Sunday, December 28, 2008

Not quite the Osmonds

See this image? This is what life has been like at my parents house for the past week. Ever since Tim arrived, it's been All Rock Band All The Time. I swear this game must send out some sort of subliminal message to the male mind that tells them to play this game incessantly until they master it because they MUST master it! Must must must! Granted, I enjoy the game, too, but there's a certain gleam in the eyes of the males who play this game that isn't quite as powerful in the females. The other night my brother Mike was so engrossed that he plugged some headphones into the TV so he could continue practicing the guitar after my mother went to bed. And at what early hour did my mother choose to retire? Only 2 am. She's mildly addicted to Rock Band, too.

As you can see, we're having a really great time this holiday season. Sometimes we kids can get a bit spikey after hanging out with one another for a few days, but this time we've all gotten along really well. I actually find myself reluctant to leave the house because I want to spend time with my brothers. Wacky! Stranger still, all of us kids cleaned up the kitchen together yesterday without anyone asking us to lift a finger. What?!? Maybe the same messages that lure people into playing Rock Band for 12 hours a day also encourages tidiness & pleasant behavior. What a lovely thought.

This year's Xmas loot
* Cool photo prints of Mike's work
* Cookbooks! "Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey", a dessert book that is as faboo as it sounds, and "Back to Basics" by Ina Garten
* A new kaleidoscope made by my mom
* Last but certainly not least, Tim gave me an Acer Aspire One netbook! Just like george's! It's blue and cute and makes me so happy. Wee!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

In our version, Derek is John Candy & Tim is Steve Martin.

Have you ever had houseguests show up with very little notice? And although your guests were perfectly welcome, before they arrived you found yourself dashing around the house, hiding piles of mail, vaccuuming the carpets, checking the bathroom to make sure it didn't look scary, etc.? Well, imagine how it feels to discover that you're having a last-minute houseguest ... and you're over 1000 miles away from home.

Derek is in my house right now. Yes, Derek. In my house in NC. While I sit here in my parents' house in Oklahoma.

A mere 24 hours ago Derek was in New York on a business trip, preparing to fly back to Tulsa. Then a snowstorm hit & flights were canceled. The weather forecast gave the impression that Derek could be stuck in New York until next week ... unless, of course, he made a change of plans. A few phone calls later & Derek was driving south in a rental car towards North Carolina so that he could meet up with Tim and they could travel to Tulsa together. A brilliant plan! I wish I had a hand in planning it, but I was blissfully unconscious through all the hubub. The guys will drive for 2 days together, during which they'll be able to listen to as much heavy metal music as they want without annoying me or george. They'll even get to stay at the La Quinta together! It's perfect!

The only problem is that I am not there. And my newly-discovered Hostess Gene is freakin' out about that a tad. I feel a tiny bit embarassed because my house isn't really ready for overnight company. Don't get me wrong. I did a lot of tidying before I left town. Most of the house looks perfectly respectable. However, I tossed a bunch of crap in the guest room (like ya do) thinking that no one but the cat would be in that room over the next couple of weeks anyway, so why worry about it? As a result, I had to ask poor Tim to maneuver around the stuff I've gathered to donate to Goodwill and the piles of paid bills that need to be filed so that he can put sheets on the bed in the guest room. There's a whole half of the room where Derek cannot venture because of the layer of detritus that blankets the floor. Granted, it's not an impenetrably thick layer, but it's there nevertheless. Sigh. I don't even want to think about how little food is in the house. Ugh. I pride myself on being a good little hostess! And now my BestGuyPal is in my freakin' house for the first time ever & I'm not there!

The great thing, though, is that I know Derek won't care one bit. He'll be too exhausted from driving those 10 hours from Albany. Or he'll be too busy rubbing the belly of our sweet Millie kitty. Or he'll be too hypnotized by Rock Band. Or maybe he won't care because he's such a great old friend and that's just the way great old friends are.

Hope you have fun, boys. Drive safe!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pirate George (aka "Girl, you got a panty on yo head")

I am in Tulsa! Wee!

I am sitting on george's couch right now, trying out her new tiny computer (I'm makng this post purely to test what it can do). I think it's called an Acer [Edit: It's an "Aspire One" made by Acer] & it's about half the size of a sheet of printer paper and I LOVE it! I covet it! I want one of my very own. Too bad Santa has probably already bought this year's gifts for me. However, if Santa or some other kind person finds themselves in possession of, oh, $350 or so, they could buy one for me [available at BestBuy, TigerDirect & other fine retailers!] I'd appreciate it VERY very much. Very. Really. Truly.

It's been a low key but fun night with dear georgious. We went to LaDonna's & talked about cheese with the proprieter. Then we ate cheap burgers at Full Moon. Before going to her pad, we went to Target where I informed george that I call g-strings "eyepatches" because that's what they look like to me. The following hilarity ensued.

You're welcome, world.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Top 10: What's Happenin'

I'm such a fan of Liz's bullet-point posts that I thought I'd do one of my own today. However, I'm not sure how to do bullets in Blogger, so I'll just do a top 10 list of What's Happening in Mary's Life Now.

1. I've been spending FAR far less time on-line lately. I sometimes go 2 or 3 days in a row without poking about on the internet. Does this mean I'm turning into a cantankerous old lady who is totally out of touch with the rest of the world? I mean, I haven't watched a cute video of fluffy baby animals in nearly a week. Is that good or bad?

2. A friend of mine has been diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts. I'm still a little too shocked about this to discuss it. Her surgery is December 30th.

3. I made Yorkshire puddings for the first time ever. Tim says they were perfect. Note: Yorkshire puddings are very similar to popovers.

4. My next-door neighbors are living my worst nightmare. Their names are Alex & Maria (and their daughter, Auriela). Alex is originally from El Salvador and, due to various visa issues, he was deported recently. Yup. The US government shipped him away. His wife, Maria, is an American & she is doing all she can to get her husband back in the US, but it's going to take a long time to get everything straightened out. This week she and their daughter moved to El Salvador to be with Alex until this whole mess is fixed. Can you imagine? Ugh.

5. Immigration officials have NOT carted Tim off anywhere. Speaking of Tim, he's working a lot of late nights because the game he has been working on for the past 2 years is almost finished! Woot!

6. Speaking of video games, I have a confession to make: I am enjoying Rock Band 2 far more than I expected. Tim likes to play the bass guitar while I sing along. The super-creepy part is that some of our favorite songs to play are by bands like Boston and Kansas. Ordinarily I don't like these songs so much, but playing them is a whoooole other matter. I'd be thrilled if there were more '80s tracks on this game (I'm dying for some Hall & Oats!). There's a smattering of Duran Duran & a few other bands, but we fear that the popularity of synthesizers and saxophones back then makes it difficult for songs of that era to translate well in this game. Sigh.

7. I got the itch to knit again. Check out my latest project here: Versatility on

8. I scored a FABULOUS dress for super cheap at Target! It was normally $50, but I got it for $12. It's very cute and classy and perfect (V owns this dress, too, natch). I also got some really adorable heels for $12. A swanky outfit for less than $25! Hooray for fab sales!

9. I was planning on wearing this amazing ensemble to the annual office Xmas party, but alas, that won't happen after all. The party had to be rescheduled for the day after I fly off to Oklahoma. Boo.

10. I arrive in Tulsa on December 17th. That's less than a week away! Eeee!

So just to sum up ... when I'm not cooking, knitting, or shopping, I'm singing along to "Carry On My Wayward Son" in our living room. And before too long, I'll be singing in my parents' living room, too. So despite the occasional blips of cancer and deportation, life is all good.

Monday, December 01, 2008

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly"

Happy Monday, all! I know Thanksgiving was a few days ago, but it's not too late for me to share with you one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions of all time.

Recently I was trying to explain this episode to Tim. Now thanks to YouTube (and a person who goes by the name of CrystalCheats) perhaps he can finally appreciate the glorious wonder that was WKRP.

So what did you all do for Turkey Day? As usual, Tim and I went to the home of our friend, Doree (pronounced Door-AY). For those of you who don't know, we met Doree through the same website where Tim and I met. She is the owner of a certain, famous chicken that was previously featured on this blog. Unfortunately, Doree wasn't able to be with us! Her job kept her in Africa this Thanksgiving, but we carried on as best we could without her. Her husband, Chris, made a fabulous dinner & many others (myself included) brought sides & dessert. It wasn't the same without Doree's effervescent spirit, though. Larissa - Doree's niece - decided we should all do our own part to fill the void. She got out a blonde wig & a camera & istructed us to do our best Doree impressions. Here's a small sample.

Here's Chris, Doree's husband and our gracious host.

Here's Larissa, Doree's very favoritist neice ever.

Here's Larissa's best Doree impression. Note: the following image was taken BEFORE the bottles of bubbly were opened.

Larissa's baby boy, Finn. He's obviously trying to capture Doree's hangover face.

Here's Meryl, Doree's best friend, showing us all how very important champagne is to her BFF.

Tim flirts with that certain Doree style.

Are we starting to make our beloved friend look like a floozy and a lush? Be honest with me now.

As you can see, despite the absence of dear Doree, we still had a great time hanging out with the gang. If you're looking for a little fun next Thanksgiving, let me know & I'll get you a spot at their table.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The power of positive cleaning

First off, thanks to all of you for all the nice things you said to cheer me up. It really meant the world to me. I was in SUCH a HORRENDOUSLY bad mood the week I wrote that last post. Just ask Tim. Or George. Or my mom. They can all testify that I was in a multi-day state of rage that could not be calmed. Not even with chocolate & red meat. It was ... unpleasant. I was the Queen of the Grumpy Gusses that week. It's a good thing that the Queen of the Grumps does not traditionally wield a scepter because, lemmee, tell ya, I would have felt a strong urge to use it on others in a most violent & un-lady-like manner. Much carnage would have ensued.

There were soooooo many things that brought out the rage in me that week. Some of it was the phase of the moon. Some of it was money issues. But most of it was probably because I felt totally powerless & worthless. A number of things have contributed to that feeling. Probably the thing that sums it up best is the state of our lawn.
Leaves everywhere.
I estimate that this month I have spent about 7 hours raking, vaccuming, & mulching leaves on our little patch of earth. As soon as I'm done, the wind blows or the rain starts and more leaves fall & I feel like I have to start all over again. It's maddening! I can spend hours working on the yard, but when Tim comes home from work, he can't tell that I've done the slightest thing. It's a soul-crushing endeavor. And it isn't just the leaves, either. There are other things in my life that I've been working on & working on & I have very little to show for all of my hard work. It's so infuriating to work and work and work and work and see NOTHING for all of your efforts. It has made me feel so weak and powerless. I couldn't stand it.

I had to do something that would give me the gratification of a job well done. Something fairly inexpensive since I'm trying to be frugal, as well as something that wouldn't be ruined within hours of completion.

So I cleaned out our bedroom closet. A small gesture? Perhaps to some. To others it is much more.

The truth is that I am the messy one in our house. That's why it's fair that I clean up most of the messes. One of our biggest messes was our bedroom closet. Ninety-eight percent of the stuff in there belongs to me & none of it was in any semblance of order. Sure, a number of items hung neatly on the rods, but there were also bags & boxes full of clothing & shoes & paperwork & craft supplies that I hadn't set sight on since we lived in Tulsa. But no more! I took out every random item, & organized EVERYthing. The clothes are categorized & arranged by color. It's truly a thing of beauty. It also made me realize that I have a very limited color pallet. Everything I wear is black, blue, purple, or pink. Gotta work on that.

I told my mom that the progress in the closet has made me feel much better. She isn't convinced, though. Mom suspects that my whimpers of powerlessness are all a front. She thinks I am much more powerful than I seem. She is convinced that I have my eye on world domination ... that I am concocting evil plans up in our attic. She suspects that I am actually creating cyborg cats which I will somehow get into the homes of world leaders across the globe. Much like my Millie kitty, these cats will be sweet and cuddly and round & impossible to resist. One day - according to my mother - I will send out a coordinated signal to these cyborg cats, ordering them to hop up on the laps of the most powerful people of the world, forcing those people into a state of feline paralysis, where they cannot get up or move lest they disturb their beloved kitty cats. And then! Yes then! The world shall be at my command!!!! Mwah-ha-ha-haaaaaa!

Of course, now that you know my plans, I'll be forced to kill you all. Blame my momma.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ready for my close-up

No, not dead. Just frustrated & sad and bleeeeeeeeeeeh. Bleh blah bloo. That's me.

Still haven't worked out the problem with posting photos. Grrr.

I'm kinda turning into a shell of my former self. Just like george, I watched "Sunset Boulevard" on the old movie channel a few days ago. Now I'm convinced that I'm turning into Norma Desmond. I stay in the house all the time & occasionally talk about the good ol' days when I was a STAR! of the theatrical STAGE! and such. Granted, Tim is not my butler & I don't have photographs of myself plastered all over the house. Plus, Liz can pull off the Norma Desmond eyes far better than I ever could. But you know what I mean.

It's not that I was ever a paragon of self confidence or anything, but at least there have been times in the past when I managed to (1.) figure out what I wanted and (2.) went out & got it. Now I'm not sure what I want, so I don't know what I should get. Do I miss theatre? Yes and no. That's partly why I haven't made any real attempts at joining a theatrical group here. Plus I don't have any theatre friends here. No one who can hook me up with a good group. No one to go to auditions with me. No one to really encourage me to do this thing. Yes, there are people we know who say, "You should audition for a play, Mary". But it feels empty because they don't understand what's involved. It's like those people who hear me talk about how we'd like to go back to England and then say, "Well then, you should just go!". Meanwhile, they have no clue how much such a trip would cost or the miserable exchange rate or how much vacation time Tim has left (answer: none), etc. It's all just pleasant platitudes with no real substance. "You should audition for a play!" Sure. And you should go to the moon.

I'm suffering from a very third-world problem. I know this. I have fallen into extremely fortunate circumstances & I understand that. Some people tell me that I am their hero ... a comment that instantly puts wrinkles between my eyebrows. Yes, I live in a cute house in a cute neighborhood with a cute husband and a cute cat where I cook cute food and watch the cute leaves fall from our cute trees. But what does any of this have to do with me? Please forgive me for the cliche I am about to utter, but Who Am I, Anyway? When I meet people at parties and they ask me what I do ... well, I don't do anything, so I don't know what to say. I don't want to tell anyone I am a housewife because they'll assume I am a boring, empty soul who is not worth time or effort. And maybe there's some truth in that, but I don't want the world to know it. So when I meet people, I make a point of steering the conversation a bit just to ignore that little question. I want people to realize that I have thoughts of my own and that perhaps I'm actually a bit funny &/or pleasant to be around.

But it's hard to convince people of that when I don't honestly believe it myself.

So there you have it. A lack of self esteem. And probably a lack of self respect, too. And a ton of confusion about what I want from this tiny little life of mine. All this complicated by a severe lack of motivation to do anything but sit around and watch reruns of Gilmore Girls. What the hell does Rory see in Logan anyway? I seriously don't get that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Visit from the Fam - Sept. '08: Part 2

Note: Blogger & Photobucket are not getting along well today, so the pics are not showing up correctly. I'll try my best to fix it.
For our second day of familial shenanigans, I took the family to Wilmington, a town on the coast about 2 hours away from where Tim and I live. It's the closest ocean beach to my house because it's a straight shot down I-40. This is also what makes it so popular & why you may not want to go there on the weekend. Seriously. The parking is unreal during the high season. Luckily for us it was September and a weekday so we were in good shape.

Dad and Ray spent most of their day on the USS North Carolina, a battleship that was active during WWII. Mom and I are not big war history buffs ("No, really?" I hear you exclaim sarcastically) so we went off on our own. We walked around the quaint area of downtown Wilmington, ate ice cream, poked about in shops, enjoyed the architecture. But deep down we all knew that there was just one reason for this day trip:
The beach.

My mother loooooooooves water. She will swim in her backyard pool every chance she gets, but nothing compares to her love of the ocean. Mom loves hanging out on the beach. She loves the whole sun, surf, and sand combo.

Mom says that someday she wants to rent a house on NC's coast for a month just so she can enjoy the beach. She says she doesn't even care if we visit while she's there. She just wants to feel the ocean breeze on her face, the warm sand between her toes, the roar of the waves in her ears, etc. etc. etc.

We wanted to eat dinner right on the beach. Luckily, we found a friendly local who recommended The Oceanic Restaurant. The food was nice, but not too fancy. They had Mom's major requirement (fish and sweet tea) and mine (hush puppies!) so we were happy. We got a nice table on the pier. Here's my view.

There were a handful of surfers out that evening.

... including one surfer who used an oar. Have you ever seen that before? I hadn't.

There was even a fisherman. Wonder if he caught anything.

Here's Ray on the restaurant's pier watching the activity below.

Sunset. Just about time to go home.

Just before the sunlight was gone, we noticed a rainbow.

What a lovely way to end a lovely day with some lovely people.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Visit from the Fam - Sept '08: part 1

So this weekend I was sitting around the house, listening to NPR for hours like I normally do, when I heard that this week's episode of "A Prairie Home Companion" was broadcasting live from Tulsa! EEEE!!! How could I miss that, you know? So of course, I tuned in and I pictured Garrison Keillor standing up on that familiar stage and wondered how many of my friends and acquaintances were in the audience. And I thought about the numerous shows I've seen in that building and the many many more performances and rehearsals I've taken part in myself.

Sigh. I miss Tulsa a lot. I miss that old familiarity. I miss the theater companies there. I especially miss the people. My friends. My family.

All of this wistful longing to be with loved ones reminded me that I have yet to post photos from September when my parents and my brother, Ray, came to visit! Shameful! So this week, I'm going to share some of the best shots with you from their visit.

Unfortunately, I did not take any photos on their first big day here. We walked around Duke University, where we saw beautiful flowers, the gorgeous chapel/cathedral, and spied way too many expensive cars ($100K and up! Those Duke kids ain't broke). We also stopped by Hillsborough & drove out to Maple View Farms where we ate ice cream while watching the cows in the distance. But possibly the most transformational moment of the trip occurred at Allen & Sons Barbecue where we ate Eastern Carolina style BBQ for the first time. It was at this venerable institution that Ray made a profound and shocking discovery: Ray prefers this vinegar-based shredded pork BBQ over the Texas & Oklahoma style Q that he has been eating all of his life. Astounding. If the wrong Okies find out about this, he may be kicked out of the state, so keep that news under your hats.

Anyway. No photos of that stuff, gosh darn it! But there are plenty of other photos to share. I hope to begin posting them later today. Just let me finish wrestling with Frankenputer. This may take a while ...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Busy bee

Hey, gang. It's been a busy week, hence the lack of posting. Also, I decided to take a wee break from the internets. I'll be back soon. In the meanwhile, the website for Keepsake Kaleidoscopes is finally up and running! Check it out! Gaze in awe and wonder at my mother's miraculous talents! You'll be glad you did. As a bonus, by checking out her site, my mom's presence on Google will scoot up the list a tad. Maybe someday when you do a search for her website, you'll actually find a link to her site! As it is, when you search for her business on Google, you're more likely to find this blog. That ain't right. We want to bury this blog, don't we? Of course we do! So click on the following link!


Friday, October 03, 2008

V&T's Wedding Weekend: the 4th & final chapter!

Hey, gang. Sorry for the delay. My internet connection has been funky for the last 2 days. I think we're all fixed now.

So! Anyway! The reception was over. Next it was time for the after-after party. I love this new tradition of going to a bar with a group of friends after the reception. It's a great way to end the festivities. We descended upon Trader Vic's, a tiki bar, for our nightcaps. As you can imagine, hilarity ensued.

See that blue rose hairclip that I'm wearing? The groom made that. Yes, our Travis is a man of many talents!

Tony ordered something called a "Rum Giggle" for Holly & me to share. It came in a conch shell with the longest straws I've ever seen. I could not tell you what it tasted like, but I'm guessing it was good since we drank every last drop.

You can't see it very well, but I'm wearing a nametag that says "James". I have no earthly idea where I got that, but I remember declaring at some point that my left breast is officially named "James". Hmm. Can you believe I didn't have a hangover the next morning? Amazing!

I have no idea what Tony ordered for himself, but it was served in a SKULL! So it's gotta be bad ass, right?

Tony also made a little ... request. Just a little something he'd like to see on the ol' blog. Let me get back to you on that, Tony-Tone.

Last but not least, here's my favorite photo of the whole night.

Eventually we all finished our drinks & stumbled back to the La Quinta. George, Derek, Holly, Andy and I shared the double room "suite". I remember bits & pieces of the rest of the night. I know Holly's finger got banged up pretty badly in Andy's car door. And at some point I managed to put on my pajamas. And then Andy broke out the Mad Libs I bought at Froggies & we had a good time completing a couple (Holly, please tell me you now know what a "taint" is because, honey, I don't want to try to explain that to you again). Surrounded by ice packs & shreds of paper, we eventually fell into a deep slumber.

I was the first one to wake up in the morning, but that's just my way. I can't sleep in. It's one of my least favorite qualities about myself. It's not all bad, though. As the old saying goes, the early bird gets the waffle.

Why do they call it "table syrup"? Is it made out of tables?

Andy and I had flights in the afternoon & the Tulsa contingent had to hit the road, so before we all went our separate ways we went out for Ethiopian food. As usual, george ordered for everybody. Someday I need to learn to order Ethiopian food for myself. What's the name of that lamb stuff again? 'Cause, man alive, it's tasty!

I think we're supposed to be acting like beauty pageant contestants in this photo. Or perhaps like we're on America's Next Top Model. Smile with your eyes, ladies!

Time for one final shot ...

Then we all hugged & said our good-byes.

I have to admit that usually it's very painful for me to leave my old urban family & fly back to NC. I miss them all so very much. This time felt different, though. As I left Dallas, all I felt was joy. I can thank Veronica and Travis for that. Nothing fills a heart with hope and love like a wedding ceremony.

Thank you ALL for such a wonderful, memorable weekend. Can't wait to see you again!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

V&T's Wedding Weekend: Part 3

The ceremony was short & sweet. Before we knew it, Veronica & Travis were hitched!

Mr. & Mrs. Day, accompanied by various cohorts (aka the wedding party)

The best man knows his way around a bustle. Heh heh.

I missed taking photos of the first dance because my hands were full of iced tea and fried pies. Just trust me when I say that this couple has some very impressive dance moves. They really know how to cut a rug!

They also know how to cut a cake.

Here is the best man, Andy (not that one, a different one), making a heartfelt toast. He is accompanied by our Holly, bridesmaid and luscious eye candy.

Here's the Tulsa branch of our urban family. There were 10 of us in all: George & Derek, Ed & Rhiannon, Jenny & Tony, Andy (yes, that one), Kris, Holly, & little ol' me. How great was it to see them all? Very very great.

Andy even brought Kit Kat's for all of us. Gotta love those old inside jokes.

We also made new friends! First, there is V's other bridesmaid, the fabulous Cat. It's hard to tell in this photo, but she was 9 months pregnant & already feeling some contractions. She gave birth to a little girl named Moxy less than 48 hours after the wedding ceremony.

And then there's Eddie, with whom we developed an all new inside joke involving Chick-o-sticks.

Kit Kats and Chick-o-Stick. What more could we possibly need?

English Country Dancing?!??! Why not?

So here's the story. The reception venue upstairs was packed. All of the tables were full and there were few chairs to be had, so most of the Tulsa bunch went downstairs to hang out in the bar. That's when I noticed the sign above. It pointed towards a room with a glass window in the door. When the dancers saw some of us peeking in, they invited us to join them! I was thrilled because, frankly, I've been thinking about trying out English Country Dancing for many months now. You know the formal dancing that is always featured in those Jane Austen costume drama films? That's what this is. It's complicated, but very fun.

Many thanks to Peter, my partner in the grey shirt. Without his patient guidance, I would have been lost.

Since I had so much fun, George decided to try it out, too.

This group was so nice! They invited us to stay & keep dancing with them, but we had to get back to the reception. If I lived in Dallas I'd definitely look them up. They were really great.

The reception continued. We drank more wine & beer, ate more cake, listened to more live music, and laughed much. Tim called so that he could congratulate "The V-Dog". We watched V's parents perform some amazing moves on the dance floor (now I see where she gets it!). As V&T left the building, we didn't have any rice to throw, so instead we performed the wave. Or at least we tried to perform the wave, but ... well ... did I mention there was free booze? Yeah.

The party wasn't over, though. Next stop: Trader Vic's!