Tuesday, May 29, 2007

And the meat goes on...

"Well, it must be summer. I smell smoke."

And with that, our neighbor made Bubba happier than I ever have just by tossing this one phrase over the fence.

At the time, he (Bubba) had just fired up the smoker and was getting ready to cook up a pork shoulder and some boobs for an intimate Memorial weekend BBQ.

And in typical Bubba fashion, the smoke was billowing and we had begun drinking ceremoniously early on a fine Saturday afternoon (morning). Never let it be said that we are without class.

We then spent the rest of the weekend fucking around with the smoker in one way or another (Is it still smoking? Did you add more wood? I thought you were going to add more wood. Well someone better add more wood! Did you check the meat? I thought you were going to check the meat. Someone better check the meat! And it goes on...) and basically continuing our quest to be sobriety-free throughout our three days off.

However, between refills, I did manage to bake some bread, make some coleslaw, mix some hogwash to go with the BBQ, bake some surprisingly good Peanut Butter Toffee cookies (surprising because they came from the Martha Stewart Food magazine which is widely known to suck ass):

Pick an armload of sweet peas:

Host a puppy party:

And spend plenty 'o time refereeing the dog/cat/food bowl love triangle:

And then Bubba made us a leftover BBQ picnic yesterday, which was the best ever:

And, if you're wondering how one might compile the perfect BBQ sandwich, Bubba was happy to demonstrate:

The ensuing sandwich demolition was not documented due to adult content and language. Try not to think about it.

Now we're all back at work wondering how three days can go by so fast when it's not spent behind a desk trying to remember what a summer's breeze feels like or how many cocktails one can get out of one bottle of Bombay Sapphire.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

At least I ran

It seems as though seeing my non-running status in print caused an immediate improvement in my meaty conditions, because I was able to go on a nice (no sarcasm here) long run on Saturday without any stabbing pain in my shin meat.


I managed to trod out six miles with four minutes to spare (granted, there weren't any hills or sand traps to slow me down) and arrive back home just in time to ice my knees and meaty parts and head out on a long drive to see my brother graduate from college.

Another miracle? Who can say.

I will admit, however, that I did the run solo. I am getting to the point where I really should drag the dog with me, but I have a hard time with the training/running balance. Which basically means that I don't have the windpower to, at once, get the dog to "look" at me (thus avoid eyeballing a squirrel) and huff my way along - every...four...steps...

Call me a puss, but this is the state of affairs.

Perhaps this weekend I'll be more patient and able to take her on a run. And perhaps the fucking harness I re-ordered will FINALLY arrive. I don't like resorting to the harness on her because it makes me feel like a cheater who can't train her dog (which could be true), but it makes our runs SO much easier. She just doesn't pull. At all.

Follow the theme...


However, the first one I bought for her was a skosche too tight and rubbed her doggie armpits the wrong way. We can't have that. It's frankly unsightly and makes me feel mean. So, on all that, we'll see.

Meanwhile, another theme running roughshod around here: Escape

As in:

Let me out of this wire mesh:

Let me out of this cage:
And get me off of this pea fence:
Perhaps the EasyWalk people make a harness for excitable vegetable plants.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Such a nice idea, in theory

As soon as we adopted Jada I couldn't wait to take her running with me. I'd had all these fantasies about how cool it would be to do my long runs with a loyal companion happily padding along at my side while I whined and snarfled and chugged my way along.

People would walk by and think "Isn't that cute. I would run if we had a dog that great. I would be in great shape like that, too - and also as beautiful at 6am". Things would be perfect, if not a little delusional.

I've taken Jada running with me a handful of times in the last month. We've had no less than two disastrous situations during each run. Everything from frisky squirrels darting out from between the fence posts to lingering aromas around the dog groomer that caused her to go from Obedient Cheerful Running Partner to Erratic Lunging Droolbeast without more than one half a seconds notice.

The longer the runs, though, the better her behavior. I attribute this, at least initially, to my early morning charisma and fabulously effective training methods. But, of course, it's just because by mile 4 she is tired (as am I) and she has less energy with which to haul my ass down a driveway toward a taunting cat (friggen cats).

Then last week I took her out on a run, and to no fault of hers, I managed an injury that has kept me out of my running shoes since. I think my foot fell crooked onto a manhole cover or something. Either way, I managed to pull a muscle in my shin meat (what is that front muscle called anyway? We just call it shin meat at our house. Like the meat in McDonald's hamburgers. You know.) and spent the whole of last week hobbling around searching for the heating pad and the other bottle of Advil.

This week the lack of running is getting to me, especially since I have officially signed up for the aforementioned half marathon and know that I'll be starting some beefy training later this summer. I'm a little worried that if I don't keep up at least a regular, but relatively low mileage, running schedule that I'll get to July and croak when I try to bang out a fiver.

I'm not even thinking about how hot it'll be when my training starts. Last year it got up to 109 in July, and that's just no time to be trotting around for 7-10 miles at a time. Really, it's no time to be doing anything that involves moving unless you're doing so in the direction of a very big air conditioner or icy cool swimming pool. Two things we don't have.

Anyway, my goal is to get some regular mileage back under my belt starting next week so that I, at least, don't shrivel up and die throwing myself back into a normal training schedule in July.

It'll also give me some time to contemplate my other athletic conundrums such as how much my ass *really* jiggles when I'm running, whether my sports bra is turning orange from having my self-tanner sweated all over it and if I'd look cooler with a headband holding my head whiskers down rather than having them whimsically whipping around my temples.

This is when having the dog along comes in handy. It's easier to sort out a dog/squirrel lovefest than it is to come to terms with ass wobble.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A mix up at the hospital

It would seem that there is some peanut butter in my chocolate. Or chocolate in my peanut butter. Can't decide which, but there are definitely a few sweet peas in my snap peas.

Weird. I didn't order any sweet peas. And I certainly don't remember planting any sweet peas. Was I drunk when I put in the garden this year?

Always a possibility.

Meanwhile, they look pretty cute in there fighting for space with the ever-overachieving peas. Perhaps I'll just take my cue from nature and order some sweet pea seeds to sow with the snap peas next year and pretend like I planned it all by myself.

Like an evil garden genius. Muhuhahaha!

Or, you know, something nicer.

I'm not sure why I'm surprised, but there are other weird things going on in the garden aside from the Rogue Sweet Peas. For instance:

There is a volunteer sunflower (probably from the wildly popular and litter-liscious bird feeder) hanging out next to the veg beds trying to peek over the wall and see what the cool kids are doing.

They might be ignoring him now, but in about a month they're going to be bummed they didn't include them in their reindeer games since he'll probably be as big as the ones from last year.
And no, I don't plan to pull him out or relocate him. That would take grace, careful maneuvering and a host of other skills and/or characteristics that I do not possess.

So, Mr. Soon To Be Cool will have to make it on his own out there in the real world until he's big enough to tower over the cucumbers and make lewd demands.

Sorry, this just got strange.

Anyway, we also have lettuce. It's not weird or unexpected, but I thought it was kinda cute peeking through the mesh cage I've put over it to keep of the BASTARD MUNCHING BIRDS that can't keep their damn beaks off of it.

Obviously the stupid Scarechicken is not doing it's job. You see him back there. Snoozing behind the cosmos. Busy rusting away and only waking up to snare my dewy flesh when I DARE bring a kneecap too close to it's precious tail feathers.


See, gardening CAN be weird.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Oh, that Amy - she know what I like...

Dear Donk,

Yes, of course. Of course I finished my May InStitches project. Skidded right in at the eleventh hour to get it done in time for Mother's Day. And don't cha know that Momma Finny loved it long time - almost as much as I did.

See, I made it from this fab blue fabric covered with cutesy cherries that managed to charm me from across the fabric store. And then it continued to woo me throughout the sewing process, even during moments when I was seemingly un-wooable. Like when my index finger had an unfortunate run-in with the escaping steam from the overactive iron. Short and sweet: there were bad words and idle threats. But looking over at the cheerful cherries, I couldn't hold my grudge.

As far as the "Project in Action" part goes, it's a little staged - but thankfully we were of similar minds on the "how to show our project in action while also giving it as a gift". So, here I am pretending like I'm preparing to take to task all six bags of lemons which are beginning (rapidly) to go bad in the fruit basket, when in fact I was actually preparing to carefully wrap up the apron with a book and card for my momma and then return to the kitchen to throw out approx one full bag's worth of lemons.

Did you know they turn to green dust? That is Nasty. And Stinky. And a lot of other Words that have to be Capitalized in order to show their Extremity. EW.

Anyway, the other action shot that was taken immediately before wrapping:

Aside from the fabulous Mother's Day extravaganza that was planned for this weekend, Bubba and I also managed to observe a little publicized festival of ours: The Mac and Cheese Taste-Off.

I guess you could file this with Yoga Taco Night, Cinco Del Taco and Pizza Night (Everybody loves Pizza Night) under "Bizarre Events Involving Junky Food", but in our house, it's a rare and hallowed event.

It's also not at all regulated and there aren't any rules. And, in fact, there is very little "tasting off" going on, since we both think our variety of neon cheese covered macaroni is The Best. So, at most, it involves a little good-humored chiding and poking fun at *how disgusting* the other variety of mac & cheese really is. I mean, come on, POWDERED CHEESE? How gross.

For me, it's Velveeta Shells & Cheese all the way. Gooey neon orange cheese squooze fresh from a silver pouch? Perfection. The fact that a "cheese" product can sit, unrefrigerated, on a grocery store shelf for indefinite periods of time without any degradation of it's edibility is none of my concern. The end product is simply divine. And if a dozen shells happened to get glued together with the aforementioned heavenly cheese goo and speared by my fork all at once - all the better.

So, beyond the charming apron making (and YES I LOVE THIS PATTERN SO MUCH) and mac & cheese eating (Velveeta rules. Kraft drools.), my weekend was fabu. Slap on top the fabulous formal tea that we went to on Mom's day and the shopping that followed and I was an all around happy beast. I think you might be too, when you see what hopped into my bag when I went by a certain store since it's on its way to you raht now.


Friday, May 11, 2007

What you're supposed to be doing.

I'm trying not to think about the IRS situation, so I'm taking stock of all the things that *are* doing what they're supposed to be doing right now.

Unlike the IRS. Who I'm trying not to think about.


Ok, the garden...yes...right...

Unlike last season at this time, when I had already begun to replace croaking plants, I am actually seeing some pretty impressive, if not downright alarming growth happening in the veg beds.


These much requested snap peas have done blown past the top of their "pea fence" which we now call a "pea fence" instead of a Pea Fence because it's obviously not built tall enough for Peas, just "peas". Know what I mean? You know.

But, I suppose that since they're doing what they're supposed to be doing, I'm fine with it. If someone would get out to the fence and eat them so they'd quit falling over on the wee cucumber plants, that'd be great, too.


I don't recall having ever eaten a fresh-from-the-garden strawberry in May before, but as you know, that is old news this season and now I'm staring at a whole bunch of them. Well, I was. Until some bastard birds caught wind of the whole scenario and began their assault on my unguarded fruits.

Now it is not only I who has tasted a May strawberry, but also a flock of very lucky birds. Or perhaps one really big one. Who has not yet been struck down by the bird hunting dog. Lucky him.

Also pretending to be impressive is the aforementioned hidden-beneath-the-overgrown-peas cucumber plants who are currently playing an annoying game of bait and switch with me that I do not appreciate. One day, they look like this, all green and frisky and tiny miniatures of their future huge tasty selves. The next day, they are little shriveled used-to-be miniatures that get flicked off the plant while I say bad words.

I'm chalking it up to the lack of pollination since the bees are still flying around our yard in a confused haze wondering what happened to winter. They may not be ready to pollinate the tinnies just yet.


Last season I had a minor meltdown when my tomato plants, which I was "growing" from seed, were transferred outside during, what I now refer to as, my Killing Season. As it turns out, I am not so hot when it comes to hardening off tender seedlings and, thus, they all died over an unseasonably warm weekend when I was probably watching the Giants lose instead of watching my plants fry in the yard. Oh the choices.

However! The tomato plants this season are a totally different story. First, I did not grow them from seed, because I do not enjoy torturing myself, and second, they are alive and sort of bursting. They've (at least) quadrupled in size since I put them in the ground and now they're blooming, which leads me to believe that there will be tomatoes. Warm, delicious, summertime tomatoes. The kind that I'll eat right off the plant without even washing them.

OH YES. No washing! And that is why organic gardening is awesome.

Also good:

This is the replacement cantaloupe blooming in the graveyard of it's seedling predecessors who didn't make it to this stage because they were mercilessly gnawed to death by an evil being. I think it was some kind of bug. Stupids.

But now it's blooming and, again, I believe this means that fruit is coming. Which also means that I will soon be using up all those lemons by squirting them all over these cantaloupe (Have you not tried this? Do it now.) and eating them right up. Right out there in the yard. NO WASHING!

This is one of the few specimens to survive the mad bug buffet intact. I started it indoors and then transplanted to the garden once it had enough leaves so that the bugs could chew on it without killing it before it got strong enough to fend for itself. This is the Big Max pumpkin. Legend has it that it will produce 100 lb+ pumpkins.

I say, bring it.


So, now you're up to speed on the garden progress which I know comes as a great relief to one and all. And at this very moment, Bubba is in the backyard hauling the Evil Tree Stumps to the truck, so I better get out there and help him.

Well, at least with that one *special* tree stump that fell over on my unguarded chicken shin last weekend and has rendered me a whining bruised mess. Sure, I shouldn't be fucking around with the woodpile in my shorts and flip-flops, but there's a lot of things I *shouldn't* be doing. Like going out to the yard right now, with my ax, to *carefully* transport this *special* stump to the truck with all my tender care.

Someone, dial 9-1- and wait for me to holler?

Great weekends to all!

P.S. The IRS sucks

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Allow me to dust off an old nugget here and say that the IRS is fucked.

Oh, I know, the story has been told. But not by me. So here I am to share with you why I now know this to be true.

Bubba and I, in all our paranoid anxiety-ridden wisdom, dragged our butts to the accountant way back in February to get our scary-ass taxes done. In an effort to rip the band-aid right off and face the numbers together without the added fright of doing so on the eve of April 15th.

So, we handed over our lives in paper form, waited *sweating* for our numbers to come back, cried quietly when they did, but then were actually able to rejoice a little bit because we were getting a refund.

A wha?

Oh yeah people, by some force of magic (aka the Alternative Fuel Tax credit) we were actually going to be getting A REFUND.

I know, I had to look the word up myself. It has been a very long time since I've done anything other than weep into my sleeve and write checks so big that I had to squoosh all the words in at the end of the line.

But there it was. In scary IRS black and white: "Refund Amount" instead of "Amount Owed".

Huh. That *does* happen to people.

Yeah, much like winning the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes *happens* to people when they answer the door in their skivvies with a nude whore wandering listlessly in the darkened foyer.

It *seems* like a good thing, but inevitably something goes awry and you end up having to make some excruciating phone calls and/or post bail.

Much as things have transpired here. Minus the bail part.

The short version is that we haven't gotten our refund yet and I'm ticked.

The long version is that we haven't gotten our refund yet and I'm ticked because it was allegedly mailed on March 30th and, for some reason, never arrived intact in our mailbox. The reason this is the long version is because of the phone call I had to place with the IRS to find out where in THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD our friggen check was. I was inevitably placed on perma-hold just to be told (after 25 Muzak-soaked minutes) that they couldn't track it down for me and I'd have to fill out a form and wait SIX WEEKS for someone to get back to me.


Six weeks to find out whether the check was forged and cashed by some thief (who I hope has already been hit by a bus) meaning that I will then have to file a whole bunch more paperwork, swear that my signature is my signature and that I am who I am and Bubba is who Bubba is and all that jazz before they'll send me another one. It is likely that this, too, will take six weeks or more.

Best case scenario, the check was actually *lost* and remains uncashed to this day and they'll just cut another one.

The likelihood of this happening is akin to the money just falling from the sky, right now, into my lap.


Yep, nothing.

So, stay tuned for the SIX WEEK update, when I will likely be singing the praises of the bank teller who cashed our check even though it was signed in red crayon by Mickey Mouse himself.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Cinco de What Now?

I didn't realize that I'd stopped celebrating Cinco de Mayo until someone asked me last week if I had *big* plans for the weekend.

You know, in that eye-brow raised way where you know they're expecting some kind of impressive and slightly debaucherous (now a word) response. Like how people ask about your trip to Vegas *wink wink*.

I had no idea what they were referring to since I haven't been to Vegas in over a year (sad) and the only plans I had in mind for the weekend were to take Jada to a new park and see Spiderman 3 (suckfest) with Bubba. Nothing lewd and salacious there. Not even with all the butt sniffing going on at the dog park.

Then it dawned on me. They were talking about Cinco de Mayo.


I'll tell you this about Cinco de Mayo: Mmm, no.

I might be getting old and boring, but still, no.

Although we did end up at Del Taco yesterday where we enjoyed some Del Scorcho sauce on our quesadillas and absorbed some local culture which happened to be parked/camping next to the drive through.

Yes, that is a slow burning campfire right there on the pavement. Yes, we realize their existence had nothing at all to do with Cinco de Mayo. But it's as close as we got to drunk weirdos and strange cleavage all weekend, and that was the point.

As it happens, Bubba and I don't revel in this holiday, much as we don't revel in most holidays. Mostly because they all seem to involve bad parking, hordes of stinky ill-behaved people operating under the guise of "festive cheer" and expensive low-grade food.

However, there was nowhere to hide from the sirens that carried through the night or the rumbling thunderstorms which passed regularly by our house disguised as iridescent Oldsmobiles. So, in a way, we did experience Cinco de Mayo in one way or another.

And, our weekend *did* involve drinking and merriment, albeit of a different variety. The variety that includes an Australian Syrah instead of overpriced margaritas made with cheap mix and a lot of time in the sunshine of our backyard where the only fights that got broken up were those between Jada and Rocket when someone's nose got too close to someone's hind end.

And who says we're not festive?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Shameless obsession

We just moved into a new building at work. Not all that exciting, I agree. Especially since it involves me packing my stuff into carefully stickered boxes and then showing up in my new spot to find that they've all been lost and I also have no chair.


However, the building did hold some merit. Namely, the hottest paper cutters I've ever seen. Seriously. I spent fifteen minutes exploiting all of the features of this paper cutter as though I'd never used on in my life. Which I have.

(Yes, I'm posting photos of a paper cutter.)

Then I ran back to my desk (where I still have no chair) and pinged my friend/co-worker/fellow organizational dork:

Me: I am about to ask you a very dorky question...
Her: go on, my dorky friend
Me: Have you used the new paper cutter? Because it is THE coolest thing I've seen. EVER.
Her: how so?
Me: (I'm breathless at this point) When you raise the arm to cut the paper, there is a laser line (!!!) that shoots down the paper so you can line it up just so. I am going to marry the paper cutter.
Her: SHUT UP! i'm going to go cut something
Me: Do it. But prepare yourself. It is really fabulous. You'll want to hug it. BUT DON'T! It's pointy.

We then spent another 15 minutes ogling the laser line, measurement marks (so you can cut any old piece of paper into 3x5, 4x6 and 8x10-cool!) and paper holding arm while clucking so vociferously you'd think we were planning a wedding or getting really drunk.

I'm harboring secret fantasies about hijacking one from the office and taking it home for a sweet weekend rendezvous with my truckload of untouched paper supplies.

But I won't. Not because I'm afraid of being fired, but because I'm afraid of being "The girl who got fired for stealing the paper cutter." That's just dumb. And who wants that following them around on interviews?

Them: Hi [Insert my real name], tell us why you left [most desirable company]?
Me: Uh...I have an issue with office supplies and my ability to part ways with them when I go home.
*Awkward moment.*

So for now my sad obsession is playing itself out here for you all so that I can hopefully seek commonality with like-minded paper cutting obsessionaires.

Just go ahead and tell me you wouldn't want one of these in your house. Because I will then tell you what a big fat liar you are so that I can feel like less of a psycho.

LASER LINE? Pure genius.

Happy weekend.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

InStitches: May

Dear Donk,

I'll have to ask that you to refer to my pants by their technical name, "WIDEST Leg Lounge Pants THAT ARE HUGE". It's not very catchy, I know, but it serves its purpose. Which is to say that they are enormous and if were were to have the InStitches slumber party as you imagined, at least a few of us (the more adventurous ones) could get into these size "mediums" together for the suggested photo shoot.


All that aside, I love the idea of the apron. I will go ahead and assume that there is no reason this pattern should be any different from the last, and will pay special attention to the fabric requirements to make sure that we're not, in fact, making a tent of some kind rather than a normal sized apron for a normal sized human being.

I mean, it may *say* it's a "SHORT" pleated apron, but who knows. I'm a little gun shy I guess.

Theme-wise, I take my cue from the book photo itself (so derivative, I know) and declare this "Project in Action" month. Specifically, you make the apron and then have someone take a photo of you doing something in it. Perhaps cooking. Perhaps playing tennis. It doesn't have to be used for the specific purpose of cooking, but go easy on the nudity, this is not a boudoir apron, folks.

Winner-wise (all things *wise* today), I'm excited to announce April's InStitches winner as Alison of domesticali. Her saucy hot lounge pants set the pool on fire, and well, that deserves a prize. Spicy Lady Alison - please send me your mailing address (and phone #, too please for the UPS man) to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom. I will then ship you a prize befitting your sassiness.

June-wise (see?), I don't know yet. I'll think on it. There is one particular pattern that I've been coveting, so I'll have to see how I'm feeling come June.

Meanwhile, I can't wait to hear about the trip to Moz (so excited for my tribal fabric! sqweeeeee!), Britney is a mess and I will go pay homage to Paper-Source when it opens and let them know you'll be here soon to visit. And when I say "pay homage" you know that means shopping, which also means pressies for my favorite people. (You're my favorite people.)

Have a fabulously safe trip to the dark continent and I hope your many injection sites are soothed adequately by your one-man ice cream social.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

[BOOK CLUB] The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri

I'll just go right out and say it, regardless of the clanging cliche, this was one of those books I was sad to finish. And, despite my desire to avoid getting all dramatic and melancholy over a book, I still want to share the feeling I'm left with having finished it.

Like catching a beautiful fish - The whole experience is at once enjoyable, anxious, frustrating and satisfying. I try to enjoy the journey: casting repeatedly into the current, trying not to get too antsy about adjusting where the fly falls, patient with the fish that rise to the surface but don't bite. And finally with The One who does bite, reeling it in and admiring it briefly under the surface of the water, letting it slip easily off the hook and through my fingers back into the cool ripples of the river.

Ok, so I haven't been out on the river yet this year and I'm ready to reassemble my fly rod and get to casting. Sorry. It has started to seep into other parts of my life...

Back to the book, though.

My favorite thing about this book was the not-so-tied-up-in-a-bow ending that I was anticipating. As the story got closer to the end and Gogol started making more predictable decisions, I started getting this nagging feeling that the author was going to mail it in and pull a "happy ever after" on me. So glad I was wrong.

I'll concede something else here, too - there wasn't too much overt drama here. And I like that. See, sometimes I avoid books/movies/TV shows/people because the stories are too dramatic, too overwrought, too get-me-all-tied-up-in-a-knot and it bugs. I prefer the sensation of a more authentic slice-of-life story that isn't so artificially woven with catastrophic events that by the end of the book you're mostly bald and seeking varieties of medical attention.

Like Suite Francaise, I got the fly-on-the-wall feeling (btw: Why am I using so many hyphenated descriptors? Bubba is going to call me out on this one, fo sho.) of peeking into a life so much different than my own without any prejudging or bias. That is the work of a fine author, in my opinion. I never felt like I was being guided into judging any of the characters in one way or another.

I'm being kind of vague about the specific story line, in the event that you haven't read the book yet, because this is one I'd recommend pretty highly and I don't want to ruin it for you. Plus, Amazon gives a pretty beefy sum of the story and I'm not in the business of writing book reports anymore. At least not in the traditional 5th grade sense. So I'll sum my thoughts up as such: A pleasurable and intriguing story of an Indian man growing up in the US, including all the conflict that comes with integrating with American society.

Your thoughts?

For my next trick, I say we move on to The Stolen Child. I would have chosen Water for Elephants, but I picked it up mid-month and couldn't manage to keep my hands off it and have thus finished it prior to book choosing time. I do, however, recommend it pretty highly - especially if you have ever threatened to run way to the circus. After reading this book though, I'm glad I didn't get farther than the driveway.

So, let's meet back up on, say, 6/15, to chat on The Stolen Child.