Friday, November 27, 2009

Understood Betsy

Oh. My. God. I was looking online for a copy of a book I loved as a girl called Understood Betsy, about a meek little girl living with an elderly aunt who gets sent to Vermont during an influenza outbreak, to live with some hardy farmer-type relatives not that well-known or well-spoken of by her aunt. And while there, of course, Betsy learns a lot about the world and herself and becomes brave and strong. It is one of the most awesome books ever (it's about an orphan, so, like, duhhh). And instead of finding a copy for sale -- well, I found that too, but -- it's available for free online at Google Books!

So that's what I'm doing tonight while Rob is out drinking. Please don't bother me.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I don't "get" Thanksgiving.

I'm not a fan of Thanksgiving. I have come to understand this in recent years. Part of it is that I'm not really a fan of turkey, unless it's the turkey pastrami at the deli or that peppered turkey at King Soopers, and so it's difficult to work up enthusiasm for any meal that centers around a giant turkey. But I'm also a bit confused by the things other people express as being their favorite elements of the holiday -- time spent with family and friends; an opportunity to give thanks for all our blessings; yada yada yada.

First of all, I spend plenty of time with family and friends throughout the year. I adore my family and friends, and go out of my way often to be in close proximity to them. This is a priority for me in my life. So I get a bit snide inside when I hear people yammering on about how this is the one day of the year on which they get to "set aside issues" and spend time with their loved ones. I find this so disturbing. I mean, wow, I'm sorry your family sucks so badly that you can't stand to be near them any other time of the year. I guess I can cut some slack to those who don't live near their loved ones and so Thanksgiving becomes the one time of year you actually get to see them. If you don't get to be with your family, there's of course your friends to fall back on. But it's become more and more apparent to me in recent years that people my age (I'm a whopping 39-almost-40) don't make time for their friends any more. Which I think is sad, weird, and fucked up. And because they don't make time for their friends, they don't really have any friends to fall back on for a Thanksgiving celebration. And thus comes this pressure to find people to celebrate Thanksgiving with, because no one should be alone or in a tiny group for Thanksgiving.

Honestly? Thanksgiving makes me feel the same sort of pressure that bitter singles must feel on Valentine's Day (another useless excuse for a holiday... but that's a whole other story). It makes me feel like I'm weird if I don't profess to get excited about turkey, and it makes me feel even weirder that I wasn't all that disappointed yesterday upon realizing I have kind of a nasty cold and thus wouldn't be able to attend the family Thanksgiving gathering up in the mountains, because there is a newborn infant involved and I don't want to be getting any infants sick. I wasn't all that disappointed, and you know what? I kind of suspect my husband wasn't all that disappointed either. Except about the part where he might miss a really big and tasty meal. He does enjoy turkey. And stuffing. And all that stuff. Except mashed potatoes. He is oddly not a potato fan, which I think is bizarre. What kind of person doesn't love potatoes? Especially when they're mashed with butter and cream and spiced with a bit of rosemary and garlic. (That's a Thanksgiving dinner I could get excited about: a giant plate of mashed potatoes, and not much else.)

Part of it is surely my Canadian heritage. Canada didn't even have a national holiday of Thanksgiving until 1957, so my parents didn't really grow up celebrating Thanksgiving, and even if they did celebrate, it wasn't the huge deal it is now. In Canada, Thanksgiving takes place on a Monday, and no one I know actually even celebrates it on that Monday -- they all have their big meal on the Sunday. Because they have to go to work on Tuesday. No one gets dressed up; my aunt sets up tables in her garage to feed the huge crowd she gets, which is kind of awesome. For her, it seems like an excuse to finally try all the Thanksgiving recipes she's read about in her Martha Stewart magazines for years.

But I digress.

When we moved to the United States, my family no longer had family nearby. So friends became our family, and it was always with close friends that we celebrated Thanksgiving. Almost always at someone else's house. I can count on one hand the times we actually had Thanksgiving dinner at our own house. When we lived in Utah, we always went over to the Butwell's house. After moving to Colorado, we had Thanksgiving with the Leahy's. My mom reserved her meal-planning energies for Christmas and contributed a few side dishes. As a result, I think, the sides became my favorite parts of the meal... but again, not a turkey fan. But the main thing for me was always that whole day to spend with my friends. My family was there, in the same house, but the kids would always be off doing our thing in the basement rec room.

And then we all grew up, and that way of celebrating was over, and it seemed like it became this struggle every year to find something to do for Thanksgiving. In recent years, we've been going up to Granby, CO to celebrate at the home of my brother-in-law's parents, and that's been really nice. But for me, it's just another day with family -- awesome family that I love, sure, but it's nothing we don't get to do on a pretty regular basis. So it's not like I can single out Thanksgiving as being something uber-special and different, not like other days of the year.

I have to confess, one of my more favorite Thanksgivings ever was last year, when it was just The Pook, Rob and me, in our car, driving to Florida. The drive itself was so long and kind of shitty because I was exhausted, since we drove straight through. But the company was the best. We stopped somewhere in Tennessee for dinner at a Cracker Barrel, the only restaurant open on Thanksgiving Day in that part of the country. I was amused by how packed it was. Those were my kind of people, just saying "Screw all the bullshit -- I just want to be with my family and/or friends, I don't feel like cooking, and maybe I won't get the turkey! Maybe I'll get chicken and dumplings, because it's Thursday at the Cracker Barrel!" And even though we were doing something that carries with it a lot of risk -- driving on our nation's highways -- I felt really safe because Rob and The Pook were right there in the car with me. And there's really nothing in the world that makes me feel good the way a road trip with Rob and The Pook does. A road trip with Rob is great, but a road trip with Rob AND The Pook is priceless and awesome.

It looks as though this year we'll be at the Cracker Barrel again, although it will just be Rob and I, as Pook is at his Dad's house. And I don't mind that. And I'm not going to profess to love turkey because I don't. And I'm not going to update my status on Facebook with any messages about how thankful I am for my friends and family, because I show enough gratitude to all of them all year long. And I'm not even going to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. I'm just going to sit here and watch the Macy's parade and make the occasional snarky comment about it on twitter.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Here's something I can't stand...

I can't stand it when people call my office and try to tell me how to do my job. I mean, I'm not gonna sit there and tell the guy at the car fix it shop how to fix my radiator, or how to do an oil change. I'm not gonna tell the bank teller how to enter my deposit. I wouldn't purport to know more about playing the guitar than The Edge or Eric Clapton. So why, oh why, do people think they can call an insurance office and tell me how to issue a certificate, or what form to use for an evidence of property, or without having ever seen the actual policy, tell me they have an insurable interest in someone's coverage?

Usually it's the mortgage lenders who are the worst offenders, or the loan closers. But occasionally, you'll get a caller who knows someone who knows someone who works in insurance, and that insurance "professional" has taken it upon themselves to advise this caller about a policy they've never seen and know nothing about. And then the caller calls me and tries to tell me what this other insurance "professional" has told them. And then it gets ugly, as it must, because none of what they've been told is based in reality.

Personally, my standards about my work are high enough that I would never advise a non-client about a coverage-related matter. I would never tell someone they had coverage or were entitled to coverage without intimate knowledge of their policy, or tell someone to call an insurance office and demand certain coverage before I knew the full story... that story being, who's the policy written with? Is this applicable to what the Insured does? Will the insurance company allow it? Ethically, it's inappropriate. In the state of Colorado, it's questionable as to whether or not it's even legal. Just because you have an insurance license doesn't mean you have carte blanche to advise everyone on the planet about insurance matters. It's ridiculous to make the leaps of logic it would take to think I'm doing the right thing by advising someone about insurance I don't even write, and haven't been asked to write.

All right... insurance rant done.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Diet Pepsi. Christmas lights. Warm brownies. The Pook. Robbie Roo. Books. HD. Canada Dry. Vaccines. Having a job. And health insurance. Stuffed animals. Chubby cheeked babies. Denver Broncos. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Scrapbooking paper. My camera. Geeks Who Drink. Zantac. U2. Puppies. Fine point pens. Mom and Dad. Chicken. Sunflower Market. Rolling Stone Magazine. Masterpiece Theatre. The Tattered Cover. President Obama. Sisters. Brothers-in-law. Princess and Burrito Boy. Glee. Soy Delicious ice creams. Le Creuset cookware. Comics. Black picture frames. Ford Focus. Pita chips. Friends. Words. Van Morrison. Red. Figure skating. Italy. Honeycrisp apples. Santa. Harry Potter. Outlander. Bad television advertising. Romantic comedies. Cake. Hockey. Canada. Family.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weird Phase and Some Thoughts on Twilight

I wonder why they didn't let Miranda Lambert use her gun for the new Cotton ad. I wonder if it was difficult for her to part with her guns for the length of time required to film the ad. I wonder why these things plague me the way they do.

I'm going through a weird phase this past week where I want nothing more than to sit down at my kitchen table and scrapbook, and at the same time I want to be working on my novel, and at the same time as that I want to be online shopping for Christmas gifts so I never have to go inside a mall again or join that holiday season line at the local Best Buy. And at the same time as all that I want the house to be clean and the laundry to be finished and the supper to taste delicious. And at the same time as that, I want to read the three books I've got lined up. And so because of all the thought processes involved in all that, I have no energy to actually do any of it. And I just sit in the chair and watch mediocre television and fuck around on Facebook.

My sensibilities are so offended by the trailers for the new Twilight movie. I love how Kristen Stewart was recently quoted as saying she doesn't want to be a celebrity, she wants to be an actress, but then she's signed up to do these Twilight movies, which require only that she can make that slightly tortured-looking face and occasionally scream. I get why teenage girls are into Twilight, I really do -- I'm sure it seems really romantic when you're, like, 15 and have no world view whatsoever. But I still cringe every time I hear another one of my grown up woman friends saying she loves Twilight. Part of it is that I feel a bit of "been there, done that" attitude over the whole vampire thing -- back in my day, we had Interview With the Vampire and that hottie Lestat. And the other part of it is that the Twilight books are some of the shittiest writing I've ever seen. Seriously. I can't decide who's cheesier -- Stephenie Meyer, or Judith McNaught -- she of Paradise and Perfect fame. It might be a toss up.

Plus I kind of wish Stephenie Meyer would spell her name correctly, because no one's fooled by that extra "e" -- we all know she was called Stephanie by her parents in a decade where 1 in 3 baby girls were called either Stephanie or Jennifer.

Also I was totally craving peppermint flavour salt water taffy over the weekend, but when I got to Sunflower to buy some, they had cinnamon in its place, mislabeled as peppermint. So I bought some Christmas Nougat at King Soopers in the hopes they'd be a worthy substitute, but it turns out the Christmas Nougat is too strongly pepperminty. So now, because I didn't get my proper taffy, I can't stop thinking about it. I might have even dreamed about it last night, but I can't confirm or deny.

We have our air conditioner on because our crazy ass neighbors apparently have their heat cranked up to 11.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Ahh, well, so much for that.

I knew I wouldn't be able to blog every day, even if it was just for one month. I am impressed by those who can do it. I don't have that much to say.

We're sitting here watching Frost/Nixon for the second time. What an excellent movie. I do enjoy power house performances by fine actors -- in this case, Frank Langella. We originally saw this at 2009's Best Picture Fest last February, and it was the last movie of the day and didn't begin until around 10pm. So it's kind of nice to see it again and pick up all the subtlety we missed.

Still having a problem with pantry moths. I thought I found the source, and I put away everything I thought they might have infested, but two more moths showed up tonight. I read on the internet that they love to get behind the fridge and make their nests back there. Uch. I don't know how we're going to fix that.

I also watched Apollo 13 for the 9 millionth time tonight. It's so unbelievable how good that movie is. It has the same ending every single time, but it's still gripping and tense.

I went to a crop last night and got a bunch of pages done and now I'm all antsy to keep going. But I need to get some photos printed, and I need to order some new albums.

I'm looking forward to the holidays. I'm hoping we can do some fun things... anything that involves looking at lights!

I've been really bitter about all the lying and bullshit surrounding the health care bill. I'm glad it passed the House. It'll be an uphill battle to pass it in the Senate, but here's hoping. We need good things to happen.

Friday, November 06, 2009

My New Nephew

Here are some photos of our new nephew, Owen Matthew. He was born on October 26, weighed in at 7 pounds, 13 ounces, and was 20 inches tall. He is a little fair-haired cutie pie.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

It's already too complicated.

Three days in and I'm already at a loss for words.

I ate a bunch of Milk Duds tonight and they didn't hurt my stomach. But it was after I'd had a filling dinner, and I was at home and comfortable. I suspect my stomach only likes to punish me when I'm on vacation or at work, where I can't do what it takes to make it feel better. Which is basically to curl up in the fetal position and pass out.

I've signed up for a couple of Christmas-related online scrapbooking classes. They're supposed to help me focus on journaling about the season. I need to come up with fun stuff for us to do as a family leading up to Christmas, though. I've been kind of down during the holiday season the last couple of years because we were broke and couldn't afford to go to Zoo Lights and stuff, and so the season was sort of empty for me. Here's hoping we find ways to change that this year.

Ooh -- I finally found some accurately-sized clothes for The Pook, at Old Navy. So that was very exciting. He's tall, but not big, so most of the size 8s have been too short and too tight around the waist. But the Old Navy pants are sized pretty perfectly. Here's hoping they don't shrink.

Work has chilled. Someone who I back up was out for three weeks on a family emergency, and now she's back, and my life is so much better!

I'm not positive, but it looks like David Letterman is wearing purple-rimmed glasses. They make him look weirdly like Dominick Dunne.

Hmmm... late night talk show hosts don't seem to be in agreement as to who won the New Jersey gubernatorial election. That's odd.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Stuff I Hate That Everyone Else Seems to Love

Mad Men. So let me get this straight... it's a show about advertising execs in the 1960s and how crass they were to nearly everyone. Basically it's The Sopranos with fewer dead bodies and less foul language.

Twilight. Oh, don't get me started, because I know if I do get started, I will offend like 48 of my friends, and I already offended enough people when I said only boring people were obsessed with Michael Jackson back in the 1980s. So I'm just going to let it go at "I think Twilight sucks." And then someone told me there's Robert Pattison underwear you can buy. Why is that necessary in life? Are they Underoos? Are they in any way ironic? Or are they just disturbing? Thought so.

Dressing in costume for Halloween. Rob and I are not curmudgeons, but when it comes to dressing in costume, we are curmudgeonly. Personally, I haven't enjoyed dressing in costume since I was around 6 and my mother painted my face green for my witch costume and the makeup made me itch so badly I wanted to tear my face off. Also, the costume itself itched. That was back in the days when all the costumes were made of flammable plastics. Really comfy. If I could find a comfy costume made primarily of cotton, I think I'd be all set. That's why I don't mind dressing up for the Ren Fest -- my costume is cotton. 100% cotton. But also, I guess I just don't have the competitive drive required to pull off a good costume. It seems like you have to want your costume to be the very best one, and I know for a fact that no costume I ever wear will ever be the very best one.

Sting. Occasionally, Sting has a decent song, but more occasionally, Sting has a boring song. True story: I was in a restroom at a restaurant recently where they were playing canned music -- someplace between Muzak and Adult Contemporary -- and this one Sting song came on and I actually thought it was a Muzak version until he started to sing. That's Sting in a nutshell for me. Also, I listened to his new Christmas album, thinking it might be good because it has all these Old English songs and hymns on it, and it is the most dour, depressing thing I've heard in a long time. Horrible.

Rock Band and similar video games.
Sadly, I seem to know way too many people who seem to be laboring under the delusion that playing these games is in any way equivalent to actually playing a musical instrument.

Karaoke. I used to like karaoke, back when my sorority sisters would haul me out to a bar, buy me 6 shots, and sign me up to sing all their favorite hits of the 1970s. I was so drunk, I believed I sounded awesome, and they all egged me on, and it was easy not to pay attention to any of the people singing when it wasn't my turn. Nowadays, karaoke nights are so crowded with all the people ever told "Hell no!" when asked if they should ever sing in public, that you're obligated to sit through 100 horrible singers before you even get your turn, and there isn't enough alcohol in the world to make it remotely palatable. What's even worse is when one your friends gets up to sing and is just terrible, and you feel obligated to cheer them on, but feel horrible about encouraging someone that terrible at singing. I am a firm believer that not everyone should be given an opportunity to sing -- not at church, not in school, not on television, and certainly not at my favorite bar.

Dooce. I don't think she's that funny, and I don't think she's so good at parenting that I would ever turn there for support from the Mommy Blogosphere, and in fact, she's often so bitter and judgmental that she's more off-putting than anything else. I don't get what people adore and swoon over. Other bloggers that I love are always going on about how wonderful Dooce is, when they are in fact better -- better writers, better comedians, just... better. I wish people would stop. You don't HAVE to like Dooce. I'll like you more if you don't.

Crime procedural dramas on television. CSI This, CSI That, Law and Order This, Law and Order That. All plots ripped from headlines, making them all that much more realistic. I don't want my television realistic. I want it ridiculous, like Ugly Betty, Glee, and Heroes, or entirely implausible, like Chuck and Lost. Medical dramas run a close second.

Beach vacations. There's something to be said for laying around doing nothing for a week, but personally I'd prefer to do it in the privacy of my own home, with cable television and plenty of books around. I don't get even remotely jealous when someone in the office is heading off on a beach vacation. More power to them. I'll get jealous when someone's heading off to Disney World or Europe or road tripping the east coast.

Nickelback. Holy crap, what a horrible band. They give Canada such a bad name. So boring, and every single song sounds like the last one, which wasn't very good to begin with. And don't get me started on the lead singer's hair.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Hello, and Welcome to November!

So apparently in November, there's this thing where you're supposed to blog every single day? It's got a weird name in which the first two letters of each word in the name of the thing become the actual name everyone refers to the thing as (for example, SoHo which means "South of Houston St." or LoDo which means "Lower Downtown")... but the name is, sadly, escaping me right now. Anyway, my point was that I thought I'd give it a try. Even though I've already missed a day, so I guess I'll blog on December 1 to make up for that.

We all know how well I do with blogging on even a semi-regular basis, so I'm not sure what makes me think I can actually update every single day. But I'm sure I can think of ways to offend all 8 of my readers between now and December 1.

This can't end well.

Edit: It's National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo for the weirdly lazy.