Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Luscious fruits

All of my gardening efforts, including those which don't remotely relate to vegetables, are tied directly to my ongoing obsession with The First Tomato of the Season (aka Big Garden Moment of the Year).

No matter what I'm doing; ripping out the dregs of pumpkin vines, turning in compost, scooping poop from the sidewalk patch, rudely pruning everything, sowing seeds, etc - all the while I'm thinking, "Tomatoes soon. When will the tomatoes be ready? How long until tomatoes? Do you see any tomatoes? Are the plants sprouting? Was that an aphid?! BUBBA! Bring my soapy water sprayer! There is an aphid near the tomato bed! AAAAAAACH! Yes. I know it's January and there aren't any tomato plants. HURRY!"

The line between hobby and paralyzing obsession is pretty fine around here. Good thing the first tomato of the season has arrived so I can stop freaking out for a minute.

I have been hopping around poking the tomato hedge waiting for one of those millions of green tomatoes to get off its lazy ass and ripen already. To my surprise (and radiant validation), poking and staring at tomatoes appears to ripen them - eventually.

I mean, last week I had a hedge full of green tomatoes and a very angry pointing finger and now I have a hedge full of red tomatoes and a weakened finger on restraining order. Proof positive that Crazy can be a useful gardening tool.

Anyway - the tomatoes have arrived and life is now great and I also have a very big pumpkin growing in what was the cantaloupe and strawberry bed.

You can get an idea of its Big by seeing how little that tomato looks perched on top there. Allegedly these Big Max pumpkins can get to 100 lbs or more. And had I not believed it before, I might now, since I'm sure this thing is getting close to 35 lbs right now and it's only July.

Bubba is going to build it a cart so that I can pull it up and down the street and taunt the pantsless neighborhood kids with its monstrous awesomeness. At first, when the plant was growing at breakneck pace and putting out new fruits on an hourly basis, there was a brief and passing moment when I imagined inviting over the same mongrel children to tippy toe through the pumpkin patch in late October and choose their very own pumpkin because wouldn't that be so cute and nice of me.

But, I think you know that that moment passed. Since now the mighty large pumpkin you see here has sucked the life out of the entire plant and rendered all those little forming pumpkins useless and raisin-y AND because I don't practice the activity of inviting children into my living space.

It would also seem that my tomato Crazy consumes so much energy that my brain is rendered useless and unable to keep straight certain uncompromisable facts like my inability to cope with children.

For those of you within driving distance: any anonymous bags of tomatoes that show up on your desk/doorstep are not from me, I don't know what you're referring to and I'll ask you to stay out of my personal affairs.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Big times

I do have some garden stuff to report on, but ironically the Big Garden Moment of the Year is currently being overshadowed by my unexpected excitement over a skirt I made about two months ago.

Basically I banged on about this skirt and how the zipper went in just right (ie. not all fucked up and disjointed like they normally do) and how perfect it all looked minus the wrong side out lining hem that I never mentioned because I didn't want to detract from its perfection before I went ahead and stowed it in my dresser and didn't look at it again until yesterday.

Ah yesterday, day before a nice little vacay from the office. Before I head out on a little beach jaunt with Bubba so that we can drink and be a three year long married couple back where it all started and won't it be so nice.

Except that I have one more day of work and, suddenly, nothing at all to wear.

Not sure how a three day week can be harder to manage wardrobe-wise than a five day week, but that is how it usually works out in my nutty scene. Somehow I manage to get by week after five day week fully clothed and not stressed out (ok, somewhat stressed out - nothing is stress free for me when it comes to standing in front of my closet) and able to put together perfectly acceptable outfits every single day, while looking forward to my upcoming short weeks when I won't have to agonize over *which* day will get to be White Pants Day (love my white pants a lot) and where should I slot Jeans Day so that I don't look like the slacker in the office that wears jeans every day and what about a skirt on Monday and then maybe those long shorts on the day that I'm not bringing Jada so that I can wear my cute heels that don't go to the dog park with the shorts so my legs look long...

See? Stress.

But still, I look forward to my short weeks because I have this unprecedented notion that I will be able to so easily put together an outfit that I will virtually fly from shower to closet to makeup to car without a moment of hesitation. And, for sure, I'll wear my white pants because they are The Best.


This is never how it works out. This was the long awaited, easy to dress myself, three day week and I stood in front of my closet yesterday for at least fifteen minutes trying on all manner of outfits (even a pair of my wool pants that are too hot during winter months) before I heard the shower door open alerting me to the fact that Bubba was out of the shower and I was about to get the "You're still not dressed? How many outfits have you tried on? And is it one of Those Days?" looks when he comes into the bedroom in his towel hoping for a few minutes and space in front of the closet to get dressed.

Every day I try to be dressed and out of the way by the time I hear the shower door open, and most days I just plain fail. Then I gracefully parlay into a meltdown known to every woman as "I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO WEAR!"

So, yesterday, as the sweat beads were beginning to form on the back of my neck (is that normal?) I darted away from the closet in an effort to stage the appearance of normalcy for Bubba's entrance and randomly opened the dresser not expecting to find anything acceptable in the piles of mostly winter-type clothes.

But the skirts! I forgot (read: had stopped thinking clearly during the early stages of my meltdown) about all my skirts!

Of course this tips off a whole new wardrobe scenario that I won't bore you with but goes something like; Hmmm...how about this one? No, too casual. This one? No, I already wore a black skirt this week. This one? Eh, I'd have to iron it. This one? No, Kristie has the same one and what if she wears it today?! This one? No, only my long sleeve top goes with that one and its too hot....you know. (See? Boring.)

Anyway, at the bottom of this pile of otherwise unacceptable skirts was, TA DA!, the Barcelona Skirt of yore.

"Huh", I thought to myself, "perhaps today is the day I wear clothes I made myself. To work. Where my sewing skills may betray me at any moment and potentially expose my ass to my co-workers due to a seam I didn't close properly or a zipper that I forgot to install because my cocktail had managed to cover that part of the pattern."

Yes, folks, my Big Time yesterday was Wearing Clothes I Sewed Myself to Work.

What, this is not Big Time for you fancy people who make all their own clothes and never have a bathing suit area body part pop out of a faulty seam?

Well then, you're very fancy then and can fuck off.

Meanwhile, I had a very empowering day of wondering whether my ass was jiggling freely about behind me for all the corporate world to see while I got a healthy handful of compliments on my "Cute new skirt! Where did you get it?"

I discovered a whole new joy that comes with saying, "Actually, I sewed it myself." And then a WHOLE OTHER new joy that comes when people go, "NO! Really!? That is so awesome! And it is SO cute!" And then the annoying part when they go either, "Can you make ME one?" or "You should sell them!". To which the answer is either, "No" or, "That's illegal." thus taking some of the shine off my recent I Sew My Own Cute Clothes empowerment from the moment before.

Why do people try to ruin everything?

Anyway, big day yesterday. I finally wore something that I made myself to a public setting where I was going to have to wear it all day even if it started falling apart because I was at work and leaving half hour after you arrive with your whole ass hanging out is frowned upon. When nothing bad happened and then some people said nice things I started to think I could take over the world. Or at least I could be trusted to maybe make some more skirts.

Oh, and this top.

And since yesterday was the last day of my three day week before Vacay with Bubba, that must mean that today is my Free Day to Fuck Around and I must be off to rid the shelves at my favorite fabric store of all their clearance Amy Butler remnants which are on sale for just this week.

Bye bye.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Slowly becoming infertile

I will just never get used to the pantsless screaming coming from across my street.

At this very moment my neighbor's two boys are chasing each other, pantsless with a broom, while one wears an earflap hat (this is July here) and the other screams at the TOP of his lungs.



Mom prunes the tree and enthusiastically ignores the whole thing before suddenly commandeering the broom to sweep the sidewalk.

This scenario then repeats itself with the exception of the Item of Great Desire, which becomes the earflap hat. They both want to wear a wool hat with earflaps while its nearly 90 degrees outside.

I'm contemplating tossing a dead squirrel across the street to see if they'll fight over that for a while. At least it would entertain the dog.

This goes on all the live long day. And night for that matter.

Continual screaming and no pants wearing while Mom and Dad saunter across the street to lecture us about the care of our street tree and ask us why we haven't had kids yet and OH MY GOSH when are you going to have kids.


I have to assume that they are masters of ironic humor and can't possibly be serious. I mean, they have to raise their voices over the incessant squealing of their own two angelic offspring just to pose the question.

The only other option is that they are looking for someone to create an Item of Great Desire for their boys to fight over away from their own house. And perhaps two other people who can watch them do it (read: sweep the street and ignore them completely) while they sit out back drinking iced tea, cackling at their collective evil genius.

"We suckered another one, Pa."

"That's right, dear. We are the masters of off-loading our banshee spawn."

*Together* "Muhuhuhahahahaaa!"

I'm wise to their game, damn it, and will not be swayed.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I often find myself jumping back and forth over the line between "Don't be a puss - forge ahead" and "Call it a loss - start drinking".

Basically any time I am faced with a situation without an obvious (read: easy) answer.

Example: EASY

Its Friday night. Its about 7pm. Bubba and I are hungry. Do we:

A. Fumfer around in the fridge for the last item of fur-free food
B. Order pizza

Answer: B

Example: HARD

Its Saturday morning. Its about 7am. I am ready to go for an eight mile run. As I prepare to step off the patio, I turn on my iPod. Or rather, I look down in disbelief when the screen freezes on song 1 and no noise comes out of the earbuds.

No go.

I press all the buttons a lot of times and in varying sequences. Nothing.

Big Head Todd is on the screen, but no sound is coming out and the progress bar is unmoving. I start to scream inside.

I slide the Hold button back and forth and press the buttons some more. Same - nothing. I say the requisite amount of swears.

I start to spin around squeezing the thing with all my might while swearing, kicking the air, jumping up and down and lightly begging the universe to reach into this machine and make it work.

ARGH! Nothing! Big Head Todd mocks me. There will be no Come On.

Then reality starts to set in - I might have to run WITHOUT MUSIC.

NO. *sweating*

I run back in the house and begin to shamelessly whine to Bubba about what a POS my Nano is (the very same one he gave me for our anniversary last year) and how could it break at a time like this and what am I going to do and oh my god it sucks so bad and I HATE EVERYTHING.

Bubba then takes the iPod from me and promises to fix it and why don't I just take my other iPod while he sits down with this one and gives it a very serious lecture about pissing me off.

Oh. Ok.


I decide to take my other iPod even though its not as dainty and small as my Nano and I stomp off to find it and shove it into the little mesh hip pocket that now protrudes enormously making my hips all the more curvaceously hideous.


I finally leave the patio with music playing in my head rather than the rant against Apple that had begun to brew moments before. I also realize that I am a very special kind of spoiled brat that has more than one iPod and yet can still complain with 100% enthusiasm.

Four minutes later a dog bites me.

Yes. A dog the size of an ugly shoebox leaps (unleashed, might I add) from the side of its negligent owner to run beside me yipping its stupid small head off while owner yells pointlessly after it, "Marci! Marci! Marci!" to which the dog responds by grabbing my pant leg and nipping my calf.

I do not kick the dog. I just keep going and resist the urge to flip off the owner who is now not scolding the dog, but instead cooing and reassuring it as though I was the one who jumped off the sidewalk and bit its leg.

That woman may be the recipient of future Thursday morning dog walks when Jada and I have made the rounds and I now have her *luggage* to drop off. Normally, I would wait until we passed the bus stop trash can and not take advantage of a personal curbside can, but I may make an exception where this woman's can is concerned.

About 15 minutes later, that'd be about 20 minutes into my 80 minute run, my iPod freezes.

NO! This can't be happening! No sound is coming out! Evil Deja vu!

I begin to run and panic - two activities that should never be combined because the result is a frantic mess that resembles a mutant fleeing the scene of a crime.

After consulting the iPod screen and seeing an exact replica of the nightmare vision seen only minutes before - a song frozen midstream and totally unresponsive to repeated fist slammings - I rip the earbuds free, wind them angrily around the thingee and stuff the whole giant mess back into my now totally overstuffed and unflattering hip pocket.

I surge the next quarter mile of my run on pure molten rage.

The "Apple Can Rot in Hell" firestorm begins to swirl again and I reaffirm my devotion to my ThinkPad and all things PC-related.

Fuck Apple and their stupid iPods - I don't need them!

I have now broken two iPods, been bitten by a dog and am facing a good 60 minutes of running with only the mind-numbing harmony of my own labored breathing to keep me occupied.

Do I:

A. Spike my iPod in traffic, turn around and walk home in a huff.
B. Forget that my right hip is now swollen with useless electronics and muscle out another 60 minutes to the tune of rude "Woo-wooing" passersby and morning traffic.

Surprisingly (since I'd made a practice of being as bratty as possible all morning) I decided to man it out.

Tiny voices saying things like, "Running without headphones is good - you should try it" and "Bubba can fix anything even stupid iPods" chimed in and I managed to get through the run without flipping out and lunging headfirst into traffic.

I won't go as far as to say that I enjoyed running for 60 long minutes without the fabulous playlist that Bubba built for me, but it didn't suck nearly as bad as I imagined it would. Mostly because the dull roar of traffic is slightly louder than me when I breathe, so I didn't have to try to ignore my annoying breathing patterns the whole time.

I don't know why this bugs me, but it does. Listening to other people breathe bugs me, too. Especially if they have a nose whistle. Trying to deal with these situations takes years off my life. Seriously.

I did, however, come across a neighborhood vegetable garden the size of two football fields when I randomly swerved away from my normal path. This had nothing to do with my iPod death match, but it was a nice surprise and allowed me to momentarily forget the disaster my long run had become.

If only every time I forged ahead I was rewarded in such a way. Perhaps I'd spend less time at BevMo wiping out their aisle of gin.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A real glow

I woke up this morning with butterflies in my stomach and, I'm certain, a light rosy glow on my cheeks. I believe I even smiled while I was brushing my teeth, which would explain why I was seen walking the dog with that telltale stain on my shirt.

I have a glow.

A real glow.

I just got the sweetest waders.

Waders. Like the tall rubber looking pants with suspenders that you wear when you want to stand in the middle of a river when there's no shore or you're trying to fish for fish rather than the bushes behind you. (I can catch ANY bush in Northern California. That is how good I am.)

Oh yes, people, I am basking in Post-Extravagant Purchase Glow.

Don't tell me you thought I meant that other glow. Because that would be ridiculous. Simms doesn't make maternity waders.

Tip: For you women who feel you're not getting the proper amount of attention at the usual shopping holes, go to a fly fishing shop and tell them you want to try on waders. And then prepare yourself for the most ravishing level of attention received outside of a Maserati dealership.

I sauntered into the fly shop yesterday wearing my finest ratty post-work attire. Nothing says "Fit me for some waders" like a wife beater, dirty flip flops and rolled up cargo pants. HOT. It took approximately 6.2 seconds for their most boisterous and strapping lad to come bounding over to the waders section to ask me what I was looking for in that "what does your husband want for his birthday" kind of way.

I can say right now that there are only a few times I've seen a man's face light up like this kid's did when I said, "Oh, I think the time has come for me to finally get some waders."



When I mentioned I would also need boots...and some dry flies - caddis mostly...oh, and a couple packs of leaders, he happily called over the other two dudes working in the store to help. Before long I had all the attention and expertise I could possibly ask for and was getting talked into only the finest in women's fly fishing gear.

Seriously, have never heard a man speak at such length and with such endless enthusiasm about women's attire. Granted, it's sports attire, but still. The excitement was palpable. And contagious - I went from shopping for basic waders to making grabby hands at the Top of the Line waders like they were the big lollipop in the candy store.


It was bound to happen. There I was, only the fourth woman this year to come into their store (they told me so) not shopping for my male counterpart and I wanted to talk Gore-tex, felt vs rubber soles and stockingfeet. There was no way I was getting out of there without some sweet, made just for women, gear. Because these are dudes in a fly shop who typically only sell to other dudes and from what I'm told, its not nearly as interesting as selling to a woman with clean hair and without a potbelly or size 14 feet.

Plus, nothing gets my credit card hopping like being told that I'm small, my feet are small, everything they normally carry is way too big for my small lady frame and that I'm a fabulously tiny and interesting outcast of a creature in their big smelly dude fishing land.

YOU just try to say no to the man when he opens the catalogue to check sizing and has to scroll all the way to the top of the well-worn measurement table to the part that has never been touched by man to find your teensy girl size and then hear him say,

"Whew! I thought we might not have a size small enough - but it looks like this one here at the tippy top should be just right."

I won't lie, it was great.

Because in normal shopping land I'm your run-of-the-mill not big, not small chick who really wishes she was confidently pulling size 2 shorts from the front of the rack instead of hunting for the last 8 in the middle of the rack and hoping she didn't eat too much for lunch.

And so, I prefer to think that I allowed myself to be wooed into high-end fishing gear because I really wanted it anyway and would have chosen it even if I weren't being courted through the shop like it was prom night, so I'd appreciate it if you just agreed and stopped looking at me like that.

Sadly, the only drawback to being just the fourth woman to appear in an otherwise all-dudes fly shop is that the stuff you now want so badly (because it will be only the best for me, Tiny Fly Fisherchick) isn't regularly stocked and has to be ordered. Which takes time and patience, two things I keep putting on my wish list but never end up in the stocking.


Delayed fishing gratification. You think I'd be getting used to all the waiting since, for me anyway, fishing is the embodiment of delayed gratification. I say I'm "practicing my cast" but mostly I'm just waiting for the fish to give up and take my fly.

Perhaps in my new hot special small lady digs my flies will somehow become irresistible to the fish and I'll be able to go back to the fly shop with some good stories.

Imagine the kind of service I'd get then!

I better bring Bubba to hold my credit card lest I get talked into buying a boat or something.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Institches: July

So, like I was saying, I am here to present you with the unmeltingest Toiletries Bag in all the land.

In a moment of great wisdom (or perhaps I was fresh out of Stupid from a morning of vinyl wrestling) I chose to create my second iteration of this month's bag from my unending swath of canvas and hot orange fabric that Lera sent me back when we were engaged in wristlet swapping.

Obviously this bag turned out better. And not only because I was being normal and using materials meant to come face to face with a sewing machine.

I feel this bag is superior to my previous efforts because it is actually fulfilling a purpose that had been going unmet in the garage. That purpose being, getting all my crap off the potting bench so that I could actually, say, pot something there.

Sure, I didn't fill it with the most essential and fabulous cosmetics so that they could be beautifully displayed in my boudoir. But since I already have my make-up so meticulously stowed in a very fancy Lancome gift with purchase bag ala 2003 and I don't really have a boudoir, it seemed to make more sense to organize an area that I spend actual time in and could use some serious cleaning up.

I mean, really, we can't have my three pairs of proprietary use work gloves (dainty poking gloves, mainstream smashing gloves and full-strength clubbing gloves) strewn about haphazardly. And there sure were a lot of half-used seed envelopes getting lost beneath the rubble of daily garden minutia.

So, crafted thus was the Garden Things Bag. Not a particularly catchy name, but much like my clubbing gloves, it does the trick.

Interestingly enough, and perhaps I will photograph this someday, it appears my garden accessories hail from the same place on the color wheel: The Orange and Canvas Place. So, without trying I've managed to color coordinate my otherwise rough-edged gardening hub with orange garden clogs (they're orange beneath the layer of filth muck, really), canvas gardening apron with orange bias tape trim and, now, canvas and orange Things bag.

I have no idea what this means, but there you go.

Also while I was experiencing a not horrible moment at the machine, I decided it would be a good time to craft up a designer dog bed for Ms. Jada (a girl can't be lazing about at the office on a store-bought dog bed, come ON) and make fancy an Anthropologie bag for a co-worker's birthday pressie.


and See?

I splurged on some Amy Butler fabric during a recent Moment of Much Happiness when I discovered a new great fabric shop. This is probably the only kind of time I could justify spending that kind of money on fabric that will soon be covered with dog hair. But, it does look hot on the floor of my cube, so I'm thinking of it now more as a double-duty Dog Bed/Cube Rug which, in turn, makes me feel less like The Crazy Dog Lady who special sews expensive fabric into beds upon which furry beasts will lie.

Before I retired the sewing machine back to it's hairy home at the bottom of the bookshelf (between Rocket, Jada and myself - our house is a hair tornado which I have to constantly Swiff lest it pile up at the base of things like the bookshelf), I tossed the last bit of my energy and creativity into reusing a store bag from Anthropologie.

I'm pretty proud of myself here since this was my second try at matchmaking my machine with a material other than fabric. Thankfully this time there was less failure and killing of ducks and more straight seams and pretty results. Plus, I managed to discover a new stitch that had since gone unnoticed by simply being retarded and never swiveling the wheel that far to the left.

Huh. A fancy dotted zigzag stitch. Neato. Glad that came out nice since I was clearly not paying attention when choosing my stitch and could have just as easily chosen a random elastic stitch and fucked up the whole thing.

Seriously people, I'm a loose cannon with this machine sometimes.

Anyway, I managed to use up some scrap red leftover from May's project and reuse a shopping bag that I didn't ask for to make for a fairly cute presentation of an otherwise mundane gift of scented something or other. Sweet mother - that is some HOT reusing.

And while we're on the topic, am I the only one that finds it stupid when a gift is wrapped really nice and it's insides are not as fancy as the wrapping says it is?

I feel I may have tread unknowingly into this situation here. Honestly, I thought the bag reuse project would come out not as cute, but it didn't. So now I'm in that awkward phase of trying to decide if I should either jam something else in the bag to bring the gift up to the standards set by the pretty bag or perhaps spill a beer on the bag and lower it to the contents held within.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Big melons

Ok, I *must* do a minor garden update right this minute. Because if I wait much longer, the photos I've taken will be totally outdated. And I can't keep going out every friggen day to photograph the garden because it brings my crazy right out into the light for everyone to see, which is a practice I am trying to limit.

So, for the moment, running, crafting, bitching about everything under the sun - all on hold.

See, the vegetables, they've gone right off the rails. They get bigger when I blink and it makes me uncomfortable.

The pumpkins have, well, gone from pumpkin to pumpkinS. I planted one, count 'em ONE, pumpkin seed this year. In a tiny pot salvaged from my sister's wedding favors, which then sat ignored on the sideboard in my kitchen and barely got watered. Until one day when I tore my focus away from the Nutella long enough to catch a glimpse of some big leaves flopping around over there and realized that, shit, some of the seeds actually germinated.

Hey! Look at that! Plants that learn to tend to themselves. Perfect.

Out of the six seeds I planted in the tiny pots, all but one germinated (can't remember who was the loser, here) and I planted them all in the garden.

There, all but one (Big max pumpkin - rock on, Biggie!) was then mowed by bastard bugs. And now I see why. This pumpkin seed is not of this world. I am certain it was sent from another universe where plants survive on little other than neglect and open space.

Basically, the plant, which I didn't technically have room for, has taken over the bed it shares with the cantaloupe, strawberries, random garlic and chives. When I originally tottered out to the garden with this tiny being - only two leaves in all (albeit large ones) - I didn't really have a place to put it. So I just jammed it into the bed next to the future lush Asian pear site (read: current ugly dirt yard) thinking that I could "train" it to grow over there, where it wouldn't bother the other plants.

Nice thinking, retard.

There is no "training" a pumpkin plant. Especially not this one. Its still holding a grudge from the month or so I forced it to live a near solitary and water-free lifestyle on the kitchen sideboard. It's taken its latent frustration out on all the plants in the bed and is threatening to move to the neighbor's yard and tell them exactly what kind of gardening asshole I really am.

Here it is shoving the strawberries around:

Here it is entirely covering the cantaloupe plants and forcing the cosmos to stretch for daylight:

And here is a photo so impressively out of date that the pumpkin featured here has actually doubled in size and taken on a more authentic orange shade. Plus it has about five friends of varying size that all promise to be carnival sideshows.

We're going to have to move.

See, I did a little science experiment at the end of last season.

I was so destroyed over the utter failure of last year's vegetable crop that I gave up, bought a soil test kit, and sat out in the vegetable beds under the broiling hot sun to take soil readings and let my neighbors laugh at me. And then, as a shock to myself and others who know me well, I did NOT just forget the test kit and it's interesting findings in the potting bench drawer and leave this season's veg. crop "up to the gods" like I normally would. I actually (brace thyself) rustled up the necessary amendments, DID THE MATH (who is this madwoman?) and carefully amended the soil as instructed.

I don't even recognize me in this scenario.

Now I can say: "Laugh at this, neighbors with small melons!"

My plants are huge. There is no crispy crunchy death show happening this season. Oh no. This season is all about big ass plants with big ass fruits and, well, big melons.

At current count we have 6+ pumpkins on the vine (one of which going beyond volleyball size), 4+ cantaloupe, one million tomatoes, half a million lemon cucumbers, uncontrollable lettuce, some hidden basil, chives, beans and parsley and a batch of nasturtium making good on it's threat to "mound and takeover".

I'm not saying I'll take go back on my "I was told there would be no math" mantra, but I *may* reconsider my stance on science.

Lesson learned: Soil testing is not retarded. Also, companion gardening appears to work.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Running update: "Work!"

Runners are a different breed. The kind that was not, generally, bred to smile.

Of course, I didn't know this as I started out my meek little running career on the streets of my neighborhood. And you know no one told me. So I've just been running around at my ultra slow pace smiling and "Good morning"ing other runners like a damn fool.

First it was Mr. Ultra Marathoner in his whippy red running shorts, breathable wicking blue top, wraparound reflective shades and mesh ballcap who utterly ignored my offensive "Mornin'" and jaunty chin nod by shooting past me (going the wrong way in the bike lane I might add) as though I were a stinky dog donut on the sidewalk. Which is where I understand pedestrians (of any speed) are meant to travel.

I won't lie, it burned me up a little bit. I mean, who is he that he's so fancy and good that he doesn't have to return a friendly 'hello'?


I still hope he meets a cyclist head-on one of these days. Those fuckers can really move. Unless you're driving up the Santa Cruz Mountains, of course. Then they're really slow and like to ride in the middle of the lane and get all pissed when you try to pass them even though they're moving at, like, one mile an hour and look like they're going to tip over.

But this is about my gripe with Ultra Douchebag and his lack of manners. Just because you're running does not mean you're outside the laws of common courtesy. And don't let me catch you in that bike lane while I'm out running errands. I'll clip ya.

During the first Long Run of my 1/2 marathon training, when I'd had the nerve to venture beyond my safe six mile loop to add on the dreaded seventh mile, I met with a frightening creature.

We'll call her The Devil in Green Shorts.

I'm quite sure she would have knocked me straight down had I not carefully held my (slow) pace and avoided eye contact. I had gained enough Runners Intuition at that point to know that any greeting I offered would go unrequited, so I didn't even try. I focused more on how friggen fast she was moving and how little her bare tummy giggled as she did so.

Remarkable. A mid-section that moves not during rigorous pavement pounding.

Never seen anything like it. I must have one.

Either way, as I stared through my sunglasses at the Tightest Belly on Earth, I watched this speeding beast rip past me without an inch to spare and, I swear, kick turn at the corner and speed off in another direction. All but leaving me in actual dust. If she could have flipped me the bird while kicking me in the face at the same time, I don't doubt she would have.

It's also possible that she was a Cyborg. That'd at least explain the abs.

Anyway, after these two interactions and a handful of fun moments when other runners pretended I was either invisible or dog poo, I stopped offering any manner of greeting altogether. I stopped waiving, nodding, peace-signing (sometimes I do this if I'm feeling extra whimsical) and looking in the general direction of any being moving at more than your standard walking pace.

I was going to be hardcore, too.

I don't want to be mistaken for an amateur after all. I mean, I *have* run a full 10K and everything. Plus, PLUS, I am training for a 1/2 marathon. Come ON - that's gotta count for something. I'm not just out here trotting from one Starbucks to another. This is serious business.

So, last Saturday, I steeled myself.

This Long Run would be my debutante ball of Running Like an Asshole. Because, people, this is not a game. I've got eight (!!!) miles to tackle here, I'm adding mileage, I'm prepping for a real race - this is no time for socializing.

I looked at no one. I greeted no one. I wandered off into my mind's own world and pretended I was running fast and wearing tiny shorts that whipped around my tight muscular thighs instead of stretchy black capris that hugged my jiggling ass.

"I'm so hardcore!" I told myself over and over.

I think I was actually starting to see this activity through the eyes of UltraDouche and The Green Devil until a tall buff chick in tiny orange shorts rocked past me, clenching her fist (but smiling) and said,

"Work, girl, work!"

Teehee, ok :)

That one instance alone has ruined me for ever becoming a Real Runner. If, indeed, a Real Runner is someone who ignores other runners as though they are dog donuts and can't say hi.

Because after that tiny moment of like-mindedness with this very accomplished looking runner lady who DID NOT act like I was slow moving dog doo unworthy of the sport of running, I was uplifted damn it!

I pulled my shoulders back, loosened my clenched fists, relaxed my face muscles and, seriously, increased my pace.

I arrived back at my doorstep in record time - 80 minutes. That's, hello, a 10 minute mile pace. For eight miles.

I am so hardcore.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Out of spite

This was totally one of those times when people don't know who they're messing with...

Bubba and I went out to buy a case of wine (this doesn't really need explanation does it?) and while we were making the short walk from car to shop, we passed a new store.

A CANDY one.

Like, a real candy shop. One that was certainly fashioned after the one in the Willy Wonka movie. And I don't just think that because they were playing the movie on a flat screen at the back of the store and because the whole store was a near replica of the candy shop from the movie. No, I came up with that parallel all on my own.

After we bought our case of wine (first things first, people) and stowed it safely in the truck, Bubba followed me back to the candy shop so I could *look around*.

And look around I did - with my camera. Because, hello, I'm who am I am and that is a person who takes a lot LOT of pictures. So, there I was, in this fanciful store, enjoying the impressive and colorful array of every candy known to man, having a grand old time pretending to be the proverbial Kid in Candy Store when I heard a meek pre-teen countergirl voice twittering to Bubba to the tune of, "You can't take pictures in here.", or some such nonsense.

To which I heard Bubba reply (while I slyly continued taking photos), "So, should I tell her or would you like to?" In a tone one might describe as cautionary with a hint of knowing fear.

It was at this point that I chose to holster my weapon and gaze coldly at the countertwit.

Me: Am I not to be taking photos?

Twit: We're not really supposed to let people, no.

Me: Huh. That seems retarded.

Twit: Silence

Me (to Bubba): Doesn't that seem retarded.

Bubba: Yeah, they clearly don't know who they're dealing with.

Me: Obviously. Now let's try some of this alledged gelato and look for my RingPops already.

Bubba: Good idea.

And it was too, bad, too because I was just starting to write a very different post in my head which went something like, "This new candy shop is a haven and filling a void in my soul.", but because it's me and I'm sensitive to things like 12 year olds telling me what to do, my post is taking more of a "Fuck 12 year old twits trying to be The Man in my new candy store and I'll do what I want because don't you know WHO I AM?" kind of tone.

Who am I, you ask? Probably not anyone they should really be worried about, honestly - but at the time, I *knew* I could take down the whole chain if I *really* wanted to. I had Milton strength.

Instead I ordered a little cup of mint chip gelato (Excuse me Senor, but I said no chunks in my gelato, NO chunks. But it had chunks in it, big chunks of chocolate, floating in the gelato.) and went about my hunt for the ever elusive RingPops.

Now I'm no certified gelato expert or anything, but I don't suspect my gelato was authentic given the giant chunks of chocolate jammed right in it. Granted, it wasn't bad - for ice cream - but it wasn't gelato. Not that heavenly pure flavor that you get with good gelato. But it came in a cute cup, which nearly sliced off my tongue when I went to retrieve an errant drip and a swirly cookie deal that was actually the highlight of the experience. Not that I won't go back and try other flavors, but I'm just saying - soft ice cream is not the same as gelato.

Meanwhile, I found my blessed RingPops and will be returning to collect them so I can fill out my jewelry collection like a proper four year old. Plus, I need to get Bubba some candy cat poo, bubble gum cigars and Toxic sour trash cans because that is what gets him going.

Here's a collage of the Illicit Photos. If I end up in the clink, I'll thank you to come bail me out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

When Vinyl Attacks

I was trying to be creative and out-of-the-boxish, which was my first mistake.

I should know that anytime I take on a project, specifically a sewing-type one with a pattern, that I should always ALWAYS make it from the pattern specs the first time around. And not stray even in the teeniest way.

Just do what the instructions say, and you won't go wrong. And always keep Make It Snappy's mantra in mind: You might think you've *got it* but you do not. Follow the pattern to the letter.

Well, I had a brief lapse in judgement when I chose to ignore every fiber of my being which screamed, "Put down the rubber ducky shower curtain!", when choosing materials for this month's InStitches project: Toiletries Bag.

I was thinking,

"Hey, I've got this sewing thing down (I indeed, did not). I can stand to be a little creative. I can make this Toiletries Bag into something new and interesting which can hold items other than that fit for a toilet."


Here's another layer to my problem onion: I was trying to kill two birds with one stone. I was trying to:

1. Be creative
2. Make baby shower gifts

Normally, these two concepts go nicely together and result in things like hooded baby blankets, custom onesies (thank you, Lera) with matching headbands and Nappy Bags in unconventional fabric combinations.

In this case, these ideas resulted in a sticky, squeaky, frightening mess of massacred rubber ducky shower curtain shards being wadded up into an unpleasant ball of shame and shoved into the trash during a rare period of quiet known as The Death Silence.

This is when, despite my boiling hatred and anger at the unsuccessful project before me, I don't make a sound. In fact, I turn my aggravation inward and become something of a human hate vacuum, sucking in the evil around me until I become a dead star of nasty.

Or something like that. Basically, Bubba knows it's bad when he sees me frantically wadding things up and shoving them in the trash and he knows better than to try to engage me in any type of conversation or even have the gall to ask me if everything is ok because obviously it is not. This is when he turns quietly toward the TV/computer/wall and pretends to be invisible.

Fortunately, he wasn't there to witness the Murder of a Thousand Rubber Duckies, because it was a failure of the highest order. A failure that derailed so spectacularly that there were moments when I might have uttered (to myself like a crazy person):

"I'm sure if I continue forcing this vinyl through the machine, eventually it will stop chewing it to pieces.",

"Perhaps I could create vinyl bias tape from the unused portion of this white shower curtain.",

and my favorite,

"I wonder if I could adhere these two sheets of vinyl together by pressing them with my scorching hot iron".

All terrible, futile and eventually blunderous ideas.

I had set out to make a Toiletries Bag turned "Baby Bath Bag". I intended, with full confidence mind you, to craft said bag from reclaimed shower curtain rubber ducky vinyl and stuff with all manner of baby bath needs like that tearless shampoo, body wash, sleepy time bubble bath stuff (that is purple when everything else is yellow), a rubber ducky washcloth and, duh, a rubber ducky.

What I ended up with was a ducky genocide spread across my dining room table and floor with parts stuck to my iron and ground up in my sewing machine. I managed to keep the killing field contained to the shower curtains alone, so the baby bath supplies that I so naively purchased beforehand are still intact and taking up valuable space in the linen closet where they will remain until I make a suitable bag for them from a material other than vinyl.

The unexpected result of The Death Silence is that it is often followed by The Second Wind of Great Determination. This is when, despite my very fresh failure, I am able to summon the energy/desire/courage to start all over because I know my failure was initially due to ignoring the instructions, so any further activity will be successful because I will follow the instructions. To the letter. Just like I know I should.

And so I will post soon the photos of my finished Toiletries Bag. It is not made from vinyl (oh blessed canvas, how I love thee and thy rugged unmeltingness). It is not for babies. It is also not for toiletries. However, no patterns were ignored in the making of this project, and I'm sure that's why it's not crumpled up in a big ball in the trash like some other certain items of disgrace.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Not for me

When I made mention of making a purse, another purse, Bubba looked at me like one would a toddler on a motorcycle - with concern and fear. As though saying with his eyes, "Do you think that's wise?" and "What the hell?" all at once. Plus I'm sure there was an undercurrent of "What item of mine shall I remove from the closet to make room for another one of your bags?" in there somewhere.

The poor man has been left no room at all in our closet. If he could fold his shoes to make more space, he would. Meanwhile I adopt shoes, bags and clothes of all types on a whim without a thought as to where they might go when they finally reach home.

It's a problem.

Back to the another purse thing though. I was able to stop the sweat beading on his forehead by assuring him that this bag would not be for me. No! It wouldn't be staying permanently in our home, taking up precious closet space and edging out his last pair of pants going missing amongst my ever-growing wrap dress collection.

Not to worry my fair lad - this purse is for mum!

My dear mum. Her purse has a broken zipper and she is trying ever so hard to jam all of its contents into a purse only half the size. And now this wee purse is getting stretched to lewd proportions from having to endure the stress. It's a bad, bad scene. And, I feel bad for the little purse. It had no intentions of ever carrying the complete contents of a true Mom Purse.

And, my friends, my mom invented The Mom Purse and she sure does know how to stuff it full of everything one could ever need.

Example: My mom had a stroke back in '01. Very, very scary - but she is AOK and we've moved on. Purse story here was that when I was staring at her every movement while she lay in the hospital bed (I'm a low-grade psycho) and in walked the nurse with meds, my mom quickly directed me to the exact location in her Mom Purse where I could find a zippie bag full of her meds AND a complete and accurate handwritten list of every medication AND it's dosage.

Had I also needed to dress a Christmas ham, neuter the dog, indulge in a paperback mystery, give myself a pedicure, get the address and/or phone number of any of our relatives/friends/neighbors/casual acquaintances/window washer, had a light snack, applied advanced first aid or blown my nose - I would have been well taken care of.

There is simply nothing that woman's purse is missing. Just not a single thing.

Back to present day where she is currently running around with a tiny stuffed meatball purse that can only carry half of her Mom Purse belongings due to her standard handbag being torn asunder. Dangerous territory.

Also dangerous is the fact that this standard handbag (and it's meatball counterpart) was handmade by my talented sister and, as such, is that much more valuable, coveted and perfect. She loves it very much - to the point of zipper failure.

And what did I volunteer to do? Why, put my ass right on the line and replace it of course!

I tell you, folks, I do not know when to shut my mouth or go quietly through a conversation without offering up some sort of solution. What am I? A man?

Oh, tee hee, that was a funny one.

Anyway, I opened my big fat girl mouth and offered to make her a new purse as the old purse was going to be retired (her decision, not mine) with its irreparable zipper and threadbare lining.

[Insert anxiety]

What if I make her a new bag and she:

  1. Hates it but has to spend the next few years pretending she likes it because she is a Mom and that is what they do while staging an elaborate zipper failure so she can go back to my sister and request a real new purse
  2. Loves it, but so much so that my sister feels like I've tried to upstage her when really all I wanted was to give my mom a place to stow her emergency response team
  3. C. Starts to load it up with all of her Mom Necessities and it shreds to pieces due to my poor design/execution/fabric choices

Seriously, I'm sweating right now.

Regardless, I forged ahead and came up with a bag, designed and executed to my moms specifications which were few but precise:
  1. Not too big (read: Also not at all small)
  2. Pocket for keys
  3. Zipper top
To which I added my own specs:
  1. Built in organizer
  2. Adjustable strap
  3. Reinforced bottom and sides (to account for any, ahem, extra supplies)
After a surprisingly successful and swift (hello, rare) trip to the fabric store where I found, what I consider to be, fabric perfectly suited for me mum, complimenting D rings, matching zipper and a so-so (not my super favorite, but it matched) lining, I managed to design and craft a decent execution of the vision in my mind.

And for anyone familiar with the importance of My Visions, you know this is a big deal.

Anyway, it's done. And after some re-reinforcing of seams (I'm really afraid of the destruction/failure factor here) I will hand it off to Mom with my fingers crossed.

And I'll thank you to ignore the erratic stitching on the zipper lining.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Such a sucker

There are a lot of things I outwardly loathe. Of those things, collections and the activity known as collecting are at the tippy top of the list. And if what you're collecting is plastic, especially useless and of no foreseeable value even after a century of living in original shrink wrap - the loathing becomes even more extreme and all-encompassing.

Take the KFC Dale Jr. collectible chicken buckets, for instance. Really? Is there a segment of the population so overwhelmed with creepy misplaced love for a man who drives a car that they would not only purchase an entire bucket of chicken in his name, but then save the gree-zy bucket for future reminiscing and nostalgia? Stunning.

And then there's Adults Who Collect Stuffed Toys. Nothing activates my gag reflex quite like the sight of a bookshelf lined with chronologically organized Beanie Babies. And if they have protective plastic covers snapped over their red heart tags then there had better be a trash can nearby and ready access to a baseball bat.

Oh, and freaks who have display cases full of every McDonald's Happy Meal Toy ever spawned. Hate.

Then when I'm vacationing somewhere and pass a trinket hut selling googley-eyed seashells with sparkly puff paint reading, "Hawaii".

I have to ask why, people? Where is that going to go in your house? On the mantel? I think not.

And I'll tell you right now, no one wants it - so don't go giving it away to anyone. Because they're going to go home and say not nice things about what a tool you are and how it's because of people like you that our landfills are full of grains of rice with your name on it.

Yes, that is right. We know who you are. Didn't think about that, did ya?

So, clearly, my hatred runs a deep scary swath through my soul.

And yet, I went to the 7-Eleven turned Kwik E Mart this morning and spent $1.62 on a Lisa Simpson twisty straw/magnet from which I plan to drink every single beverage until its pink plastic structure is eroded by time and/or usage.

And this is because the warm fuzziness hearkened by The Simpsons is apparently stronger than the bitter bile churned up by being the sucker of an obvious marketing scheme aimed at pathetic collectors.

To be sure, I am stewing in my own fresh shame.

Meanwhile, see how fun?

Of course, I didn't have to buy anything. I could have settled for being the loser taking pictures of donuts and empty shelves. But, as it turns out, the allure of a pink twisty straw AND THEMED MAGNET was more that my weakened restraint could handle.

Please note, however, the lack of a photo featuring me with my arms thrust around Homer's neck. In a rare moment of restraint (self-consciousness) I managed to sidestep that particular embarrassing impulse.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

And, for anyone who's wondering, no - I don't see any irony or contradiction in this post.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Our own little backwoods

We like our summer BBQs.

It gives Bubba a chance to be the big man at the meat counter when asking for slabs of brisket and me a chance to tune my hostessing skills by forgetting to introduce people as I drag them to the garden to look at my SO HUGE tomatoes.

We're so classy.

As summer BBQ time was fast approaching this year, I was faced with a daunting hostess-type dilemma: What to do about the unseemly dirt yard behind the garage.

Not exactly a festive and fabulous party scene where you want to hang out and sip Chardonnay.

But how can I get everyone to do like I do and pretend it isn't there? I don't want to be that annoying hostess that's all biggigity when you first show up, going, "Oh just ignore that big patch of barren land behind the garage that you weren't going to go look at anyway. Just pretend it's a gorgeous oasis of lawn and trees like it will be in two years when we finally get around to it."

No, that's annoying and whenever someone tells me to "just ignore" anything at their house, I always spend the whole time fixating on it and then go home and talk shit to Bubba about it for a week.

Can you believe that they spent so much on a toilet and it's just sitting in the box in the garage? And who opens their garage to show off all their new fixtures and then tells everyone to ignore them? Show offs. Also, heated toilet seats are so five minutes ago. Who are they? The Trumps! I don't think so. We hate them.

You can see my dilemma, no?

Of course, Bubba had a brilliant plan - let's draw attention to it. On purpose.


We (Bubba) put in a horseshoe pit (half-court because our yard isn't *that* big, ok? Gah!) and built a Hillbilly Golf Course.

What? You've never heard of Hillbilly Golf?

We hadn't either. Somehow we came across it on The Internets and Bubba managed to put one together with all the leftover bits of our last irrigation project and a bunch of golf balls from Target in about 15 minutes.

As you can see here, when provided with enough PBR, all people (even Silicon Valley folk like ourselves) turn a little red in the neck and have fun throwing golf balls at PVC pipe.

Again, cuh-lassy.

Sadly, the horseshoe pit (as seen in the distance here) didn't get too much attention, but that's probably because it was situated on the barren wasteland in our yard which turned out to be extremely hot and dotted with dog doots.

Thankfully, Bubba had a few moments alone with the pit beforehand to scorch his hands almost completely (thanks to my strategic placement of the shoes in direct sunlight) and provide you with this action shot:

And it's likely that the avoidance of the horseshoes was good for us since it turned out neither of us can pitch a shoe to save our drunk lives. Also, please enjoy this unabashed look at our dooty tundra. Nice isn't it? We love it now and show it off as our Fancy Horseshoe Pit. Who can say shit about that?

No one that's who.

Meanwhile, with the big issue of "What do we do about the dirt yard?" resolved, it was time to create The Menu.

Of course, we do it up Meaty in our house, so off to the butcher went Bubba and off to the garage I went to get all our BBQware washed up and ready to serve the mighty deliciousness of smoked brisket, THE BEST BBQ BEANS EVER AND NO THE RECIPE IS NOT AVAILABLE, smoked chicken, corn on the cob (or carn as we hillbillies call it) slaw and many fine desserts.

Now, I'm sure calling it a Hillbilly BBQ seems a little off when the event is being held in the middle of Not-Hillbilly Silicon Valley, but we managed to convert everyone a little bit. Thankfully some folks came with a little red in their necks (Texans with smaller hair, Indianans with stories of attack farm birds - thank you) and were able to help out others with their latent hickishness. And there were some who came by their inner-hillbilly naturally.

Exhibit A: Napkin Dave

One PBR deep and Dave tucked his napkin into his shorts and declared the afternoon a success. This occurred between brisket sandwich feedings as he was pacing his eating to allow for maximum consumption. And one must not have one's feeding schedule interrupted with napkin holding. NO! Having hands free to swat rabid finches from brisket sandwiches is a must!

Then there was the suspiciously yuppie serveware. Namely; real glasses, plates and the solo Le Creuset crock. But that's ok - we covered them all with enough KC BBQ that they'll never be able to hold their heads high at the Apple Genius Bar again. Shame.


And I'd be lying if I said that my inner-hick didn't want to lick this pot clean when the beans were gone. Good gawd almighty those were some fine bahbeecued beans.

Let's not forget the Junkyard Dogs. Because what is a hillbilly BBQ without some roughhousing mutts? Some dogs took to it naturally:

Jada licks her chops
Some dogs were just overstimulated by the presence of beef.

All in all, we call the Hillbilly BBQ a success. We're barely worried about what people are saying about the dirt yard, my poor social skills or our hickish games AND we now have a wicked good recipe for BBQ beans.

Next BBQ: Movie Night

The next step in WT, where we project a movie on our garage and serve nacho cheese from a fountain. Oh yes, we are living the dream.

Monday, July 02, 2007

InStitches: July

Dear Donk,

I know! The pool is huge and there are so many hot projects in there. Sometimes I scroll through the photos just to get inspiration (lord knows I'm not getting any at the fabric store).

I am so with you on July's project: Bathroom Caddy. Although, I am thinking of giving it a new flavor and making it up as a baby shower gift since these showers are becoming my life. Anyway, you'll see what I come up with at the end of the month. Think Johnson's Baby Shampoo (baby favorite) instead of Chanel nail polish (Finny favorite). As it turns out, babies need shampoo and powder more than polish and mascara. Good to know...

Before we get all ahead of ourselves and I go off half-cocked to buy baby themed vinyl - SHHH! - let's announce June's winner: Rohanknitter!

The saucy Sushi (go ahead, try and say it) placemats were just too good. Perhaps I'm suffering from supreme wasabi deprivation, but I can't resist them.

Anyway - Ms. Rohan - congrats! and please shoot me your mailing address to finnyknits AT gmail DOT com. Then I'll send you a fabulous prize that I hope you will love and find worthy of your efforts.

Ok, off to reshuffle my life. Lots of posts in the hopper. Teaser: Drunk hillbillies, Purse by Finny, Garden Off the Rails.