Friday, June 29, 2007

There are those who would say that six degrees are probably not enough.

I hear talk all the time about how the world is a little-bitty place. And the circle that encompasses my world grows ever tighter each day. So much so, you can be sure that were I ever to make an excursion to Egypt, I would run smack dab into my eighth-grade history teacher traveling on the back of a camel.

Apparently, I have a very strong magnetic force.

Today, I reached out and snatched someone back who no doubt thought he'd escaped. And I was reminded how glad I am to have this strange force field in effect. Most of the time, it's just too easy for us to fall out of touch and clean off the face of the earth. Decades pass, there are presidential elections and Sunday picnics to attend to, and the next thing you know, someone is off the grid. You think to yourself, "Say, what ever happened to..." and realize that you have absolutely no idea.

But today, another wonder--thirty years later, and there he was. The very same kind eyes; the world's softest heart. And to think, it was just a matter of patience--of waiting for the world to make a couple more long, slow revolutions.

Welcome back, old friend. I thought you were lost.

To do today.

A cowgirl gets up in the morning, decides what she wants to do, and does it.
-Marie Lords

It's the last Friday of the month, and for me and mine, that means PRINTER DAY! If your breath doesn't come a little faster, if your heart doesn't skip a beat when you hear those words, then you don't know what you're missing!

I've got to focus on heading 'em up and moving 'em out for the next few hours, so check back later today for Friday's actual post.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pillow Fight Club.

Thoreau said, "I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than to be crowded on a velvet cushion."

Well, yeah.

But you can be sure that if I had spent $434.00 on that velvet cushion, wouldn't nobody but the woman who bought the damn thing be perched on it. You'd just have to find yourself a pumpkin and be happy about it.

While flopping around on the interweb last Sunday, I saw some pillows I would be happy to have, but then I got a look at the price tags:

Barclay Butera Lace Floral pillow updates a traditional print in of-the-moment black and white, showcased on block-printed linen ($434).

(Sorry, I can't give you the link to buy it; apparently you have to add airfare to sunny LA to your purchase price.)

Beautiful nature inspired prints in earthy hues by Koko Company. Features of this Eurosham: 100% printed cotton twill 26 x 26 Eurosham insert included. This item typically ships within 1 - 2 weeks. ($118.00)

The Modern Basics Dot pillow leverages the best aspects of Ultrasuede to create this fun and functional pillow. Dots are die-cut and bonded to the pillow with a special glue. The Ultrasuede is easy to clean and always looks great. 100% Ultrasuede. 18 x 18 with a feather/down insert. Machine wash or dry clean. Colors are chocolate and ivory. ($146.00)

Now, even if I had those kinds of discretionary funds, I like to think that I wouldn't spend them on a throw pillow. (When I think of all the times I've used a throw pillow to rest my spaghetti plate on while watching Project Runway...)

So I just can't stop asking. Who spends 400 dollars on a pillow?

I guess the only pillow I can imagine being worth $400 would be one stuffed with exactly that many one dollar bills.

Please. If you ever spent more than--oh, I don't know, let's be expansive--$100.00 on a throw pillow, will you please, PLEASE email me and tell me why? I won't make fun of you or anything. I just want to know if, now that you've had it a while and had time to rest your stinky old feet on it and roll it up under your head while you have your Sunday afternoon nap, and knock the cat off it a couple hundred times--are you glad to have it, or are you sitting and looking at the couch right now, thinking, "Man, I sure am sick of those throw pillows?"

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Desperate and Alone Special

I had a date last Thursday night. Not unheard of, but certainly not something that happens every day. I hesitate to even broach the topic, since I've been known to wax prolific on the subject.

Even my Material World friend Cheryl manages to sound slightly world-weary and jaded when the talk turns to romance--and I happen to know that I've been dating this time around longer than she's been licensed to operate a motorized vehicle.

So I was a little taken aback when another friend mentioned that her daughter E. wondered aloud to her mom why I would want to date.

"I don't think it's because she's lonely," my friend said, "Maybe it's sex."

Overwhelming response from E. (and later upon recounting to Muffin Uptown)--"Eeww."

The whole exchange messed with my mind so much that I obsessed about it for hours. Ultimately, I concluded that to E., I must seem so together--so content and comfortable in my life, that changing anything at all would just be foolish. After all, if it ain't broke...

So imagine my dismay when, while discussing it one more time with yet another friend, said friend observed that the actual reason my dating seems strange to someone watching from E.'s point of view is probably because this very young person can plainly see that I am too old to date. Why on earth would someone of my advanced age want to splash around in the big old communal dating pool?

Why, indeed?

I liked it better when she thought it was the sex.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Quick, where's that list I've been making about the joys of growing older?

Warning: If you are one of those silly people who are grossed-out by conversation pertaining to body hair, come back tomorrow. I'll likely have it out of my system by then.

I leave my house each day at what we here in the South call, "The Crack o' Dawn." Either it cracked a little earlier yesterday, or I missed it by a bit--because the sun was already high enough in the sky to grant me my first clear glimpse of my knees in a while.

My first thought (and I'm not entirely sure I didn't say this out loud) was, "Are you kidding me?"

Because I'm fairly certain that there were hairs growing out of my knees that had been growing there since before Muffin Uptown was born (if I had taken the time to cut one of them in half, I could have counted the rings to be sure).

How did this happen? I shave almost each and every day. Of course, I can't see what I'm shaving because (a) I wear thick eyeglasses everywhere EXCEPT in the shower and (b) I'm too old to see much of anything in the half light that comes into the shower stall.

For all I know, I'm shaving someone else entirely.

So I went back into the house and (to the three men who read my blog, please avert your eyes) dry shaved my knees. I was only a few minutes late for work. And I was feeling pretty good about myself until I checked my lipstick in the rearview mirror and saw this big old chin hair that had sprouted up on the drive in.

Sorry men. Maybe you should have just skipped this one entirely.

Monday, June 25, 2007

You tramp, you.

My friend Mary shot me this site. She almost always gets the scoop on me, so I'm glad she likes to share her finds. Thanks for the heads up, MH.

Something happened to Kelly Butler while in college at Austin Peay State University. I can't give details (well, actually, I don't know them), but her bio says that an experience she had in sculpture class there prompted the idea for her Tramp Lamps lighting designs.

Hand crafted from vintage lingerie, these clever fixtures keep their shape (more than can be said for the past and future owners of stated lingerie), even when they're turned on.

In addition to sexy (and not so sexy) teddies, bustiers, corsets, slips, bras, and girdles, Kelly also makes lamps from formalwear and swimwear. You can also browse her extensive archive of already-sold lamps, and if you find you've got your heart set on a flashy little number you just missed, email her about a custom order.

Friday, June 22, 2007


No one can be industrious all the time. My favorite procrastination tool?


It's a chain reaction game, and there's no skill required--just dogged perseverance. (Any pursuit that rewards obstinacy gets my vote.)

At first, I thought I was responding to the nice burst of color as the chain reaction takes place. But after playing the game about three months, I suddenly realized that the music for this game reminds me of the music from Thirtysomething. And that makes me happy. I'm not even going to pretend to be embarrassed by that.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

So you say you wanna work in publishing?

Every Wednesday morning, the publication staff assembles for the Update Meeting. The purpose? Go through the items on the publication schedule and identify those that are not where they should be, and take steps to rectify the problem before somebody loses an eye or a limb.

During one particularly stressful period last fall, I left my office, announcing over my shoulder that I was headed downstairs to the meeting.

From one of the cubicles housing the people whose timesheets I sign came the announcement, "Dead woman walking."

I hyperventilated on the stairs.

Okay. Granted, I've been known to indulge the occasional hyperbolic statement. But you'll just have to agree to take it on faith when I tell you that when this particular meeting goes wrong, there is no saving the day. It's an all-out scramble to fix whatever it is you fouled up--fast.

But when the meeting goes right? Somebody rings the bell.

It's as simple as that. Make the date, and they ring the bell. And hearing that bell is like finding the one pair of slacks (in your size) that brought you into the store in the first place; it's the haircut you finally got, being invited to pull into the lane in front of the other traffic, or the realization that today is Saturday and you forgot to reset the alarm.

Since we introduced the bell, I don't hyperventilate so much. And it's not because I've gotten better at avoiding the pitfalls that can get a project off schedule. Dude--things happen. But I'm not thinking so much about the possibility that today may be the day somebody in that meeting decides to kill me and eat me. I'm thinking, "I wanna hear 'em ring that bell."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The body snatchers.

I've shaved my social circle (whether by accident or design) down almost exclusively to women. Most of the people I work with are women. It's a card-carrying NOW member's nirvana--living and working in a village populated almost entirely of women.

Or so you would think.

But it's a very dissatisfied village. Every day, I hear someone who is unhappy with her appearance. Too fat. Too old. Too gray. Too jowly. Too wrinkled.

And it's perplexing. I had expected that because we are similarly equipped, we would think more or less along the same lines--that we should be sisters under the skin, if you will. After all, they've spent the same number of years getting used to the feel of their skin as have I. So why should it be that I know so many women who are so painfully unhappy, chaffed, and uncomfortable in that skin?

We all have essentially the same body as the one we had at 23. Oh, mine is certainly older and heavier--its pores are larger--but I would still be able to pick me out in a crowd. And it's not like I went to bed one night looking like Angelina and woke up the next morning looking like Angela (Lansbury); I've had plenty of time to get used to and make peace with my aging, sagging self. I and my body have negotiated a fairly easy truce--I won't complain about my legs' growing similarity in appearance to those of my paternal grandmother, and said legs will continue to transport me dependably from place to place. This seems to me to be a fairly reasonable trade.

Sometimes, when I catch a sideways glimpse at myself in the mirror, I see the girl who was there in 1983. More often these days, though, I see my mother. This observation is not insightful in any way because it happens eventually to everybody. It happened to my mom, and it will someday happen to Muffin Uptown. But I'm not going to complain about this growing resemblance--and not because mine is the best body in the world, or is even as good as it could possibly be. But it does belong to me. And I came to it by virtue of my mother, and her mother, and her mother's mother--people who loved me (or at least the idea of me).

And to tell you the truth, my 1983 body wasn't all that hot to begin with.

It may well be that if I am heavier and slower than I used to be, it's because I'm spending less time chasing after toddlers and more time sitting and reading good books. Or maybe I'm spending more long evenings lingering over delectable food, drink, and conversation. All of these are activities I had hoped and planned to enjoy to their fullest in these, my (gulp) middle years.

Despite my having used my body rather badly over the course of my life, it's still hanging in there. It's still making the long trek to and from the job every day, and while it doesn't rest as easy as it once did, the rest I do get is sweet and I'm thankful for it.

Which doesn't make me any better or worse that all the women I know who can't seem to make peace with their bodies--just a little less angst-filled.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Saturday in the dressing room; not everyone was so lucky.

It's a scene from a disaster movie--a half dozen people dangle by the tips of their mangled, frozen fingers from the tilting edge of the sinking ship. A hundred-foot drop below are ravenous, cold-eyed sharks, circling, patiently waiting. They circle and they wait because they know. Someone will loose their grip; someone will fall. And when they do, we won't be able to avert our eyes. We will not be able to turn away, no matter how awful the sight.

Then the inevitable happens. And even if you look away, you can still hear flesh being ripped from the bone, the agony-ridden howls of the poor unfortunate soul who just can't hang on any longer. The poor woman doesn't even ask for help, because she knows that no one--no one can help her.

The shark has blue-tipped hair, a stud in her upper lip, and a flying monkey tattooed on her left shoulder. Our hapless victim looks like you and me and everybody's mom everywhere. This is a woman whose Karma has gone missing, whose star is in the wrong house, who really pissed off a Djinn in a past life. This woman is about to be killed and eaten by her child, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

I could offer advice or some reassurance that someday she, too will enjoy a lovely afternoon shopping with her daughter, but I just don't have it in me. Who's to say she would believe me, anyway.

My grown-up, newly reasonable Muffin Uptown can't stop watching this unfolding disaster. There's an "ah-ha" look on her face, an I-get-what's-going-on-here look. With all due respect to the poor woman who is being sacrificed to make it happen, this look on my daughter's face is the cherry on top of a perfect day.

We hurry out of the dressing room and into the car.

"Wow," she says, and I look at her with what I hope is a wry expression. I'm not saying anything; I don't want to get in the way of what is sure to be one of the most rewarding things my child has ever said to me.

"That woman was just too much!" she finally says. "I really feel bad for the poor kid. I wish I could have found a way to tell her to hang in there--that her mom won't always be so awful."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mama said there'd be days like this.

Muffin Uptown needed a dress for a wedding. She wasn't looking for a fancy something--she wasn't standing up with the bride at the altar--she just needed a new summer dress to sit in the pew and watch The boy's sister get married.

Said Boy had already hit the most promising shops with her the week before, standing outside the dressing room door while she tried on and rejected dress after dress after dress.

I love that boy.

The essential problem was that MU had a certain dress in mind before she began shopping. This is never a good idea. Of course, what she wanted was not to be had. Anywhere. So, what's a girl to do?

Call her mom.

Sigh. Those of you who have or are in the process of raising daughters know exactly where this story is going. Those of you without daughters--well, there's just no way to explain it to you. Move on to the next post.

But, here's where the story gets interesting. Although I was prepared--armed with Rufus Wainwright on the ipod, a couple of tranqs (for me, not for her), and the stony resolve to turn around and leave her naked ass in the dressing room if need be--there was no trouble. The implied recriminations (i.e., as my mother, you are responsible for my having this ugly, misshapen body), the icy silences, the huffing and puffing fit to blow your house in--well, they just didn't happen. I got a pass. For the modest price of a summer frock, I got to spend several very enjoyable hours with my daughter and was rewarded with the sight of her looking like a tea-time vision from a Merchant-Ivory film.

Wouldn't that be good news? If so, then why do I feel like I've mislaid something--like I need to retrace my steps? Where did I leave that unsure, rebellious, coltish girl? You would have thought I would be glad to see her go. But I'm not. Really, I'm not.

She's 21 years' old, after all. More independent and self-assured, the list of things for which she needs her mother's help is becoming shorter every day. Everything is just as it should be.

Everything, except that I've wasted two perfectly good tranquilizers I could have saved for the next Monday morning Director's meeting. And I managed somehow to have misplaced a child.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day.

Waking with Russell
Don Patterson

Whatever the difference is, it all began
the day we woke up face-to-face like lovers
and his four-day-old smile dawned on him again,
possessed him, till it would not fall or waver;
and I pitched back not my old hard-pressed grin
but his own smile, or one I'd rediscovered.
Dear son, I was mezzo del cammin
and the true path was as lost to me as ever
when you cut in front and lit it as you ran.
See how the true gift never leaves the giver:
returned and redelivered, it rolled on
until the smile poured through us like a river.
How fine, I thought, this waking amongst men!
I kissed your mouth and pledged myself forever.

photo by Stacy Braswell

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lift that barge; tote that bale; buckle that swash.

I'm on deadline this weekend, but I'll have a new post on Monday.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Clean up your act.

I've only just noticed how many magazines I have around the house with covers advertising articles like "Tips for Spring Cleaning" or "Quick Cleaning Tricks." I'm not talking about Better Homes and Gardens or Martha Stewart Living magazines--I'm talking about magazines aimed at the young women's demographic (like Domino and Blueprint).

I'm really concerned about this apparent push toward a new domesticity. Am I the only person not wondering how to better clean something? Or more succinctly, am I the only one asking, "Who cares?"

Now, I've done my time with the sociology of housework and the second shift. When Muffin Uptown was small and ate everything that didn't run faster than she could crawl, I was very conscientious about the condition of the floors. One really could eat off them, and often did. But now? The only time I can work up an I-care about what's on my floor is if I've just dropped an earring back or a hormone pill. My nonchalance about the floors' cleanliness has increased as my ability to see said floors has decreased.

To my mind, if you no longer have an impressionable young person for whom you need to set an example, it's perfectly okay not to think too much about getting the house clean. As long as Oprah doesn't show up at my door with two snobby British cleaning experts, I'm fine with a little dust. (And actually, I'm okay with the snobby cleaning experts, too; it's having my slovenliness featured on ABC with which I have a problem).

If this is a new idea for you, or if you are the newly liberated parent of a slovenly teenager who has finally left for college, you may need some tips to get you started on your new lifestyle. So, in place of "How to Get Your House Spic and Span in Only 16 Hours," I offer the following set of suggestions:

1. Don't bring crap into the house that you will have to clean, dust, polish, vacuum, steam, fold, iron, or otherwise touch in any way.

2. Never buy anything with slats or louvers. I am amazed at the number of people who can't seem to remember to pluck the stray hair from that small section of skin between their eyebrows, but who feel up to the challenge of cleaning between the slats of a houseful of miniblinds.

3. Cooking is for everybody (else). I once went for a year and a half without cooking anything on top of the stove, because my kitchen had a black glass cook-top. While all the kitchen appliance propaganda experts were busily perpetuating the myth that such cooktops were easy to clean--they never mentioned that all you had to do was look at one while thinking about what you were going to cook for supper to render it in need of cleaning. Very, very clever, I say.

4. On a related note, eat all your meals over the sink. This small tip will save you hundreds of hours in clean-up time and thousands of dollars. No dishes to wash, no fancy linen napkins to launder and iron--and--you can leave that skirt pattern you've been trying to cut out on the dining room table until you're good and ready to finish it.

5. Eschew horizontal surfaces. If you really must have such surfaces, pile them high with books and CDs, sprinkled with an occasional handwritten note on which the word motif appears. This will in no way hide the dust and stray pet hair, but will suggest to your visitors that you are too busy enriching your mind to think about something as mundane as cleaning house.

And that's it really. Now, you'll have a little bit of extra time to actually read some of the magazines you have lying all around your house. That may be a problem, too, though--if you really do fall within that 18-34 demographic. Because I'm fairly certain that the only magazine I've seen lately that didn't have a cleaning tip touted on the cover was the one published by AARP.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Turn me loose.

I have curly, messy hair.

I'm never even sure that I like it that much. It gets tangled up in my shirt buttons and last week a woman at work had to cut me out of my earrings. When I wake up in the mornings I look as though I've been pulled backward through a knot-hole. Sometimes, when I absent-mindedly run my fingers through it, I can't get loose--it's like one of those locking Chinese finger traps; the harder I pull, the tighter it grips.

On days when the humidity is especially high (and that's most days in my part of the world) I look like Magenta (of Rocky Horror Picture Show fame). But even on the driest days, it was never bouncy and ringletted. As a child, I ran with all the other children in a pack like so many wild animals. Every other Thursday, my grandmother would notice me and order me to fetch her brush so she could "do something with that mess." There would be wiggling, crying, and always--always--the eventual beating. To this day, I am afraid of hairbrushes.

But I'm so easily swayed by public opinion, that when someone says, "I really like your hair," I think, "Well, maybe it's not all that bad. " What's actually happening though, is that the observer is imagining that if she had my hair on her head, she would look sexily bedmussed; she would be wearing an I've-just-been-crawled-all-over-by-someone-else look. In a good way, as opposed to an I've-just-come-out-on-the-losing-end-of-a-tussle-with-a-feral-cat kind of way.

This, despite the fact that in the relationship between every woman and her hair, the hair is always in control. Our hair calls all the shots--and regardless of what we tell ourselves to the contrary, we have absolutely no say in the matter. If your hair ain't working, you may as well call it in. Nothing good ever happened to a woman on a bad hair day. I defy you to name just one instance.

Having hair like mine--great, swooping loops of fizzed up mess--is very much like living life with a giant, exotic bird sitting atop one's head. When calm, it's easy enough to ignore. But when that bird decides that attention is what it wants--well, let's just say that there are days when it beats me into the room.

So last Saturday, after one too many bad hair days, I took that mess to the beauty shop down on Tyler Street and paid good money for one of those cute little boy haircuts. For the moment at least, the bird has been tamed. It's quick and easy and remarkably predictable and I'm fairly certain that my odds have gone up in my quest for a few good days. And don't you know, my grandma would be proud.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The nap window.

I nap.

There, I've admitted it. And though I can't see you, I can imagine the look on your face. I've seen it before--the shock, the judgement--as though I were admitting to drowning furry little kittens in a bucket of stagnant, muddy Mississippi River water.

I'm a busy gal. There's the long commute, meetings to attend, email to be ignored, page after page of copy to mark all over, and what seem to be hundreds of miles a day to walk in pinching, pointy-toed shoes. On Saturday and Sunday, there are chores to avoid, projects to make, groceries I wish I'd bought, and previously-ignored emails to answer. And of course, there are always the threes.

It's important to my well-being that I preserve the nap window. If I don't nap on the weekend, I feel as though I've missed an appointment. Or like the rest of the family just left to go to the circus, but I was left behind. Drat.

And it's not just a question of missed opportunity. Enough wakeful nights, and I start to lose my mind. Yesterday, I went to the door to answer my icemaker.

So every weekend afternoon, between the hours of 12 noon to 4 pm, I observe the nap window. Please note that I am not napping the entire four hours. But I am almost certainly napping at some point during that span of time, so you should not call me. Everyone who knows me, knows not to call my house during the nap window. Even the three-legged dog who lives next door takes a break. I am, right this moment, eagerly anticipating next Saturday's nap.

Most of the time, I drop right in the middle of whatever I'm doing. I wake up 45 minutes later with bowtie pasta in my hair, or the vacuum cleaner sucking the sock off my foot. Occasionally, though, I plan for my nap like a big event. What determines whether I go all out for the big event nap or just submit to the-come-as-you-are nap depends upon only one thing.


Yum. I crack open a window, turn on the overhead fan, and crawl on top of the covers. Lying there, worn out from all the pre-nap preparation (the cracking open, turning on, and crawling over), I know that I am happier than I will be at any one time throughout the whole of next week. The house is silent except for the drip of the rain off the house and the tick of the living room clock. Just as I nod off, I hear myself make an "ughn" sound--as though I were falling out of the bed into sleep.

And then my mother calls.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

No rest for the weary.

My phone rang early Sunday morning and I picked it up from the chair in which I was sleeping. It was my friend Tawana.

I'm usually up early of my own volition, and whether I'm up or not, she typically calls by around 6 am. And just so you know--she's no more early bird than I, but she lives in a different time-zone.

"Why aren't you up? she said. "It's almost EIGHT O'CLOCK."

"Arghh. I'm recovering from the threes."

"Oh," she said, "that's rough."

Tawana invented the concept of the threes: waking and staying that way any time between 3:00 and 3:59 am--guaranteed to suck the will to live right out of you the next day. Commonly, regularly, and woefully experienced by all women of a certain age. But most of us figure, "Well, I'm up anyway; I may as well get something accomplished."

"So," she asked, "what did you do?"

"Let's see--I cut out a purse pattern and then I blogged for a bit," I said. "Cute purse, too."

"No, you didn't."


"You did not blog last night. I've already been on there this morning, and it's still showing the same tired excuse for a post that was up all day Saturday."

This is what happens. Post half a dozen times, and you're CNN.

[A note to my mom about the above sentence fragment: Saw it. Meant to do it.]

Monday, June 11, 2007

Everybody's a critic.

My mother called yesterday.

I'll leave it to you to imagine the 2.5 second delay between her comments and my stunned replies.

"So," she said, "Are you running spellcheck when you write your blog?"

"Of course, I'm doing a spellcheck." Why?

"It just seems that I remember a spelling error last week--or maybe it was just a poorly constructed sentence."

This would be that 2.5 seconds of silence I mentioned.

"I'm sorry," I finally said, "Did you say a poorly constructed sentence? Where?"

"Oh, I don't remember now."

Friday, June 8, 2007

Adventure Girl

It’s midnight at the oasis. Your camel has died, you’ve lost the map that will lead you and your party back to civilization, and a pillaging band of nefarious types is marauding the surrounding hillside. Your feet hurt, you’ve got sand fleas in your hair, and someone else just drank the last Diet Coke. You can’t get a signal on your cell phone and it has just dawned on you that you are almost certainly going to miss tonight’s season finale of Dancing with the Surviving Idol. What else, you wonder, can possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, you could be stranded without your crochet hook.

And you’re going to want that hook when you see Mary Estok Nolfi’s Adventurous Hats and Bags collection. This assortment of ready-for-anything accessories is designed especially for the adventure-gal that you are—fearless tamer of the angry boss and decoder of the imponderable spreadsheet; hardy, cubicle-dwelling, copy-machine whisperer by day; tireless, tot-wrangler by night.

Yup. You’re the one who holds the whole dang expedition together. Good for you.

And good for us. Because we’ve taken Nolfi’s 5 world view-inspired looks and combined them with Leisure Arts-style, easy-to-understand instructions to give you something worth shouting about from the mountain top.

And that’s cool, too—since that’s where you were headed anyway.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

What, this old thing?

Life used to be so complicated. Time was, spending my money was almost as much trouble as making it, and there were specific steps involved:

1. Entertain the thought that making a purchase was a distinct possibility.

2. Make the decision to search out choices for said purchase.

3. Get into the car; drive to retail establishment.

4. Return home to retrieve purse. Drive back to retail establishment.

5. Choose one:

(a) Speak with sales associate
(b) dodge sales associate
(c) give stink-eye to sales associate who is dodging me

6. Attempt to narrow choice of items by (choose one or all three):

(a) impossibly long mental list of pros and cons
(b) 2 phone calls to ask others' opinion
(c) eeny-meeny-miney-mo

7. Decide to purchase item in all four colors.

8. Give them my money.

9. Return home with purchase.

10. Regret that I hadn't purchased items in larger size.

Now, all I have to do is open my inbox. Every day--several times a day--I receive emails from the most thoughtful folks who are happy to tell me about that thing I hadn't known I wanted but, as it turns out, simply can't live another minute without. For the purposes of illustration, I've included some examples of items I didn't know existed when I woke up this morning, but have since determined to be essential. Because I am thoughtful, too, I'm linking them for you (just in case no one has yet told you what items you can't live without today).

It's a wonderful time to be alive.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Into the gaps.

Millions of people have fallen into the gaps between words and were never seen again.
--Andrei Codrescu

I am one of the fortunate few who have never experienced writer's block. Lucky me.

Or so you would think. Except that writing can be really hard work.

Now, don't get all excited--I know it's not hard like picking cotton. But if you pick cotton for a living, you can walk out into the field occasionally and tell yourself, "You know, I didn't sleep all that well last night, and I just don't think I can bring my A game today. I think I'm just going to take it a little easier--not try and fill the bag all the way to the top."

But I haven't found a way to say, "Man, I'm pooped. I'm just barely going to write today." The very same amount of energy is expended whether one writes really good, insightful stuff, or good-grief-you're-boring-me-tears stuff. Even the stuff that sucks is hard to write.

And just because I don't get blocked doesn't mean I never have problems filling the page. I get bored with the subject matter. Sometimes I get sleepy (apparently, my own insights aren't intriguing enough to me to keep me from falling into the keyboard). Lots of times, I just get sick of the sound of my own voice, ricocheting around inside my head. And--this happens to me a lot--there are times when I just can't lay my hands on that one word I need to finish the thought. And it's almost always a really simple, mono-syllabic word. (Common side effect of addiction to big, impressive, I-went-to-college words--the loss of basic words needed in everyday conversation.) I'm trapped in literary limbo until I can get into the shower (which, for some strange reason frees everything up, at least for me).

And then there are the many physical demands. For instance, did you know that it is actually possible to sit with your head in your hands at the computer table until your elbows become as dry and cracked as a camel's knees? Or that you can sit at the keyboard for so long that when you do stand up, you look like a question mark? It is even possible, I am embarrassed to admit, to run over your own foot with the caster of your chair WHILE YOU ARE SITTING IN SAID CHAIR.

Anyway, that's what I mean by it being really hard work. So don't envy me, just because I've never been blocked.

I've never been blocked, but I've got some scary-ass elbows.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Orange Aid.

It's been out in the world for well over a week, but after I read Jessica Jones' account of how she made her spiffed up onesies, I felt like I'd met a sister under the skin.

It was her description of that patented look the folks at the fabric counter save up for those of us who know what we want, but not where it lives or what it's called (or really--in my case--how to use it). Even if I 'fess up that I don't know what I'm talking about (usually works with everyone except the auto mechanic), I still end up feeling like the one kid at the party who's there because the other kid's mother insisted. So it was nice to know that those fabric people don't save up all that attitude just for me.

Jessica was kind enough to give the how-tos on these onesies, too. As someone who edits reams of instructional text each and every live-long working day--I gotta say, that girl knows how to lay out the steps to a project.

Check out her blog, How about orange if you haven't already. It makes me happy. And not just because orange is my favorite color.

photo by Jessica Jones.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Amy Butler, are you mad at me?

Was it that thing that I said? Or that unfortunate occurrence at my party last month?

You know I've got a compulsive fabric problem. Either you've forgotten all about what my therapist said about enabling--or you just don't care. Either way, I'm not optimistic about the future of our relationship.

For God's sake, Amy, have a heart.

See Nigella, Amy Butler's new collection for Rowan fabrics here.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

And not everyone looks as good as you in a tissue-paper hat.

This is my last birthday post, I promise. At least--until the next time I've let distance and business interfere with my social obligations. The actual big day isn't until Monday, but I want the birthday guy to wake up on that day having already read how crazy we are about him--instead of hearing it sometime between breakfast and dinner.

But Dude--chill; I'm still going to call you on your birthday.

So, happy birthday to the best dad I can imagine anyone laying claim to. Here's to the best porch-fixing, house-rebuilding, self-esteem restoring, mom-whispering, plumbing mistake correcting, come-to-the-rescue dad any grown-up girl and her brother ever had. (Your granddaughter thinks you rock, too.)

Knock yerself out--have a birthday corndog on us.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

A stone's throw from hurtin.

It's all over. Tell them they can come and get the machine. I'm giving away the fabric and stacking books on the ironing board.

I spotted a straight pin on the rug. It is my greatest fear--to step on (or horrors! sit on) a pin or needle hiding in the carpet or the upholstery of my favorite chair.

Considering I can't really see anything as far away as my feet, and considering the fact that no pointy-ended object has ever resided in my house for more than 16 seconds without jabbing directly into me, I believe this must be some kind of message for which I need to consider the existential implications.

Someone must surely be trying to tell me something.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Muffin Uptown.

Muffin Uptown turns 21 today. In honor of this momentous occasion, I'm unearthing this 19-year-old chestnut. Happy day, MU.

I’m dancing with my two year old, her wet
hair tangled, hanging down, her skin as clean
as newfound hope. All arms and legs and turned-
in knees, beneath the stairs, behind the bed,
along the tops and backs of chairs. She does
the Hannah Dance, again, like every night
at eight-fifteen. She’s been around and in
between, both up and down, cavorting with
a bounding bop and bobble, giggling, wiggling.
She does the dance without her clothes; without
their weight, she flies like Pan above the world.
An elfin light in cotton panties, free.
Forgotten are momentous deeds she’s done
that day; her cares (at last) now cast upon
the bathroom floor where there they’ll lay until
they’re washed and dried and ironed and ready for
another day.