Monday, July 31, 2006

An Ode to Hubby

Try not to frow up, it is my second wedding anniversary and I am going to celebrate it with a poorly contrived poem.

(Note: There would be a Hubby photo right here if Blogger would get its act together.)

An Ode To Hubby

On this here blog, I call him Hubby
but at home he has lots of different names
Most of the time I call him Bubba
but not when we're playing board games
Then he's "WordNerd" or "Cheater pants!"
and maybe I throw in a four letter word
Especially when he whups my ass at Scrabble
Hint: it's another word for "turd"
But don't let me misguide you
I love this man to death
He makes me laugh, howl, scream and cackle
until I'm all out of breath
I knew I'd marry him one day
when I stood hunched over my kitchen sink
nearly delirious from laughing
and chucked till I was pink
We have lots of great memories
stretching back over our six years
Everything from drunk nights in Vegas
to crazy gay dive bars on New Year's
I can't imagine another person
with whom I'd want to spend my life
and for him I made that last sentence gramatically correct
because, for the second year, I'm a happy editor's wife.

Photos from the freakishly wonderful weekend to come.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hubby Dream - UPDATE

Yes, that is right, the garage has a new hat. This hat is not corrogated. It is not made from 100 year old tin shingles cobbled together with pine tar. There are not any holes through which water can leak onto the precious mower or my potting bench.

What does this mean?

So many things!

#1: Hubby is approaching something resembling happiness with regard to his Garage-Mahal.

#2: We might get through one weekend without saying the word, "Garage" one million times. (This will be accompanied by the same kind of glee that I exhibited as we finished the kitchen project.)

#3: I might have somewhere to store my bins of off-season clothes without losing them to "moisture".

#4: The fence building can begin. (Duh, of course we have another project lined up. There are hundreds to go.)

#5: Getting a dog is only a few precious steps away.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that this could not have been done without the skilled and tireless efforts of my dad and his even more tireless crew.

Here they are in action - please keep in mind that it was a scorchy 109 degrees that day and, likely, much hotter than that on the roof. One could have sustained 3rd degree burns from constant contact with those shingles.

Not sure if you can see it in the photo, but my Dad's hat says "Jessica NAU 2000". Which, in dad truncation, means "Hey people! Look at this group of 30 people all wearing the same hat in celebration of the fact that my daughter is graduating from college and will not be bugging me for money anymore!" He likes to wear this hat every time he works on the house with us. Some kind of gentle ribbing about college tuition I suppose.

Joke's on him. I may not ask for money anymore, but he never had to reroof my college dorm in 100+ degree weather.

Either way, the garage has been re-roofed and we'll be working on the next project soon. Start practicing now by saying to yourself quietly: "Fucking Fence". Coming soon.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Secret weakness

It's no secret, my love of shopping. However, there are depths to my shoppy that I've admitted to a precious few. One being my love of school supplies and the ritualistic shopping for said supplies.

Of course, I'm long since graduated from college (longer than I care to admit, honestly) and so, haven't browsed the aisles of an OfficeMax or other related supply store since the inking of my degree.

What does one gel pen hungry glue-sniffer (not really) do for satiety? Find a good solid reason to shop so that nobody can get up in her grill when she comes home with ANOTHER set of new tropical colored markers and a fancy lime green tape dispenser.

This reason? Back to School donation drives! Yes, I know. These are supposed to be philanthropic and benefit the likes of school kids and their families. However, as we know, I'm wildly self-involved, so for me, these things represent a way for me to shop sans guilt. Hey! I'll take it however I can get it! I am not above petty shenanigans, ok?!

So, when the drive cropped up at the reception desk at work, I quickly snapped up a "6-8 grade girl" and headed directly to the POP displays and fully stocked aisles of my neighborhood office/school supply mecca.

And what a time I had. For the love! They've come up with so many irresistable organize-y, colorful, gadget-y learning accessories than I could have dreamed. And I haven't been out of college THAT long. Of all, my fave is this little number:

Why? Because it is lime green. Because it is curvy. Because it's almost 99% unecessary yet undeniably lust-worthy. Admission: I always carried tape in my zippered pencil case inside my binder during my school days and NEVER ONCE USED IT. Yes, it created an annoying hump in my binder and usually got broken two days into the school year, but it did a good job of collecting the random detritis of pencil shavings that collected in there, so I kept it to admire. But never did I have one this cute! I know. I'm off my rocker.

Anyway, that's my guilty admission of the day. I participate in back to school drives because it legitimizes my odd attraction to all things 3M and MEAD.

Did you have a favorite school supply - go ahead, tell it. Even if it's as mundane as a bouquet of perfectly sharpened #2 yellow pencils. Finny will not judge you. Finny will bond with you and might even recount algebra classes spent making swiss cheese from college-ruled binder paper and the three hole puncher.

You did it, too. Do not lie.

Monday, July 24, 2006

My Inner Country

I may sit in Silicon Valley traffic every morning, fight for street parking in front of my house, dine at contemporary restaurants, shop at tony outdoor malls and exist as a regularly pedicured psuedo-suburban dweller - but in my heart I'm pure country.

Not country like spurs and cowboy hats, but country like tree frogs and endless grassy fields.

This weekend, I got in touch with my inner country the best way I know how. Picking blackberries on my parents' property in lovely and HOT Sonoma County.

Honestly, I thought I'd successfully (and sadly) planned myself out of blackberry picking this summer. Hubby and I got into 2006 just in time to watch it book up with a myriad of trips, parties, projects, outings and other miscellaneous time sucking activities. Not that we don't love them all, but we also love free days to do whatever springs to mind on a Saturday morning - and and occurance of the latter has gotten frighteningly rare.

So, a few weeks back when it looked like hubby would be working with my dad on our roof and my mom would be wandering their property on her own, I realized this might be my one and only chance to get up there, don my straw hat and spend some QT with mom and the blackberry hedge. In retrospect, I should have photographed this behemoth for your very eyes, but I forgot. Call it a minor case of heatstroke. Take my word for it, though, these bushes/hedges/prickly hillsides are nothing to sniff at. We "trim" them with a chainsaw.

Despite the stiffling heat and widespread lack of A/C (my parents live in blessed hippie country where A/C is a laughable household accessory), we cheerfully sprayed ourselves with sunscreen, grabbed our favorite plastic buckets (old Cool Whip containers) and made for the berries.

While my fingers (and lips) purpled and I sweated clear through my entire "play" outfit, mom and I chatted it up and managed to pick 10 whole pounds of blackberries.

It was glorious. Gravel and hay crunching under my feet, grass and trees rustling around in the periphery, lizards and birds skittering amongst the underbrush, sweet berry juice staining my face - it really does not get much better than this.

Add to that a trip to pottery heaven and a nice little visit with our friend, Wayne, who owns, runs, cares for and creates this particular slice of heaven with his lovely wife Karen AND a trip to see my fantastically sassy grandma made for a very happy (while also very toasty) Finny.

Best compliment alert! Wayne told me, with a little knowing smile in his eyes, that I still am the little country girl he remembers (our families have been friends for a long time), since not a lot of Silicon Valley girls would leave the A/C of Santana Row for a hot dusty field and risk getting blackberry juice under their nails.

And you know what? He's right. I drove home that night with blackberry juice under my fingernails and giant smile on my face.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Hubby Dream

I'll admit, I spend the majority of my time on this blog talking all about the things I love and the dreams I have, but I rarely take a moment to focus on what hubby, the focus of much of my attentions, lusts after (besides me, of course).

So, today, let us focus on the realizing of A Hubby Dream.

We affectionately call it the Man Space or Garage-Mahal, but most people just call it a garage. Although, ours more closely resembles a barn, shack or modest lean-to. It's an original structure on an old property (about 100 years old or so), and while it has held up for an admirably long time, it has definitely started showing signs of, ahem, fatigue.

After the work on the kitchen was done, the dream of a water-tight, non-sagging, semi-functional Man Space was in order.

*Queue Superman's theme song*

Enter my dad. Construction wizard to the stars. Conquerer of leaky roofs, master of all wood materials, brandisher of nail guns, shoeless wonder of spray texturing, and bilingual supervisor to boot.

As of 2pm today, with scorching merciless sunball overhead, the first slope of the roof was done.

Notice, won't you, the lack of any sagging? The amazingly un-sievelike wholeness of the plywood? The sturdy appearance of the rafter beams?

It is a structural miracle. This winter, the mower will rest soundly, knowing that he won't wake up in spring covered in a fine sheen of rust.

Await thee photos of the final product! It will be breathtaking, I predict.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

There was walking, I promise.

Ok, so I made some promises about photos from Sunday's AIDS Walk, and while I did take some (uh, yeah "some"), they are irretrievably stored on hubby's fancy pants new digital cam that I've taken to favoring over my own, perfectly acceptable digital cam that is sitting in my purse right now next to the cable that I could be using to upload photos--if only. When I say irretrievable I mean that the camera is in his possession at the moment and I am just absent minded enough to keep forgetting to download them when we're both at home. Whoops.

So, hopefully tonight I will pull my shit together and get the photos online and then on this blog for you to feast your hungry eyes upon. Honestly, we're no prize, but we did take a little detour during the walk so I could spend some QT with the perfectly dewy roses in the Rose Garden. So, along with our sleepy faces (and bejeweled noggins) you'll get to see many close ups of lovely roses and other flower types.

I won't lie, it was pretty nice.

Oh, and we walked by the newly reopened de Young museum, but didn't go in. We were doing the walk, folks!

Best part of the whole deal though was the nice big cheer we got from the volunteers when we handed in our sponsorship form. Not to be totally shallow and ridiculous, but this was our biggest year ever and I wish we could have bottled those cheers and sent them out to all our sponsors. I'm talking "Woooooooooooooooooooooot! Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooot!" from half a dozen very enthusiastic AIDS Walk volunteers. Hello, $1900 for AIDS research and support in SF is nothing to sniff at.

Official thank you's to come for all of our beloved sponsors. Keep one eye on the mailbox.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Changing of the gourds

As it turns out, the Mighty Pumpkinzilla is not so mighty afterall.

Yes, folks, this is a sad post to write, Pumpkinzilla is no longer growing in the garden.

Why you ask?

Well, obviously not due to ignorance and experimental pruning by Finny. NO!

I'm choosing to blame it all on mysterious bacterial wilt which came into my garden and attacked Pumpkinzilla without any intervention on my part. And if you're even thinking it was because I decided to hack off one of Pumpkinzilla's limbs so that it might concentrate more energy producing one meteor sized specimen and then the resulting hole produced by said pruning left it vulnerable to bacteria such as the type that causes wilt in the pumpkin family then you would be exactly right! Er, I mean, wrong.

No, you're right. I'm pretty sure that's what happened. Boo.

So, last weekend (yes, I've given myself time to mourn before posting on it) I pulled Pumpkinzilla and gave him a proper burial in the green waste bin (far FAR away from the composter so as not to spread bacterial coodies) and turned and covered the soil so that the far-reaching melons could have some more room to call home.

Before I move on to happier gardening topics, let us take a moment to remember Pumpkinzilla in his glory:

OK, happier topics!

As I shored up and pruned the frisky tomato plants, I found a little cucumber surprise growing underneath the multitude of leaves and limbs:

Fancy that! A volunteer plant sprouts up just when another gets hefted into the yard waste bin! Everybody sing, "Circle of life..."

And if that weren't enough, I actually found a good amount of green tomatoes buried in there that were pretty happy to see the sun:

The nice woman at the NOT SNOBBY nursery reassured me that most tomatoes aren't ripening just yet in our neck, so give it a couple more weeks before freaking the fuck out. (I added that last part. She, unlike myself, is able to express extreme emotion without swearing.)

This boosted my mood so much that I went on a tear and decided to rescue the few remaining strawberry plants in their dwindling supply to fill the empty spot left by Pumpkinzillamayherestinpeace.

So, in hindsight, it might have been wiser to have left the strawberries for someone else and left the extra space vacant in the bed to accomodate the newly discovered cuke, but, well, I am impulsive and here we are.

No worries though, we have lots of cukes:

And, at the end of the day, also many MANY honeydudes.

And, really, who knows, I may have even more vegs making an appearance before long.

It appears that my neighbors vegs are seeking additional acreage and, having heard word of extra space in my yard, have started making the voyage through/over/around/underneath our shared fence. Spaghetti squash coming soon.

Friday, July 14, 2006


FYI: This is not a pretty side of Finny. Brace oneself.

It's no secret, when I'm stressed, I shop.

Some people eat. Some drink. Some pick fights with unsuspecting grocery store patrons.

Not I.

Retail therapy, while not validated by the FDA, has certain qualities that soothe my inner fireball. I'm not sure if it's because shopping lets me entertain my mind with easier tasks than those at hand or because I really like using my penknife to cut open cardboard boxes, but either way, if I'm having a particularly stressful week, you'll sooner or later find me knee-deep in packaging popcorn (or crinkle wrap, or those inflatable plastic cushion thingees, or...)

And, according to the stack of boxes on the stoop of my doorstep and order confirmation emails filling my inbox - this week has been a stinker.

Because, in addition to the nice stack of books you see here, there are also a few pieces of furniture and likely a new digital camera on their way. Oh, and I decided to get us a new mattress last weekend. And despite my #6 resolution to the contrary, I did a bit of shoe shopping. Yes, I'll admit, this is over-the-top, even for me.

And since I'm now feeling a mite guilty for the shopping, I will be doing some less spendy activities this weekend. Including putting a dent in at least one of those books, trimming and shoring up the tomato plants, making cucumber salad (recipe to follow) and marching off to AIDS Walk SF on Sunday.

Funny thing is, after all that "therapeutic" shopping, the one thing this week to calm my frayed ends was this little fella, drinking happily from the feeder:

I'm going to try to remember this next time my mouse starts to wander toward Zappos or one of my other retail nemeses, and instead I'll venture out to my backyard and await the low hum of an incoming hummingbird. If only he were wrapped in crinkle paper, we'd be all set.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

If you can't take the heat...

So, technically, I suck in the heat. I mean, I only lasted 6 pathetic, sweaty, miserable, whiney months in Phoenix when I decided to move there after college despite all my father's raised eyebrows and alternative suggestions. And when I moved back to NorCal six monts later, I only got a few "I told you so"'s - mostly from myself.

However, true to Finny form, I find ways to contradict myself constantly. For instance, I bake and sew when it is 100 degrees outside. (Note: We do not have A/C)

Last summer, I made my best blackberry pie ever when we had our first 95+ degree day of the year. And despite all Martha's finger-wagging, good pie crust can be created in sweltering heat on warm tile countertops (now replaced with lovely stone.)

And, to keep with my theme of ridiculous summer activities, I spent last weekend in the heat - baking and sewing.

It was about 95 degrees when these babies came out of the oven:

The little "V"s on top are another peek into my self-involvement. I like to monogram things. Mostly food. So, these got the household stamp just before getting shoved into the fire breathing oven.

Then, with a keen boob-sweat mark forming on my tank top, I started in on my wristlet for the It's a Wristlet World Swap.

Of course, I can't show photos just yet, but since I am paired with another Californian, I have the double challenge of not only representing our fair golden state, but in particular, the Northern portion. So, think wine country, farmers markets, dirty hippies, rugged coastline, the state leaf etc.

The final product may contain one or all of these -- and whatever other randomness enters my mind during conception. With any luck, WoofNanny will enjoy it while she basks in the sun of SoCal.

This weekend is supposed to be another warm one up here, so I'm already figuring out ways to turn on the oven, run the dryer, and use the iron to keep myself entertained. Oh! and we have the AIDS Walk SF on Sunday in mercifully cool San Francisco. The best part is that we've managed to raise more $ this year than any of our previous 5 -- and we'll both be proudly wearing Star Walker crowns.

You know me, pictures to follow.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Viva Italy! Viva Finny!

Ok, I'll admit, I didn't get into the World Cup until the very end since it's baseball season right now and I'm typically only able to obsess about one sport at a time.

Until my mother got a hold of me and infected me with her World Cup propaganda. And then I went to lunch with a friend and he said:

"I can't believe that YOU of ALL PEOPLE aren't into the World Cup!"

At that point, all my excuses about baseball and the NFL draft started to sound a bit flimsy (especially since the Giants are sucking so hard and the draft has been over since April) so, I gave in. I turned on the tube and decided that if I was going to get into a sport, I'd have to choose a team to root for.

And, clearly, it wasn't going to be the US since that would just ensure that I'd only watch one game and I'd need more than that if I were really going to watch some soccer (they suck pretty hard, too. Sorry US, but it's true. Better luck next time?)

So, on a whim, I sat at lunch with that friend, on the first day of the Cup, and randomly chose Italy. Since I'd been there once and loved it. Since one of my best friends and her fabulously charming fiance live there. Since it's a lovely and wonderful place. Since I am going back there in October. Etc.

Crazy luck! They won! Nothing like a whimsical decision gone right to talk me right into a new sport. So, consider me talked into it when it rolls around in four years. And, depending on my travels at that point, I will choose my team. US -- get your act together so I can stop being a national traitor, please.

And, with the Cup finito, I can focus again my energies on all things baseball. Just in time for the Homerun Derby and All Star Game today and tomorrow. Weeeeee!

Oh, and for those wondering why I'm cheering myself (see post title), this is my 100th post.

Geez. That's somethin'! Thank you to AfricanKelli for making sure I got into Backtack II and, in turn, making sure I got a blog up and rolling. Thanks to everyone who reads AND COMMENTS on my blathering. Thanks to Blogger for almost always being fully functional. Thanks to hubby for letting me weave your hilariousness into my posts without nary a complaint or shriek of horror.

Look to the next hundred posts to bring more stories from the garden, craft table, jaunts from the globe (mostly from Norcal, who are we kidding?) and the scariest nooks of my mind. All more or less woven with strings of four letter words.


Friday, July 07, 2006

No place for fancy around here

Raise your hand if you love the Smith and Hawken catalog.

(I'm doing it, too.)

Keep your hand up if you've ever bought anything from that shop (or gotten it as a gift) and had it actually attract the animal it was supposed to. For instance, a bird feeder, birdbath, etc.

For the record, my hand is now down. Why? Because there is just no room for fancy when it comes to wildlife.

They do not care that you spent $50 on a prissy seed contraption that matches your fence/house/patio furniture. Nor do they care that said feeder is made of recycled milk bottles or has shatterproof windows.

Instead, they prefer ugly sacks and plastic flowers.

I'll admit, during the many times I've sat back and imagined what my ideal garden would look like, it never once included a pathetically fraying mesh bag swaying next to a rickety fence or a red plastic hummingbird feeder with fake flower blossoms and a twisty tie hook. However, those visions have always included many chirping finches and hovering hummingbirds, so I'm now making some compromises.

The creatures are teaching me an important lesson here: No fancy in the garden, please. We do not care for your copper leaf adornments, blown glass receptacles or cumbersome sitting ledges. We prefer practical methods by which we can dispense massive quantities of food into our tiny bird bellies.

And, because I'm a slave to the creatures, I cave in. And, because I cave in, there are one hundred finches piling onto the niger seed feeder and two very competitive hummingbirds duking it out over the recently refilled and rehung cheesy plastic feeder, complete with plastic flowers.

Moral of the story: If it costs more than $10, don't expect it to attract any birds. Apparently, they're cheap dates.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Death (to hunger) Star

Witness the awesome power of this fully operational cooking station!

(from right to left)

Yes, it is true. After many months of kitchen renovation which included baffling experiences with disappearing contractors, spray texture, wiring diagrams and many many sets of proprietary cabinet hardware, the kitchen is officially done.

Hung the last painted (by moi) cabinet door myself on Saturday.

For a little reminiscing of tiled countertop days gone by:

Will we miss the tile, stained glass, poorly installed sink and impossible to clean glass top oven? Uh, no. Instead, we'll be welcoming in many days of blueberry bars, bbq and fabulous salads prepared with the, now gas-powered, Imperial Stove Trooper.

We'll also be welcoming our next 100 projects from our long ass list. To start, re-roofing the garage, putting up a new fence and gate and landscaping the front and back yards. Weeee.

With the heft of our To Do list weighing on me, I retreated to the sewing table to tackle a much smaller project - the new Amy Butler Cabo Halter Top:

I also baked up some awesome blueberry breakfast bars from Farmgirlfare:

In all - a successful 4th of July weekend. And to celebrate my freedoms, I listened to a full week's worth of Howard Stern via streaming Sirius radio, watched multiple baseball games , spent some much needed QT with hubby and had cocktails with lunch.

God bless America.