Saturday, March 28, 2009

...And LIKE It!

There's a commercial out now that makes steam come out of my ears. Most men would find that alarming in their wives, my DH just reminds me I have a blog for such things. Have I mentioned his brilliance?

Anyway, in this commercial, Mom is using her phone/computer hybrid to get and try out a new recipe. It's reading her step-by-step instructions on how to make paella. Now, I should, in the interest of fairness, mention that paella (pronounced pah-A-yah, long A in the middle) is the fruit of the gods. I have eaten paella in three different countries, and it's my favorite dish. So Mom, all excited, emails her family "Paella for dinner tonight!" Should be happy dancin' all 'round, right?

Wrong. Snarly teenage son gets the text on his phone, and immediately leaves Mom a voice mail, "I don't know what Pah-ella is, but I'm not touching it!" Mom shrugs philosophically, picks up the phone, and orders a pizza.

WTF?!?! Not in MY house! Freakin' brat doesn't like what's put on the table, and he can go hungry. There are starving children in (insert any country here...they all have starving kids, sadly), and you turn up your nose at my cooking? And then expect me to order and pay for another meal for you? I don't THINK so. Especially when you haven't even tried the paella, let alone know what it is.

I grew up in a house with four kids, and parents who were public servants. There were plenty of nights where meat was scarcer than I'd have liked, or soups were made from stock boiled from a chicken carcass, and stretched with macaroni. Chili would get rice added for the second night, and to this day I'm not big on baked beans, it being a cheap protein Mom had to serve often.

In my parent's home, you ate what was on your plate, and you better not gripe. In the economic climate we're in, where so many of our neighbors are struggling, it's a good lesson to be teaching our grateful you HAVE food on your plate.

Unless it's peas. Then I'll revert to childhood, fill my mouth with them, and suddenly need to visit the bathroom. ;-)

Friday, March 27, 2009


I've been really enjoying watching and listening to this and thought you might too. It's a much better camera view than the one on our local nest. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Glass Houses

I'm in a lather today, and not because my legs need shaved. They do, but that's a different story. No, today is a personal matter, so I'm going to share it with all of you. :-)

As many of you know, my father-in-law passed away last May, leaving behind his wife of fifty years. While their daughter lives local to their mother in VA, their sons live in two of the surrounding states, and in Chicago. Not a 'whip around the corner and check on Mom' kinda sitch. So my DH has been very good about calling his mom more frequently, and we've gone down to see her more than we did when my FIL (Father In Law, if you aren't familiar) was alive. It's a bit over an hour through lousy traffic and bad roads to get there, and being self-employed means we have a smidge less time than the 9-5 crowd, but all in all, we're not doing too badly by our lights.

The problem? My SIL (you can work it out, right?). She is partially employed in a church pre-school program, has one kid in high school and one 20 year old who's employed full-time and living at home. She was a huge help in straightening out Dad's estate, the bit that needed done, and on her falls the responsibility for going to doctor appointments with Mom. Not that Mom can't drive perfectly well; she can. But it suits the SIL's chronic martyrdom to schlepp Mom to this stuff, then fill everyone else in while simultaneously telling us how difficult it all is, and by the way, we don't do enough. Every email tells us what we NEED to Mom, visit Mom, send Mom a card.

I have resented this all along on many levels. First, the SIL is now paying back for a LOT of help over the years. She has, by her own admission, never had to hire a babysitter. She's had enough free meals to stock a restaurant. None of her brothers have had these kind of benefits. To my mind, aside from the natural duty one owes good parents...and these are very good people!...she owes considerably more.

Second, these men are all in their late forties/early fifties. I honest to God don't think they need their baby sister to tell them how to have a relationship with their mother. It's neither her place, nor her business. And third, it's counterproductive. No one likes to be nagged!

This has been chaffing my tail for awhile, but for me, it came to head last night. About 10 minutes before I got out of class, the DH posted on Facebook that he was sitting in the car, listening to tunes and waiting for me. She posts back that he "should call his mother; she misses his Wed. night calls."

What? He has called her precisely ONCE on a Wed. He usually avoids that, knowing she's at church on that evening and being unsure when she gets home. She snipes back that Mom is home by 8, same as he called before.

For your smiling, even-tempered Goddess, this is the final straw. But of course, this isn't my sister. My one sister who would act like this, I'd have no compunction about ripping a new one. Not fair of me to cause a rift in a family that I only married into, right? So I posted a comment, saying, "Hey, knock it off! I'm the only one that gets to nag him. :-)" The smile softening it, of course. Ha.

This morning she posts back that it is 'not a nag, just a suggestion.' Really, sweetie? I don't think so. A suggestion happens once. When every email and text and message ends with a 'do this for Mom', it's flippin' nagging. I'm here to tell you.

But you know what? I am VERY good at suggestions. I have a few for SIL. First, get a life. Okay, a little non-specific, but this woman does nothing that isn't circumscribed by church or family. Second, quit babying your children! Her 20 year old daughter who works full-time is still living at home, which a lot of people are in this economy, but to the best of my knowledge she is not paying anything toward her upkeep. And get this...she doesn't DRIVE! Mommy takes her to work and everywhere else she goes. SIL says she wouldn't want her daughter to try driving if she's scared to...even with a free car that Grandma has upgraded from. Of course she's scared; she's spoon fed it, because if she drives, she's out from Mommy's control. Growing up means putting on your big girl panties and dealing with it. Although a pretty young woman, she's never had a boyfriend. Mom and Grandma take pride in the fact that she's not interested in boys (not girls, that's not it); I say it's freakish for a woman her age.

THEN I would suggest she take her 14 year old son to an obesity specialist. The boy has back boobs and waddles, I kid you not. His parents constantly undercut his diet. I've been at a restaurant with them where he tried to substitute a salad for fries on a meal. When the waitress said she could add a salad, but not remove fries from the cost, his dad said to bring 'em anyway, and then both he and his son ate them all. I've seen the kid polish off a whole basket of dinner rolls without one word from his folks.

But let a teacher mention that maybe he's too heavy and needs some help, and Mommy raises holy hell and gets said teacher sanctioned, losing a year of raises. For speaking the truth! He has no friends, and no social life outside church. His uncle the EMT has speculated that the boy will have diabetes soon if he doesn't already, and it will be a miracle if he gets out of his twenties without a heart attack. I suggest that with the rampant hypochondria she and these kids have, maybe she should pay attention to the real issue.

I also suggest that instead of bitching that her husband ignores her, she quit dressing like a frumpy Puritan, try some lipstick and a smile occasionally, and do something to expand her mind. Her only conversation is bragging on her kids and gossiping about church folk. I'd ignore her too. The man works very hard and is a sweetheart; cut him a break.

I suggest too that you use the spa gift card your brothers gave you for all the work you did when Dad was dying. Maybe they have a treatment to pull the pole out of your ass.

See? I told you I was good at suggesting! I feel much better now. :-)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Music to Mine Ears

Wait till you have four and a half minutes in which you want to do something special for yourself, and listen to this. At the risk of being trite, this is deeply meaningful to me, and I think you'll enjoy it too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In Hot Water

I have an old friend from high school. Truth to be told, he had a bit of a crush on me back then - no accounting for taste, is there? - and if I'd had a brain stronger than my hormones, I might have entertained the notion. He's a wonderful, caring person who is raising three sons, the eldest with Downs Syndrome. We re-connected a few years ago, and mostly stay in touch, as many of us do, with jokes we email back and forth, and occasional "What's up with you?" emails.

The catch in this friendship is that we are politically opposites. Now, I don't bring politics up much in this blog. They matter to me a fair bit, but I don't like to defend myself and my beliefs or attack anyone else's. Usually. Mostly because I don't care to indulge in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent, if you get my not-too-subtle drift. I have several friends who are WAY right of center; even my one daughter was indoctrinated that way by her dad. I get along with them because, once I know their politics, I suggest we agree to disagree and just drop it. Life is too short, I'm not out to convert anyone, and they sure as hell won't convert me.

I've also asked not to be forwarded right-wing propaganda pieces. I'm an extremely rational person, I am not moved by propaganda except to get ticked off at the idiots who think everyone out there is dumb enough to swallow it whole. I should say I mean this for ALL propaganda. Distortions hurt everyone. But today, my dear friend sent me this piece of crap...

"Are you fed up with the spending, and planned spending, in Washington?

Do you want to make a statement?

April 15th is tax day in America. So try this one: send 1 tea bag to Washington D.C. from April 1st through April 15th. The idea is to give our elected officials an overwhelming signal, something that they can't ignore. You don't have to say anything at all - just send an envelope with a tea bag in it. Or you can add something like “Remember the Boston Tea Party”.

Please send this to your local representatives and also to:

Nancy Pelosi

Senator Harry Reid

Barack Hussein Obama"

I stripped the attached addresses for space, and because I don't want any of you doing anything so bloody asinine! These people are trying to fix the most devastating economic jam this country has been in in most of our lifetimes, and this is how we're going to repay them? If there was ever a time to drop the partisan bull, I'd have to say this is surely it. People are actively suffering in this country. Even if we don't agree with every plan or piece of legislation to get us out of it, we ought to be hitting our knees every night asking God to grant that it works in spite of our fears. And Raunch Limpballs (thanks, Sara!) should be horsewhipped for hoping otherwise, the drugged-up pig.

I also can't help but notice the cheap campaign tactic you see Speaker Pelosi's middle name? No? How about Sen. Reid's? Uh-uh. Wonder why we see the President's? You don't think they're trying to imply anything, do you?

No, I don't think we should rubber stamp every move; that too would be asinine. But let's try to give them space to make it work, and not find it necessary to tie up their staff in pulling Lipton's and Bigelow's out of envelopes. We're in enough hot water. If we want to make tea, let's do it for comfort, not dissension.

I take mine with Splenda and cream. Thanks for asking.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I Love My Job

But before I get into that...thank you all for your kind words on the loss of Twilight. I still look for him when I get home, but you don't get to be my age without knowing that the sense of loss eases.

One of the blessings of our new studio is that it has long been established as the place to have senior portraits taken. Last year we moved in right as the first mailing should be hitting. Although the previous owner was very helpful in providing marketing templates, everything was done in Adobe InDesign. I use Photoshop to beat the band, but the two programs are more different than similar. So your favorite Office Goddess had to move a studio, learn (partially) a very complex piece of software, familiarize myself with the marketing materials, search out and adjust images to plug into them and have it all done in time to go to the printer. I was NOT amused. But I know you're not surprised to know that I did it, and we had a very successful senior season.

Now it's time to gear up for the class of 2010. The man who puts out the marketing materials we're using is running behind. See the not amused line again. But he did get out the catalog, which is what requires the most work, and it's what I spent about seven straight hours working on today. It would have been less if I were more familiar with InDesign, but since this is my only use for the product, I don't spend a lot of time in it. I got my bearings again, and then really got rolling.

I had a blast. I went back through the images for over 1oo seniors, picking and chosing the ones that would fit the theme, and provide a good balance of race, sex, and builds. No, I don't want everyone to look perfect. That discourages the majority...but I DO want to make them feel that they will look their best when they come to us. We work very hard to make sure that they do; senior pictures are a very lasting impression. Some of the images in the catalog are positioned in such a way that they need a knock-out picture for maximum impact, and I was having trouble deciding on one of them. My difficulty was that I needed a real close-up, but horizontal. Most of the DH's work is vertical unless it has to be otherwise.

So I found this. This was not an image that had been ordered, so it hadn't been retouched yet. She's pretty, but she's not impossibly beautiful. The image has potential.

I cropped in tightly, and cleaned up her few blemishes. Her skin texture was a bit uneven, and her lovely eyes needed to be brought out. Ordinarily this would have been most of what I would do. But remember, I said the image I used had to have real impact because of its positioning. I decided to go a bit further....

And this is the result. Nothing that makes her look unlike 'glamour shots' effect where her own mother wouldn't know her. More like she had a really good night's sleep, maybe a facial, and visit to a makeup counter. I'm really pleased with it. The catalog is all set, and tomorrow I'll open it up and look at it with less blurred eyes.

Bet I will still like this, though!