Seeing Red

It’s a cold gray day here in Texas, and I needed something cheery, so I put on last year’s Christmas mix cd that I made, an entire cd of women singing Christmas songs, and forwarded to this lovely non-soprano, belty version of O Holy Night. I was singing along, rocking the proverbial rafters, waiting for my tea kettle to commence whistling, when a flash of color outside caught my eye.

I turned toward it, and was caught, breathless, watching a pair of cardinals feeding from the tray of wild bird food we keep on the picnic table (with a smaller table positioned over it as a concession to weather. The female was eating, the male, in his crimson glory, was perched on the top table, guarding her and waiting his turn.

I watched at the window, and he turned as if he could see through the glass and mesh and see me. For a heart-beat it seemed as if we communicated, and then the female left, and he moved down to the food, sampled a few seeds, looked toward me once more, nodded his little bird head, and disappeared.

Only after that did I think, “Damn, I should have grabbed the camera.”

Friday’s Feast – 0711.30

What is your favorite carnival/amusement park ride?
When I was a very little girl, I was completely in loved with the nausea-inducing fun that is the Tilt-a-Whirl. Later, I fell in love with the vintage wooden roller coaster at the Santa Cruz boardwalk. I still love them both, in a nostalgic sort of way.

How do you react in uncomfortable social situations?
It depends. I’m only a situational extrovert, so I tend to avoid huge gatherings as much as possible. When I do have to go, I tend to observe for a while, and then be extremely selective about who I talk to. When I’m very nervous, I clam up. On the other hand, if I’m watching someone mistreat someone else, I’ll generally speak up.

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy discussing deep, philosophical topics?
With the right people, I enjoy it immensely – a strong 9 or weak 10 – with the wrong crowd, the sorts of people who take such conversations personally, about a 2.

Main Course
Did you get a flu shot this year? If not, do you plan to?
No. And no. The one time I did, I had a very bad reaction.

Approximately how many hours per week do you spend watching television?
I have DVD’s or Bravo or whatever movie seems vaguely interesting playing all the time while I write, but I’m not really watching anything as much as using it for background noise. Television I pay attention to is maybe – MAYBE – an hour a night. But at least half the time I let stuff pile up on the DVR or TiVo and watch a mini marathon when I really need to escape.

Clothing4All: MockTurtleneck

There’s nothing better on a cold evening than a basic black turtleneck, but when you’re five feet tall, a mock turtle is a better choice. In a world where clothing – and especially women’s clothing in non-traditional sizes – can be either horribly expensive or difficult to find (at least basic pieces) it’s good that there are companies like Clothing4All, where the prices are reasonable, the sizes are realistic, and the quality is excellent.

I ordered my black mock turtleneck just before Thanksgiving, and it arrived fairly quickly. I had the option of having it monogrammed, or having my name embroidered on it, but with the exception of graphic t-shirts, I don’t really like clothing with writing on it, so I chose to skip that option. Since I’m busty and round, I ordered a men’s extra large, and really, just a large would have been fine, since this one fits me like a dress.

It’s so soft that I really didn’t need the tank top under it when I tried it on, and the neck is loose enough not to feel choke-y, but snappy enough to retain it’s shape.

The ordering process was simple – a few clicks to select the color and style and I was on my way, and I received an email notification when the garment had shipped. The price was reasonable, too – under $20.

I’ve been buying a lot of clothing lately, because I’ve lost 32 pounds (and still have more to go), and I suspect I’ll be shopping at Clothing4All again.

You should definitely check them out.

Clothing4All Mock Turtleneck

“Roughing It” Has Nothing to Do with Texture

Last night, chatting with the Divine Ms. J, she mentioned that she planned to go backpacking through Europe with friends next spring. “They’re good at it,” she said, “they have all the necessary camping gear, and everything.”

I know that this is supposed to be a romantic thing – backpacking through the woods, hiking around foreign countries, meeting people and staying in hostels, but the thing is, to me it sounds utterly awful. Give me a hot shower and a tour bus with a bathroom. Give me indoor plumbing and soft cotton sheets.

Don’t get me wrong. I like nature – I do. I prefer it to be aquatic, however, not woodsy. Also, I have no desire to sleep with it. I’ve often said that my idea of roughing it is a hotel without room service. And I repeated this to Julia during our conversation.

She laughed, and said she liked to try new things.

So do I, actually.
I just prefer them to end after dinner, and include indoor sleeping accommodations. And free wifi.

Still, I have to admit, I like camping stores. I like the smell of leather boots and suede jackets, and I think hunters’ caps are hot on the right guy. (So is flannel, if it’s woodsman flannel, and not unwashed geek flannel.)

It’s just…if I want to sleep in a tent, it will be the kind that is built from pillows and blankets and is located on the living room floor.

Shopaholics Anonymous

There seriously needs to be some kind of addiction treatment for shopping.

I blame Julia, actually, because even though I was oh-so-good during her shopping extravaganza on Sunday, today saw me backsliding with a vengeance.

It began with eyebrow waxing at eleven, and was followed by a trip to Barnes and Nobel, except shiny stuff at LB caught my eyes, and I needed tights for this new dress I bought, so I walked in for tights and walked out with two pair of black tights and two pair of jeans, and oh, yes, I still went to B&N where I bought five gift cards, two magazines, and a grilled cheese panini. Oh, and a mocha. Of course.

Then Julia wanted to check out LB as well, and as well as buying a cute jacket-style top, she surprised ME with new Christmas pajamas. “Naughty Girls Get Better Presents.” Indeed.

And did I mention that I also bought shampoo at the salon? (Well, I was out. And technically hair care products don’t count. No, really, they don’t.)

And y’all thought my COFFEE habit was bad!

Mega-weekend Wrapup Thing

My trend of not blogging on weekends continues. Actually I haven’t done any writing since Wednesday afternoon, except for work, and I’m behind with that but only a little, and will make it up in the morning.

I’m still not feeling terribly writey, though I have a bunch of things to write about – like a new turtleneck, the fact that I bought the Project Runway dress from Sarah Jessica Parker’s BITTEN line, and this wine I was sent to try – but not tonight. Tonight, you get bullet points.

– Thanksgiving: Quiet, but pleasant. We puttered, napped, read, and nibbled on our turkey and stuffing from Tom Thumb. It wasn’t my family recipe, but the cranberry sauce was quite tasty, my pies rocked the house (even if I did manage to get pumpkin custard in my hair), and we had snow. Okay, it was technical snow only, no stickage or anything, but still. White flakes fell from the sky.

– Black Friday: We hadn’t planned to go out at ALL that day, but when we unpacked the Christmas tree, which is pre-lit, half the lights didn’t work. Fuzzy changed fuses, and went through every bulb, and what was weird was that the lights were out in chunks between sections of the SAME STRINGS that were working fine. So we went to Target in the afternoon to buy a new prelit tree, since restringing the other was not worth the trouble. And since we were out, Fuzzy got his Christmas present early: An Xbox 360 Holiday Bundle (he has since suggested that what *I* want for Christmas is my very own controller. In pink, of course. He is wrong. This is not on my list at all.) While at Target, we also picked up some Christmas foo for various friends.

– Saturday: The Divine Ms. J arrived mid-afternoon, and we greeted her with twinkling lights in the hedges, gentle hugs, and warm food, followed by pie. We hung out that evening, eventually attempting to go see Prairie Lights, but the rain caused them to be powerless, so we went to dinner instead, then came home and watched Transformers on DVD.

– Sunday: Julia convinced us to go shopping. At a mall. I don’t do malls, generally, and bought NOTHING, actually, but it was fun watching her shop for her husband and returning soldiers. Note: The sales clerks at Hollister in The Parks mall in Arlington are awful, and the store itself is dark and creepy with fake trees in odd places, and too little lighting. However, Shiraz and Coby at the Banana Republic in the same mall are adorable and sweet, if grammatically challenged. I have done my mall quota for the rest of the decade, thank you. No, wait, I did spend $75 on BITTEN clothes at Steve & Barry. (Two sweaters, one pair of “goal” jeans, and the Project Runway dress). I might be willing to return to said mall JUST for that store, but only if we enter through the doors near the ice rink, so I can go directly there.

– Monday: Did research for work writing. Battled ants in the kitchen. Thankfully these ants are of the non-fiery variety. However, there were many, and the infested my butter cookies. Back to Target this evening for extra power cords and adapters for the lawn guys who come tomorrow to hang the lights on my roof. Yay roof. Pictures will follow Wednesday-ish.

– Christmas: My shopping is mostly complete. I need to finish buying little things for my soldiers, I need to buy stamps and fusible interfacing for my mother, and I’m waiting desperately for my step-father’s big present. As for ME, I’ve added a link to my Amazon wishlist in the sidebar here at Escribition. I don’t expect presents from anyone, but if you’re desperate to get me stuff, you should know what I like. (I’m also a fan of Possets and Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab as well as Aveda.)

– Decor: Tree is up, but not yet decorated. Fireplace is bedecked. Christmas is slowly infusing the house.

– Reading: Just finished Sex, Murder and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis. It was funny and interesting: mystery meets chick-lit. Next up is another mystery. Reviews will be on my book blog, Bibliotica soonish.

– Upcoming projects: Cafe Writing will have new prompts early on Saturday. My fellow fashionistas and I are continuing our commentary of this season of Project Runway over at Electric Tangerine. I’ve also just registered for the 2007 edition of Holidailies.

Happy Thanksgiving

Fuzzy is sleeping late, and I’m about to take the dogs out for a brisk walk (very brisk – it’s 40 degrees in this part of Texas just now), and then bake pies while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Watching the parade is an important ritual for me, and this holiday isn’t complete without it. I remember getting up at six when I was little, to watch them setting up the balloons. Now, I set the DVR to catch the beginning, because I’m not generally near a television at nine in the morning. (Or at least, not one that’s turned on.)

NaNo: I stopped counting, because I wasn’t really NaNoing this year. I write for a living. I don’t need NaNo to help me finish my book, I need to just stop editing til it feels like the story is finished. I’m almost there.

Ant Stings: Itchy, but not horribly so. Antihistamine helped, and then Fuzzy helped me slather them with Neosporin and wrap gauze around my ankle to prevent socks from rubbing, and me from scratching. In retrospect, I think I was a little shocky the other night when I was chatting online, but I’m fine, now. .

Turkey: We just bought a turkey breast – no fuss this year. It’s all about the mincemeat pie, anyway.

Coffee: I need some. Desperately. Today I’m brewing Starbucks’ Christmas Blend. Yum!

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you celebrating it, and good wishes for the weekend to those who are not.

Tasty Feet

I often joke that I must have delicious feet because whenever I have my shoes off, one of my dogs aims for my toes. Today I learned that six-legged creatures also think I have tasty feet – or at least tasty ankles. While I was stringing the last of the Christmas lights on the hedges, I thought I felt pain in my foot, but it didn’t seem severe. A few minutes later, I dropped the last cluster of lights, looked down while retrieving it, and noticed that my white sneakers were covered in little moving insects. Yes, I was being swarmed by fire ants – I’d stepped in their nest.

(There was no mound. I repeat: there was no visible mound.)

I confess that I shrieked, but it was of the startled and in-pain type, not one of fear or loathing (though I felt both.) I kicked my infested shoes off on the front walk, went inside the foyer, and stripped, freaking out my dogs, who thought I was insane.

My next step was the shower, featuring cool water and lovely coconut and shea butter soap, and then I sprayed my ankle, where I saw a couple of bumps swelling, with topical benadryl, swallowed one of the non-topical sort, and put on fresh clothes, including soft white cotton socks and other sneakers.

Then I retrieved all my hastily removed garb, tossed it in the washer (added the rest of the blacks) and washed it. Twice. By this time I was willing to go back out and look at my shoes, which were now ant free. Mostly. They went into the washer too (did you know you CAN wash and dry leather Reeboks? Now you do), and everything went round a third time. Then, into the dryer. Where they remain for the moment (except the shoes).

It wasn’t until around eleven PM that the itching and burning really started bothering me, and I made Fuzzy look at my ankle, which is completely encircled by red bite marks with white pussy centers. I send Fuzzy for Neosporin (we were out) and cortisone cream, swapped the bites with rubbing alcohol, slathered them with the cream, and covered the whole mess in band-aids ™, so that I can sleep without rubbing my ankle against anything.

I was in bed for an hour and the itching wouldn’t stop so I just took another benadryl, which, hopefully, will knock me out so I can sleep.

I feel all pathetic and whiny and stupid, and it doesn’t help that I already had cramps and a backache before a bunch of insects decided my right foot would be lunch.

But there’s only one more work day this week, which helps.
And I think I’m drugged and zoned enough to sleep now.

Plus the lights (which won’t actually be turned on til Thursday)? Look damn good.

Target is Dangerous

I have new lights for my shrubs as of last night, and the net lights I found at Target were actually cheaper than the similar sets from Home Depot, but then there were all these other things that somehow managed to get in the cart and come home with me.

*blinks innocently*

Included among the unplanned acquisitions:
– a set of those snowflake lights, to hang in the front tree.
– a pair of silver ornaments that I can’t describe because my mother reads my blog, and one is for her
– six stockings with a gold glitter pen for decoration
– butter cookies, the ones in the blue tins, because they’re good to have around “just in case” and because I like the tins
– a wreath hanger for the door – we HAD one, but it hasn’t been seen since 2003. I suspect we left it in California.
– a couple of unmentionable kitchen things, also for my mother, with dupes for me
– a nonfat peppermint mocha

Okay, the last item wasn’t from Target, but it was the perfect end-cap to the shopping portion of the evening. Then we came home and had grilled salmon and a Caesar salad and watched Heroes.


Sometime in the last month, Fuzzy took the trash out before coming to bed and inadvertently left the garage door open. Now, our neighborhood is normally fairly save, and we do live on an interior street, but an open garage door is still in open invitation. The next morning, he noticed that one of the boxes was removed from the stack of Christmas stuff, but we didn’t notice anything missing.

Until today.

What happened today? Well, I was killing time waiting for Christine the pet sitter to show up for an interview, and I started putting the Christmas lights on the hedges. I don’t normally decorate this early (and they’re not turned ON, and won’t be before Thursday, except to test the timers), but we’re going away this year, and I want to enjoy my house all lit up. Besides, our neighborhood is very gung-ho about such things, and it’s fun to be part of it.

I’d purchased three new net lights to replace those I knew were damaged, but had planned to use last year’s one more time, along with the several strings of white lights and trunk wraps for the trees. The new stuff was all in place of course, having just been purchased on Friday.

The box with the old lights was gone. Missing. No sign of it.

Now, I’m grateful that nothing else was taken, because whoever took the lights (half of which didn’t work – we were keeping them for spare bulbs) didn’t take the $400 Santa collection or the three huge boxes of heirloom ornaments, but still, I hadn’t planned on replacing ALL the lights this year.

And so, when Fuzzy gets home we’ll be running to deposit a check, and then to Target to get more lights, and then we’ll come home and have grilled salmon and a nice salad and watch Heroes.

But that’s not really how I’d planned to spend the evening.

Well, not the Target part.