This is my nemesis, Rupert. You may think he is just a squirrel, but he's actually the physical incarnation of pure evil. He and I have been in an epic struggle for three years now. In this picture, he has captured a dog Kong and is sucking all of the good peanut butter out and injecting it with his smelly little devil-squirrel germs in a blatant attempt to poison my dogs.
Remind me to tell you the story about the squirrel-flinger some day.
Every year, I enjoy the Zilker christmas tree - it can be seen from all over the city.
But this year, for the first time, I participated in the long-standing tradition of standing under it, looking up, and spinning around. This is what it looks like from the bottom:
There's something incredibly uplifting about watching tons of kids and adults alike spinning around, bumping into each other, giggling, and celebrating. One guy made me particularly happy. He didn't seem to be with any group of people, but was spinning around with abandon saying "this is good, this is good."
Think, would it not be
Sweet to live with me
All alone, my child, my love? —
Sleep together, share
All things, in that fair
Country you remind me of?
Charming in the dawn
There, the half-withdrawn
Drenched, mysterious sun appears
In the curdled skies,
Treacherous as your eyes
Shining from behind their tears.
There, restraint and order bless
Luxury and voluptuousness.
We should have a room
Never out of bloom:
Tables polished by the palm
Of the vanished hours
Should reflect rare flowers
In that amber-scented calm;
Ceilings richly wrought,
Mirrors deep as thought,
Walls with eastern splendor hung,
All should speak apart
To the homesick heart
In its own dear native tongue.
There, restraint and order bless
Luxury and voluptuousness.
See, their voyage past,
To their moorings fast,
On the still canals asleep,
These big ships; to bring
You some trifling thing
They have braved the furious deep.
— Now the sun goes down,
Tinting dyke and town,
Field, canal, all things in sight,
Hyacinth and gold;
All that we behold
Slumbers in its ruddy light.
Luxury and voluptuousness.
You are Spider-Man
|You are intelligent, witty,|
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.
The great imperative!
In order not to feel
Time's horrid fardel
bruise your shoulders,
grinding you into the earth,
get drunk and stay that way.
On wine, poetry, virtue, whatever.
But get drunk.
And if you sometimes happen to wake up
on the porches of a palace,
in the green grass of a ditch,
in the dismal loneliness
of your own room,
your drunkenness gone or disappearing,
ask the wind,
ask everything that flees,
everything that groans
everything that speaks,
ask what time it is;
and the wind,
will answer you:
"Time to get drunk!
Don't be martyred slaves of Time,
On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!"
In two languages
In other news, my house is being worked on! The last owners had installed some truly horrific dark blue plush carpet in almost every room in the house. Then, in a frenzy of bad taste, they painted most of the walls the exact color of raw salmon. We are having most of the floors replaced with either tile or wood, and re-doing the master shower and kitchen counter-tops. Unfortunately, this means the house is not in a livable condition right now. It's really driving me insane to own a house (!) and not be able to move in.
Director: "and this is Stephanie Scott, who does all of our accounting and helped us get all of our banking needs taken care of"
CEO (nodding, smiling): "It's nice to meet you."
Me: "It's nice to meet you too."
At least the food was good. It turns out that Indian food catered for VIPs is very different and very much tastier than Indian food sold from the dingy little store down the street from my office.
I have asked my office neighbor Matt to take me out back and shoot me if I ever consider buying another house.I think that about sums up the way we've been feeling lately. I know it is ridiculous, and we have every reason in the world to be infinitely grateful for our lives, but sometimes its hard to get past the immediate stress. However, in the last year or so, I think Jill and her constant celebrating have become my conscious. These days, whenever I start complaining, a little voice starts nagging me to find something to celebrate instead. So, I celebrate the fact that I am lucky enough to be worrying about flaky contractors and obnoxious mortgage brokers who call me 'honey', rather than worrying about where I will sleep tonight.
This life can be.
Common as a dandelion-blossom, beautiful in the green grass, not beautiful
Because common, beautiful because beautiful;
Noble because common, because free.
-Edna St. Vincent Millay
If you have a bread maker, you should jump up and head to the grocery store RIGHT NOW and buy some of this. Actually, I think you can use it without a bread maker, but I wouldn't have the slightest idea how.
And yes, I just might start every post from now on with poetry. Isn't it a nice way to start a post?
The problem is that my epiphany so far extends to only one poet. I'm afraid if I read anything else, it will be just as boring and hard and unmoving as always. Anyone have any suggestions?
All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I'd started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.
Over these things I could not see;
These were the things that bounded me;
Click here for the rest
Lest you think I'm the only person nerdy enough to go to something like this, I have to mention that there was quite a crowd. Even the Severely Inked Vegan showed up and hung around looking shady. I highly recommend. (recommend the band, I mean, not hanging around looking shady)
I am addicted to a drink called kombucha. It's a drink made by combining tea, sugar, and a "kombucha mushroom" (which is actually a colony of yeast and bacteria) and letting it ferment for several days. Sounds disgusting, yes? It is, at first. It smells and tastes a little like vinegar and tends to have sediment. People make all kinds of insane claims for this stuff. According to many people, there isn't anything that a daily dose of kombucha won't fix - including cancer, AIDS, and thinning hair. However, I have to admit that it makes me feel better when I drink it. Also, after a bottle or two, you start to crave the taste and the acidity of it. I'm not crazy enough to make the stuff myself, so I buy this brand, which is incredible. The only problem is that it is very hard to find. Many people at my work drink the stuff, so when we get a shipment in downstairs, it goes within a few hours. Including my store, I went to six different natural foods stores last week looking for it.
I suppose this hasn't been very persuasive, but if you get a chance, try it. I promise, it's good stuff. It will make you immortal.
Hannibal the Cannibal did. He even had one of the facilities guys strap him to a dolly and wheel him around.
We also had a new person at work start on Halloween, which might not have been the best idea. Our office is rather unique at any time, but I got the impression that her former coworkers didn't take Halloween quite so seriously. Her eyes got very wide when we took her by to meet the internal audit team and found that they had all coordinated and dressed up for the 80's prom, and even hung streamers and a disco ball in their area. She was also amazed at how seriously the marketing department takes pumpkin-carving...
Chloe loved my costume glasses and wore them most of the time I was with her today, but I got some funny looks from teachers - I guess I'm not supposed to encourage this type of dress. Personally, I think she was showing great originality. When another kid yelled that she looked stupid, she told me that he was just "jealous because he couldn't pull it off." Have I mentioned how much I like this kid?
Quitting smoking requires massive amounts of things to put in your mouth. So in honor of having not smoked for 300 days (not that I'm counting), here is a recipe for Spicy Sweet Pumpkin Seeds.
1 medium pumpkin
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 250 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the pumpkin open and remove the seeds with a long-handled metal spoon. Wash the pumpkin seeds to remove all the pulp, and shake in a sieve to remove excess moisture. Spread the seeds on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake until dry, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let cool.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons sugar, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Cook until sugar melts and pumpkin seeds begin to caramelize, about 45 to 60 seconds. Transfer to bowl with spices, and stir well to coat. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool. Makes about 1 cup.
"Centipedes pose a threat to man because they have poison glands and will bite."
"A centipede, Scolopendra heros, occurs in Texas and may be over 5 inches long when full grown."
Yuck. Here is a (very bad) picture of my porch door-jam this morning:
It was about three inches long and had very scary looking pincers. When I first moved to this apartment three years ago from East Riverside Drive, I thought it would be very nice to be so close to the greenbelt and nature. Then I discovered scorpions. And foot-long walking sticks. And skunks. And huge spiders. And the smell of deer poop. And now centipedes.
There was a time when I dreamed about living in the country, near my grandparents. Now I know better.
Don't try and gimme that shit, right?Other songs are so beautiful that they make me want to cry (see Dry Your Eyes and I Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way). Even the songs that don't initially seem to make much impression somehow stay with you. This is definitely not background music. Every time a song comes on the random play on my iPod I either have to stop and listen or skip to the next song. You can't ignore it.
'Cos, d'you know what I mean?
You're not exactly...fuckin'..y'know..d'you know what I mean?
It don't really matter anymore, d'you know what I mean?
It's hard enough to remember my opinions without remembering my reasons for them
You're confusing me now
I'm not gonna give you an example
I can't remember an example
You do it all the time
You know, that thing that you do
I...look, I can't remember when you last did it can I?
The only downside? I've learned enough British slang to annoy everyone around me.
The back reads:
Behind the gates of Temple Alice the aristocratic Anglo-Irish St Charles family sinks into a decaying grace. To Aroon St Charles, large and unlovely daughter of the house, the fierce forces of sex, money, jealousy and love seem locked out by the ritual patterns of good behaviour. But crumbling codes of conduct cannot hope to save the members of the St Charles family from their own unruly and inadmissible desires.It's not a romance novel, I swear. But it sure looks like one. So right now, I have serious book shame. I always have my current book on my desk at work to read during lunch or whenever I take breaks. This week, I've been hiding it under papers. When someone found it and looked it over (with raised eyebrows) I blurted out desperately that it was nominated for the Booker award in 1981! Really! The cover is a complete misrepresentation! I don't think she believed me.
Now, I'm going to have to start dragging around something Russian to restore my reputation.
By the way, it isn't even very good.
The Years of Rice and Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson: What would have happened had 99% of Europeans been wiped out by the plague, rather than 30%? This is an alternative history where Chinese and Muslim empires vie for dominance and India gets stuck in the middle. The story is told from an interesting perspective - the same group of characters are reincarnated over and over again to witness defining moments in history (thankfully, Robinson keeps the same first initial for each of the characters to help with tracking). The first half of the book is all kinds of speculative fun and the second half feels more like a meditation on the philosophy of history. I think this book would have received much more attention had Robinson not been a sci-fi writer.
The Bookshop, by Penelope Fitzgerald (no connection, I swear): I read this book based on a not-extremely-enthusiastic review on my brother-in-law's blog. It is a tiny, precise book (only 123 pages), and that saves it from being overly empty and depressing. It has nothing good to say about human nature, but it does have some suprisingly insightful characters. Overall, I'm neutral.
A Little History of the World, by E.H. Gombrich: This is an overview of world history written for children in Austria in the 30s, before the author moved to England to escape Hitler's invasion. Gombrich, much more famous for this, never allowed A Little History to be published in English before now. He is said to have thought that the English would not be interested in a history from a European point of view. I'm not really sure why I'm reading it, except that I was curious. So far, the conversational writing style is delightful, the maps are interesting, and I'm remembering how much of my world history class I've forgotten.
Not the End of the World, by Kate Atkinson: This is a book of short stories along the lines of Arabian Nights. I can't say any more about that particular plot device without including a spoiler alert, so I won't. However, I will say this: I thought it was impossible to find good short stories anymore, but I was wrong. These are perfectly crafted collisions of the mundane and the surreal. They have a little bit of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez flavor, but in a very British way. Does that make any sense at all? I didn't think so.
I'm also reading this and this, but I can't recommend either. Someday, I will rant about the absolute idiocy of the TSBPA's educational requirements, but not today. Lucky for you.
However, as terrifying as it is, I think it will be worth it. We have only met twice so far, but I think it will work out. She is a lot like me - shy, scared, and a bookworm. The second time I came to see her, I peeked into her classroom. When she saw me, she got a huge smile on her face, yelled my name, and came running across the room to hug me. It made all the scariness and the time and the effort absolutely worth it. The first time we met, I made her an origami flower and she asked me to teach her how to make things like that. This is her first try - isn't it great? She even made it a 'pond' to live in, and drew food in it. Then she insisted that I take it back to work with me so that I wouldn't forget her.
It seems like a very natural progression, and I'm generally very happy with the way my life is turning out. I just never saw myself doing all of those things. More and more, I see cycles and repetition in everything. It seems impossible to break out. Nor does it seem desirable to break out, but some deep-down cynical part of me is rebelling.
Wow, this is very quickly turning into some pretty serious navel-gazing. Anyway, I think I'm gonna buy a house! Cool!
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that the president can claim executive privilege?
DEAN: Well, certainly the president can claim executive privilege. But in the this case, I think with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, you can't play, you know, hide the salami, or whatever it's called. He's got to go out there and say something about this woman who's going to a 20 or 30-year appointment, a 20 or 30-year appointment to influence America. We deserve to know something about her.
(This is from when Bill Clinton was signing books across the street)
I am glad to have introduced someone new to the books, but I am extremely jealous that he is getting to read and experience them for the first time. So here are some books/authors that I wish I could erase from my mind and enjoy reading for the first time all over again:
- Harry Potter series, of course. I'm a hardcore HP fan.
- All of Jane Austen's books, but especially Pride and Prejudice.
- Orson Scott Card's 'Ender' series - I found and read Ender's Game quite by accident when I was about 10, and I didn't even know it was a series until I was in high school. The books are still coming out, and amazingly enough, they are still excellent.
- This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I could never much get into his other books, but This Side of Paradise was magical. After the first few chapters, I remember thinking to myself, "This man is a genius. This is the most beautiful book ever written in the history of the world."
- The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies - Davies is a Canadian author who wrote during the 50s-80s. The first book of his that I read was an early one (Tempest Tost) that was pretty awful. I don't know what led me to pick up another, but I'm very glad I did.
- Agatha Christie - I've read every single book she has ever written, even the Mary Westmacott books. It took me a long time - there are over 100. But one day, I went to Half-Price, I went to Amazon, I went to BookPeople and I had a terrible realization: I had read them all. There were no more. It was a sad day. Granted, they aren't great literature, but I don't think I ever knew whodunnit before she told me.
Things on my docking station/monitor stand at work:
1. Purple and white checked origami goldfish
2. Multicolored striped origami frog
3. Small stack of origami paper for use during frustrating conference calls
4. Several business cards from various people I've met in meetings recently. I never know what to do with them - I usually keep them for a month or two and then throw them away.
5. One large post-it note pad and one small post-it note pad, both green.
6. Small blue painted china turtle that I got at the Louvre gift shop last year. It's my lucky turtle.
7. Tin of lemongrass green tea mints from the tea shop I frequent (if you're in Austin, go visit and say 'hi' to Jonathan - he's really nice and knowledgeable)
Wow, that was a really tortured metaphor. Someone stop me, please. Anyway, Rita forgot to come by, but Houston sure was around...
1. Why did the ant cross the mobius strip? To get to the other....um....
2. A pirate walks into a bar. He has a steering wheel growing out of his crotch. The bartender says "hey, pirate, why do you have a steering wheel growing out of your crotch?" The pirate says "argh, matey, I don't know, but it's driving me nuts!"
3. A hydrogen atom lost its electron and went to the police station to file a missing electron report. The police asked him "are you sure you haven't just misplaced it somewhere? Are you sure it's really lost?" The atom replied "I'm positive."
4. Heisenberg was driving down the Autobahn when he was pulled over by a policeman. The policeman asked, "Do you know how fast you were going back there?" Heisenberg replied, "No, but I know where I am."
5. Once upon a time, there was a king with a pretty daughter and an ugly daughter whose kingdom was being menaced by a dangerous dragon. The king sent out a notice all over the land that whoever could slay the dragon would be entitled to half of his kingdom and the hand of either his pretty daughter or his ugly daughter. A prince from a far off land heard the notice and rode across the land and slew the dragon. When he went to the king, the king said "Prince, you have killed the dragon and saved my kingdom. I will give you half of my kingdom and the hand of either my pretty daughter or my ugly daughter. Which would you prefer?" The prince thought about it for a moment and then replied, "Your majesty, since this is a fairy tale, I think I would prefer your son." (Thanks, Mr. Axe)
I feel like I want to say something about this, but I don't know what. It's starting to feel like a third-word country around here. Gas is hard to find, and shelves at the grocery store are looking kind of bare. I don't think Austin is equipped to host this many people. My stepdad had the foresight to make my mom, stepbrother, and stepsister leave from the coast on Wednesday morning to drive to my place. It still took them nine hours. My stepdad is on the Lake Jackson police force. He had to stay, so all we can do is watch CNN and pray that he's safe. We have trouble getting to talk to him because the cell phone networks are so busy. Somehow, in my head, I keep saying "this can't be happening, this is America." As if America is immune to natural (or man-made) disasters. I've never before realized what a cocoon my life has been. Maybe I'm growing up.
Or maybe I'm just being inane and maudlin. Whatever.
| You are a |
You are best described as a:
Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
- I will only eat one type of food at a time. For instance, if there are carrots and rice on my plate and I take a bite of carrots, I won't be able to eat any rice until all of the carrots are gone.
- I own three (count em!) iPods for no particular reason. They just seem to accumulate.
- While reading big intellectual books in public, I secretly like to reread the books I loved when I was a kid, so I curl up at night with Where The Sidewalk Ends or From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler or The Headless Cupid.
- I'm a tea snob - I drink organic first flush Korahkundah tea from India for breakfast. In a bone china cup, no less. With a fake British accent.
- I'm a free t-shirt whore. I will do (almost) anything for a free t-shirt. This Thursday, I have volunteered to spend all afternoon and evening in 100 degree heat at the Austin City Limits music festival for nothing but a t-shirt. I got one last year too.