Monday, March 20, 2006

I've moved

I decided to try out a new blogging utility called WordPress, so I loaded it to a webserver and spent some time this weekend installing and configuring it. I like its features, and it's free. It's not been the easiest thing to configure, but that's mostly because I did a custom install on my own webspace. There are low cost providers out there who offer WordPress blogging and they've done all the hard stuff so it's easy for a newbie to get started. I had to do things the hard way, though, because that's just my way.


Here's my new blog.

I will eventually move my blogger archives over there, but that is thus far proving to be difficult.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A little eye contact, please

I recently met with a coworker to discuss, um, work stuff. I knew him by name, having worked with him in the past, but I couldn’t recall his face, and vice versa. So we met in person, and he brought me up to speed on the work stuff. The thing is, his eyes kept darting from my eyes to my hair. It’s not like my silver streaks are blinding, or anything, and I admit, I’m not one to keep up with things like haircuts and color updates. But come on. It’s rude! Maybe one glance would be okay. It wouldn’t bug me (much). I might not even mind a chiding comment, like, say, “Looks like project X is taking it’s toll on you, har har har.” I might come up with some wry and witty retort, and that would be that. But to keep darting from my eyes to my hair to my eyes to my hair. Again, I say, how rude! That was the first meeting. The second was with the rest of the team. (It’s a special assignment task force, oh so very important, yeah, yeah, right, unh-hunh, yeah.) Ahem. During this meeting? He calls me Jan. Being new to the team, and considering we were teleconferencing with people from across the country, I at first thought he was talking to someone else, not in the room. But I realized that 1) I am the only woman on this team, and therefore 2) he was speaking to me. Now I don’t know how one confuses Jan with Sueeeus... And during this meeting? The steady-eye-contact-challenged team leader introduced me to the other team members in the room (who I already knew). One of them looked at me with unfeigned lack of recognition. Ummm, we worked in the same group and I sat two desks down from you (a few years ago), I reminded him. Ohhhhhh, he says, not completely convinced. I don’t think I look that much different. I did change my name though (having married Mr. Gadget), and that throws people off somewhat.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Show and Tell - butter dish

Blackbird is on a quest for a butter dish.Not too long ago I was also on a quest for the perfect butter dish. I ended up coveting one of these French crock thingies, and I eventually gave in to temptation and bought one. It's nice, and the butter stays room temperature, but my butter still spoils because I don't use it fast enough.
The butter goes in the bell, and the bell/lid sits on the bowl of water. The water makes a seal, supposedly keeping the butter fresh. Before this I had a square clear glass canister/stacking jar from IKEA that fit two sticks of butter perfectly, but, alas, in the nimble hands of Mr. Gadget, the lid got away one day, and shattered into many pieces. It was cute too. The lid had all these half sphere dimples impressed in the top. I don't know if IKEA still makes them. I couldn't find them in their on-line catalog. It was only about $3. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Sunday paper has never been so much fun

We get the Sunday paper and use it to fill our recycle bin. Sometimes we look at the sale inserts. Once in a while we look at headlines. I used to do the crosswords, before the boy came along. But now... the hands of a one-year-old... is great fun! Oh, what a mess a little boy can make.
Of course, there is usually more to a scene than first meets the eye.

Friday, March 10, 2006


There is a specific moment during the course of a cold where the post nasal drip has stopped its irritation and morphed into something else, where the nose has stopped running, if only temporarily, where the sneezes are at bay, where the sinus pressure is causing a sensation closer to dizziness than pain, a dizziness that is similar to that feeling one might get after a glass of wine, when you realize that your mouth is closed and you can breathe through your nostrils. A complete breath of air. It’s a moment of clarity. It feels like nothing else. It feels like bliss. It feels like zen. Like nirvana. It is peace. It is calm. At least, to someone who has a lifelong history of respiratory issues of one sort or another (though, thankfully, nothing serious). You exclaim to yourself, Oh! So this is what it feels like to breathe! Your mind races with excitement as you dream of how good it would feel to be able to breathe this way all the time. How energizing, to have that much oxygen at one’s disposal! And then the moment passes.

Big brmother is watching

We have a new world order around Chez Squished. The boy is sleeping alone. Through the night. All night. In his own room. Without a bottle. A moment is in order to digest the magnitude of this fantastic milestone. Of course, measures have been taken to make this come about. It’s been a journey, beginning with the decision, for safety’s sake, to put him in his own room, followed by a fairly successful first night. We learned that the tension style safety gate in his doorway makes him feel too abandoned or trapped. I found a set of Kidco safety gates on Craigslist for a bargain, and we now have a very secure stairwell. I’ve put tension gates in the doorways of the other rooms, and left his room open, and my room open. He now has a free path to our room should he need it, if he wakes up afraid. Simply having an open doorway has done wonders for his perception of things. And, since I’m married to Mr. Gadget, we now have the child on nighttime surveillance.
The camera is mounted so that I have a full view of my munchkin all snug as a bug in a rug. Mr. Gadget claims to have had these gadgets all along (the usual story), and is just retrieving them from the places where he’s had them squirreled away. I do know that he won the mini DVD player in a company raffle, so that gadget is legit. The others? Not so sure. But I’m not complaining. In my sleepy stupor I can press a button and check in on my sleeping munchkin. I can see if he’s scooted his way out of his blankets or if he’s scooted himself into the corner. Tomorrow is our first Saturday with this arrangement, which means I can sleep in (or at least pretend to). I’m looking forward to seeing if he wakes up happy and comes looking for me, or if he stops to play with his toys along the way.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Show and Tell - vos yeux

(*Updated to add Mr. Gadget)
Today, Blackbird asks to see our eyes.
These are the eyes to be looking at. Blue, beautiful blue.
He gets them from his dad. But the hint of almond he gets from me.
These are mine, complete with Cleopatra drag queen makeup, especially for the photo. I don't really wear that much eye shadow on a normal day. One color is Copper by Naturistics, from the dollar store. The other is Big Bang by Urban Decay, a whole lot more than a dollar, from Sephora. The freaky halo light reflection (from the makeup mirror) is a nice touch too, yes? I'm looking forward to seeing other blogger's eyes. Eyes are the window to the soul, you know.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The office pool

Somebody at work has launched a weight loss challenge. It lasts 12 weeks and participants submit $40 to the pool along with a weight loss goal anywhere between 12 and 36 pounds. At the end, those who have met their goal get their money back. Those who haven’t don’t. What remains in the pool is split among those who have met their goal.

What the heck. I’m in. Some of the guys are talking about loading up on water right before the weigh-in. They are speaking of a weigh-in, but I’m banking on the honor system. It’s almost unbearably humiliating to step on the scale at the doctor’s office. In front of coworkers? I.Don’t.Think.So.

I think I’ve gained 10-12 pounds since I shut down the milk factory. I’m somewhat amazed by that. Nothing in my lifestyle changed besides that, and whomp, there it is. Yes, I tend to be stressed out a good deal of the time. I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know that I need to learn how to manage stress better. I know.

I'm signing up for 18 pounds.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hasten not to judge

It was a normal morning. I was late, as usual. I could have left tried to leave earlier, but I wanted to spend some time with my scrumptious little munchkin. Plus, I needed to give get some extra snuggles and cuddles after the harrowing nose aspiration grapple of the morning. Call me overbearing, but I want my child to be able to breathe. I’m just that way. Oh, how he doesn’t like the aspirator! My, oh my, is he a strong little guy. And fast, too. He can grab that little blue bulb, yank the tip out, fling it away, and yank my finger backwards (the one that’s attached to the hand that is trying to hold him steady) all in the matter of a split second. He. Does. Not. Like. It. Understatement. Thankfully he’s all smiles the second it’s over. He will even try to play with the bulb, stick it in his mouth, or even put it to his nose. To which I give much encouragement. Good boy! However. If I get anywhere near his nose with that thing, all hell breaks loose. I’ve tried making a game of it. I’ve tried to gently sneak it to him while he’s sleeping. He’ll have none of it. Sigh. We had a nice little bit of play time, snuggles, bounces and jumps (still his favorite thing to do), and I handed him over to Mr. Gadget, the morning daycare express driver.
I picked up my bag, reached for my keys, and didn’t find them. I could have sworn I put them on the hook. It’s part of my routine. Routines are important in my world. I’m not overly obsessive (IMHO), but there is something to be said for routine, for order. Without order there is chaos. With chaos there is stress. Stress is bad. With order, there is harmony. Harmony is good. Order is good.
I checked all the surfaces downstairs for where I might have left my keys. I checked again. I went upstairs. I went through the laundry basket. I was getting frustrated and I suppressed the natural blame response thoughts that were welling in my mind. No, I’m not going to blame Mr. Gadget for this. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. I could have left them on my desk. (I didn’t.) I could have left them on the kitchen counter. (I didn’t.) I could have put them on the cedar chest and Boo might have found them, played with them, and dropped them in the freshly folded laundry basket. He was, after all, helping me*. (I didn’t. He didn’t.) Or, he could have dropped them in the diaper bag. (He didn’t.) Still suppressing the blame thoughts, but not quite as much, I decided to check Mr. Gadget’s pockets. I felt a bit guilty when they came up empty. I was ready to say, AHA! Upstairs. Again. Downstairs. Again. I checked my bag again. Did I leave them in the car? I’ve never left my keys in the car. Ever. I checked anyway. No keys. Upstairs again. Laundry basket again. Diaper bag again. Downstairs again. Office again. Laundry room again. Breathe deeply. Remain calm. Stress is bad. (I read only yesterday that stress, and the stress hormone cortisol, play a major role in obesity, even in people who don’t have horrible eating habits, thank you very much.) Breathe deeply. I dumped out the entire contents of my purse, in the off chance that I overlooked the keys. Nope. No keys. Upstairs again. And the phone rings. “Hello?” It’s Mr. Gadget. “Ummmm… You have my keys, don’t you,” I ask, nicely, softly, slowly, calmly. “Sahwwwy,” he says weakly, quietly. “Just take my keys,” he says. “Yes, well. You don’t have a key to my office cabinet, where I keep my computer, the one I need to do my job, now, do you?” “Sahwwwwy,” he says again.
And that is why I was late (today).

*He especially loves finding the socks in the basket. He gets one, flings it behind him with a flourish, and reaches for another. He likes to help with things that are already folded too. In the kitchen we have a lot of small multi-purpose towels, stacked neatly on a shelf. He likes to pick them off, one at a time, and fling them, just like the socks. We also have face cloths that I use to wash his face and hands after eating. They’re softer than the others. I usually drape them over a rail to dry after use. Sometimes while I’m wiping down surfaces in the kitchen, he grabs the face cloth and starts scrubbing things he can reach. He’s such a good helper, I tell him, and thank him profusely. One of these days, when he’s older, I hope this encouragement will click and he will be happy to help clean up his room.

Some things never change

If it’s your dad’s 80th birthday, and you call him to wish him well and ask how he’s been, don't ask about the diabetes. If he mentions that his toes are numb, and that his quack of a doctor thinks he should see a specialist and start insulin injections, and you say, humbly, that it’s not as bad as it sounds, because you yourself were faced with just such a need. When you say that yes, it’s traumatic at first, and no, it’s not convenient and yes, it is annoying that the necessity exists, but no, it’s not that bad once you get used to it, and yes, it’s worth it if it helps preserve your health and life, don't feel snubbed if he completely ignores you. Or if he sounds surprised. Oh? You had diabetes? When did you have diabetes?
If you try to explain that one shouldn’t ignore signs like numbness in the toes, and he says you are no better than his quack of a doctor, don’t let it get you down. If you offer to take time off from work to travel 300 miles and take him to the specialist, to which he restates that they are all quacks and the bittermelon he is taking now will surely put all things back into balance, you might want to let the conversation end. But if you are a fool and try to reach past the denial, because you are truly concerned, because you’ve had this conversation before, a year ago, and the toes were numb then, and dare you mention that one could lose ones toes, if the numbness goes unchecked, and God forbid, you mention the g word (gangrene), and all hell breaks loose and you are called uncharitable and malicious, just like your mother, don’t take it to heart. If he says that you say these things in the guise of concern, just like your mother, but at the core are simply wicked and malicious, just like your mother, and don’t mean well at all, just like your mother, and if he makes reference to being intellectually superficial, just like your mother, ignore it (just like your mother). If he goes on to say more admittedly bitter things, just interrupt and say Happy Birthday in a bright voice, and that you called to wish him well for his birthday. If he says “Bye” and hangs up on you, don’t cry or feel bad. Just know that, all the same, he was delighted to hear from you today. He is 80, after all.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Thou shalt not covet

It's one of the commandments. The ones that most people remember. I was watching this cooking show on TV. Why, I have no idea. I like cooking shows, but I don't tune in. It must have been while I was waiting for my show to come on. Whatever show that was. Anyway. The wonderfully voluptuous Italian woman was preparing some sort of fresh pasta dish and it was the first time I'd seen a porcelain covered cast iron pot in action. I was mesmerized. It was beautiful. BEE.YOO.TI.FUL. And I began to covet. What a great pot. A great everything pot. I'm all about the everything pot. So. I Googled. But I could not find it. I found something similar, but not the same.
This is by Staub, and it's called a bouillabaisse pot. It has a volume of about 5 qts. And a price tag of about $200. TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS??!! For heaven's sake! Good Lawwwwwd, that's some crazy talkin' crazy money. Mercy sakes alive, child! And the one she had was bigger, more mesmerizingly blue (with gradation, swoon). I mean it. It was a beautiful piece of kitchen ware. It's that shape, that most captured my attention. That, the volume, and the beautiful white interior in contrast with the jeweled exterior. I fancied one in chartreuse.
I found this. This is made by Lodge. Whimsical on the ragged edge of tacky, but I like it. Also about 5 qts. Also about $200. TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS??!! Other bloggers I enjoy reading might say WTF, but I, I don't use those words. But if I did, this would be an opportunity. (Even the abbreviation is making my ears turn red. I'm that tender about certain colorful words.) As usual, I digress.
This is made by Innova. The cheap rendition. It can be found for $40. I've read good reviews and bad reviews. I'm trying to figure out how it compares to Le Creuset and company. Some say well. Some say not well. I suspect it's every bit as functional. It's now gracing my stove. But it's not nearly as beautiful as the original coveted piece. That shape. Sigh. Those colors. Sigh. Are they worth $160 (or more) more? I could never justify such an expense. And, of course, it's doubtful that I will be performing as fantastic works of culinary art as those I witnessed on TV. I'm sure this piece will suit me just fine. It's quite gorgeous if it's not being compared to the others. Sigh.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


enamored, in love, besotted, bewitched, captivated, charmed, crazy about, crazy over, devoted, dotty, enchanted, enraptured, entranced, fascinated, fond, hooked, nuts about, silly about, smitten, stuck on, taken, wild about, beguiled, dazzled, delighted, all over, attached, big, big for, caring, crazy about, crazy for, crazy over, dear, devoted, doting, fond, friendly, huggy, lovey-dovey, loving, mushy, nutty about, partial, soft on, tender, warm, warm-hearted, apple of my eye, cherished one, angel, beloved, darling, dearest, fair-haired boy, favorite, honey, light of my life, loved one, object of my affections, pet, sweetheart, treasure, cherished, darling, dear, dearest, doted on, endeared, esteemed, fair-haired, loved, precious, prized, respected, sweet, treasured, my boy, my child, my half-pint, my lad, little guy, my sprout, my squirt, my lovebug, my Buggaboo, my Boo, my son

New boots, from across the sea

I won them on eBay. I bought a pair in late 2001 from one of those roadshow vendors who set up shop in the mall during the holidays. The first pair cost $100, which was much much much more than I would normally ever spend on a pair of shoes, but it was Christmas time, I was in love, and I decided it was okay. I wore those boots nearly every day for three years. My feet swelled too much in pregnancy and I couldn’t fit them any more, and the soles cracked where the foot bends, so they were no longer water proof. Not the prettiest shoes, but the comfort, weight, all-purpose usefulness, and easy to slip on/off features more than made up for the looks. And they don’t look so bad. Nice and nondescript. The manufacturer touted the sole as extremely long wearing, and it was. The surface was barely worn at all. But it did eventually give way from the act of stepping. I’ve been looking for a replacement pair, and trying to spend less than $100. Almost all the options that I could find ended up being $100 after postage. It appears to be a competitive market. Or, at least, the competitors keep track of each other’s prices, so there’s very little variation. Good for them, not so good for me. I finally won a pair on eBay, but I had to get up at 4 a.m. to finish the bidding, because it was closing on Australia time. The postage cost as much as the shoe! But well worth it. I spent about $45 US total. A deal! They arrived yesterday, and I’m so pleased. I got a half size bigger, to accommodate my post pregnancy shoe size. A half size is significant in AU sizing. It seems much more dramatic than a half size US. Needless to say, there is plenty of room in this new boot. It feels a bit different. Tighter in the heel. (Not a bad thing.) Maybe a bit more narrow in general, but that may be because my others were well worn and broken in. The leather’s not as shiny, but again, I had been regularly polishing the others. I’m pleased. But I still like my first pair better. Maybe it's a first love kind of thing.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

What's in a name? Or, a whinge on a peeve

Emily Post (1873–1960). Etiquette. 1922.

Chapter XXVII.

Notes and Shorter Letters

Never under any circumstances address a social letter or note to a married woman, even if she is a widow, as Mrs. Mary Town. A widow is still Mrs. James Town. If her son’s wife should have the same name, she becomes Mrs. James Town, Sr., or simply Mrs. Town.

Dear Mom,
I know you mean well, and that you make every effort to be proper and to do the right thing. All that said, I can bite my tongue no longer, and must let you know that I most passionately disagree with Emily Post’s letter addressing etiquette, and would much rather you address me using my own name, rather than that of my husband. Consider it a matter of practicality in this modern age. The only form of identification I have that has my husband’s name on it is my marriage license, and I normally don’t carry that with me. When an item of mail requires a signature receipt, the postmaster must see some form of identification to ensure that the individual receiving the post is, in fact, the intended recipient.

My husband might be able to sign for the letter. Although the postmaster will surely recognize that he is not, in fact, Mrs. Cool Cat Gadget.

I could try to sign for the letter, but as I mentioned earlier, I’m not accustomed to carrying my marriage license with me.

Perhaps the thing to do, to avoid any wasted trips to the post office, is to go together. That way we could explain that I am the Misses and he is the one named Cool Cat Gadget. Ah, but it is not very convenient to visit the post office as a couple. After all, the post office is closed by the time he returns from work, and since he works on Saturday, we can’t go then either. He does have Mondays off, but then I work. If I could make it home on a Monday before the post office closes, I could get my letter.

You see, if you would address the letter to Sueeeus Gadget, there would be no question.

Using my name is no insult to the man I married. Using his name when addressing me is an insult to me. I took his name (in retrospect, perhaps I shouldn’t have, considering the hassles this decision has spawned), but I didn’t want to lose myself in the process. Etiquette, schmetiquette! I don’t care what Emily Post has to say on this matter! I wouldn’t mind so much if I received something addressed to Mrs. Cool Cat Gadget from a complete stranger, but when it’s from my own mother (and grandmother), it is most annoying and insulting. I’m sorry to say it, but that is how it is. I am still ME! I am not a shadow of the man I married. He is not my provider, he is not my protector, he is not my guide. He is my partner. Partner! Please. Please use my name.

Sueeeus Gadget

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Have I mentioned how much I like Craigslist?

It’s very effective. I took some digital photos of things I wanted to be rid of last Thursday evening, posted ads on Friday morning, and had most things sold and out of my house by Friday evening. How efficient is that? It’s a rush! Free, easy to use classified ads. I love it! Of course, it helps to price things so low that people will snap them up in a heartbeat. Still. It's a great service, and I am pleased. I don't know if it's as effective everywhere as it is here in the Squished Piggy suburbs, but they do have 'branches' all over the world. Too. Cool.