Wednesday, September 26, 2007

cure for the blues

My very good friend The Wife is in a melancholy way lately. I just wrote her an email, giving her some advice, with the preface that I Am A Person of Action. Which is true, mostly. When I'm feeling out of control, I usually try to do something that puts me back in the driver's seat, even if it's All In My Head (as is usually the case). This works somewhat on the concrete problems that we experience. Not so much with the free-floating Mean Reds.

Instead, my usual prescription for aforementioned Mean Reds goes something like this: watch great movies, listen to great music, talk to your close friends, curl up in bed with fluffy pets or husband. And when I mention these things, you need to know that my prescription isn't really about getting myself OUT of the Mean Reds, but understanding them. I don't like thinking that feeling bad is really a bad thing. It comes for a reason. It can be your friend. It teaches you something. Every time, it teaches you something. There's a lot more to say on this subject, but in light of my UBER STRESSFUL WORK WORK WORK MUST GET IT ALL DONE TODAY thing that I've got going, I give you a list of just a few of my go-to movie items for The Prescription.

-- Stranger Than Fiction --

Dr. Hilbert: Harold, you could just eat nothing but pancakes if you wanted.

Harold: What is wrong with you? Hey, I don't want to eat nothing but pancakes, I want to live! I mean, who in their right mind in a choice between pancakes and living chooses pancakes?

Dr. Hilbert: Harold, if you pause to think, you'd realize that that answer is inextricably contingent upon the type of life being led... and, of course, the quality of the pancakes.

-- Elizabethtown --
If it wasn't this, it would be something else.

-- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, any season - dvd after dvd after dvd... --

I'm off to visit Parental Unit Land for a few days. I'll be posting while I'm gone, so it's not like you'll even miss me!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

stressy mcstresserson and her soundtrack

You know how I said that thing about challenges last week? And how great they were? I’VE CHANGED MY MIND.

Okay, maybe not… I’m going to hold fast. But SERIOUSLY? The last few weeks? And the coming couple? Insane! Sweaty! With lots of extra nervous bits! I drove to work today. I didn’t take the bus because I left too late, and then it took me –no lie- 75 minutes to get here. 75 minutes to drive 22 miles, people. I love living in the northwest, but the TRAFFIC? Quite the nightmare.

As I was driving, I was listening to my ipod. Jefe has this really fantastic jack that allows me to plug my ipod directly into Jefe’s sound system – no need to worry about pesky radio frequencies. This one song by Imogen Heap came on, and I listened to it about 5 times, letting it bring me back to a time last summer, when having a baby was still an idea for Chip & I.

My back is all kinds of jacked up. I don’t talk about it much because there isn’t much I can do about it, other than keeping strong and doing a million exercises – all intended to keep my lower back from crumbling down upon itself, much like a little pile of those Jenga! blocks. There is severe arthritis (yes, I’m 33); there are herniated disks (yes, more than one); there is chronic pain; there are lovely boney pokey-outy bits that probably make a soothing scraping sound deep inside my innards. We’ve been on the road to having a kid for a while – much longer than people would ever think – because of my back. We’ve had doctors tell us a thousand different things about what a pregnancy was going to do to my own precious Jenga! block spine & pelvis. There have been tears and frustration and resignation and hope and a thousand other emotions. Last summer, we embarked on yet another round of diagnostic tests. There was this one particular day I spent on the campus of Northwest Hospital, doing MRI’s and bonescans and blood tests and other fun things. The weather was a beyond-perfect August day: sunny, deep blue sky, a light breeze. Between a couple of the tests, I sat outside, listening to Imogen Heap. And I felt hopeful. For the first time, I felt like this whole thing was the first step in a great journey – and at the end of it all, I’d be holding a little baby that was a little bit of Chip and a little bit of me and a lot of indescribables. After letting the sun soak into my rain-weary skin, I went back inside the hospital and lay down in the bonescan machine. I closed my eyes and smiled, listening to Imogen, knowing that everything happens for a reason, for a purpose. Amidst the little Jenga! blocks that are the components of my life – even when they are tipping violently to the left or swaying dangerously to the right – even when a few of them tumble down and fall at my feet – I feel like it’s all worth it.

Today I’m trying to hold everything together, even as little bits fall. I can go back to that day and feel good about how far we’ve come. And how far we have yet to go.

Friday, September 21, 2007

living the life imperfect - and something about a misbehaving dress

Occasionally my boss expects me to, you know, work. And it’s always a funny surprise to me, like I’m thinking that I’m here just to pretty the place up. Isn’t my presence enough to just motivate OTHERS to do the work? Sadly, no. These days, I have a pretty great job. Proof is found in my lack of complaints. But when Bossy starts asking me to do things besides the regular stuff, or when the regular stuff reaches levels requiring me to actually sweat a little – I do feel a wee bit put upon. And usually a couple of sighs and maybe even some choice words about my hard working self being unappreciated in my own time might escape my lips (okay, maybe it isn’t quite that dire – but you get it). And then I check myself and think, boy, am I a PANSY or what?! Because, seriously, I’ve had jobs that could run circles, squares, and even parallelograms around this one. Jobs that paid less, were much more labor-intensive, and also required me to work around some fairly unattractive (read: HORRIBLE) people. So glad I’m not there anymore. But, **sigh**, that doesn’t make all of this junk much more fun, does it?

Which leads to this thought: aren’t challenges just wacky that way? What is one person’s Mount Everest of pain is another’s walk in the park. I’ve mentioned before that I have this uh, tendency to compare. So I do occasionally compare the problems or issues I have with the problems or issues that my friends have – or, at least, the problems I think they’re having (ha ha – I’m being FUNNY and IRONIC – don’t hate me, please?). In my clearest moments, I am grateful for the troubles that Chip and I face, that are ours and ours alone. I wouldn’t trade our issues with anyone else’s. Because I know that we’ve been given the unique talents that will be necessary to overcome them. This is what I think. In my CLEAREST moments.

(When I’m in a more murky frame of mind, you might just find me day-dreaming about having the problem of too much money, or too much free time, or the HUGE ISSUE of not knowing exactly WHICH house to buy – They’re all so pretty! And we can afford any of them!)

A family friend, Gerry, has said that if we all stood in a circle and threw our problems into the center and were asked to choose a problem out of the pile, we’d all choose our own. I think this is interesting, because what it points to is not only the thing I mentioned above about unique gifts, but it also says that we’re attached to our problems, like a familiar fuzzy blanket. It’s hard for me to imagine addiction or sickness or dishonesty or financial woes as a comforting friend, but there it is. Without these issues, somehow we’d be less human. Our foibles and our problems define us, just as much as they can refine us - if we let them.

I really hate it when I’m reading a blog that makes a person’s life out to be roses and singing birds, 100% of the time. I can’t relate to those people. They aren’t real to me. Perhaps their lives really are that trouble-free, but I know that mine is not. And when I think about it, I really don’t want it to be. I hope in time I will allow the fire of adversity to burn some of my impurities away – so that I can be a better person than I am. This is the nature of work. This is the nature of trouble. It puts us in places we wouldn’t otherwise go. We can wallow there, or we can glean as much from that place as we can, and be the stronger, better people we were meant to be. I know which way I’d like to go – how about you?


With that, I'll leave you for the weekend. Enjoy! Any good plans?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

thankful thursday

It’s far from a new idea, but I decided to inaugurate a weekly forum in which to share some of the things that make life zingy, that make life good, the things for which I’m, you know – grateful.

All Hail Thankful Thursday! I’m hoping I can share some of the small things that help to get me through a day, so if you’re wondering where the biggies are (God, Faith, Family), they’re there, at the top of the list in my heart; just not here, because the Biggies are Biggies, made all the more sweet by the tiny things. Kathryn over at Daring Young Mom, calls these things Reasons – and I think she’s lovely, as is her blog.

(Some items on today’s list brought to you by The Horrendous Dress Malfunction that I experienced today – which you’ll hear ALL ABOUT tomorrow.)

  • Having an Old Navy within spitting distance of my office; because you never know when you might need to buy an Emergency Pair of Affordable Maternity Jeans. Not that I'd know anything about that.

  • Miniature Nestle Butterfingers

  • Chip's sleepy smile in the morning

  • The availability of fresh water

  • Cold slices of cucmber with ranch dressing

  • Fergus and Phoebe following me into the bathroom to watch me get dressed & brush my teeth - even though it's 5am and clearly too early to be up.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

stripes before spots

Anyone care to venture a guess as to what it might mean when your favorite uber comfortable leopard-spotted shoes are vomitted upon not once, but twice, in the span of a single evening? And the culprit is not one, but both cats, working in tandem?

Hmmm - yes, I thought so too.

Annnnnnnnd in other news, I have removed the SLUG visage. I couldn't take it anymore. For those of you begging for more slug lovin', you're not getting it here at The Creamery, no matter how nicely you ask. I love you all, but we must have STANDARDS, people!

Friday, September 14, 2007


In place of a lovingly crafted post, you, lucky you, reader of The Creamery, you get this madness. To add further explanation (obviously this is the Infamous Slug Photo): this is after the spiral formation had fallen off the wall and was holding on by what can only be described as a single slug toenail - stretched to capacity. And that gelatinous substance? Chip investigated for y'all at the time - and found it to be full of tiny slug babies. And he even went so far as to say, "You know, they're kinda... cute." But NO. A WORLD OF NO. NOT CUTE. THEY ARE GROSS. DISGUSTING. AND THEY DID IT ON THE WALL OF MY HOUSE. (The dark water splash mark is where Chip's first glass of water hit - missing his mark widely, as you can see.)

Enjoy it while it lasts, kiddos.

And yes, I know exactly what it looks like. I didn't want to mention it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

a little bit of grateful

I’m sure you’re just checking in to see if I’ve posted THE SLUG PHOTO yet. But yesterday was a bit of a rough day around The Creamery, and I’ve decided to hold out on the photo posting for a few more possible votes (read: a few more days). Sad, but true. Actually my observation of the voting has been something of a slug race – IN SLOW MOTION. At last count, we were running 3-2 in favor of slugs.

In place of Slugapalooza 2007, I give you some of the small things for which I am grateful on a tough day (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER). Help yourself to my list – and please, if you’d like, add a few of your own. A little bit of Grateful is never a bad thing.

Of the Good
  • Emails from friends - simple, but oh so wonderful, and oh so welcome

  • The Magic Salad

  • Sunflower seeds

  • The Office recaps I read recently on Television Without Pity

  • The unexpected bag of maternity wear leant to me by one Helen at Workplace - what a nice gesture

  • The Bean

  • The offer my boss made to me today, to pelt me with tiny little wrapped Tic Tac mints (called "Silvers" - if you haven't had them, you should - because the orange flavor is fantastic). This offer was truly an act of kindness, as he has been known to show his affection and appreciation in some odd, brotherly ways (I'm throwing these mints at you because I think you're great! Let's put this maraca in Kristy's desk because it will be funny!)

  • An impended trip to see my parents. I'm really looking forward to spending time with them, and also laying around. A lot. Because I haven't done enough of that here at home.

  • The orange scarf I decided to knit this weekend

  • Having the ability to knit an orange scarf (me: Aren't I cool, Chip? Isn't this great, Chip? Doesn't this look fantastic, Chip? Huh? HUH?)

  • The Bers - I read this post on Cupcakes for Clara the other day, that excitedly announced the arrival of the BERS (as in, SeptemBER, OctoBER, etc.) I, too, love me some Bers!

  • Paintings by Sam Toft

  • Fergus nose kisses

  • The errant Fergus Whisker that had somehow been imbedded in the soft pudge of my stuffed Ugly Doll, Herp. When I went to lay my head on him two nights ago, I got poked. Discovering that little gem was weird - and also really funny. Like Fergus put it there for safe keeping.

  • Watching Phoebe try to sleep as I tickled her feet with the newly discovered Fergus Whisker

  • This post by the lovely and luminous The Wife, my dear friend. She's such a beautiful writer, and can put things in such a way... this is a day that I am ill-equipped to encapsulate in words. My friend does it beautifully.

  • The knowledge that You're out there - all of you

  • Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip - I wouldn't want to spend a moment of my life without him in it

Friday, September 7, 2007

wild kingdom

Please understand, though daily posts would indicate otherwise, my life does not, in fact, revolve around the following: food aversions, food cravings, or critters in our garden. With that said, however, HAVE I GOT A WEIRD ONE FOR YOU.

I came home last night after a really nice evening with Angela. We don’t frequently use our front door, because there is a wonderfully handy-dandy doorway leading from the garage into the house – and seeing as how we’re normally the ones doing the driving, we enter and leave through that door almost exclusively. However, last night Angela was my driver, so I had the rare pleasure of actually using the front doorway. As I walked up the pathway, I realized two things: 1) our front porch light was burnt out and 2) WHAT THE LIVING HECK IS THAT THING ON THE WALL?!?!

It was roundish. It was about 4 inches in circumference. It was black. And it appeared to be a snake. Upon vaguely closer inspection (meaning I had to squeeze past THE BEAST to get into the front door), I confirmed that it wasn’t, in fact, a snake – but rather, TWO OF THE BIGGEST SLUGS I’D EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE – HAVING THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES ON THE SIDE OF OUR HOUSE, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN – HUBBA HUBBA, I THINK YOU DO.

Being a chicken about any kind of goo-related creature, I pulled open the door, locked it firmly behind me, and then SCREECHED for Chip. HAVE YOU SEEN THE THING THAT’S ON THE OUTSIDE OF OUR HOUSE! IT’S ALIVE – AND IT’S DOING… SOMETHING THAT SHOULD BE DONE IN PRIVATE, BEHIND CLOSED-DOORS! So Chip comes down and grabs a glass of water to wash the obscene little buggers from the siding. I’m cowering behind him, figuring that at least if the slimy offenders leap out and grab someone, they’ll grab Chip first. I’M THINKING OF MY UNBORN CHILD, HERE, PEOPLE. I MUST PROTECT THE FUTURE! So we creep outside, to the darkened (and apparently, extremely seductive) porch – and find that the slug mating has now progressed to …. something else entirely. There is some kind of slug spiral formation – jutting about three inches from the house as well as a gooey, whitish liquid dripping off the couple in a single gelatinous mass.

As soon as we see what is happening I run into the house, screeching and wailing like Phoebe on Friends, MY EYES! MY EYES! WHAT THE HECK IS THAT STUFF! WE DON’T WANT TO KNOW! And Chip stumbles in after me, glass still in hand – DUDE! YOU HAVE TO GO GET THE CAMERA! THAT’S SOME WICKED STUFF HAPPENING THERE! GET THE CAMERA! HURRY! FAST!

So yes, I caught it all on film. And I felt pretty disgusted with myself to even think of sharing it with all of you. Should I have respected the slugs in their private moments, creating yet more slugs? Should Chip have NOT washed them away away away (the SEA would not be far enough away away away)? My retinas are burned with that image. So I give you a choice – we’ll put it to a vote (and those few and brave souls who leave comments): do you want to see the slugs? Majority rules at this moment at The Creamery, my friends, and I’d hate to burn that image into your retinas unless you really truly WANTED it. For those who have never posted, now is your chance: either to vote for continued Slug Privacy, or to Lay It All Out There. (Comments at bottom.)

Have a great weekend. Please don’t go thinking that our house is really that creature-infested. I share because I care. And, in Chip’s words: WE SURE DO GROW ‘EM BIG UP HERE IN THE NORTHWEST.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

our friend eddie

As promised – a VERITABLE CORNUCOPIA OF WEEKEND RECAP FANTASTICNESS (I dare you to say that three times fast). My lovely husband works. A lot. And also, often. So we don’t get a lot of weekends ‘round here. The last Saturday afternoon he spent home was with Fred, the behemoth spider. Having him home all weekend long was sheer and utter bliss. We tried our best to take advantage of it by having some fun.

Saturday we spent a good majority of the day at Bumbershoot, the annual Seattle music festival. If you’re a modern music fan (or heck, just a music fan), it’s a thing not to miss, though I have been woefully underrepresented the past few years. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown even more wary of large crowds of scantily clad strangers – making fairs and fests and gatherings of any kind pretty low on my priority list. This was a special occasion, however, what with Chip being HOME and all. Plus – both Crowded House (reunited for a new album this year) and The Shins were playing.

Bumbershoot is held on the grounds of Seattle Center – that’s where the Space Needle lives, y’all out-of-towners – which has a nice collection of various venues and stages to host the ‘fest. I guess the best way to describe it is this:


The best part for us, of course, was Crowded House and The Shins playing in the same venue (Memorial Stadium – the largest space), back to back. We got there in plenty of time, and found a nice shady spot to sit and people-watch. The music was fan-flipping-tastic. The company (lovely husband) was also of the good. We ate some fair-food (Kettle corn! Gyros!). We enjoyed the weather. Perhaps the strangest part of the day was when, toward the end of their set, Neil Finn of Crowded House introduced their friend Eddie, from nearby Portland, who was going to sit in with them for a couple of songs. And no lie: out walks Eddie Vedder. I’m not all star-struck by the guy himself – he’s a regular guy, doing his thing. But with Crowded House? To sing World Where You Live? Okay – odd. But weirdly cool. Like one of those moments when I look around at the sky, bluer than cerulean ever ought to be – and then the strange amalgam of people that make up this wonderfully kooky city and I feel so gosh-darn fortunate to live here, like, man, only in Seattle. We left the stadium later that afternoon, awed and inspired by some terrific music (if you haven’t yet listened to James Mercer cover Pink Floyd’s Breathe – duuuuuude), and feeling all floaty and happy. A great afternoon, only marred by the HORRENDOUSLY TEEMING MASS OF HUMANITY ATTEMPTING TO EXIT THROUGH WHAT CAN ONLY BE DESCRIBED AS THE WORST BOTTLE NECK OF FOLKS I’VE EVER HAD THE DISPLEASURE TO WALK THROUGH. So glad Chip is a nice, solid, tall thing – because otherwise I would have been trampled.

Saturday concluded with some DVD-watching, and extremely early turning in (we are OLD OLD OLD – we are not ashamed that we went to bed at 9pm).

Sunday was church and yet more resting. The night was capped off with a surprise visit by Chip’s folks, who were in the neighborhood, returning from a recent trip out of town. It’s been AGES since we’ve seen them – so it was awesome to catch up and chat.

Monday was more of the same, with some errands thrown in for good measure – and the previously mentioned book store visit. It was such a nice time, I hated to see Tuesday arrive.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

huevos verdes con jamon

We had a pretty great Labor Day weekend. Chip took time off! We attempted to sleep in! We went to Bumbershoot, the annual Seattle music festival (where we saw Crowded House and The Shins)! We ate a lot! And – we went to a bookstore. Tomorrow I’m going to bring you the gritty details of the weekend of leisure, but for today, I’m going to let you in on a little experiment that we’re trying.

We’d like The Bean to learn to speak Spanish. Chip is fluent in it. I, ever the gringo white girl, am not. Yes, I grew up in the Southern California, where the Spanish language is quite literally spoken on every corner. Being my contrary self, of course I took French—four years of it! And a couple semesters in college. I can sort of say a few words of this beautiful language, and sadly, nothing else. I am a pathetic American who speaks the English good. (HA!) We’re hoping we can spare The Bean from my ugly state by starting him or her off early. Obviously, I’m no help in this endeavor. Chip spends time talking to The Bean each day, having these great conversations that I can’t understand. In the early weeks, it was cool – and I’d just lay there, thinking my own thoughts, listening to the rumbling familiarity of Chip’s voice. Now I’ve started to get a little …nervous. I’m giving my husband and child an opportunity TO TALK ABOUT ME – WHEN I’M IN THE SAME ROOM. BECAUSE I WON’T UNDERSTAND A BLINKING WORD.

I don’t quite have grand plans of enrolling in a language course quite yet. However, I took the first step yesterday when we were at the bookstore. I bought a book in Spanish. Of which I will read. To The Bean. And hopefully (through osmosis?) learn some of the language my own self. I had about five books to choose from – one of them a dictionary (no, not quite there yet), El Gato En El Sombrero, and Donde Viven Los Monstruos. (Look them up – I DARE YOU.) After some deliberation, I chose Huevos Verdes Con Jamon.

The entire way home, I was shuffling through the book, me and Juan Ramon. With the repetition and my horrible pronunciation, I’m surprised Chip could even drive the car, he was laughing so hard. I trust, if nothing else, that this book will enable me to clearly explain to my waiter, the next time we're in a mexican restaurant, that I clearly don't want huevos verdes - regardless of where or how they'd like to serve them to me.