddy.

So, I did what I like to do best around here, I walked the tree-lined streets. For hours. And took pictures of all the good stuff. Hand painted bus benches, steel-wrought rhinos on street corners, dog grooming shops, yoga studios, the place I get the best falafel in the world, houses decorated for the holidays, houses decorated for the invasion of aliens - you know, the youge.

And with the photos, I made stuff like note cards, gift tags and a shopping bag so that my swap friend can appreciate this place without having to figure out what to do with a life size shark carcass, random bits from a computer hard drive or a dose of Silicon Valley smog.

During an especially inspired moment I weeded out photos of shop signs and put them, as a collection, on the shopping bag. It's almost too cutesy to openly admit.

Anyway, I hope she is able to get some use and amusement from the cards, tags and bag - and that she can see why I live in this geeky city rather than our hoity-toity neighbor 45 mins north.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Yearly ritual

In the absence of having actual holiday traditions (which are openly loathed in my grinch-y household) I have yearly rituals that happen to occur around the holidays.

This way I don't have to watch Bubba's eyes roll back into his head while he sighs meaningfully and pretends to skewer himself with my chef's knife. And I don't have to feign interest in the true meanings that surround the conveniently placed holiday.

One of my yearly rituals is the taking down of the year's correspondence and starting over for the next year when the first holiday card arrives in the mail. I decided a while back that I loved all the cards that I got throughout the year; for birthdays, anniversaries, thank yous, babies born, marriages vowed, etc, that I didn't want to just let them flop around on the bar or fireplace mantle. And I really didn't want to have to replace them when they blew over or were swept aside by the tail of a passing land beast we call Rocket.

So I pin them up. Not in a fancy way, just to a ribbon that is pinned up at the corners, with some old clothespins that I don't use anymore because I can't figure out a way to shoehorn a clothesline into our teeny laundry room. And throughout the year, starting with the first holiday card we get, I continue on my merry way pinning and stacking and strategizing ways to get all the cards collected on the ribbon without it peeling away from the wall and crashing down all over our entry. This event, too, causes much eye rolling and faux self-impalement, so we try to avoid it.

And, for 2006, I can say that we have started anew upon the receipt of our first holiday card. Which, ironically, comes from the person I'd least expect to have the time, energy or inclination to put together a holiday mailing (particularly the gorgeous one she sent) since she's, at once; packing an entire house by herself, selling most of her earthly belongings, changing jobs, moving across the country and carrying her second child. All this while her husband is thousands of miles away caring for their first child and working his rear off at a new job in the new city. If you have those friends who seem to be able to manufacture time and get an outrageous amount of stuff accomplished in addition to their very busy work lives, you know what I'm saying here. It blows my mind. And here comes this beautiful card sailing into my mailbox on 12/1. Incredible.

Anyhoo, this card gets the highly coveted top/center spot on the card holder thingee and starts off the annual ripping down and starting over of the whole process.




And this year, I decided that merely admiring the nice cards for a full year while they hung on the card holder thingee (I've stopped short of giving it a real name) is not enough. No, I need to reuse them somehow. So, if you receive a gift from me this holiday season, odds are good that it will have a weird looking gift tag attached to it with some abstract something or other on one side and your name on the other. That is because it was punched (by way of a Sizzix) from a card someone sent me this year that was too pretty/fancy/weird/ugly to throw away.

I'm aware that these gift tags will just perpetuate the common feeling amongst my family and friends that I'm mildly off my nut and I just don't care. But, I'll tell you, I finally don't feel guilty about throwing away greeting cards and that is a great, strange relief. And don't sit there and tell me that you don't have a twinge of guilt when you throw away a birthday card or thank you note because I won't believe you. And I might start not liking you a little bit because you are clearly a stronger, and saner, person than I.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Morning fright

I'm sorry, but I have to divert from the normal baking, crafting, diy-ing to cover a topic that has been filling my mornings with fright and confusion for nearly a full year now.

I think some of you remember my reacquaintance with the gym earlier this year. It's been fine, you know, being back on my morning regimen of QT with the tready and pre-dawn wrestling matches with vicious sports bras. I've even gotten Bubba used to the routine to the point where he swears he doesn't even hear the alarm go off five times before I haul my ass from the bed. (He lies so sweetly.) So overall, it's been a merry little experience.

Except one thing.

Ok, there's probably more than one thing I can kvetch about (this is me we're talking about here), but this one thing gets me every single morning - men in spandex.

Or, more specifically MAN in spandex.

And halvsey tops.

And fanny pack.

And socks pulled up just below his knees.

And if you're thinking to yourself, "I don't know why she thinks her gym is so special, all gyms have these freakshows parading around in plum smugglers. What's the biggie?", I'll tell you what really gets me.

This dude is in the most amazing shape. He's probably in his early 40's, sort of tallish, pleasant-faced and friendly (he chats up the gym bunnies regularly) and is in incredible shape. Seriously, if it weren't for a receding hairline and obvious ignorance of acceptable athletic attire, I'd guess this dude was in his twenties. And maybe a baseball player or something.

Which is why the spandex and belly-shirts totally bug! Plus, oh I didn't even tell you yet, halvsey tank tops. Those kind like the dudes wear in the Strong Man contests that have the skinny straps and the gigantor armholes that are all baggy. The fact that these tops are then cut off at the midriff and paired with spandex man-pris and a strategically placed fanny pack just gets my goat.

I do not know what to make of this guy.

My first thought was that he was gay. But then I dismissed that for multiple reasons, one of which being that of all my gay friends I'd never known a single one to be caught dead wearing spandex of any variety or participating in any similarly horrifying fashion faux pas. Second being, that this Man of Spandex enjoys chatting it up with the ladies while he struts away on the stair machine (Not the stair master, but one of those machines with the actual stairs you climb. I don't know why making that distinction is important here.) and has been overheard making overt flirting gestures to said ladies while sweating up his yellow belly-top.

Plus, it seems that he doesn't feel the least bit out of place parading around the weight room, amongst other less conspicuously dressed members, as though his shiny navy blue shorties were the most normal things a man could pull from his dresser.

My second thought was that he is just your average dude, wildly out of touch with modern workout society, and going about his merry life dressed totally normal outside of the gym where no one he works with realizes that mere hours before their morning conference call this oddball was swaggering around the free weights section in his stretch-pants showing off his (admittedly honed) breadbasket for all the world to see. I bet some of the women in his office even think he's a "hunk".

The final straw was seeing him leaving the gym one day, dressed all friggen normal just like I'd hypothesized; in jeans, running shoes, t-shirt and ball cap. And he did look cute! Like a normal cute guy. Actually, he sort of reminded me of my friend's dad who all the high school girls used to lust after. And who, I should note, DID NOT wear spandex. This guy however, he is the Spandex Superman of the gym! He goes into the booth (locker room) normal and comes out fully clad in primary-colored spandex (substitute fanny pack for the cape). Then, after he has conquered the evil-doers (Calories? Flabby thighs?) he races back into his booth and changes back into Clark "I'm so normal" Kent and walks away like nothing happened.

What kills me is knowing that one day he'll meet that special woman (he doesn't wear a ring, so I assume he is not married) and she'll think he's all normal in his jeans, ball cap and shapely physique and then she'll stay the night and see him leave for the gym in his stretchy pants and babydoll tee and realize that she's been conned by his Normal Man by Day/Man of Spandex by Dawn double lifestyle.

And it is this continuing mystery that keeps me entertained while I bound away on the tready, whittling down my 30 minutes so that I can go over to the free weights and embarrass myself with the 10 lb barbells or try to sneak onto the lat machine before Mr. and Mrs. We Wear Weight Belts Even Though We Spend 90% of Our Time at the Gym Talking to Our Other Oldish Friends and Being Blissfully Ignorant of our Cellulite commandeer the upper body machines.

I'll get into those hammerheads another time.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Exactly what I want

I can't be the only one sad to be back at work after the long four day weekend. Although everyone around here acts like there's nowhere else they'd rather be than behind their laptops, clicking away at email and listening to their cubemates cell phones going unanswered.

Not that I don't have a big red heart for my job, but my long weekend was so blissfully full of exactly what I wanted to be doing that the jolt of being back in the office is startling and its making me already miss everything I did over the last four days. I *KNEW* it was going to fly by, and it did.

I love how I act like I was changing the world or making vast personal improvements or something.

Not exactly...

In fact, at this time yesterday I was padding around in my kitchen putting a pork shoulder into the crockpot for a pulled pork dinner and thinking, "Gee, at this time tomorrow, I'll be at work."

Now I'm sitting at work thinking, "Gee, I should have been spending more time trying to invent my time machine instead of wrestling with pork shoulder."


So, instead of doing exactly what I want to be doing right now (Taking a long walk? Howling with laughter as Bubba puts pretzel rods up his nose? Knitting a ski hat in front of my fireplace? Who can say?) I'm elsewhere thinking about all the sweet shit I did over the long weekend.

Sweet = baking a lot of loaves. 30 to be exact:

Pumpkin chocolate chip bread, lemon poppyseed cake, lemon pound cake, fresh orange cake - all personally taste tested for deliciousness by Bubba himself (see pre-porno photo of him above with the Lemon Poppyseed.)

And then I made some pulled pork sandwiches with pickled cabbage, fresh rolls and fries for dinner. You know, because we didn't eat enough at Thanksgiving. And because my oven was bored from disuse.

Sweet also = wrapping all my holiday gifts. Oh yes, all of them. I won't go into detail, but I will say that there is a very impressive stack of gifts wrapped up in un-Christmasish paper on a shelf in my newly organized closet.


It is so swell in there.

Another sweet thing = This new Bryson book started getting funnier toward the end, so I'm almost done with it. Although I'm having a hard time thinking of the next book. Ideas?

Yet another sweet thing = The latest live Foo Fighters album.



It is so [better word for fucking awesome].

I am become the Foo.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

News flash : I'm not an evil wench! Technically speaking.

Yes, yes, the news is true. As long as you interpret it in the loosest way possible and by way of my own definition, which is as follows:

Will not craft a handmade stocking for goddaughter = Evil Wench

And since I have now finished The Stocking of a Hundred Ridiculous Techniques and it actually doesn't look like complete crap, I can officially say that I am not an evil wench. At least not by these standards. But, I'll have to ask you not to delve too deeply into my personal affairs as they *may* indicate otherwise.

With the stocking done, and my evilness yet still under wraps, I am going to set out on another ill-conceived knitting project.

This time it's for Bubba, and like last year, it's a hat. I realize it's a redundant gift, in theory, but these are two different style hats, for two very specific ski-related occasions. Yes, we are gear-dorks (well, one of us is) and we are handymen (again, one of us is) and we like to have the right tool for the job. And so, we must have proprietary hats!

Last year, the hat was more of an apres-ski type of garment. Good for warming your walnut while you rebirth your hooves from baneful ski boots, looking dashing during the lodge wine and cheese reception or while driving white-knuckled down the mountain while your fair bride snoozes away in the passenger seat.

This year's hat is an on-mountain affair. Designed to fit perfectly under a helmet (which we MUST wear due to our walnut-crushing adventures in the trees) to keep noggin, neck and flapping ears warm and protected from the elements. No dumb roll-brim to bind up around your face or dorky earflap strings to accidently zip into your jacket (gah!) The only part about this design that I don't love long time is that the genius design itself will end up thwarting my snowy-tree-branch-in-your-face trick that I've been trying to perfect over the last few seasons. The fact that the payload won't strike any naked neck skin sort of takes the shine off the ingenuity of the design for me. Oh well. I see this small concession as proof that I do love this man even though I may spend all of my waking hours giving him reasons to avoid me.

And on a separate, Thanksgiving-themed, note, I would like to clarify that while I may be at the office, typing on my laptop and attending a few (poorly timed) meetings, NO WORK should actually be taking place in the office today. So people need to quit stirring shit up and think instead about all the pie they'll be eating tomorrow. Gah! Fuckers.


And, now we've come full circle. I'm evil again.


Happy Pie Day!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A lot of loaves

If the preliminary stacks of pumpkin chocolate chip loaves in my freezer are any indication, it looks like I'm well on my way to making up for last years Holiday Season Without a Kitchen.

I'll admit, it was something of a relief knowing that even if I wanted to, I couldn't bake or cook a single thing last December since an enormous hole in the kitchen floor and lack of appliances prevented me from doing so.

Oops, so sorry, can't bring a homemade pie to Hanukkah this year - guess I'll have to go to the bakery and pickie one up! Fresh orange cake you loved so much last year? Sorry, not this year - no kitchen! Mashed potatoes? No stove. Smoked turkey? No oven. Borrow a platter? Packed in a box in the garage.

Best I could do was babysit the couch with my ass. It was a joyous time.

This year, however, we have a fully functioning kitchen and doesn't everyone just know it. I have on deck for the coming long weekend, a baking schedule to rival most patisseries. There will be citrus pound cake. And chocolate chip loaf. And fresh orange cake. And maybe some more pumpkin chocolate chip bread. Oh, and lemon poppyseed cake. All in mini-loaf form and headed for our neighbors doorsteps or my coworkers desks.

This here is about as merry as I get during the holidays since it is the holiday activity I can do while wearing my fugly librarian sweater, ratty jeans and comfy slippers. Plus, since the oven is on, the house is NOT freezing and I don't have to be bundled on the couch wearing everything I own.

Extra bonus, chimney man came for the third and final time (how do they always find something extra wrong and end up having to make multiple return visits?) this morning so I can put the fireplace to work on the half cord of firewood sitting outside the back door.

So, I'll crank up the heater, light the fireplace, fire up the oven and by Sunday I should be doing my baking in a bikini.

And now I'm thankful for my daily visits to the gym.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Old tricks

I know I alude to the activity known as knitting with the blog title, and I also know that I haven't really posted a lot of evidence to support the fact that Finny actually Knits. Which is the main reason for this post. And also to share with you a story of sheer terror.

Story of knitting:

Once upon a time two weeks ago I was standing, mostly upright, in the tasting room at Gary Farrell with two of my best friends sharing some girlish banter and sips of the 04 Pinot. At some point Linda, mother of the aforementioned angelic goddaughter, siddled up to me, with a devlish look in her eye and started in on her sales pitch with the intent of "getting me" to craft a Christmas stocking for her offspring, my goddaughter, Emma.

It was really a ridiculous moment. Especially when she admitted that she had aimed to get me drunk so that I would agree.

Let's stop here so that you can join me in wondering when I became such an evil wench that one of my best friends would think that:

a.) I wouldn't throw down everything I was doing to craft ANYTHING for my goddaughter.


b.) That she'd have to "get me drunk" to convince me to do it.

And also,

c.) When did my life become so mundane that "getting me drunk" had nothing to do with getting me to take off my top and dance on the bar?

What if I start saying things like, "In my day..." and "When I was your age..." and shit like that?

Must not grow up. Must not grow up.

Anyway, at the end of our little drunken arm-twisting match I, of course, agreed (with unrestrained excitement) to craft the best stocking in the whole wide world with my very own hands in time for Ms. Emma's first Christmas. And to be used ever after.

What do you think so far? (It's not finished and it's in the process of being blocked here, so be gentle with your comments. I'm a tad fragile after the whole Wrap & Turn incident.)

I indulged in some Manos del Uruguay yarn and have set my fear of the unknown aside to contend with the beautiful pattern in Holiday Knits. So far I've had to learn at least two new techniques and sort out a lot of unecessarily complicated instructions, but I'm sure it'll be worth it. Otherwise I'm chucking this book through their front window.

Story of sheer terror:

At one point in our drunken meanderings between wineries Linda mentioned something about Emma coming to stay with Bubba and I when she was older.

Blank stare.

You know, during the summer for a week or so. So we could, like, bond and stuff.

Blank stare. Beads of sweat above upper lip.

As in, she intends for her innocent child to be in my house, under my care, without her there to intercede when I hand her my car keys and ask her to run to the store for some beer.

Blood comes out of ears.

I think I mumbled something to the affirmative into my wine glass, but it's hard to say since I was drinking the wine as quickly as possible to numb the terror gripping my very being. Not so little known fact - Finny is not so good with children. Or people under the age of, say, 21. The thought of being in charge of a childs life for more than the duration of her mother's stay in the bathroom strikes fear into my soul.

All I can say is that I better fill that stocking with a LOT of good stuff. That way she might forgive me one day when we're sitting in my living room and I start swearing at the TV. Or in the car when I start flipping the bird. Or when she finds Bubba and I playing grabass in the hallway.

It could be said that House of Finny and Bubba is not an appropriate environment for kids. I'm just saying. Either way though, she'll have a fancy ass Christmas stocking to remind her of the trauma.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Quarantine lifted

I might have mentioned that it's started raining. And that the garden is empty of everything except recooperating soil (Thank you Steven, it's gotten its neem oil treatment and should be cootie-free for next summers cucurbits. Wuv you.) And that I've given in to the changing of seasons thanks to the numbing effects of good gin, wine and the momentus turning on of the heater.

So, the next thing to up-end for the winter is our Household Project List. In the summer, this list is full of sunshiney outdoor activities that involve a lot of dirt, hauling, sweating, digging, planting, pruning, remember.

The winter projects are a little different.

All the projects come inside. We drag extension cords from our kitchen window to the garage for the power tools (Reminder: Our place is going on 100 years old, we're lucky there's power in the house.) I make long lists of all the inside stuff that bugged me as I was traipsing back and forth from the fridge to the yard during the summer. I buy a lot of furniture and soft goods with which to cradle my shivering body against the cold. I organize everything. Bubba hides.

Sounds merry, no?

This past weekend, I started the list. And before Bubba could run and hide, I talked him into helping me with Winter Organization Project #1: Fix the office closet.

See, we have precious little space in our lovely, but extremely wee, home and my feeling is that every square inch should be used as efficiently as possible. So, when I know that we have a closet filled haphazardly with random bits of closet/garage/office/household cast-off, it just plain haunts me. And the fact that I can look down the hall and see this closet as I lay in my bed, awake at 3 am and unable to think of anything else, it doesn't help matters.

So, after much hypothesizing with (at) Bubba, we decided this closet could use a good stout knocking down. Or, on a gentler note, a 100% reorg with a side of ripping some shit down. All of this in the name of the much grander Office Makeover project which will be carried out in phases as I'm able to lure Bubba into our office with promises of winter blackberry pie, an Aeron chair, erotic activities- whatever works.

Phase 1 required a batch of snickerdoodles and approximately 73 trips to OSH, but it's complete and I couldn't be more pleased, especially because I remembered to take pictures before and after. Genius. Also, because I got to use my weapon of choice: the laser level. Seen here helping me be as Type-A as possible.

Please note the tiny shelves which were a previous half-assed attempt to organize. Failure. Oh, and my other failure, too; organize my fabric in four different bags. Bad. And, yes, that is my wedding dress peaking out of the corner there from behind five bridesmaid dresses and a handful of wool coats that I've never seen on my husbands body.

Oh, it was so time.

Small closet or highly efficient office and craft supply annex? I choose the latter. Especially close to my heart here is the craft shelf with four clear containers organized to the Nth degree with my fabric and yarn. Notice the lack of bags? Yes, that too gives the warm fuzzy feeling. Best of all was watching Bubba open the closet door the next morning and just stare at it with joyous wonder.

Even better was hitting the print button from the office and hearing the printer start in the closet. Kick ass. And for those of you keeping note, Even Better is, in fact, better than Best of All. Got that?

After all that work, and all those trips to OSH (god help us, they know our names) we went on a bleary-eyed date at Dasaprakash - one of our favorite Indian restaurants. I am still too exhausted to go into detail, but know that a raging bull could not have kept me from my oothapam.

Regarding the quarantine - we sat down with the 49er game (victorious!!!) and the laptop on Sunday morning and did all, I repeat ALL, of our Christmas shopping.

I love the Internets.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Every year I devise a new way to manage Holiday Panic.

And each year I think I've come up with the once-and-for-all way to handle the holiday mayhem so that I won't spend the latter months of the year writhing with festive agony.

And, each year I somehow it worse with my meddling.

Like the year I thought I'd knit gifts for EVERYONE on my list. I started in June and skidded into our family Hanukkah party with claws for hands and gifts freshly wrapped in the car because I was still working on them when we left for the party. Not a good plan.

Or the year I did all the shopping in October and then effectively drew out the holiday season a lot longer than is palatable for Bubba and I. Confirmed by the fact that Bubba wore his scrooge face a full month longer than usual, coming out of Holiday Gloom just in time for Valentines Day which is a none so revered holiday for us anyway. There was not a lot of extra joy around the Finny house that year. Too soon with the shopping, it seems.

And despite my history of utter failure in the Holiday Panic management department, I'm trying out yet another new once-in-for-all method. I call this the "People don't need anymore crap" method paired with the "I think people need to read more" method to create the "You all get a book with a nice bookmark denoting the recent donation to a worthy cause of my choosing in your blessed name and you'll like it" method.


And I'm planning to make this festive holiday wish come true this weekend as I quarantine Bubba in the living room and make him decide with me which of the three books we've chosen will go to which of the faraway and slightly forgotten relatives on our list. And then there's the list itself that will have to be revived from last year as we decide who we now hate and doesn't deserve the joy of the written word in the New Year.

It's a wondrous process as you can see.

Normally I really like choosing special gifts for people and wrapping them up all fine with a card I make myself (or at least choose specially when I'm at Target buying soap), but there's something about bulk holiday gift giving that invokes nausea and the jingly music and inflatable lawn ornaments don't help any.

So, to counter the nausea, get me in the holiday spirit AND revive my recently invented holiday tradition, I'm happy to announce the return of;

Which House is the Ugliest?

Because there's really nothing like making fun of people and they're freakishly decorated houses to get me in the mood to spend months listening to Jingle Bells burst forth from every retail establishment, television and jostling SUV.

Please join in and send over any gems you capture in your travels. I'm sure your neighborhood has some beauts, too.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'm just saying

We just did one of those cooking school things at the work conference.

You know, one of those things where you and your big group go to a cooking store with a foreign name that people always pronounce wrong, so you can all cook your own dinner instead of going to a real restaurant where you can get drunk and point haphazardly at a menu.

I believe we were doing this under the guise of team bonding, but with the underlying purpose of legitimizing the drinking we really wanted to be doing.

So we all went and immediately made a bee-line for the wine and too-small plate of cheese, and then got yelled at for talking while the "chef" instructed us on how to properly tie an apron.

I don't think these were really chefs. They acted more like elementary school teachers run amok with their weekend hobbies. I don't think I heard anyone describe any of the ingredients with anything more scintillating than, "It's really good." And even me, and my non-professional chefness, can find something better to say about a fine looking piece of sushi grade tuna than, "It's really good."

Whatever, there was a lot of wine (thanks to our enthusiastic team who provided it) and we weren't sitting around conference tables in a beige room, so I was content to people watch and snack on the occasional passed appetizer. And then get yelled at because I wasn't, like, helping a station, or something similarly naggish. My thought was that rolling up some rice and crab in an old beach mat was helping because it looked nice on the plate and looked remotely like a California roll.

I ended up staying close to the Sushi Station since the dude running it was the most un-tool-ish of all the "chefs" and he let me eat crab right from the bowl instead of having to go through the tedium of rolling it up with the beach mat first. Don't worry, I had my own bowl and didn't funk up anything actually going into the apps.

I believe that throughout the evening the sum of my dinner included a lot of crab meat, a couple of small stuffed peppers, a stray shrimp, a molten lava falafel and two gallons of Napa Cabernet. Me thinks that going the route of a cooking store vs a real cooking school for one of these events (having done both) isn't ideal if you actually want to, say, get schooled on cooking, eat a decent meal or be treated like an adult.

I'm not sure what the moral of my story is here. But at the end of the day, I've made it through another work conference and am at home where I can now cook and eat in peace. Amen.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Worst case, we get real drunk

So I was all whining about winter and how cold it was getting, even though I live in NorCal where it barely gets cold enough to frost more than a handful of times in the winter. I realize I exaggerate. It's my way. I also realize that there are other parts of the world, US-even, where temps drop to ridiculously low levels and require people to wear many woolen coats, special boots, big hats made of wild animals, etc and that I have it way easy. No need to remind me. I realize I live in my own special bubble.

But before you get all, "What a fucking baby" on me, let me explain my reasoning. Basically, I am AOK with the cold as long as it makes sense. Like, if I'm in the woods in January, hollowing out a snow cave for winter camping, I get it. I wear my winter clothes, keep my extremities covered, sleep all mummied up in my sleeping bag with it zipped over my head, etc. But what I don't get is having to take the same measures in my own living room while I'm watching TV. I think you see what I'm saying.

But, until the snow flies, I'm not super interested in the cold, and so it is a matter of keeping me occupied until it arrives. And so sometimes we drink.

Like last weekend weekend, for instance.

My warm weather friends from AZ came to town and we cruised up to the wine country to take in some lovely autumn color, some decent food and a lot of wine. I would like it to be noted that I did not freak out upon conception of this trip and immediately grab the reigns and begin planning.

No. I was going to be mature. I was not going to be a control freak. I was going to let someone else handle the arrangements. And I did. Go ahead and say you're proud because this was a big moment for me.

And then while contemplating the insanity of this decision with Bubba on the way up to the Russian River Valley, we decided that, worst case, we can just get real drunk. You know, in the event that our hotel is a dump, all the restaurants vanish and we can't find food, our friends never show up, the wineries catch fire and can't offer us tastings, we get hopelessly lost. You know, the usual control-freak brand of panicking.

But, like most times when I freak out for no good reason, everything went swimmingly. Aside from us hijacking the wrong limo and taking a small tour of Korbel on someone elses dime, it was pretty close to perfection.

We stayed at the West Sonoma Inn, which is the site of the recently completely renovated Brookside Inn. It was fab. Very new. Nicely done. Set back amongst the redwoods. Run by a very friendly group that we ended up chatting with by the fire after our day spent face down in the wineglass. I'd go back. In fact, I think we might. Turns out this is a really nice time of year in Guerneville and the Russian River Valley.

Oh, pronounce that for me: Guerneville.

It appears that I've lived something of a sheltered existence since I nearly peed myself listening to one of my AZ friends say this city name out loud. Granted, I grew up in Sonoma County, and had all of these names said before me at one time or another, but when it came out: G-weiner-ville, I'll admit, I didn't even try not to laugh out loud.

As for the part of the weekend spent outside of a tasting room:

Sum up: Even when it's cold, things don't have to suck.

For now, I'm off to conference my ass off for work, which I'm sure will be something of a suckfest. But, if all of our past conferences are any guide, there will be a fair amount of drinking, too. I can see this new motto taking on a whole new significance.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Officially winter

I've come to the conclusion that summer *may* be over.

Me: Bubba, can we please turn on the heater?

Bubba: Really? You're cold?

Me: No, I'm buried under all these layers of clothes because I think it makes me look skinny.

Bubba: Oh. Maybe tomorrow. We're going to bed soon anyway.

Me: Dude. It's 8. I'll die of frostbite before we ever make it to bed.

Bubba: *Sad face* Tomorrow night. I promise.

Me: *Pout* I'm pouting over here, but you can't see me because my face is obscured by ALL THESE CLOTHES.

I was seen on the couch Wednesday night wearing no less than my slippers, leg warmers, jeans, long grey "Old Librarian" sweater, Bubba's Royals Santa hat and fingerless gloves. All tucked shiveringly underneath my poofy red blanket. Which was pulled up over my nose.

I get a touch dramatic when I'm cold. More so when I know the solution to my problems lies only a few feet away and a swift turn of the heater key (our house is mucho old) to the left. But, for some reason, I need agreement from Bubba that we should, indeed, turn on the heater and start the irreversible season we call Winter. I guess I could get up and walk over to the heater and turn it on myself, but then it will turn 80 degrees outside overnight and I'll feel like a retard with no one to blame but my own self. At least if we both agree to turn it on and a heat wave rolls through town, we can both quietly ignore the fact that jumped the gun and tried to start winter early. Idiots!

This is a big issue for me because it means a lot of things that I really like are about to officially change for a bunch of long months. Things like wearing slippers instead of flip flops, the aforementioned not-hot librarian sweater instead of tank tops and fingerless gloves at all times. And I'll have to come up with some new reasons why we have to keep the cotton sheets on the bed instead of getting flannel ones. (I LOATHE flannel sheets. They are gnarly and remind me of dirty sleeping bags.)

So, I try to wait out the Turning On of the Heater for as long as possible to avoid the inevitable changing of the seasons. This year I barely made it out of October before my pitiful bleating began.

Finally there was agreement on heater status and, I am not lying, the second we fired that bitch up, it started to rain. And it's been raining ever since.

So, it's raining. And it appears to be winterish. And to console myself and heat up the house at the same time, I'm baking. I made sweet potato pie. I baked some random snicker doodle cookie dough that was languishing in our freezer. I have two soup recipes ready to roll. I'm currently drinking tea by the pot. I thawed dough and baked bread. There are remnant pie crusts waiting to be filled with whatever makes itself available.

And someone will have to come in springtime and extract me from my house with a flatbed truck. Hooray for winters gluttony.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Book Club: The Lost Continent. Travels in Small Town America, Bill Bryson

You'll be glad to know that this post will take on less of a Book Report vibe and more of a Brief Summary of My Totally Random Opinions vibe since I can't quote from the book directly (gave my copy to Shelley while I was in Italy) and the idea of a book report is a little too homework-ish and that's boring.

When I read the title (obviously skimmed right over the sub-title), I didn't think this was going to be a book about Bill's travels around central and eastern US. To me, the US is about as un-lost a place as I could imagine. Mostly because I live in it, and am therefore able to put my finger right on it and say, "See! Here it is. The US is here. Not lost at all." But, as usually rings true, there's more to a book than it's title, cover, etc. And if you happen to read the subtitle you can bypass a lot of confusion altogether, I suppose. And then, too, it's about other things America has lost; like fit adults, safe streets for walking, taste for food that is not fast, culture in general, etc.

The "lost"-ness of the continent was about the little cities that get lost between his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa and 38 other east-ish of Iowa locales. Don't hold me to the exact states, because as I said before, my copy of this book now lives in Rome with it's adopted Italian family, eating better than all of us and learning to swear with its hands, so I'm unable to do my anal-retentive fact checking so you don't make fun of me and leave mean comments. So please, be gentle.

If you've read any of Bill's other books (Do you like how I call him Bill? Like he's my next door neighbor or something) you know the gist - he hops in the car (or on a train, bus, etc) and roams from town to town. When in town, he seeks accommodations and then goes about the town on foot to find their local pub, restaurant and tacky shopping establishment. During these standard activities he finds one million heart-stopping hilarities to comment on, while also giving himself a good rib and concluding with a summary on the town that may or may not deduce that the best thing to do in the town is to fall asleep in a hotel room while watching reruns and eating peanut butter cups.

I'll go right on and admit that this particular volume of Bill's travel stories wasn't my fave. But that's because I appear to have started with his newer stuff and worked backward. Which is kind of disappointing in the same way that turning on the WB to watch Simpsons reruns is when you realize they've caught up to the newest syndicated episode and now are starting over from #1 where Homer's voice is weird and Bart's face is all long.

But I did love Bill's description of his portly hometown women, the deadpan reviews of his father's thrifty family vacation tactics and the way he could always find something to remark upon about a town, even if it was just the wideness of their Wal-Mart aisles. I didn't find "Lost Continent" as enthralling to read as, say, "In a Sunburned Country", but that's probably because he was writing about Australia instead of Kentucky, and let's face it, I'd rather be down under than down south. Plus, everything is scarier, and therefore funnier, in Australia, and I felt a little more inclined to honk with laughter after I realized Bill's life might have been in certain danger during the writing of that book. Basically, I still found lots of funny nuggets to get me cackling in Lost Continent, but his voice was weird and I could tell his face was all long.

As a gesture of confidence in my theory I have already ordered his latest book which I anticipate to be at least as as funny as the other later works I've extra loved. And as a gesture of my proven laziness, I will note for you Bill's event calendar, and then tell you that as I'm writing this on 10/23 (pre-emptively reviewing since I finished the book about five minutes after I started book club) I'm not going to attend his 10/24 visit to SF because the mere thought of driving into the city after work makes me despondent and vaguely nauseous. And, really, I doubt he'd sign my boobs anyway.

What I will do is declare the next book in the club as his latest book (yes, the one I just ordered), The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, since it's on it's way and I know I'll throw down my current read of his that is suffering from Old Simpsons Syndrome as soon as it arrives.

And if you're bored of Bill already and want diversity in your reading, I will say that our *next* book will not be a Bryson, and might be fiction. So, if you want to hang out with me and read along through one more Bryson, YAY! And if not, well, you can do a lot of things that I won't spell out for you, but one of them has a bad word it in and rhymes with bite me.

Now, for the club-ish part of this - you guys fill up the comments section with your own summaries/comments/tales of public embarrasment so that we can all regale in the joy that is a shared read. Also, vote on the book (on the right ----->) and tell us what you really think.

AND in 6 weeks time, on 12/15, let us gather again to share our comments on the newest episode of Bill's, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.

Oh, and Happy Dress Up Like a Freak Day.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Unexplained bacon

I worked from home on Friday. A nice little perk I like to take advantage of when I:

1.) Have a lot of work to get done and need to be in the chaos-free realm of my house in order to finish it all


2.) Have a lot of laundry to do

Friday qualified on both counts, so there I was clacking away on the laptop when Bubba pinged me to tell me that the aforementioned "Surprise wonderful thing" he'd aluded to at dinner the other night had arrived.


At my office.


And he was going to be in a meeting until wayyyyyyyyyy late and couldn't go by and get it.


And if it was left to sit over the weekend it would not be so wonderful on Monday when I returned to the office.


So, after exhausting all possible options that would both transport the Wonderful Surprise to my house AND keep me from having to put on regular clothes, it came down to me settling for flip flops with my ratty jeans and hoping to hell nobody I knew was in the lobby when I dashed in for the Wonderful Surprise that was now waiting with our receptionist.

Of course, if I were a less obsessive person or someone who wouldn't, say, trade democracy for a Wonderful Surprise, I might have let the thing sit over the weekend and then deal with whatever Wonderfulness may or may not still exist after three days sitting with our receptionist . But, we know I'm not like that and was obviously going to get my unexplained bacon one way or another.

*Sidenote: For those of you who are not avid Simpsons watchers (or Futurama, ATHF, Harvey Birdman, Drawn Together, Family Guy, Venture Bros, etc) , you may need to watch more animated TV shows in order to fully appreciate my posts. Plus it will enrich your life with immature laughter. Just a suggestion.

To sum up, no one saw me in my rattiness except the receptionist and the delivery person who was excited to see that the Wonderful Surprise they'd brought to my empty desk was being retrieved. And in case you haven't put 2 and 2 together yet, the Wonderful Surprise was the irises in the photo above.

Let me just say that getting flowers for no reason is as Wonderful as I've been led to believe. Also, I wish the hag from dinner the other night were here to see me now - boy, would she choke on that Cabernet.

The End.

OH! Don't forget - Our First Blogging Book Club is tomorrow and I expect you all to chime in with your comments/summaries/favorite moments/internal injuries that resulted from the book.

ALSO - I will let you know what the new book is. Good lord the suspense is too much, I know.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Fall, food and evil bitches trying to ruin my good time

Everyday I leave work and see this in the parking lot. It's nice. After about a week of seeing this everyday it occurred to me to take a picture of it, since it'll just be a bunch of sticks soon and I'll be wishing I had not been so lazy to take the camera out of my purse on the way to the car.

Here's another shot for good measure.

You know what this kind of scene makes me want to do? Drink. But in a nice way. Like a take the hubby out for cocktails and a multi-course Greek meal way. And since I'm not in the business of denying my own whims, we went to dinner.

Oh and if it wasn't just exactly what I had in mind.

(Forgive the darkness, they turned the lights down for dinner...)
Some feta and olives...

Some nice zucchini fritters with a fancy Greek name I don't remember...

An excellent lamb shank with orzo...

A skewer-free Souvlaki (beneath Hubby's hungry face)...

And don't worry, there were drinks. And then some crunchy Greek-style coffee that confirmed for me why Italians are the better known coffee folks. And then a waddling/shuffling movement as we detached ourselves from the table. And then some evil stares from the hag sitting next to us who was clearly not having as much fun as we were. And then some inappropriate groping on the sidewalk after hubby walked me to my car (we met at the restaurant after work).

You know, now that I think about it, it is possible that we looked like two adulterers having a lewd dinner out unbeknownst to our spouses. Perhaps that is why Hagitha was giving us the not so nice looks throughout our dinner. We just could not have looked like a married couple out for dinner. No, no. We were enjoying ourselves a bit too much for that.

This seems to be an annoying recurring theme lately. That "people who think that as soon as you get married the fun is over" theme. It was certainly the theme at Hagitha's table. I overheard her husbeast ranting about some ridiculous business principle for the majority of their meal while she sat quietly and pickled herself with the house Cabernet. While at our table we were pickling ourselves with gin and whiskey and discussing, at length, where ever should we take our bodies skiing this winter.

Whoever instated that No Fun is to be Had After Marriage is retarded. Granted, we've only been hitched for two years, but if I'm drinking house Cabernet at the age of 50 and giving dirty looks to the drunk ski-lusting couple at the opposite table, feel free to cart me off to the far pasture and put me down.