Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'll be home with a book, but....

Have a fun New Year's Eve, yall .... and a great new year!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Waiting [Update]

I've written before about my friend in Israel.

A few days ago, she and a group trying to get humanitarian aid into Gaza were stuck waiting for a way in. They had supplies, including things like medicines that needed refrigeration, things that could not wait.

The blockade was lifted on Friday. Last we heard from her in email, she said: "I will be at the border here, on one side or the other, for another few days, and then I am going home. I have a couple articles to write, and a sick cat to take care of."

Then the airstrikes started.

It's not unusual for us to hear nothing from her for weeks at a time. No idea if she was actually inside Gaza, or where she was, when the rockets started falling, but if any readers are inclined toward prayers, positive energy, or anything like that, I'm sure hoping she and her group are OK. The internet is a weird, weird thing. You find yourself caring about people you never met.



In my inbox this morning (Tuesday, 12/30):

"Hello to all,

I am still at the border as things have gotten rather complicated. The humanitarian aid is being allowed in sporadically and there are complex and often confrontational negotiations involved, and that is one thing I am fairly good at."


So her group isn't in yet. I had pictured the aid groups as swarming in immediately when the ban was lifted, but it seems that it doesn't work that way. Still keeping my fingers crossed, for her work's success and for safety.

You guys are very very cool. And wow, so is she.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Wish

May the people with whom you are spending your holiday be less annoying than the people with whom I am spending my holiday.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

A conversation

Me: What's your favorite color?

Larry: Right here (points to a lovely shade of blue in a CT scan of the skull of Tutankhamen, in the current issue of Science Illustrated).

Me: Oh yeah, cobalt blue!

L: Why do you want to know?

Me: Catherine posted this husband quiz on her blog.

L: Oh. Well, let me know how I do.

Me: How you do...?

L: On the test.

Me: Oh, it's not a test of you, it's a test of me, to see how well I know you. And other general stuff, like how we met and things like that. Most of which I already answered in my post about our anniversary.

L: Like the fact that I proposed in a swamp.

Me: Hmm. It didn't ask where you proposed. I'll tell her she should add that.


I did know his love for cobalt blue. Really I did. See, he has a lot of favorite colors, depending on the item in question. Orange for cats. Crimson for the BMW Z-4 he wants. In clothing choices, he's been in a charcoal-gray phase for awhile.

The "swamp" is the wetland/tidal marsh we now live next to, though he first mentioned marriage over on the state park side of it, on the marsh walk. I like to call it proposing in a swamp.

Thing I love most about him: His compassion for any person or creature who's hurting.

His favorite music: Depending on the occasion: modern rock; '40's standards; classical trumpet; classical violin; Tchaikovsky.

His favorite food: most soups. Cream of mushroom especially.

A nickname for me? He wouldn't dare!

His age? Yes he will read this, so I wouldn't dare! 8~)

Monday, December 15, 2008

God laughs when you make a plan

I didn't dress for tree planting, and i obviously didn't provide myself with a hat or a hairband. We weren't going to do any yard work. All we were gonna do was sit out on a warm, though cloudy, afternoon and take a short teatime break.

Then, since the weather was amenable, Larry set out to do something he really had to do, something he'd warned me had to be done; cut down this tree.

It's the natural child of the local Live Oaks, and decided to plant itself right by the wall, where, as it grew, it would break the wall down. Two others did the same thing, but they were small and easy to move to better locations. This one had grown too big to transplant.

Well, I mean, no tree is too big to transplant if you have the digging and transporting ability.... OK, I have this tree problem. I'm no gardener, but I can't resist a tree. Three Charlie-Brown-type evergreens are planted at various spots around the house.

So another Christmas gift from Larry to me is to help me try to save this one. It was one Big Dig, to extract and to plant. While I started to dig it a new home, Larry managed the amazing feat of getting it out of the ground with 80-90% of its roots. We resettled it several yards away, both of us at work at the new site now, digging trenches going out 3-4 feet in several directions to accomodate the roots.

We'll keep an eye on it and help it through the transition.

I guess this favorite pair of jeans will be yard-work clothes from now on.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas nostalgia

When I was in grade school, we made red and green construction paper chains at Christmastime, only a few feet long, to take home and hang on the tree.

Meanwhile Larry's family did a bigger version. His mom would set the kids to work making long chains to hang from the ceiling, corner-to-corner, with a red paper bell at the center. They'd add more rooms, and more chains over the years, till the house was festooned with them. They quit doing it in the '60's as the kids hit their teens.

This year, he came up with the idea to revive the tradition. He made a set for his parents and mailed it to them, a delightful box of nostalgia which made a big hit. Then we made our own. It's a good de-stressor activity for little patches of time between items on the to-do list. Throughout the day we'd each stop by the kitchen table periodically and add some links.

Finding those fold-out tissue paper bells was a real challenge. It seems like they used to show up everywhere ... until we wanted some! Consider this a plug for, where they carry every color, in every size, have nice prices, and fast, accurate delivery!

Total cost, with construction paper and bell - under $15.

December in SC

I wish I could prove that I took these pictures about an hour ago. But I did! I'm about as surprised as anyone. This is strange, even for coastal SC. We've had several frosts, and I had not seen a butterfly in 3-4 days. And today, there he/she was, meandering around and posing for a series of photos. How this marvel of a critter has lived through these freezing nights, I can't imagine, but I hope he (she?) made many many babies.

The sun directly on him makes him look white here,

but backlit by sunlight, he's a thing of great beauty. These yellow sulphur butterflies are common in fall -- I've always thought of them as the "September butterflies," though they're around much earlier ... and later!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Christmas Season Saturday

Home Depot - I love you.

Our Christmas present to ourselves is a water filtration system. I remain unapologetic about drinking bottled water but it gets expensive, so we can cut down on that -- and on hauling the heavy flats of bottles, and on Recycle bulk -- by having a working system. That's meant several trips to The Depot.

I've tolerated Larry's love for the place in the past. I have to occupy myself while he examines boxes of nails or valves or doomaflahchies, but he endures my examining every book on bookstore sale tables, and every purse in the Kohl's accessories department, so it's the least I can do.

But the Depot has won me over. Because they are not (at the moment) playing Christmas music! Yesterday we were there and, while Christmas decor is all over the place, the muzak was everyday pop. OK, I thought, I need to check it out on Saturday. But nope, they weren't playing holiday yuck today either!

My gratitude is boundless.

Next: a gripe. You will have a very very hard time convincing me that Chinese imports do a [BLEEPBLASTED] THING for the consumer. Why is a little girl's Made in China coat priced like this, and how exactly is the potential consumer benefitting? Speak not of shareholders nor of management - tell me why this quickly outgrown coat should cost working mom or dad, even if their jobs are intact, 80 dollars? And this, though it was the higher priced item (and no, not highest), was only $10 above the lower. Except for much lighter windbreakers, no truly warm girl's coat had a tag of less than $70.

Another note on the economy is the state of our shopping mall. A major tear-out of old walls and ceilings took place in 2007. Stores closed to make way for renovation work. A lovely mural of the future new and improved Inlet Square Mall was posted. Then the money ran out. The work stopped. Exposed wires and ductwork have hung there for a year. Old decorative tile was jackhammered up and has left raw concrete patches everywhere. And that was before the current financial meltdown.

I don't want our mall to expire, but it's happening to others, and with so much empty space, its financial viability is precarious. If it goes, all of us Inlet-ers have a longer drive in awful traffic to Myrtle Beach, for JC Penney, or for K-mart, both Inlet Square anchors. Our K-mart is a lifeline for local necessity shopping. Even Wal-Mart, though closer, is an unpleasant drive, plus I really hate shopping there.
On to happier thoughts - the filtration system is running! This took major plumbing work on Larry's part -- this is only the upstairs part; he had to work on basement water lines, too -- but he's built a car and a house from scratch at various times in his life, and....'s installed! It has to flush through a couple times, but we may have filtered water by tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Domestic tranquility

So while Larry was helping me mop up the kitchen counter and floor

(Note to self: To add water to the stock pot on the stove, carry the water across the kitchen in a heavy glass measuring cup with a handle. Do not use a Dark Knight plastic cup from the convenience store)

we had the following conversation:

ME: I wish somebody would invent cooking for total incompetents.

L: You're not at all incompetent. You're a great cook. You make wonderful things.

ME: Yeah, I know that, but I can never do it without some big infuriating event happening, and going ballistic.

L: You're not incompetent. You just say you are because you hate it and that means you don't have to do it.

ME: That's a very insightful statement.


Understand, the whole "I have to do it" thing is not imposed on me by Larry or anybody else. I impose it on myself. My share of the cooking -- and he does a major amount of the domestic work around here -- could be accomplished with the small but reliable repertoire I've assembled over the years precisely to fit my abilities, with very little opportunity for disaster. One-dish meals, slow cooker stuff.

But I feel the need sometimes to push my limits and do the things I'm no good at. Why? Bleep knows. Boredom with the same 5 dishes. Bursts of Pioneer Woman Who Wastes Nothing fervor. Lingering Donna Reed Show-era damage. Or just that I hate to admit defeat. I like to think that I can do anything I put my mind to.

I'm an intelligent person. I can make a multilevel meal with a variety of tasks and timing.

Or: I can quit buying overpriced, prepared [cookies, piecrusts, whatever] and make them myself!

Or: I can make soup on the real stovetop -- all i have to do is remember to turn the heat down to "simmer" after it boils.

Yep. That's all.

Monitoring something drives me up a wall. (This also applies to recipes that cheerfully instruct me to "stir constantly until thickening occurs, 20-30 minutes." I. will. go. slowly. mad.) The boredom will either make me completely crack up, or drive me to pick up a magazine or, God forbid, a book, go online, even do laundry, just to keep my brain from shorting out and then, yep, it's time for the Brillo [TM] to get the blackened crud off the pot.

There are such things as kitchen timers. We have the technology. I have a real problem with being beeped and buzzed at. I hate being beeped or buzzed at. I hate ruining the product of all my chopping and measuring labor even more than I hate the beeper that prevents it, so my failure to set the timer is pure denial.

I don't need to subject myself to that frikkin' thing! I'll just check back in a few minutes
..... Famous last words, and a guarantee that I'll have to make a mad dash to add water before it boils away.

But a timer isn't much help for for things that need to be watched constantly or frequently, not just checked on.

This invariably leads to an event that, in turn, causes the whole "warm cozy home with delicious aromas wafting from the kitchen" scenario to collapse. Larry is instead subjected to:

"I HATE &$%#ing COOKING!"

...and has to decide whether to come closer and see if I need help, or whether this would be a good time to go downstairs and find an hour-or-longer task to do.

The whole mess is now in the slow cooker where it shoulda been all along.

Poor Larry. He didn't get Donna Reed. He didn't even get Lily Munster.