Saturday, July 23, 2011

What did you learn today?

Growing up, sometimes my parents asked that question, rather than the old standby, "How was your day?"

So what did you learn today, or this week? In the last week I have learned:
  • A new alternator, transmission pan and unrelated flat tire cost about $426 to fix.
  • You should always, ALWAYS wait until the last week of the month to re-new your car registration. Otherwise, you might do it at the start of the month, for $124, and then end up with a $426 bill on top of that just three days later, and realize, shit. This is what John means when he talks about "sunk costs" and it is just TIME to get a new(ish) car. (Especially when said car has an $1800 problem that gets worse every day and there is no WAY you're ever going to fix that!)
  • Car salesmen really need to make a sale these days.
  • Car salesmen now use text messaging, phone calls and emails to hound you.
  • Car salesmen do not have the thick skins they say they do, and when called out on their pricing, with a better deal at another dealership, they are not happy.
What has John learned in the last week? The first is a guess, and the second was his answer to that query at the dinner table.
  • He is married to someone who wants more car than she can afford, and she has a very hard time figuring what should be compromised and what should be stuck to. She may well stick to desired color, logic be darned.
  • "I learned that I hate cat people like conservatives hate socialists."

Thursday, July 21, 2011


What things weigh ten pounds? Well, I almost did, when I was born. I believe I was 9 pounds 8 ounces (and I am sure my mother will set me straight in the comments!).

A big bag of sugar weighs ten pounds. A bowling ball - a small one - weighs ten pounds. Some dogs and cats weigh ten pounds, and Google says a gallon of water weighs ten pounds.

But what weighs ten pounds less? Me! Less than I did on May 21st at least, the day I started Weight Watchers!

I have put off writing about the program because it has a silly name, because some days I absolutely hate it, because it has made me deeply address my relationship to food and alcohol on a daily basis (as in, how they is my daily (or thrice daily) reward to self), because John and I are doing it together, and because it sort of feels temporary. Could I stay 10 pounds down? Could I maintain this? Could I feel more positive about my body at any given moment than negative? (This is the biggest change; looking in the mirror and saying something nice to myself. It's like living on a new planet.)

My goal, for those wonderful readers who remember a post from a couple years ago (that I am too tired to find the link for, sorry!), is to lose 20 pounds. Two years ago a doctor recommended I lose 15 to 20 pounds, and I thought, gah! What? How? Eat less and exercise?! Please! Like I can do that!

It turns out, I can! After 5 pounds were gone, my clothes started to fit and feel better. And now at 10 pounds gone, some things are really too loose to wear. And so while some weeks are going better than others, it's an overall downward weight trend, so maybe I can go back to that Doogie Howser lookin' doctor in another couple months and say, look! I did it!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I like to talk and ruminate on what I call our "customized living". If you have a perfect piece of customized living, please share in the comments!! I'm always taking new ideas.

For example, I have a Bose wave radio that I *love* in my kitchen/living room/dining room area. I listen to it morning, noon and night, mostly NPR, in lieu of TV news and entertainment. It's right there, with a remote by the couch, but I also have an On/Off/Mute remote button that is on a magnet, attached to the fridge. So when I am cooking and it gets noisy, I can turn it up. When the phone rings, I can mute it for a moment. I don't have to walk allllll the way to the remote by the couch, dripping water/grease/cake batter. This is the customized life.

Today, I realized how ridiculous this is... and I realized another one... I hate dust pans. I don't mind sweeping; it can be very satisfying. But using a dust pan? That is like 10,000 year old technology that doesn't fully work. So I've customized a hilarious and wonderful solution. I sweep all my little piles up, then put the broom away, and instead, zip past with the best-$50-I-ever-spent - also known as my Dirt Devil handheld vacuum, also known to Gen X as a Dustbuster. It lives tucked under the shit table* and my dirt piles are 100% gone! Better than a dust pan! Conveniently located! Tah-dah! Customized.

*Shit Table: A household necessity. A table that is large enough to hold mail, keys, coupons, change, sunglasses, phone chargers and a small amount of "other" items but NOT large enough to hold too much. That's the key. And, it is right by the front door, to keep counters and dining room tables clean, avoiding the dread All Horizontal Surfaces Covered in Papers & More (TM) household illness.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


In Portland, every restaurant serves things local, sustainable and seasonal. Even the local fast food chain! (Remind me to go get some Walla Walla onion rings, by the way...)

But sometimes, even in the middle of berries and green garlic and new fingerling potato side dishes, you want a Brussels sprout. So learn from me - it's not just the tomato in January that is awful. It is the Brussels sprout in July, too, that is all food porn: looks good but never delivers; the right color but you can't touch it without getting in trouble.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Did I write recently about re-watching "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and what a grand disappointment it was? Lesson: don't take a movie you loved when you were nine and watch it when you are twenty-nine. In all likelihood, it won't stand up.

However, what about taking a movie you loved at fourteen? It's a risk, I tell ya, but sometimes, it pays off.

In this case, Baz Luhrmann's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. Run out and re-watch it! Or, use Netflix streaming on whim, as I did.

It absolutely stands up - the Nurse, Mercutio and Father Lawrence (yup, renamed in this version) are especially wonderful with both Elizabethan language and modern filmmaking. It breathes life into the bawdy jokes and it still pretty hip, 15 years on.

But upon re-viewing it, you get the true added bonus -- now you know who Leonardo DiCaprio is going to become. And so you get to see the very last traces of boyhood, the last bits of baby fat in his cheeks, and the end of adolescent angst right in front of you. If they shot this movie even two months later, he'd have been too old. But he was dead-on-perfect. And Claire Danes is all soft innocence, except for how perfectly she captures the singular obsession with sex - and sex with love, let's be fair - that Juliet and, ahem, some, teenage girls have.

The music is still good, the sets still interesting, and the angel wings/fireworks/watery kisses/morning bedsheets are as sexy as they were when I watched it in 10th grade on a date with Brandon at the Campus Square 8 in my hometown - twice!

I'll be on the hunt for more of these film gems that shine - and movie duds that stink, because frankly, they are probably more fun to write about.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer is Here

OK, no more lazing. Summer is here! Sauvie Island begs to be visited, the patio furniture has been BOUGHT and we had our first al fresco dinner last night on it!, the first houseguests have come and gone, my first trip is done and John has one concert under his belt. So, a few things for you and I to blog and chat about:
  • A pile of shoes by the front door of a home; does this indicate shoes-off-house? Yea or nay? Do you do shoes-off? Did you grow up with shoes-off?
  • I have kept two secrets from you over the last month: I started doing Zumba and I am in Week 7 of Weight Watchers. (More on this to come, don't fear!)
  • The crazy neighbor has not stopped. He is making ME crazy and I am accepting any and all suggestions on how to deal with a honestly mentally-unbalanced neighbor who is loud all the time... not the kind of neighbor you go chat with about the noise.