28 April 2006

S'mores

Did you know you can make S'mores in the microwave? Me neither. At least, not until I had the happy accident of noticing instructions for making S'mores in the microwave on the back of the graham cracker box when we went camping (not bringing S'mores when camping is like not bringing water).

It's shockingly easy and takes less than 10 seconds:

  1. Place 1/2 of a graham cracker on a microwave-safe plate.
  2. Place 1/4 of a Hershey's chocolate bar on top of the graham cracker.
  3. Place one regular-sized marshmellow on top of the chocolate.
  4. Place the other 1/2 of the graham cracker on top of the marshmellow.
  5. Place the entire contraption in the microwave, being careful not to upset it.
  6. Nuke for 4 seconds - WATCHING CAREFULLY. As soon as the marshmellow begins to swell up, open the microwave door and squish the contraption so the top graham cracker doesn't fall off. Rotate contraption a 1/4 turn, close microwave door and nuke another 4 or 5 seconds.
  7. Remove from microwave, squish, eat!

See? How easy is that?

OK,OK. Granted, you are robbed the pleasure of roasting the marshmellow, blowing it out when it catches on fire and eating soot, but if you're not going camping any time soon, it's a nice alternative to building a campfire on your patio.

Leastways, I think so!

26 April 2006

Pitchwife's Song


My heart has rooms that sigh with dust
And ashes in the hearth.
They must be cleaned and blown away
By daylight's breath.
But I cannot essay the task,
For even dust to me is dear;
For dust and ashes still recall,
My love was here.


I know not how to say farewell,
When farewell is the word
That stays alone for me to say
Or will be heard.
But I cannot speak out that word
Or ever let my loved one go.
How can I bear it that these rooms
Are empty so?


I sit among the dust and hope
That dust will cover me.
I stir the ashes in the hearth,
Though cold they be.
I cannot bear to close the door,
To seal my lonliness away
While dust and ashes yet remain
Of my love's day.


-Stephen R. Donaldson
~~White Gold Wielder~~

24 April 2006

Bumpah Stickah

Living in The South is Hell for me. No surprise there, right? And aside from the few things I do like about it (the food, the family (well, most of the time), the music, the very lovely springs with their awesome, and sometimes frightful, thunderstorms), it doesn't have much that would keep me here if I actually had a choice about leaving.

I can, however, comfort myself with the knowledge that at least, if I must remain trapped here, I am trapped in a relatively liberal part of The South. (Relatively.)

As proof of this, I offer up the following two facts:

1) The metro area I live near voted against W.

and

2) I saw the following bumper sticker the other day and was much comforted:

Republicans for Voldemort

I must have one.

21 April 2006

Another Show

Thunder, lightening and rain started up around 4AM - no getting back to sleep for this mama (I did try). Why do storms like this come at such odd hours around here? It wasn't even hot outside or anything... weird...

We did end up getting nailed yesterday - no tornados, but lots of rain, wind and some quarter-sized hail at the house. Got to the parking lot at work around 10AM and just as I was getting out of the car the sky cracked open practically over my head. The resulting noise was deafening, reverberating through my body like some kind of mega subwoofer.

Decided to take the shuttle bus.

I don't normally do that - I usually walk the mile or so to the cube, that being my only real opportunity for exercise during a workday - but something told me I'd better not try it. Good choice, as it turned out.

Sky started spitting rain as soon as I reached the shuttle stop. More cracks in the clouds right overhead, more booming super subwoofer pounding through me. I could see the shuttle waiting at its previous stop. And waiting. And waiting.

Rain was getting more and more petulant by the time it finally started moving. It seemed to take forever to drive the 50 yards or so between stops. Got in. Sat down. Sky opened up.

Rain and hail - torrential doesn't even begin to describe it. It was a tidal wave. Drenching, blinding - the wipers on the bus couldn't keep up. I got soaked crossing the five feet of sidewalk between the shuttle stop and my building.

Glad I didn't walk.

20 April 2006

Fade Away

The sun came up, a fireball, then disappeared behind a blanket of clouds. Now everything is a flat grey-green. The rain patters inconsistently, and thunder rumbles on and on and on.

Ever Closer

The sky is turning red now, red like Hell is rising, and the thunder is thrashing about like it's trying to get comfortable and can't. The birds sound frantic and cars drive by, all in a hurry to get somewhere. Lightening pulls color from the ascending sun and makes things pink instead of techni-glow bright. The rain has scampered off and is nowhere to be seen.

Storm Coming

Woke up between 3 and 4AM this morning, finally gave up and got up at 5:30 to watch thunderstorms approaching - didn't want to miss the show. Watched out the bedroom window for a while then opened the door to the deck and stood listening.

The sky was flashing and silent. Then rain started plinking the deck, almost hesitantly, like it was just testing it out, seeing if it really wanted to fall there. A few seconds later the first hints of thunder rumbled by on the edge of the horizon and the lightening started getting serious. No longer a vague flashing in the clouds, now it began to light things up, not enough to show color in that millisecond way that you see in the middle of a storm, but enough to remind you it could if it wanted to.

The rain moved on to test out somebody else's deck and I went to make "coffee" (decaf, of course, which you wouldn't think is worth it, but when that's all you're allowed to have, you'll take it). I'm sipping it now, sitting at the dining room table next to the wide open door, waiting.

18 April 2006

Owls

Woke up early-early this morning, which isn’t terribly unusual for me. I don’t sleep much anyway and pregnancy means sleeping less at a time (though naps are more frequent). Went through all the motions of “getting back to sleep”, which is usually futile and proved to be again this morning – although not for the usual reasons.

April participates in the rare few weeks in The South when you can have your windows open at night. (The rest of the time they have to be locked tight against “cold” or suffocating heat.) Consequently, our windows were open in the early-early as I stumbled around piles of laundry and various toys to the bathroom and back. The sky was lightening, but still mostly grey-black, and there were lots and lots of birds starting up with their morning sing-a-long.

Hoping to fool myself into another hour or so of rest, I lay down and attempted to get comfortable (this proves more impossible every day, but one must try). I snuggled the husband, closed my eyes, pulled the covers up to my chin (it was that cool) and breathed deep.

To no avail, of course.

The baby kicked and flopped around, my back complained about the inadequacy of the mattress and then my stomach insisted it was breakfast time. Pretty soon, I was just lying there waiting for 6AM (it seems indecent to get up before then if you don’t really have to) – and that’s when I heard them.

Owls.

At first, I thought it was a mourning dove (hey, it was early), but the more I listened, the more it sounded owlish. After a while, I decided that the first part of the song was definitely an owl, though the end was so low and mournful, I still wasn’t sure. I got up and went to the window and listened some more and finally realized it was TWO owls – the first one close and the second further away and answering it. (I suppose it sounded lower because of the Doppler effect??)

I stayed kneeling at the window a long time hoping to catch them in flight – there is nothing like seeing an owl in flight. They are totally silent and unless you happen to be looking, they could fly right over your head and you’d never know they were there.

I saw a group of them flying together once when I was hiking through Virginia. We had camped on an embankment just above a road cut that went through a gap (low spot in the ridge). I don’t remember why we were still outside. Normally, by dark we would have been in bed, but we had probably hiked late to make some miles.

We heard them before we saw them. Hooting came toward us down the ridge we had descended a couple hours earlier and we stood transfixed by the sound. It was eerie in the falling dark, echoing off the ridges, yet strangely muffled by the heavy pine woods. I remember being rooted to the spot, staring at the still, grey sky, just waiting as the hooting got louder and louder.

Quite suddenly they appeared out of the trees, four or five of them flying no more than a wing length apart. They were huge and close. Since we were 10 feet or so above the road on the embankment, they were only 20 or 30 feet away and practically at eye-level.

Except for calling back and forth to each other, they made no noise at all – no wing beats, no rush of air, nothing. It was weird, magical and almost unreal.

They were gone in less than a minute. They flashed though the patch of open sky above the road cut, hooting to each other, and disappeared up the other side of the ridge, their calls fading as the stars began popping out in the blackened sky. We stood still and silent for a long time, hoping they’d come back. They didn’t, but I’ll never forget them.

Coincidentally, perhaps, (although I don’t believe in coincidence, really), another kind of owl reappeared in my life just yesterday. This one’s the logo of the summer camp I went to in high school – a place that saved my sanity and maybe even my life.

I got an email from an old friend who went to this summer camp with me. She had been e-invited to a camp reunion and didn’t see my name on the list – seems I had been “lost” for a while. Well, I went to the e-vite and there was this list of names, names connected to people I hadn’t seen or thought about in years and years, people who had become brothers and sisters to my soul back in the days when my soul badly, badly needed them.

OK, sappy, I admit. But it was also weird, magical and almost unreal to have all these memories flooding back into my mind of this time and this place and all these fabulous people who were so important to me. I’ve already heard from two of them and I emailed another myself. It strikes me that I should connect back up with these people at this particular time in my life when - as I was in high school - I am trapped in a place I can't stand and can't leave. Yet, anyway.

In the meantime, I’ll watch for my owls in the early-early. I’ll be lucky if I see them, but even if I don't, it is mighty good to know that they’re around.

17 April 2006

Science Proves Women Usually Right

So this story on abcnews.com caught my eye today and it’s got me all amused. The story is about the accuracy of genetic paternity testing and how often men are actually raising their own, biological children.

One of the factoids discussed is as follows: men who seek out genetic testing to prove they’re not the biological father of some child are only right 30% of the time. In other words, 70% of the time, these men are wrong.

Even more interesting from my point of view, the story also states that “98% of men raising children they believe to be their biological offspring are right to think so”.

If you look at this another way, women – who have presumably made some sort of declaration or guess about who the father of their children is – are almost always right (i.e., 98% of the time).

Hmmm… 30% accuracy versus 98% accuracy…

Sounds about right to me…

Green

It’s green here.
Trees, shrubs, grass.
It’s everywhere, in every shade from dark-shadow to newborn-leaf.

It’s beautiful, though it makes me sad.
All that gorgeous, drinkable green, see,
it blots out the blue, closes up the edges of the sky and brings them close around my head like a veil to keep wide-open spaces from prying eyes.

It's shade is welcome, sure.
But when your heart beats to the wilderness of blue, all that green feels a bit like a prison.

16 April 2006

The Porcelain Goddess: Part Deux

Once again, She has answered our prayers and pleas for mercy. Yes, the Great White Goddess of the Porcelain Bowl has appeared in a vision (apparently) to Ms. Three-Years-Old (OK, OK - Ms. Almost-Four-Years-Old) and shown her The Way. The way to the potty, that is, at long, fucking last.

It happened almost entirely by accident, but it has happened and I will not question Her Wisdom.

See, Ms. Three-Years-Old decided to do that literal anal retentive thing again and so we started stuffing her with that laxative her doctor prescribed, because the alternative (forcibly holding her down and administering a suppository) just isn’t fun for anyone.

I think we overdid it just a bit and Ms. Three-Years-Old ended up having about 7 BMs one evening. Around about BM #2, I had her sit on her potty chair while I went to get a diaper for her to do her business into. I had barely made it to the super-secret diaper stash, when I heard some very distressed whining from the vicinity of the bathroom. So I rushed (well, performed the pregnant equivalent) back down the hall to find Ms. Three hobbling out the bathroom door - with shit hanging out of her ass.

“Sit down on the potty! Quick!” I said, not much wanting said shit to land on the carpeting in the hallway.

She started to protest, but I thought fast and explained – ever so calmly as I eased her tuckus onto the potty - how we didn’t want to get poopy on the floor, and since it was already out, we’d just let it fall into the potty this time. Just this once.

Somehow, the logic of this made sense to the three-year-old brain and she stopped protesting and sat.

“You might as well let the rest of it out in there too,” I said, not daring to hope she might actually do it.

Well, she amazed the flying fuck out of me and actually did. (She just loves to prove me wrong.)

That – apparently – was all it took.

I made a big deal about showing her how to wipe properly and letting her pick something out of the glass "reward" cannister (a Cadbury creme egg - she was sugar-blitzed for the next three hours). Thanks to the laxative, Ms. Three proceeded to have at least four more BMs that night and ran to the potty each and every time and has continued to do so for over a week now. No accidents, no anal retentive episodes, no nothing – just regular, old using the potty (I’ve just jinxed myself, haven’t I? damn…).

So, all praise to the Porcelain Goddess. May She continue to bestow Her Blessings upon us unworthies (and fercrissake, may She please appear in a vision to Daughter #2 somewhat earlier in said daughter’s life? please.).

11 April 2006

Cold

We went “camping” last weekend – CAR camping, that is (hence the quotes). “Real” camping, to me, means hauling everything you need on your back though black-fly-infested woods uphill in the rain until you’re a minimum of 10 miles from the nearest road, at which point you set up your 4 pound tent, attempt to squeeze your 1 pound sleeping bag into it, pull out your super-light-weight stove and boil water to reconstitute your freeze-dried dinner. I think most people call that backpacking. But I’m not sure because until I met the husband, it never occurred to me that you could do “camping” any other way.

Anyways. We went camping last weekend.

And we took the handy-dandy pop-up camper that my parents gave us when they moved to Florida (gatta love the fringe benefits of having retired parents). It’s pretty cool, this pop-up thingy, and much as I hate to admit it, probably a whole lot more fun than backpacking-camping with a three year old. It’s like playing house to her, only with a real house. It’s got everything: a stove, beds with mattresses more comfortable than what we have at home, a table with cushioned seating, even a frikkin’ SINK, fercrissake.

It also has a heater, which no matter how I looked at it, I thought seemed silly. I mean, would anyone ever actually USE it?? Do the kind of people who car camp even venture out if the temperature drops below 50 degrees at night??

The husband, bless his heart for acting all tough, thought it seemed silly, too. Actually, I think he thought we wouldn’t need it (last year, it was 80 degrees at the place we camped), and when he asked me if I thought we’d need it, of course, I said “Fuck, no! Are you kidding?”. So he didn’t mess with it like he normally would to make sure it was in working order before we left on our trip.

Naturally, it was cold as frikkin’ hell. And naturally, we couldn’t get the heater to work.

Now normally, cold doesn’t bother me. Normally, I fucking love it. Normally.

However. There were extenuating circumstances this time.

First of all, every article of cold weather gear I own is made for non-pregnant people. Apparently, Mountain Hardwear, The North Face, even Patagonia, all assume that pregnant people are not active people and therefore do not require fleece jackets, fleece pants or thermal underwear. (Not that I could afford to buy it, if they made such things, but that’s beside the point.)

Second, I’m no longer acclimated to cold. Despite walking from the far reaches of the shuttle lot every day all winter long, I have succumbed to wussy-ness. It just doesn’t get cold enough this far south of the M-DL* to keep one’s blood thick and one’s skin toughened to the effects of temperatures that approach (*gasp*) freezing. Sad, but true.

Third, and most of all, I was scared to fucking death that Ms. Three-Years-Old was going to get hypothermia overnight and die. Now that, at least, is a legitimate reason for wussing out and trying to start the heater. It is fine, even admirable, for oneself, if one chooses to wear a T-shirt and boxers outside in a blizzard; it is neither when it comes to one’s child.

So we bundled her up as best we could and when she fell asleep in front of the fire after her 5th or 6th S’more, we tucked her tightly into her 0-degree sleeping bag - with her coat on - and piled two blankets and a quilt on top of her (she’s probably lucky she didn’t asphyxiate).

I was plenty warm enough, myself (bundled in my down mummy bag with a wool blanket and comforter on top), but proceeded to worry about Ms. Three-Years-Old all night. I even got up to check and see if she was breathing, something I haven’t done since she was 6 months old.

She was perfectly fine, of course. In fact, trooper that she is, she hardly complained about being cold at all. (That’s my girl… sniff.)

And by morning, my own wussy-ness seemed to be wearing off. I cooked breakfast outside in half the number of layers I had on the night before and sat outside in the sun sipping hot chocolate with my breath steaming the air. It was great.

But it still bothers me that I broke down and really wanted that heater on. Sign o’ the times, I guess…