Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas To All

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How Lovely Are Thy Baubles

We wish you a most joyoux Christmas filled with much love, rich laughter, and free of furry Ornament Stalkers.

~CrafterKat, JewelGeek, and Critter

Friday, December 14, 2007

Need A Snow Day?

The answer is an emphatic yes.

Need a Snow Day?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Skeleton In The Closet

Found this while cleaning out the closet at work. I think it's from a computer I had about three years ago. The Evil PXE and I laughed for quite awhile...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Overheard And OPB

Turn Off The Bubble Machine

Critter, watching The Lawrence Welk Show: Is this like old-time Dancing With The Stars?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sorry, Charlie!

Our annual Craft Party approaches. I took today off to run errands and bake cookies. CrafterKat took Critter to the grocery store to grab things for dinner--the kitchen was finally mine. The house was quiet--kitties slept in various comfy spots throughout the house--and I finally had all of my ingredients together. I began mixing a batch of cookies and chuckled to myself. How softly can I open this?

It never fails... An open can can mean only one thing.


She doesn't seem to believe me when I tell her it's pumpkin....

Monsters Must Lead Such Interesting Lives

I was just telling my girlfriend the other day, "Monsters must lead such interesting lives!"
~Bugs Bunny

And the same is true for our Pretty Boy. A sudden rain shower combined with a Flower Child, free-lovin' 60's stance on grooming, Pretty Boy had developed some matted fur which we could not get out.

I called the grooming salon inside the local Pet Smart and was told that they could do it provided he wasn't too nasty (temperment? mats? I wasn't sure...), was current on his rabies shot, and we could allocate three hours for the unpleasant task.

He had his nails trimmed, the mats combed out (we were afraid they'd need to be shaved off), and even got a shampoo!

He even survived the hair drying process (mostly). We've got our happy boy back now and the groomer sustained only a minor scratch. Sounds like they'd be happy to see him again, especially since his groomer suggested, "He'd look real cute with a lion's cut..."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Overheard At Home

CrafterKat and I both read some of the Overheard sites. If you've never been, they can be quite... well, not always safe for work, let's say... The original one (I believe) is Overheard in New York because, let's face it, New Yorkers are a bit peculiar in their speech... This one site has spawned many, many more. From colleges across America to Overheard in the Office to even a Rose City site.

We're thinking we need our own site for those one line zingers that leave us chuckling for days. And so, without further ado, we bring you two Overheard at Home:

Just Give It To Me Straight

Critter, finishing up her cat care duties: Poop is heavy.

Another Spot The Sun Don't Shine

Critter, in response to "Do you have your homework?": Yeah, it's in my butt pocket.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bored Now

We encourage Critter to find non-electronic forms of entertainment whenever possible. Most of the time she just complains about the TV and computer being off limits. Sometimes she surprises us...

Boredom makes the time go stranger...

May the Road Rise to Meet You

I made this for Daisy, my friend and coworker. She’s embarking on a new life-adventure with her boyfriend, and leaving in just a few days. The only way I could think to express what an influence she has been on me in the short time she’s been here was to make her a quilt. One of her favorite colors is orange, and her favorite flower is a daisy, so I named the quilt "Tangerine Daisy." I hope this says it all. Farewell, Daisy. I’ll miss you.
Quilt in progress.

Front Back

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

On The Map, Next To State Of Confusion

At work my techie coworkers and I have developed a timeline for the campus to move forward with different computer updates. Last summer we updated all school computers to using Internet Explorer 7. Summer of 2008 will see us moving to Office 2007. In January of 2009 we'll begin installing Windows Vista. For now, we are in a holding pattern--running Windows XP updates and keeping our fingers crossed.

Which brings us to Random Work Conversation #34 (after turning on a setting which we thought had turned off over the summer).

Evil PXE to Web Programmer: Hey, the script didn't run.

Web Programmer (who I promise I'll name at some point...): It didn't?

Evil PXE, supressing a chuckle and adopting a stern voice: Damn JewelGeek and her updates! It's put the computers in a state of unworkency!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In Case You Thought We Never Go Anywhere

Ok, so while I was slaving away at work at a two-day summit of fellow coworkers from throughout the company, Critter and JewelGeek took Annie to the beach for the weekend. (And yes, I joined them as soon as I was able.) Here are some delightful shots of the aquarium inhabitants and a few of our delightful visitors...

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la, la, la!

It's official. I am completely insane. Last weekend, I spent an entire day playing a computer game (about 8 hours' worth; I could hardly walk when I stopped for the night). And while I was happily smooshing CGI monsters, I was also listening to Christmas music. You read correctly - Christmas music.

Every year at about this time, I haul out the Christmas CDs and begin playing them (albeit quietly) in the livingroom while I craft my annual holiday ornament-gifts for my coworkers. Well, one year I started in March and it took all summer to finish up, but that's another entry. Last year, my ornaments completely fell apart before I could even get them out of the house. So this year, I resolved to do something simple, that required no new supplies, and I'd start early enough so if they self-destructed, I'd have time to come up with Plan B.

That meant starting last weekend. Which actually meant Sunday, since I was playing computer games all day Saturday... and I mentioned that already, didn't I??

Critter helped me -- we split out the supplies, and I showed her how to make the ornament, and we went at it. Pretty quickly, we realized an assembly-line style would be more efficient. So I cut squares, she trimmed the squares, then she folded, and I taped.

And Monday, we came back to see that our tape hadn't held, and I'd need to glue the ornaments in place. Oh, and hold them with rubberbands, since they wanted to spring apart. So all week after work, I re-folded and glued all the ornaments.

Then about Wednesday, Critter and I began decorating the ornaments. More glue, lots of ribbon, and some precariously perched ornaments sitting in cans until they dried. Oh, and on Thursday, I found a few more that had come unglued from the earlier attempts to keep them together...

Yesterday (we're on to Saturday now, if you're keeping track at home), we hit the home stretch. All of the trim was on, just needed to finish up a detail that would allow the ornament to be hung. [Sidebar: For my birthday this year, JewelGeek got me a Crop-a-Dile which is this nifty punch that punches holes and sets eyelets that are 1/8 or 3/4 big. I found all kinds of uses for that on this project!] Happily punching and gluing and taping away... I FINISHED all of the ornaments at around 8am this morning. [Did I mention I'm an early riser??]

And then I launched into full swing making the invitations for our annual holiday craft party and cookie bash. We had originally thought we'd host it over Veterans' Weekend, but decided against it. Last year, we held it the weekend before Thanksgiving and had the best turn-out ever. So we're doing that again. Of course, this year we have all of our livingroom furniture in place, so we're not sure where everyone will sit to work on their projects! It will be interesting...

Oh, and the Christmas music is still playing, softly, in the background. I just finished addressing the last invitation, so I really could stop for the night and turn the music off. But I need the inspiration to work on my Christmas cards...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tuesday's One More Something Else

Random Family Conversation #103

CrafterKat, after finishing her dinner: I need one more something else.*

JewelGeek: No?**

CrafterKat, nodding: Yes. A glass of milk and some Oreos.

JewelGeek, rummaging in kitchen: I don't know... I was told that these were Critter's cookies...

Critter, sighing dramatically: I guess she can have one.

CrafterKat, looking through the tray of cookies: I'll just eat the ones that were made funny. The ones that they didn't put together right.

Critter, sighing again: Are you fingering every one of those cookies?

CrafterKat: No.... But I did lick each one....

Critter, JewelGeek: Ewwwwwww!

Family Encyclopedia Notes:

* One more something else -- The Emperor Penguin's pre-bedtime request after the glass of water and additional story was for "One more something else."

** No -- (noun) means desserts or sweets. When the Golden Poet lived with CrafterKat's parents during college, she would bake cookies. Mr. GoGoGo was trying to lose weight and stay away from sweets. But he cannot resist cookies. He began saying "no" to any suggestion of baking or bringing sweets into the house. We all started calling sweets "No."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Candlelight Debris

A decade ago when CrafterKat and I were in our Celestial Phase, we would routinely go to the little craft showcases over the holidays or visit the outdoor markets on the weekends. We often ended up with little hand-crafted soaps, copper twisty rings with a bead through the center, ceramic pitchers to hold kitchen implements, a bag or article of clothing with stars and moons, or honeycombed candles in bright Christmas colors. On one such trip to the Portland Saturday market, we purchased a candle holder that mounts to the wall. You cleverly put the candle on the little stand and the mirror on the back illuminates the flame. In my mind, this simple wooden plank was, in actuality, a piece of Dark Ages technology and fit our castle home accordingly; if we had more money, I’m sure we would have lined the stairwell with them (to the feast hall bedrooms).

When the Renaissance-skilled crafter unhooked the ever-affordable torch plank from the wall, we noticed why it was so reasonably priced. The mirror on the back of the plank was secured with non-medieval, very twentieth century duct tape. Still, we love this little gem and have it mounted by our bedroom door.

The problem is we rarely remember it is—it is simple ornamentation.

Unless the thirteenth century is thrust upon us as it was Wednesday night.

Six houses in our neighborhood lost power that night. I talked with our neighbors at 7:20 while CrafterKat and Critter were out purchasing items from the Oh-And-My-Teacher-Said-We-Need-This-Too list. “PGE says it will be back on by 7:30,” she told me.

By 8:00, I was lighting candles, including our special duct-taped torch, and combing through the little drawers in our bathroom vanity looking for a hair twisty. Instead, I found a decade of memories and mysteries.

The candlelight was extremely helpful. Or the fact that the darkness was mostly all-encompassing; I had no problem sorting things into Keepers and Keep Not-ers. I tossed lipstick shades I hadn’t worn since before Critter arrived in our lives, suction cups from some failed organizational system that no longer stuck to anything, a single fake ivy leaf from a never-dusted (and therefore tossed) fake plant. An empty bag of razors and an equally empty hotel sewing kit. I amassed a pile of complimentary shampoos, conditioners, and hand lotions for the downstairs guest bathroom.

Box lids with the Clarol hair color I chose three years ago went into the trash. Along with the extra sets of hair coloring plastic gloves that never fit your hands correctly (but might fit the Desert Engineer). Singleton barrettes that had lost their hair mate? Gone. Rusty, dime-sized baby pins? Tossed. Safeway Pharmacy bags, empty of their medication? Chucked. Housing confirmation for a Bella Beach vacation rental? Shredded. The lid to a Feliway jar (as opposed to something from Milliways which would have been in the Keeper pile)? Pitched.

And the memories? I kept those.

Two sheets of paper with scribbled animal doodles from a trip Critter and I took to the coast. A random Tuesday love note. A magazine clipping on how to make a Kir, a Dijon classic beverage. An antique ceramic pin which must have come from my mother. My hospital bracelet from April. The koa wood barrette CrafterKat’s parents gave me from Hawaii.

I’m still uncertain how such an array of things ended up in just three little bathroom drawers. Perhaps it was dark and I couldn’t find a candle.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday's Menu

Last week was our trek down to Ashland to see some Shakespeare at OSF. After a short, two-day work week, my brain kicked into Long Weekend/Vacation mode. We filled the Tink Tank with suitcases, music, and munchies and hit the back roads to reach Eugene. At Canby, we stopped at the delightful Canby Pub and Grill for a quick dinner.

A really yummy menu and smiling wait staff greeted us. "Our soups for today are Bean and Bacon and Oktoberfest In Summer," she informed us.

"Oh?" I asked, a bit puzzled.

"Yes, it's sauerkraut and weenies." She took our soda order and departed.

I leaned into CrafterKat and murmured, "I think I finally figured out why they aren't serving clam chowder...."

Monday, July 23, 2007

1 CC of Lancombe

Random Family Conversation #422

Critter: I need to find my eyeliner before we go to Ashland. If I don't, I'll just die!

JewelGeek: You'll just die? Do you think hospital emergency rooms see a lot of that?

Critter (laughing): What?

JewelGeek (lowering voice): Nurse, we've got a bad one here. She needs eyeliner! Quick apply Lancombe Smokey Blue!

Critter (laughing): But doctor, we're out of Smokey Blue!

JewelGeek (lowered voice): Then we'll have to improvise! Get some Charcoal Gray!

Critter: Well, that's what I wear!

JewelGeek (admitting her lack of fashion sense): I didn't even know that was a color!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hogwarts Weekend

Enough said.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Floyd's Looking

As with many families, we have our own set of catch phrases and family sayings that only members of our immediate familial circle understand. Many of them come from a shared love of Bill Cosby monologues, quotes from movies or television shows, or the zinger from some family story we tell again and again.

One such phrase from our Family Encyclopedia comes from CrafterKat's visit to Atlanta. A friend of a friend, chauffeuring her through the various Peach Blossom streets of the city, explained that she sometimes had difficulty coming up with information at the spur of the moment. Like when someone asks you a question and the answer is just in the shadows and you can't verbalize it.

She visualized the process as having a little person running around a huge library in your head, flipping through card catalogues and reference books until he comes up with the answer. Trouble is, he ages at the same rate you do, so sometimes it takes a lot longer to get the answer. The woman named him Floyd and would often say, "Floyd's looking!" when she was ruminating.

Now, to toss in a Bill Cosby line...

"I told you that story so I could tell you this one."

Text of an e-mail in response to "what are you doing?"

To: CrafterKat

From: JewelGeek

Sent: Friday, July 20, 2007

RE: Pig Dog e-mailed! Can he stay with us? Please, please, please?


The Evil PXE spoke with Microsoft today about Vista licenses.

We bought a Volume License from [Local Tech Consortium] which means that we can use one Key for all the licenses we purchased. Fine. Now we have 28 new licenses from Dell. We want to roll those into the one mega-license we bought from [Local Tech Consortium]. Should work just like it did with XP. We’re sort of on the honor system when we buy anything with a Volume License. Dell assured us that we could roll the individual licenses we got with our new machines into the Volume License we had already purchased.

So… Student Intern 1, being the ever so helpful intern he is, installed the [Local Tech Consortium] license of Vista over the Dell license of Vista. He basically wiped the hard drive on a new machine and installed it from scratch. My old computer is sitting in the hallway, unplugged, and to all concerned, is not running Vista. He got an error message saying that the license key he is using wouldn’t work.

So he calls Microsoft with the number Dell gave us.
In the Philippines.
To speak with Floyd.

I’m beginning to think it’s THAT Floyd.

The Evil PXE got on the phone and tried REPEATEDLY to explain what we needed, that applying individual licenses will not work in our environment. We need to be able to image a machine immediately and free up a license so we can install it elsewhere.

Floyd recommended that we uninstall Vista on the old machine. The Evil PXE exploded. "And just how are we supposed to do that? You can't just go into Add/Remove Programs and remove the Operating System... (pause)...Are you a tech? No, I don't think you are because any computer technician would tell you that's not what you do. You erase the hard drive. Which is what we did!"

What if the operating system just failed and we need to re-install the license on the same machine? That’s basically the same thing as was happening in my scenario. My old machine is unplugged but it could have had its hard drive go belly up. How do we instantly re-install the license? And how do we get those 28 new machines rolled into the one we already have?

Floyd’s friend said that the Evil PXE should call another number… Which he gave him… Which the Evil PXE reminded him was the one he already called. In the Philippines. To get to Floyd…

After an hour, the Evil PXE said "screw it" and called [Local Tech Consortium] in Wilsonville, about thirty minutes away. [Local Tech Consortium] apologized profusely and said that the license number he gave us has only 500 activations on it and they’ve all been used up. Several schools in Oregon are doing what we do, trying Vista out on a small set of machines. He has to call someone in Microsoft—Laurie—to have her increase the amount again. Laurie’s on vacation.

“But you can use Montana’s key. No one there is using it yet.”

And so we did.

And it worked.

And we are happy.

The End.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Disneyland Top 10 (Top 3)

And the Top 3...

(read the previous entry first!)

3. PhotoPass – professional photographers stationed throughout both parks; digital photos “beamed” back to a central location; buy all the photos on CD for $50 (and they shoot as many as you want).

2. AstroBlasters – my favorite attraction/ride; cool effects, neato ray guns to keep you coming back time and time again; little green men to worship your sharp-shooting skills.

1. Character Meals – the BEST way to get autographs, take photos, and spend some “quality” time with the characters; all you can eat buffet; kid-friendly and/or health-conscious choices.

Disneyland Top 10

Just back from Disneyland, and still reeling from the crowds, the heat, and the overstimulation. But reviewing our 300+ photos, here are the highlights…

10. Pirates of the Caribbean attraction – the first (and last) ride we take every trip, and many times in between. Even with the “updates” to reflect the movies, it is still an entertaining, imaginative excursion.

9. Pin Trading – an excuse to purchase souvenirs, talk to strangers, and horde your treasure.

8. Fireworks – sentimental journey through the rides and attractions of Disneyland set to pyrotechnics [Um, SUPER cool].

7. Fantasmic – water, laser, music, character spectacle that gets cooler every time I see it.

6. Electrical Parade – still gives me goose bumps and makes me weep with joy.

5. Pirates on Tom Sawyer Island – well-acted, thematic use of the whole island.

4. Aladdin Musical Spectacular – live theatre, updated Genie jokes, and a serious “magic” factor.

(see next post for Top 3)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Captain

Scott L. Boley
Published: June 6, 2007, Curry County Reporter
March 31, 1948-May 27, 2007

Scott L. Boley, 59, of Gold Beach, passed away May 27, 2007 at his home unexpectedly of undetermined causes.

He was born March 31, 1948 in Klamath Falls, OR; son of Ivan H. "Buck" and Madge (Fitzhugh) Boley. He was raised in Klamath Falls, and graduated from Klamath Union High School in 1966. He attended Portland State University for one year before transferring to Oregon State University where he earned a general Engineering Degree and in 1973, a Masters Degree in Ocean Engineering. While completing his Masters Degree, Scott was employed as a graduate assistant at O.S.U.

On June 13, 1970, he married Dixie Dawn Evans. The couple made their first home in Corvallis while they completed their degrees.

In 1975, they moved to Gold Beach where Scott purchased a fishing boat, the F/V Frances and began his career as a commercial fisherman.

In 1978, their son was born, and the Boleys fished full-time as a family for several years. Scott was still actively employed as a fisherman at the time of his death.

He had served as a Port of Gold Beach Commissioner, a member of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and a member of the Pacific Marine Conservation Council. He enjoyed fly-fishing, snow skiing, and woodworking.

Scott was an ethical man, and had a strong sense of what was good for the fishing industry, and for the community. He was a creative and irrepressible planter of "idea seeds"; and was forever challenging himself and others to think beyond their paradigms.

Survivors include his wife, Dixie, of Gold Beach; son, Evan T. Boley of Gold Beach; mother, Madge Boley-Walker of Gold Beach; brother and sister-in-law, Vernon and Julie Boley; niece, Charla Boley, and nephews, Brent and Cory Boley of Vancouver, WA.

A Celebration of Scott's life will be held in July at Pistol River Friendship Hall. The family requests any memorials be made to the Curry General Hospital Health Foundation, 94220 Fourth St, Gold Beach, OR 97444, or to Pacific Marine Conservation Council Fish Genetics Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 59, Astoria OR 97103.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Cutting Chicken

When I moved out of my parents’ house and started living on my own, I was thankful for any money-saving, practical advice and tips. Things like “You only need about an eighth of a scoop of laundry detergent to wash a large load” are not written on the packaging, because, of course, the manufacturer wants you to buy more detergent. But it worked, and saved me a bundle of money.

One of the money-saving tips my dad, Mr. GoGoGo, passed along was how inexpensive whole frying hens are. For about $5 (less, if you watch the ads), you can get an entire chicken. With a slow-cooker, you can cook the whole thing and feast on it for days. Or, you can cut it up yourself, and have the pieces for other sumptuous dishes at a fraction of the price of buying the butcher-cut pieces.

Dad showed me how to cut up a chicken a million times. He got me the fancy filleting knife, with its thin and slender blade that fits neatly between the joints for easy disassembly. He taught me how to remove the skin off the pieces to reduce fat intake. And he’d disinfect the knife, the entire counter, and the cutting board when he was done. I also watched Alton Brown’s episode on cutting up a chicken, too, with the nifty dinosaur skeleton as a visual aid to show joint locations. For a while, I actually hung on to the “how to” pretty well.

I think I’ve cut up 1 or 2 chickens in my day. The fact of the matter is, I think it’s gross. I simply don’t like how it feels between my fingers. I don’t like pulling the skin from the muscle (gross), snapping the leg joint (gross), or even reaching inside the “cavity” for the little baggie of innards neatly packaged so I can throw them away (super gross). Not to mention the carcass. My dad always cooks the carcass for broth – or freezes it to cook for broth later. Um, that means a chicken skeleton in the freezer (gross).

And I’ve discovered a few things about eating chicken, too that made this ritual even less desirable. Once you cut up a chicken, there are still only 2 breasts, 2 backs, and 2 drumsticks. No one eats the wings (too bony), and with the distribution of the parts according to my family’s preferences, I always ended up eating the back (also pretty bleepin’ bony). If I wanted pure, un-bony chicken breast, well, that’s another chicken… So I stopped buying whole fryers and cutting them up myself. The $6 I spend on fresh chicken breasts means I get to eat the good stuff, too, and I don’t have to stick my fingers where the sun don’t shine on dead poultry.

And why is all of this relevant now, you ask?? Well, I’m working on an overall quilt. It’s a quilt made from old jeans – a tradition my grandma started when pristine bolts of fabric were a luxury. She came through the Depression, and learned not to waste the “good” parts of a worn-out pair of jeans. The first step in making an overall quilt, naturally, is to cut up the jeans. I was struck suddenly how similar cutting up the jeans was to cutting up chicken.

Depending on the size of the jeans, in the end, you get 2 breasts (the large front portion from which you can cut the “prime” large squares), 2 backs (the back pocket – bones and maybe some useful meat), 4 drumsticks (strips big enough to cut smaller, clean, no-seam squares), and a couple of wings (strips where a smaller square is possible, if you include a seam). There’s a carcass to toss (the waistband, thick seams, and often the front/back pockets). And some juicy bits that are too small for the main meal, but perfectly good for soup (seamless pieces that could be turned into a strip quilt… but that’s another entry…)

See, Dad, I was paying attention.

The whole "chicken".
The cut-up pieces.
The good bits, too small for the main meal.
The carcasses.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Fractional Bookends

Amidst some sad tidings this week there were some marginal, or rather fractional, observations on Thursday.

As I pulled out of the driveway to take Critter to an early morning choir rehearsal at the high school, I inquired about the progress on her reading book. “How many pages do you think you have left?”

She shrugged. “I dunno.”

“Well, just a rough estimate. 100 pages? 150 pages?”

“I dunno.”

“Well, how much have you read?”

She sighed. “I’m about a quarter of the way through.”

I did some mental calculations. The paperback she was carrying around was roughly 200 pages. 250 tops. And she’d been reading this book for several days, including two hours over the weekend. “Critter….”

“Well, it’s more like a third. I’m about a third of the way.”

I paused.

“More like half.”


“I mean, I have about a quarter left in it.”


“Enough pages that I’ll finish by June 7th!”

At least Critter has learned her fractions…

That evening at the high school, parents were greeted by over a hundred students from both schools welcoming them to the concert in a lively African song. The band teacher played drums in the front of the stage and the choirs from both schools ringed the back of the auditorium, raising the rafters.

After this rousing welcome, the band teacher brought forth the jazz band who performed the high school standard Witchcraft. It was a small group, not more than a dozen performers, and five of them played saxophone. It was fun to watch and listen but I was a bit distracted by... something. I finally figured it out and sent the following text message to CrafterKat at Intermission:

Is it bad that three different sax players are tapping out 3 dif beats?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The morning after

The morning after the snake proposal, Critter and I were alone in the livingroom. No one else was up, yet. She looked at me, I looked away, and started cleaning the kitchen.

“You know we’re going to say ‘no,’ right?” I said softly.

“Yeah,” she replied equally softly. “Why?”

I thought a moment. A million rational reasons went through my head, as they had the night before when Critter made her dissertation on Why We Should Host the Science Snake for the Summer. Like who was going to clean the mice cage? Who would clean the snake cage? What would we do with the animals while we were on vacations? How could we keep the cats away from the mice and snake? What about the smell?

And even as I formulated my oh-so-logical and completely-calm-and-rational arguments against the proposal, I knew I wouldn’t say any of them. What I DID say was:

“I could sit here and give you a whole list of rational reasons why we can’t have the snake over the summer, but there’s really only one reason that matters: JewelGeek and I don’t like snakes, and we won’t have one in our house.”

“But,” Critter began weakly.

“It’s not a situation you’re going to be able to change, Sweetie,” I said seriously. “We simply don’t like snakes. It’s not rational, but it’s real.”

Critter closed her mouth and nodded. “Okay.” She didn’t even argue. And when JewelGeek got up, Critter didn’t say a word or bring up the snake again. It's not like her to stop fighting, especially if she knows we don't want any part of it. This time, she let us win.

What a great Mother's Day present.

Mother's Day Jasmine

CrafterKat and I had a lovely Mother’s Day Weekend, complete with good food, shoe shopping, and the arrival of a new compound miter saw thingy.

Saturday afternoon Critter had us sit in the living room and close our eyes. When we were told to open them, she stood with paper in hand, partially blocking two vases of spring flowers. I smiled at her thoughtfulness. And she read:

As you may already know, Mizz K. has a snake named Jasmine. Her roommate doesn’t particularly care for snakes and she doesn’t know what to do with jasmine over the summer. Now I know what you’re thinking, “she’s going to ask if she can bring it home for the summer,” and you’re correct!

Having this privilege will give me more responsibility and respect for other people’s property. As well as help me keep my room cleaner!

Some downers about this thought is the fact that JewelGeek may not really like this idea and I can totally see that. Also we will have to have live mice in the house which is another thing for the cats to try to get at. And when I’m gone camping and on vacation with you guys I’ll worry and fret about her and carry on and we possibly may not have a good time.

But please remember I have a friend who lives just up the street and loves reptiles!!!! Cheri knows her way around the house and how to get into the house too!

Now about the food for Jasmine, Mizz K. said she would provide the money for live mice. I can keep them in a well secured cage so they will never be able to get out and we will never smell them because I can clean mouse and rat cages ever so quickly.

So now I hope I have persuaded you to let me take care of Mizz K.’s snake over the summer. Thank you for your time and ears. Any questions I can answer???

Yes. Just one.

Aaaaaaaakkkkkk! Snaaaaaaakkeeeee???!!!!!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Stone Soup

Several days after I had sent that e-mail to the Evil PXE, I found myself in the doctor’s office telling first the nurse and then my physician my symptoms. “It feels like there is a steel stake right through my rib cage,” I finally said, pointing to the middle of my chest. “And I’m not sleeping well.”

After pushing on my stomach (presumably the spot where the gall bladder is located), my doctor agreed to send me for an ultrasound. They’d use this one to compare against the one I had taken previously. Five years ago.

That evening, the scheduling nurse from my doctor’s office called. “I’ll go ahead and call the surgeon on Monday morning.”

“So, I need to have my gall bladder removed?”


Monday I was told to see the surgeon the following Monday. I spent the week trying to be really good with my diet but ended up having two more attacks during the week. This time, they were occurring in the morning and my lack of sleep was beginning to catch up with me. I called my Mom, the Social Butterfly, to see if she could come up when my surgery actually gets scheduled. She assured me she’d be there but I should try not to set it for June 1st or June 5th as she had appointments on those days. “Well, I figure it will be either be at the end of the month or after our vacation in the middle of June. Shouldn’t be a problem."

Monday came and CrafterKat and I left for the early morning meeting with the surgeon. I explained my symptoms to the nurse. Then the Surgeon-In-Training. Then finally the doctor. He came in with an old 50’s textbook with illustrations of the gall bladder and how they would remove the broken organ. “It’s moderately distended and should come out soon. Have you eaten anything today?”

I shook my head. “No.”

“Great. I have an opening at 3pm today.”

Um… Wait… TODAY?

I called my Mom when I got home. “What are you doing today, Mom?”

She paused, piecing the clues together and finally yelled, “Today?! TODAY?!”

I called work and informed my co-worker that I’d be out the rest of the week. My mother arrived a few hours later and drove me to the hospital. When we found Admitting, the nice lady there had me on her list. “What are you here for?”

“Gall bladder.”

“Oh. A mumble-mumble-oscopy?”

“I don’t know… They’re removing my gall bladder.”

“Oh, we get those and colonoscopies all the time. You sure you don’t want one of those, too? A 2-for-1 deal?”

I assured her I didn’t.

Needless to say, the surgery went well but I don’t really remember anything after being wheeled into the operating room and sliding over onto the thin bed. I awoke, curled up on my side, to my Mom’s voice.

I found out later that the surgery had taken longer than expected as I had lots of adhesions and a hazelnut sized stone in one of the ducts. The rest of the week was spent in a Vicadin haze, eating soup and jello, and snuggling cats who couldn’t understand why they couldn’t flob across my tummy as usual.

Thanks to all my friends and family for their kind thoughts, help, and numerous flowers. I’m very happy to be back at work and in good health!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Papa was a rolling stone

Been a bit quiet on the blog front... But there's been a reason. Here's an e-mail I sent to the Evil PXE a few weeks back.

To: Evil PXE
From: JewelGeek
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Subject: Just a heads up...

Hey Evil PXE,

I believe I'm losing the war with my gall bladder...

I don't know if you remember, but my doctor diagnosed me with having gall stones a few years back. He said surgery wasn't really an option at the time because I didn't have very many and I should be able to control the gall bladder attacks (vicious gas bubbles that made me want to puke or caused me such pain in my chest that I thought an alien was going to pop out) with a better diet. I did that and it helped.

I got to the point where I could sort of tell when I'd reached my 'bad food' threshold--I'd cut back or not eat the troubling foods and I'd be fine, staving off another attack. I can't eat Nonna's pizza, for example, unless I've been very, very good. Now it's sort of all pizza in general. Sigh.

I've had at least three gall bladder attacks in a week. Last night I was lucky to get about four hours sleep. And I woke up twice from that when I discovered that one of the new cats had peed on my comforter.

I'm weary. I'm tired. And I'm in a lot of pain.

I'm going to call the doctor's office when I get in and get an appointment to talk to him about my gall bladder. Once you have gall stones, he told me, the organ is pretty much broken. I'm thinking that we're beyond the diet phase of fixing it. That leaves surgery. Which I'm scared to death he might recommend.

If he doesn't recommend that, then it's back to diet and I'll still be miserable. Diets and me don't tend to last very long.

I'll see you in a bit.



Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thursday Mix Up

Critter has a pretty packed schedule. School. Homework. Taking care of five cats. Volunteering at the Oregon Humane Society. Sometimes, you have to plan ahead and carve out your day. Today was no exception.Her school is participating in Spirit Week activities. Each day this week, the students dress in a different ensemble. Monday was Pajama Day. Wednesday was Twin Day. Today is Mix It Up Day. Critter took it heart.

Not only did she find time to dress the part, she came home and tidied the living room AND made us dinner. Chicken with fresh veggies and noodles. Banana pudding for dessert.

She topped each little blue bowl of pudding with fresh banana slices and a Disney spoon from our silverware drawer. I had set the table with our other "everyday" flatware and pointed to the spoon by her napkin. She shook her head, holding up the small Mickey teaspoon. "No, you've got to use the little spoon."

"Why is that?" I asked.

CrafterKat and Critter answered in unison. "So you can savor every bite."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

When Fortune Calls, Offer Her A Chair

We have a slight problem.

After our kitchen remodel was completed last fall, we decided to get some new furniture. Our minds were made up as to the style and comfort level we desired. A couch that could easily sit three people and be long enough to sleep on should we find the need to check our "eyeballs for leaks." And a comfortable, stylish chair in a different fabric to compliment the new kitchen walls and anchor the room.

We searched several stores for the perfect combination that fit our new style and our pocketbook. At last we found a soft leather couch that had an extension on one end where you could stretch out lazily or seat a fourth person of the teenage variety. “Wait,” said the sales clerk. “Watch this.” And he swapped out the extension with the matching end chair, turning the L-shaped couch into a simple three-person sofa; the chair suddenly transformed into a lush fainting couch.

We were sold and bought the couch and side chair immediately.

The complimentary chair took a bit more searching. We had tried several from a modern, round-backed leather chair that swiveled 360 degrees (the Captain Kirk chair I called it which shot down any hope of it living in our home), to chairs that sucked you down into their fluffy cushions and wouldn’t let you out without a crowbar.

This second chair needed to be stylish, simple, and firm. And yet comfortable enough that you could sit in it all afternoon. And we found one. We covered it in soft suede that matched our pirate red wall in the kitchen. Perfect.

And LaLa would agree, I think. At most every visit, this chair is the seat she claims in the living room. It’s perfect for completing crossword puzzles, sewing embroidered cards or pillowcases, and typing up journals from the 1970’s into her laptop. When LaLa enters the room, we vacate The Chair. It’s just common sense.

But now we have a small problem.

Pretty Boy looks good on red.

And he’s not giving up The Chair without a struggle snuggle.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bassist Syndrome

While Critter and I waited in the doctor's office on Monday, she flipped through a People magazine and landed on a photo of the Fall Out Boys: four leather-clad, college-aged kids, not smiling at the camera. She tapped the face of one youth, his eyes mostly covered by straight black hair. "The Fall Out Boys would be nothing with out Pete."

I glanced at the caption beneath: Pete Wentz, bassist. Oh, dear Lord, not a bass guitar player. Sting, John Taylor... I was hit hard at her age, too. I kept my voice calm. "Oh, is he the singer? Is that why the band wouldn't be successful?"

"No. He's just the good looking one. Without him...." she left unsaid that their popularity would plummet without his mussed up locks and sneer.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sock (W)Rapping

We are on our way down to Ashland this weekend to catch OSF's As You Like It, enjoy the chilly sunshine, and poke around in the little boutiques. This week has been spent cleaning the house, caring for kitties (Pretty Boy has been on medication), and doing laundry. Mountains of laundry. Spring is a tough time in Oregon—we’ve got summer weather wear which we are dying to put on but we still have to drag on sweatshirts due to the chill. Two seasons at once means lots of laundry.

Critter has been a good sport about it and has been adding clothes to the dirty piles downstairs. Putting the clean clothes away, though, is another story. She was down to two baskets last night when I entered her bedroom. Her floor is strewn with kitty toys and new millennium rap music poured from her stereo speakers. She found a spare slipper and chucked it into the closet. “Do you want to do socks?”

This is no small feat (feet?).

At one point last week, Critter suggested that she just might throw out all her little anklet socks and buy a whole new set of identical socks. Everything would be the same and matching them up afterwards would be easier. But she is also drawn to whimsical footwear—bells on the back, prancing monkeys, rainbow-toe socks… And CrafterKat and I like finding new ones to add to her collection. Does she wear them? You bet. To the ground. Until they can stand up on their own.

Matching up socks is my downfall when it comes to laundry. I have always disliked sorting through the piles to find that one missing mate. Inevitably the second sock is in a different pile of laundry and doesn’t get cleaned until a day or two later. Or it’s still hidden under the bed, behind the dresser, on the floor of the closet… I’m sure my Mom can tell stories…

Perhaps I’m a Sock Snob. I know what pairs I own and can find them pretty quickly in the sock heap. There’s only one pair of blue-striped socks like this and only one pair of green knit socks like that. But we tend to buy multiples now, and they all wear a bit differently. Or we go back and buy a second set a few months later and the manufacturer has altered the weave or dye ever so slightly. I have a hard time with some of CrafterKat’s trouser socks—they are three different shades of brown that I can’t quite match up. On some sock sorting nights I want to adopt Steven Wright’s Sock Philosophy: I don’t wear socks by color. I go by thickness.

Critter, bopping to her radio tunes, brought a brimming sock basket to the bed where I sat. I sighed at the large pile. “I’ll help but you have to do this with me.”

She nodded, relieved to have some assistance. The DJ began another rap beat. “Oh, I like this song!”

I listened to the drum machine track. “What do you like? The beat? The lyrics?”

She shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. I just do. Why do you ask?”

Why did I ask..? I’ve been swimming in music for the last few weeks as the Evil PXE and I have been loading up our Zunes (he even purchased a second one for his wife so they’d both have one for their cars). The link to music and memories is quite profound, I think, for many people. I remember liking certain bands only because the singer was good looking; and steadfastly refusing to listen to some groups because the front man had a mullet, wore awful clothes, or sweated in the music videos. Some songs were fun to sing because of the rhymes; others because your parents hated the words. Some songs had profound lyrics which spoke volumes to my teenage soul.

I remember…

My 6th grade music teacher not letting us play Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust before class because it might make us commit suicide.

Begging my Mom to take me to see Grease because all the girls knew the lyrics and I didn’t. (She finally relented when she realized that the John Travolta film wasn’t Saturday Night Fever, an R-rated movie).

Telling my grandparents that I really wanted a Billy Joel album for Christmas (they didn’t have a record store in their small town so this was asking a lot!).

For Christmas, getting the 45 of Duran Duran’s Wild Boys with John Taylor on the cover (they had made one with each band member).

Singing Do They Know It’s Christmas on the last day of school before Winter Break.

Getting a copy of Baltimora's Tarzan Boy on cassette from the boy who took me to prom.

Playing Side One of Air Supply’s The One That You Love over and over and over again. It was the first “decent” album my parents ever bought that wasn’t Julie Andrews or Harry Belafonte.

Listening (and singing!) to The Sound of Music at every dinner party with family friends (the father is German and he loved this film). Three girls under the age of ten singing with gusto every other Saturday gave our family the phrase “Don’t sing at the table!”

Discovering that my parents did, in fact, own one Beatles album: The White Album. When asked later why they had it (I had been creeped out by the haunting sounds of Revolution 9 and couldn’t understand why this piece of vinyl would be in their collection), my mother admitted that she bought it at a garage sale but hadn’t listened to it more than once.

In college, listening to the Steve Miller Band as I fell asleep. My roommate, who had purchased a brand new $900 stereo CD system with her financial aid money, only had three CDs in her collection.

Buying tickets for my college roommates to see a Chicago concert at the Tacoma Dome. One by one, they ended up giving their tickets to friends. I attended the abysmal concert with people I didn’t know, listening to music I only partially recognized (see note above concerning mullets and sweating).

The rap lyrics began and I floated back to the moment. I shrugged back at her. “I just wondered if the song was important to you…?” And then I heard the lyrics and did everything I could not to laugh.

This is why I'm hot, This is why I'm Hot
This is why, this is why, this is why I'm Hot
I'm Hot cause I'm fly, you ain't cause you not
This is why, this is why, this is why I'm Hot
I'm Hot cause I'm fly, you ain't cause you not
This is why, this is why, this is why I'm Hot

“No, I just like it,” she concluded and I added another song to my musical memory catalog.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Wouldn’t You Like To Be A Pepper, Too?

Ok, I posted the previous story so I could tell you this one…

Anyone know what these are? Yep – Scotch Bonnets. The Scotch Bonnet is reputed to be one of the world's hottest peppers, measuring 100000-350000 Scoville units! Even Alton Brown, of Good Eats fame, handles them with non-permeable gloves.

If you read the previous post, and bothered to go to the Choice Produce website to see the beautiful peppers swags, you may have noticed the bright orange, round accent peppers amongst the finery. When I received my two swags via FedEx and unwrapped them at home, I discovered a few of these cuties had fallen off, along with a handful of the skinny chilies.

Critter LOVES pepperoncinis and most anything hot and spicy. I carefully set the handful of peppers, including the orange ones, next to her at the dining table and told her she could have them.

“But be careful,” I warned. “I think the orange ones are Scotch Bonnets.”

“No they’re not,” Critter replied. “I just ate one – it’s a small bell pepper.”

“Are you sure? I think they’re Scotch Bonnets.”

Long pause. “Well, the seeds are hot…” And within moments, Critter was standing, waving her hand in front of her mouth, gasping for water, and tears streaming down her face. Her whole head turned red as I quickly poured her a glass of milk. She dutifully sipped the milk, letting it sit on her burning tongue. It took a full 10 minutes for the burning to stop.

Of course, while all of this was happening, I was stupid enough to say “Well, I ought to be ok if I avoid the veins and seeds…” and I sampled a piece of the fleshy pepper. I spent 5 minutes with my glass of milk, and cleaning out my sinuses.

I promptly called my sister-in-law to warn her about the orange culinary bombs. And she pointed out that the largish, dark green peppers at the top were jalapeƱos. Um, yikes! Needless to say, I threw away the other loose peppers before more damage could be done.

All evening, Critter kept saying, “My taste buds are standing up.”

Um, sadly, no. If I remember my Alton Brown episode correctly, they actually burned off from the capsaicin (hot oil) in the pepper. And they’ll take about 3 weeks to grow back.

The Emerald City Is Not In Australia

I went to Seattle last Friday for an intra-office meeting with work colleagues. The meeting was great – informative and fun. But the best part was spending Saturday morning walking around Seattle’s touristy hot spots.

I watched the flower venders haul in their buckets upon buckets of daffodils at Pike Place Market, sampled the Daily Dozen Doughnuts (yummy), and sipped Chai from the original Starbucks. I waited for the Dragon’s Toy Box to open to get Critter this amazing Treasure Hunt/Secret Code game. And I browsed the Oriental markets for purses, wallets, coin purses, and shirts. (Funny that they don’t make embroidered shirts in American-sized 2x.)

I stood awed by the beauty of real peppers strung together in swags. At Choice Produce, I broke down and purchased two of the strings. One to decorate our home, and a second to decorate my brother’s home. They are completely edible, or you can allow them to dry naturally and use the dried peppers as spice for up to two years!

At the request of my family, I also picked up iced pumpkin cookies from Cinnamon Works Bakery (sorry, no website). This bakery on the corner of Stewart has a side window which is open early. Later in the morning, they roll up the industrial garage door, so you can see their yummy offerings in their display cases. Catch the main baker (owner, I presume) when he’s there alone in the mornings, and he’ll chat you up a little while he hustles around the kitchen working on the last-minute batch of specialty bread. ANYTHING from here is wonderful, but the pumpkin cookies are TO DIE FOR. They even have Vegan offerings, if that’s your preference.

A quick Monorail trip took me to the Seattle Center and the (in)famous Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. I splurged on the double-entry ticket, and spent the next 2 hours in sensory overload. One look at the EMP website will give you a good idea of the immensity of the content. I told JewelGeek that I could have spent DAYS there, reading everything. One part hands-on/interactive science lab and one part Smithsonian exhibit, the EMP is a Mecca for musicians. While I was there, they were hosting an exhibit on Disney’s music. OMG… It took me 40 minutes to find the exhibit, and another 20 just to get through a piece of it. No pictures or recordings allowed, of course. But there are some nifty photos on the EMP website and some audio clips you can listen to.

Another neat exhibit at EMP is the Oral History Program. About 30 computers are set up around the sound-proof space with headphones, and you can listen/watch artists and celebrities tell their stories in their own words. LOTS of musicians and related professionals, of course. And a few surprises… I listened to Nichelle Nichols relate the hilarious story of how the first interracial kiss on TV came to be. And I found a random story from George Takei about using a fencing foil instead of a Samurai sword. [If you’re a Geek, you know to what I’m referring.] I could have spent another hour in that room, listening to Harlan Ellison talk about science fiction writing, and the hundreds of musicians with their “on the road” stories.

The Science Fiction Museum was cool – but pretty small. I loved the collection of robots, for example. And while they paid nice homage to some of my favorite SciFi shows and novels, there are a LOT of holes. I didn’t see any reference to Space: 1999, for example. And Star Trek references stopped after the original series. (Oh – I may have seen an alien from the later series, come to think of it.) They had lots of pulp fiction books, which were interesting, but hard to understand the significance without some extensive reading of very small information-panels. Did I have fun? You bet. Would I pay for it again? Um… no. Where can I donate to expand the space and collection??

I love visiting Seattle. I wish I could have spent the whole weekend there. I didn’t make it to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on Pier 54, but I understand from my coworkers that the mer-mummy is still there, as is the guy who can write your name on a grain of white rice. And I didn’t make it to Pirates Plunder on Pier 57, my all-time-favorite pirate memorabilia store. Pieces of Eight, anyone?? And somehow I forgot to check out Golden Age Collectibles when I was wandering around the Market. Although I haven’t purchased anything at GAC since I started “simplifying” my SciFi collecting habits several years ago, I love the way the store takes me back a few years and allows me to revel in all that is comic books, Goth, role-playing games, SciFi, and Hollywood. (Eclectic!)

When are we going back???

Monday, March 19, 2007

Meet The Boys!

We've made room in our hearts for two new cats (it wasn't hard, they are quite lovey!). Say hello to Pretty Boy and Old Boy.*

In the words of their previous owner, CrafterKat's friend, "Pretty Boy is 7, he’s the cute but kind of dumb one. He spends his time sleeping, sleeping outside, eating, eating outside, not cleaning himself, and his absolute favorite receiving attention from anyone who will give it to him. He has perfected his head butt move, which he says works every time when trying to convince someone to snuggle with him."

"Old Boy is 9, he is the smart one of the two. His favorite past times include lying in large patches of sunlight, staring at me from across the room, cleaning himself (extensively) and scratching on his cardboard scratch-thingy. He’s not really into the whole Outside scene, but has been known to check it out on occasion. Historically he has had a bit of a ‘problem’ with catnip, but with diligence (and careful hiding of his stash) we’ve been able to moderate his use."

The past two days we have heard some pretty, er, eloquent conversations between The Boys and their new siblings. We're still in the Getting To Know You phase. Old Boy has come out from the guest bed downstairs. He's now under our bed upstairs. Small steps. Pretty Boy is making himself at home and can often be found sitting in the living room window or watching the back patio (see photo above).
*Note: Blog names may change as we discover their personalities.

Friday, March 16, 2007

By any other name would smell as sweet

Critter and I went out for Caesar salads and pie this evening. Over much salad crunching, she filled me in on her school day, the last day of winter term. She commented on how happy she was to not have to take track in PE, which teacher she might have for health, and the book she read for Block. A very simple, fifth-grade level book which she read, in it's entirety, in under 30 minutes. I was not very impressed as I know she can read far more advanced works.

“…it was a picture book like Romeo and Juliet was. And that one was marked really high,” she countered.

I remembered the book. It was an illustrated, slimmed-down version of the classic. The main monologues were there in Shakespeare’s prose but the transition pieces were in modern, school-age English. “Well, that one kept the original bits of Shakespeare in it. And it had a lot of symbolism—“

“—and big words… 'Take thee yonder cow to thy utopiary'...’” She giggled. “I just made that up.”

I grinned. “'…that I were a glove upon that hand…'”

“'…so I can touch that chin'. Yeah, that one.” Critter tried another part of the famous monologue. “And Juliet’s up on her balcony…'through yonder window breaks wind…'”

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same

Seems like nothing and something have happened in the past few weeks. In my mind, I’ve been singing Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On” and grooving out to a bunch of high school favorites.

Three little birds, sat on my window.
And they told me I don't need to worry.
Summer came like cinnamon
So sweet,
Little girls double-dutch on the concrete.

Maybe sometimes, we've got it wrong, but it's alright
The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same
Oh, don't you hesitate.

Girl, put your records on, tell me your favourite song
You go ahead, let your hair down
Sapphire and faded jeans, I hope you get your dreams,
Just go ahead, let your hair down.
The Evil PXE broke down and purchased a Zune, Microsoft’s version of the iPod. He brought in the sleek device with a mammoth color screen and announced it would hold 7500 songs on its 30 GB hard drive. He plopped down a small duffel bag of CDs, plugged in some discarded speakers, and his high school favorites came pouring forth. He spent the rest of the day copying over his Ozzy and hair band CDs. The e-mail conversation below pretty much sums up my feelings:

From: JewelGeek
Sent: Tuesday, March 6
To: CrafterKat
Subject: Zune!

Okay. It’s official. I want one.

From: CrafterKat
Sent: Tuesday, March 6
To: JewelGeek
Subject: Re:Zune!

Gizmo Geek.
Go for it!

That night I went to Costco and picked one up. The next day I was armed with a canvas tote bag of CDs to copy to the Millennium version of the Walkman. The Evil PXE showed up with a new, larger duffel bag. We’d hold up a CD case of Billy Joel or Pet Shop Boys or Tears For Fears and ooh and ahhh. As soon as the Evil PXE put a CD in to copy, it would begin playing the first track. The rest of the day was spent shuffling one- and two-hit wonders around.

By day three, the Evil PXE was down to one large duffel bag. “I’m going to have to use the hand truck to bring it up,” he told me. When I came back from lunch, it was sitting beside my desk. “I stuffed that baby full up. I could actually hear some of the cases cracking from the weight.”

“Did you get a handtruck?”

He shook his head. “Too embarrassed… I just grabbed it and plowed up the stairs. I’ve just now caught my breath.”

I’ve not known anyone with as large a CD collection as his. Apparently he went and found all the CDs of his vinyl favorites when he was in his 20s and has kept on going. Everything from Ace of Base to Billy Squier to Depeche Mode. Oldies from the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner and the Steve Miller Band. One Hit Wonders (well, he’d claim more) from Information Society, Kraftwerk, Talk Talk, and The Cranberries. Plus groups I’d never heard of like Temple of the Dog, Xymox, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Stormtroopers of Death.

By Friday of last week most of the CDs CrafterKat and I own had been copied to our new Zune. I left early that day and drove downtown to get my hair styled at a posh shop in CrafterKat’s building.

My first Zune test.

I scrolled through the Zune screens, found the Pet Shop Boys, and popped in my little ear phones. I walked down the street in beat with the drum machine, drowning out the sounds of the city. It felt like I was 17, walking home from school with my beloved Walkman. I was in so much awe I actually forgot to put money in the parking meter (don’t worry, I did correct this!).

I’ve been looking forward to this appointment for almost a month. CrafterKat has been extremely patient with my hair woes; in short, I’ve not had a haircut I’ve been happy with for well over a year. My hair has a bit of a natural wave on the very ends but otherwise is a straight mess that grows very quickly and often blocks my vision. My bangs get into my eyes and the natural curl that looks so cute coming out of the steamy shower is one long straight heap in a few short hours. It’s too thick or too short to hold behind my ear, and not quite long enough to hold back with clippies. Keep my hair too long and the little waves at the tips fan out over my glasses; too short, the curls disappear and I resemble the oldest Partridge boy.

Scrap Maven and Huggy Girl insisted that I go to The Bob Shop downtown and see Miss T. Ever watch those cooking shows on the Food Channel with the glamorous, trendy chefs who pull together an extravagant, yet comfort-food, meal in under an hour? You feel as if you can easily prepare that same dish when you get home. And in doing so, your life will easily be transformed into something that is equally trendy and extravagant.

Miss T. definitely knows her stuff. She evened out my hair color (I like being a red head) and snipped away all of the split ends. But try as I might explain my hair's natural tendencies, she didn’t quite get the curl/wavey/not wavey bit with my hair. Perhaps she was overly optimistic that the straight-ish hair I entered the salon with was just a one-time abnormality and I would instantly revert back to the wet curls she saw after washing away the hair dyes. She applied gels and specialized dryers to my wet head and informed me, quite pleasantly, that I should come back in eight weeks to re-do my color. I love the color but at over $100 a pop, I’m not sure she’ll see me again quite that often.

Now, before I hurt anyone’s feelings, she did do a marvelous job. I know that haircuts and coloring cost a lot and she is very talented at what she does. But I was looking for a new style, too, and I think I came up short. Or long. I’m not sure. She admitted she took off but one inch from the length--I tend to grow it out that much in about a week (this is only a slight exaggeration). But the cut I have now seems not very different from what I’ve had over the past five years of my life. And the funky wave is still there.

Blue as the sky, sunburnt and lonely,
Sipping tea in the bar by the roadside,
(just relax, just relax)
Don't you let those other boys fool you,
Got to love that afro hair do.
CrafterKat likes the haircut. I like the coloring and am pleased to not look so shaggy. I’m still trying to accept the new (old?) look.

Maybe sometimes, we feel afraid, but it's alright
The more you stay the same, the more they seem to change.
Don't you think it's strange?

Girl, put your records on, tell me your favourite song
You go ahead, let your hair down
Sapphire and faded jeans, I hope you get your dreams,
Just go ahead, let your hair down.
I need to load up the Zune with more of my 80’s music. At least I’ve not got a David Cassidy cut, nor a New Romantic/New Wave Flock of Seagulls hairdo.