Object Lesson

Someone at OpenDiary challenged her readers to pick 10 things that represent them. She mentioned using a photo album or scrapbook, or some such, but because I’m a purist I’m eliminating those as possible choices. If you feel like playing along, please leave a comment or trackback ping.

1) A fountain pen. My favorite one is green and blue glass, with a metal nib. It represents words and writing, and my fetish for pen and ink.

2) A cake of rosin. Because it represents not just my cello, but also the work involved in learning to read music, and sing, or play an instrument. On a broader scale, it also represents my love of music.

3) Black western-style boots, which I’ve owned since I was 18, actually. They represent my new life, here in Texas, and also my love of horses, even though they’re not really riding boots.

4) The jaws of a baby white shark, that I’ve had since a trip to New Jersey when I was 12. A slightly gruesome object, I guess, but an important one. They represent my love of the ocean, and the danger inherent in taking nature for granted. In a more abstract fashion, they represent my hot temper.

5) A red candle in a glass and pewter candle holder, the flame for the people I love whom are either no longer within visiting distance, or no longer alive, the concept of a candle, as functional art, the color red for power and prosperity, in my personal interpretation, not based on any specific spiritual leaning.

6) My wedding & engagement rings, for the obvious, my committment to Fuzzy, and for the less obvious, the tiny sparkle of the diamond reminds me that good things come in small packages (trite but true).

7) A stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh that I’ve had for almost thirty-four years now. It stands for innocence lost, delights treasured, and the pleasure of imagination.

8) A small rubber duck. This represents my self-indulgent side – bubble baths, pedicures, and foofy hair salons, but it also represents my love of whimsy.

9) Bubbie’s quilt. My step-grandmother hand stitched this for my mother, as a sort of wedding gift, and when my parents came to visit this year, they gifted it to me. It represents the tradition of fiber arts in my family – my maternal grandmother never stopped reminding us that ‘a gift of the hand is a gift from the heart’, as well as the notion that families don’t have to be made only of the people who are connected to you by blood. It also represents my appreciation for history. Quilts are stories, as much as books are.

10) A black velvet beret, with a diamond poodle pin on it. It represents my love of hats, and the concept of having personal style beyond whatever is in fashion. Someone once said, “Blessed are those who know how to accessorize.” Hats are my favorite accessory. This hat, though, brings us back to my love of words, because I started wearing it when I was a kid, and wanted to be Jo March, up in her garrett, eating apples and scribbling madly.

A Cold and Rainy Wretched Day

I remember my grandmother using this phrase…”a cold and rainy wretched day” and I know she was quoting something, but I don’t know what…Googling the phrase didn’t give me anything in the first page of results, and I’m not in the mood to dig.

Actually, the day wasn’t at all wretched, but it was cold and rainy. We went to church where Father Young led an ‘instructed service’ rather than the usual Rite I with Music structure they usually follow at 10 AM mass. As someone just beginning her spiritual journey, I found it interesting. The best way I can explain it is as a live version of an annotated work. Specifically, at each stage of the service and the mass, Fr. Young would pause, and explain the structure, the history, the tradition, the symbolism. I love the way he uses light humor when he speaks – he’s quite warm and engaging, really – but I have to comment that the way he says the word ‘flesh’ is a bit creepy. It’s as if he’s tasting the word, the substance, as he wraps his mouth around the sound.

Fuzzy, good Baptist boy that he is, seems to be less comfortable than I am. He doesn’t like the structure, or the stand/sit/kneel combination that I used to refer to as “Catholic Calisthenics,” until I learned that the Episcopalians (which is what denomination St. Andrew’s is) practice the same tradition. I don’t mind it – kneeling is actually an excellent way to release the muscles of the lower back – and it breaks the time up a bit. After a call with his mother tonight, he commented that Baptist ceremonies are much less rigid, with regard to lessons and sermons. I’m not certain that’s true. I suspect that part of that is his perception, and part of it is that the language of the Episcopalian and Catholic services is still less than modern. I’ve told him I’m willing to check out the local Baptist churches to compare (and I am, from an educational POV, if nothing else), but he never wants to. I wonder if he’s declining because he really doesn’t want to, or because he knows I feel really out of place in Baptist churches, as my entire experience with them has been laced with negative responses – politics from the pulpit BOTHER me.

The rest of the day was low-key. We went to lunch at Panera, where I fell in love with the Bistro Steak Salad (only 6 net carbs if you don’t eat the bread, and hey! Walnuts and Bleu Cheese!), and spilled scalding-hot chai all over the table and my leg. Thankfully it was raining, and I’m wearing black, so no one could tell.

We also hit Barnes and Noble, where I bought Stephen King’s On Writing, as well as the 2005 Writer’s Market, and a couple of magazines that I’m thinking of submitting articles to, and therefore wanted to read.

A stop at PetsMart yielded food for the furry members of the family, and a trip to the local Starbucks resulted in a happy MissMeliss, because I am now stocked up on coffee beans. (I keep forgetting I own a coffee grinder, and had them grind them, and I really need to stop doing that.).

The late afternoon was spent here at home. While the rain poured down outside, Fuzzy caught up on all his Tivo’d sci-fi shows, and I skimmed my blogroll. I’m not feeling very much like commenting today, but, if you’re on my roll, you were visited today. I promise.

Since then, we’ve had dinner, and I’ve done an online order for groceries (to be delivered tomorrow), and even though it’s only a bit after nine, I’m tired. No TV tonight, no music. Just a mug of tea and a bit of reading, and then I shall let the falling rain lull me to sleep.

Criminal Chocolate

I was awake til five this morning, because I’d visited Starbucks for the first time since Christmas. I’m no longer accustomed to mainlining espresso, and it kept me wired and wakeful long after I wanted to sleep.

While I was there, I tasted Chantico, their new designer drinking chocolate. The taste was a free sample, perhaps an ounce of the stuff, or maybe an ounce and a half. The default size, if you order it, is 6 ounces. I, who generally drink venti coffee drinks, would never be able to survive 6 ounces of Chantico. In truth, the sample cup was more than enough. It’s that good. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s nearly orgasmic, and drinking it in public should be illegal. So should wasting it on serving it to children.

One sip, and instead of being in cold, grey, wintry Texas, I was in slightly warmer, romantically rainy Carcassone, watching people go in and out of quaint shoppes, while I sat at a marble table in a too-cute and far too crowded cafe, and shared chocolat chaud with my family.

Yeah. Chantico is that good.
It’s DARK chocolate.
Liquified dark chocolate.
Criminal chocolate.

Dog Walking

Tired of spending our walks untangling leashes from trees, poles, and my ankles, I tried something new with the dogs today – instead of one long ramble, I took each of them on a solo walk.

This worked out well for Zorro, because he’s all about peeing on vertical objects, circling the block, and heading home where it’s warm and toasty.

It also gave me the chance to try letting Cleo off-leash a bit, which worked better than I thought. Technically, though, I guess I was the one off-leash, as it was still attached to her, so that, if necessary, I could stomp on the end of it.

People who know me will remember that I’m fanatical about keeping dogs under control. I’ve been known to lecture friends on the use of leashes, in fact. So, let me just say that the only time Cleo’s leash wasn’t in my hand was in the otherwise empty park, and that she has a 100% recall ratio. Meaning, I’m dead certain that if I call her name, she’ll come to me.

We tested this a LOT in the park today. I let her get almost to the curb, then called her back, and she came every time. I’m extremely pleased that she also ignored the person who lives across the street from the park opening and closing their garage door. Also, she didn’t chase the cat that was wandering loose.

(I’m also fanatical about people controlling their cats. Hello? We live in the suburbs, not a farm. It is not appropriate to let your animal run loose.)

So, Cleo gets a gold star for the day, and I’m tickled to death because part of my twelve-month plan involves taking up running, and I think she’ll make a great companion for that.

Tomorrow, we’ll try again, and see what happens. We will also begin training her to STOP and SIT at all corners, something we’ve been lax about.

In the meantime, both dogs are sacked out. Zorro’s on the chair near my desk. Cleo’s in Zorro’s bed. Sort of. She doesn’t really fit, as she’s three times his size, and it’s a cat bed. So her rear half is in it, her middle is over the side, and her head is resting on the floor.

Silly dog.

The Butterfly Effect

If a butterfly flaps its wings in Hollywood, do people then find Ashton Kutcher attractive?

Fuzzy and I watched the director’s cut of The Butterfly Effect on DVD tonight. My initial reaction (other than disbelief that anyone could find the star appealing) was: interesting story, a bit predictable.

The premise should be obvious from the film’s title. Chaos theory married to time travel. Specifically, a boy has a history of blacking out whenever he experiences trauma. As he reaches adulthood, he learns how to recover the memories of those traumatic events, and further, how to revisit, and alter them. The bulk of the film shows the many different iterations of his life that are created, each based on another tiny factor, in his quest to have the perfect ending.

In truth, despite my distaste for him, Ashton Kutcher’s performance as Evan Treborn was credible – especially at his most psychotic. Amy Smart was engaging (in most iterations) as Kayleigh, and Elden Henson did a fabulous job as Lenny, playing the same character as both normal and insane. But the performance that impressed me most was that of William Lee Scott as Tommy Miller, who was equally creepy as a budding serial killer and a Christian fundamentalist.

All in all, The Butterfly Effect was enjoyable, if a little creepy. There was some violence that was deeply disturbing to me, but I’d still recommend it for a movie night. I’m not sure it would have been worth $9 to see it in a theater, though.

It’s a COFFEE!!!! kind of day.

Despite staying up til three this morning, I was awake and out of bed at 8:00 AM, feeling energized and eager to face the day. I dressed quickly, and escorted the dogs, who made mad circles around my feet as I walked, to the back door. We were greeted by cold air, and colder rain, but that didn’t phase us. Well, it didn’t phase me or Cleo. Zorro stuck his nose out the door, saw his Chihuahua breath filling the air and fled back to bed.

Cleo raced around in the wetness for a while, while I puttered about the house. I prepped the coffee maker to have coffee ready for me at 9:30, popped upstairs to burn some kicky music to disc and do a quick search (unsuccessful) for non-ear-bud type headphones for the RIO, and then zipped on a windbreaker and pulled on a pair of gloves. I had energy and high-power tunes, and even the rain wasn’t going to prevent me from taking a walk.

Cleo opted to rejoin Zorro, and Fuzzy, in the bed, but that was fine with me because when she comes on walks I end up having major hip-pain from the force of her tugging. (Hard to believe the power 22 pounds of mutt is capable of exerting.)

So, I walked, nearly danced, for about forty minutes, in the light rain, returning home to find a warm house and hot COFFEE!!! (I haven’t had any in a week or two, so the capitals and exclamation points are obligatory). It’s so nice when technology works – the COFFEE!!! was the perfect temperature, and all I had to do was transfer it to a lighthouse mug, add milk and equal and bounce back up to my office. But the COFFEE!!! said that it was lonely, so we paused on the way, and I grabbed some yoghurt as well.

(An aside: I’m told that the ‘h’ in yoghurt is optional these days. I like the ‘h’. I think when you spell yoghurt with an ‘h’ it seems more, well, yoghurty.)

So, I’ve been bouncing and bopping around all day, sometimes listening to the radio, or cd’s, and sometimes listening to the soundtrack inside my head.

I pointed out to Fuzzy that it’s been almost a month since I last visited $tarbuck$, and he offered to pop over with me later this evening, but, tempted as I am, and as much as today, with the cold and the rain, and my mood, simply screams COFFEE!!!, I’m going to skip it.

Instead, later, I’m going to build a fire, and pop something interesting into the DVD player, and drag Fuzzy away from his computer for a few hours.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll remember to set the timer so that tomorrow when I get up, I’ll be greeted by COFFEE!!!

T3: Light or Dark

Onesome: Light– Light chocolate or dark chocolate? …or no chocolate at all?

Dark, dark, dark. The darkest possible. My favorite thing about France was that every cup of espresso came with a tiny bit of chocolate noir – 70% cocoa dark chocolate. Bliss!

Twosome: or–Yeah, easy stuff this week Coffee with cream or black as night? Or maybe: colas or clear sodas? …or just water, thank you?

Coffee! Strong enough to kill a spoon, with milk (I don’t like the texture of cream), and two packets of Equal. Or, if I’m being completely sinful, a venti all-caramel syrup (no vanilla), extra-caramel (sauce) quad shot macchiato.

Threesome: Dark– Light-colored clothing or dark clothes? Which do you prefer to wear? Angel to goth, we’re curious?

I wear a lot of black, but I mix it with either vivid colors or icy pastels – jewels and sherbets, you know? I LIKE black. It goes with everything. But I’m not a goth, or anything.

Sleep Patterns

Fuzzy is on a funky schedule of late-night and pre-dawn server upgrades, which he performs remotely from his office upstairs, but both our sleep patterns are extremely skewed, his because his schedule demands that he’s awake to do said upgrades, and mine because when he’s home and awake at odd hours, I sense the activity and the absence of his body in the bed, and cannot sleep deeply. The dogs are agitated as well, for they hear his chair rolling around above the bedroom, but their desire to curl up on the bed generally rules their world.

It’s not all bad, however, as I slept from midnight to just before four this morning, then woke to the low hum of the radio as Off the Shelf came on. I posted before that I sense the change in cadence between news and story, and that makes me listen more actively – such was the case tonight. (I keep the radio on when Fuzzy’s working, because otherwise I can hear the quiet murmur when he’s speaking on the phone, or the rolling of his chair drives me nuts).

The story, tonight, was classic science fiction, an H.G. Wells tale called Inside the Avu Observatory. I thought I was familiar with Wells’ work, but this story was new to me, and not really the kind of story I’d have chosen to listen to in the deepest darkest hour of the night, as it features a black dragon-like creature getting caught inside the dome of an observatory, and engaging in a blind battle with the human occupant of the darkened room.

Still, the combination of Well’s writing, and the gentle English voice of the reader made me smile into the fuzzy dimness of the bedroom, and I turned over to better hear the radio for the fifteen minutes or so that the show was on.

I’d have preferred to roll over and go back to sleep, as soon as it ended, but reality intruded. My bladder was awake. Taking care of it required that I turn on lights, and walk across the cold tile of the bathroom floor, and that combination of events has momentarily pushed sleep from my mind.

And so I’m sitting here in bed, with two sleeping doggies, and the faint sounds of Fuzzy still working upstairs, and I’m trying to decide if it’s worth getting up and attempting to write, or if I should steal the opportunity to sleep in the middle of the bed.

I think the latter option is winning.


Dear Zorro,

We all know that you’re the cutest boy-dog on the planet. You don’t have to prove it by pretending to look at the screen of my laptop, and you REALLY don’t need to prove it by using the backspace key as your personal chin-rest.

There are six dog beds and seventeen thousand pillows in various places in this house, not to mention the whole bottom half of the bed, and if it’s attention you require, rolling over on your back is much more likely to elicit the response we all know you really want: belly rubs.

Much love,


PS No, don’t eat the letter. Silly dog.

Blank and Fractured

I wander from the computer to the kitchen, from the television to the bedroom, fluttering between them, but I never manage to settle into one place or one activity.

I open Word to do some writing, and the blank screen mocks me, taunting me like a French stereotype.

I contemplate making the stir-fry I’d promised Fuzzy a few days ago, and go so far as to take the meat out to defrost, but the kitchen is a mess, and I can’t summon the engery or motivation to do anything about it.

My hair feels dirty, and my skin feels too tight around my temples, and at the tips of my fingers and toes.

I want a bubblebath, but I don’t want to commit to the necessary time required for a good soak. I want to read, but nothing interests me.

I’m not hungry, but I’m craving…something. Something I can’t name. I’m not sure if it’s a flavor, a texture, a scent, a sound, an image, or a combination of some or all.

I feel blank, like clean paper, but with none of the associated possibilities.

I feel fractured, like a reflection from a broken mirror.

I want. I need.

I don’t know.