Thursday, January 31, 2008

In Absentia

If anyone has wondered where I've been, I've been trying to sleep. Yes, I've been trying to sleep for a week, and it's not working out as well as I'd hoped.

I've been managing maybe three hours of uninterrupted sleep before our darling Baby J wakes me with a dance routine. When I finally get shifted enough to calm her down, Ray gets up at 3 a.m. The the cats decide it's time to play. Then TFYO needs to get up by 6:30. And of course, I'm working afternoons most days.

I'm not sleeping much, but I've been trying. I try to go to sleep after I take TFYO to school, but between the construction workers building all around us, and Baby J's never-ending Jazzercise class, it makes it tough to settle down, and by the time I do, it's time to get ready for work.

I try to go to bed earlier, but it takes me forever to shut my brain off. I end up laying in bed, thinking about buying a crib, when we're going to paint, what I've got to do at work the next day, and all the while, my belly bump is doing the samba from one side to the other.

Have I mentioned I'm not sleeping?

In a way I'm glad the baby is active, because it's reassuring to know she's alright. On the other hand, she only slows down when I'm moving. The minute I sit, lay down or eat, she pretends to be a Rockette. And it goes on all night long.

Add in the fact that I've got a recurring case of "pregnancy dreams", and it makes a night of quiet repose even more difficult. There's nothing like finally falling into slumber, only to be interrupted by dancing lemons chasing me down endless corridors, and up and down immense stair cases. That's one of the tame dreams.

So, I'm off to try to grab a couple of hours sleep again before I have to head to work.

Wish me luck and some chamomile tea.

I promise to come visit you all when I stop having hallucinatons induced by lack of REM sleep. And if anyone needs any dancing lemons, you can come collect them at my house.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Now here you go again...

Lyric from Fleetwood Mac's Dreams.

Note: I'm about the least qualified person to discuss race relations on a wide scale. There's a good chance you may disagree with me, but feel free to tell me I'm an idiot. Just no cussing in the comments, okay?

You won't see me get political here too often, but with the South Carolina Democratic primary right around the corner, politics has been the subject of choice in our household. We've been talking a lot about race.

It pains me that so much of the primary this weekend is being tied to gender and race. I know it's a conversation the country needs to have, I just wish we could have had it before now. At the moment, there are two viable "minority" candidates, something that hasn't happened before. On the one hand you have Senator Barack Obama, who would like us to focus on his record, rather than his colour. On the other hand, you have Senator Hillary Clinton, who's husband came out and said yesterday the primary is going to flow along gender and race lines.

My question is, why? Why does it have to?

We just celebrated the King holiday this week. We honoured a man who wanted to see a world where a person was judged by their character and not the colour of their skin, and yet we have people arguing in the media and amongst each other about voting your race or voting your gender.

One of the most heinous things so far was a "robocall" in advance of the Nevada caucuses, which intimated that Senator Obama had Muslim terrorist leanings. You can read more about it here. Now obviously that can't be laid at the feet of Hillary Clinton, but I didn't hear her speaking out against it, either. It may have been a PAC, or just someone who doesn't like Obama. But, it comes back to race.

I confess to being irritated by the Clintons and their tactics. Bill goes on the attack so Hillary doesn't have to, and Obama is left fighting them both. As comfortable as I was during Bill Clinton's presidency, I find myself shrinking away from the sense of entitlement the Clintons exude in their quest for a second session in the White House. Perhaps former President Clinton is just irked by the possibility that he won't be "the first black president" anymore, as author Toni Morrison once called him.

Of course, it's not just a Democrat thing.

My husband and I were discussing the Republican primary that happened last weekend in South Carolina, where John McCain came in first, and Mike Huckabee came in second. What helped push Huckabee to a second place finish? The idea that he would help South Carolina bring the Confederate flag back to the state capitol. You can read about it here and here. Again, it comes back to race.

As we were discussing the subject over dinner, TFYO interrupted, as she often does.

"Why are you talking about sports?"

"Um, we're not."

"Yes, you were. You were talking about a race and a flag. Who won the race?"

And I got to thinking, that was a very good question.

When we bring everything down to black or white, who wins?

If you'd like to read more about this, please check out some columns by Savannah Morning News writer Geveryl Robinson. I don't always agree with her, but her writing is powerful, and she always makes me think. In particular see "Bill Clinton is not black" and "Loose lips sink ships".

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Five

We have a lot of transplants that move from up north down here to the south. Everybody talks about how different it is, and there a quite a few southerners who wish some of the "Yankees" would go home. The northerners think the southerners are backwards hicks, the southerners think the northerners should shut the hell up and go home if they don't like it here.

But I got to thinking (as I have a tendency to do), and the truth is, things are very much the same down here as they are up there. You just have to do a comparison.

Five Things that are The Same Up North as Down South

1. Grandmas/Nanas spoil their grandchildren with sweets.

Granted, the sweets may be different. Down here we get red velvet cake and banana pudding, up north it was more likely to be apple pie and chocolate chip cookies. But the motivation is the same. There is always some grandparent pushing treats on their grandkids, "just because". That may be a universal thing, of course. Omas, Grannies, and Nanas like to feed people no matter where they're from.

2. Football

It's a bit more of a religion down here, and pro-football usually tops college football up north, but either way, there is a rabid contingent of body-painting fools on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. I, personally, don't care for the sport, although I'm beginning to at least understand the rules a bit more thanks to my husband.

3. Everybody bitches about their local politicians

This is also universal. There is always someone complaining that their taxes are too high (even when they aren't as high as up north, or in the city, or wherever), that the government doesn't do enough/does too much, or that everyone in office is incompetent. I think I'm noticing it a bit more since it's an election year, but it seems to hold water both up north and down south. Our politicians down here are just a bit more likely to wear seersucker suits and bow ties. Otherwise, it's pretty much the same.

4. Rednecks

I used to think this was just a southern thing, but if you go driving around rural Michigan, you will see almost as many Confederate flag bumper stickers as you do driving rural roads down here. A guy I used to work with wrote a great book about this, Redneck Nation, by Michael Graham. Now, I don't always hold with all of Michael's opinions, but he makes a few good points in the book. The truth is, I think the term "redneck" (and it is derogatory), really applies to anyone who fits this definition. Some folks wear it with a mark of pride. It's really not a southern thing anymore, you can find them everywhere. And I know it's not because so many southerners are moving up north. Either this is a universal human trait, or northerners are taking the culture back with them. I have not included pictures here, because I think you'd have more fun Googling the images for yourself.

5. Everybody drives like a**holes

And you know this is true. I think, deep down in our hearts, we all think we're pretty good drivers, even though we know our neighbours are not. Each area has it's own little quirks. Up north, people get mad if you don't drive 80 mph in the right hand lane. Down here, people block two-way traffic in order to have a conversation at a stop light that's turned green. We never do those things, of course, it's everyone else. But you find these people all the way up and down the country. I have the benefit of living near a major north-south corridor, Interstate 95. It's one of the main arteries from New York down to Florida, and I've seen every type of license plate and every type of driver come through here. And most of them drove too slow, drove too fast, changed lanes without signalling, or drove erratically. And I'm sure they said the same thing about me.

Okay, those are my five. You see, we're not so different after all. So what if we eat grits down here, and you all eat...well, whatever it is northerners eat for breakfast (oatmeal? cream o'wheat?). Yeah, we've got houses and cars up on blocks in a few of our neighbourhoods, but I imagine you can find that up north, too.

Have a lovely weekend, y'all.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

I worked ten hours without a lunch break yesterday. I stayed up late baking cupcakes, and I was up at 4 a.m. so I could get them frosted before having to head out this morning. I found out yesterday afternoon they're doing the glucose tolerance test on me at the OBGYN today, so I've not been allowed to eat anything since midnight, and likely won't be eating until 11 a.m.

But I have no time for self-pity, for today...

The-Four-Year-Old becomes The-Five-Year-Old.

It's amazing how fast five years flies by.

Here's a picture of her aged about seven months or so. As you can see, her love of books started early.

Here she is almost aged two. She picked up her fashion tips from her father.

What's most amazing to me is that she was born less than two hundred miles from where we live now. Considering how much we've moved in the last five years, I never would have imagined we would be so close to where she was born.

My darling child has only asked for three things for her birthday.

A chess set.

A chocolate cheesecake.

She's getting all three.

TFYO has been asking for a chess set since last summer. When I told her she was too young to have a chess set, she said she'd be old enough when she was five. I told her if she still wanted a chess set when she was five she could have one. And she's been reminding me of that promise ever since.

When I asked what she wanted for dinner, she said Carrabba's, because they sing "Happy Birthday" in Italian to you.

And when I asked what kind of birthday cake she wanted she said "Cheesecake, a chocolate one, with blue writing. But the writing has to be blue, okay?"

And that's all okay by me.

Happy Birthday, dear one, I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Awash in Awards, again!

Yes, one of my very favourite bloggers has passed an award my way. He apparently thinks I'm related to Clint Eastwood. Or he's related to Clint Eastwood.

Either way, I apparently "Make His Day". This is from Dumdad, over at The Other Side of Paris.

Lovely award, isn't it? The colours and everything.

The instructions that come with this award say this:

Give the award to up to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel so happy about being part of the blogging community! Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so that they can pass it on!

But since I travel in a small circle, half the people I would give this to have already had the award bestowed on them by Dumdad already. I'd shake my tiny fist at him, but he's just given me an award, so that wouldn't be polite.

Just about everybody who reads here has probably already been over to see his blog, but if you haven't (and I'll link it again, just to be sure) go there now. Sometimes he does a "Pause for Poetry", and he has fabulous stories about working for a British newspaper. And drinking. There's usually a story about drinking, too.

I choose to bestow this award on (in no particular order): Bellevelma at Running with Books, Mike at The Grand View, jrh at Turkey on Whole Wheat, and to PixelPi at Motes, who hasn't been around much the last month or so, but whose pictures still make my day.

And for those that are wondering, my finger is doing much better. The bandage is off, the cut is sealed over, and I have a lovely gap where the top half of my finger nail used to be. I am amazed at how quickly and cleanly this healed, but it may have something to do with using a very sharp knife, and taking prenatal vitamins. Or maybe it was the initial application of Dora Band-aids.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Well I'm not paralyzed...

That lyric from the Canadian band Finger Eleven's single from last year "Paralyzer".

Which will make a lot more sense when I tell you that I almost chopped off my left index finger last night.

I really thought I'd have more pregnancy things to write about, but everything has been going along so well. My back aches have mostly subsided, my feet only hurt at the end of the day, I don't have any edema. It's been great. However, I'm still a tad absentminded, and therefore should not really be handling sharp implements.

My in-laws gave us a lovely eight inch santoku-style chef's knife for Christmas, after I was caught lusting after the one they bought themselves last year. And it is a gorgeous knife. It goes through carrots like they were cheese. Smooth action, nicely balanced handle. But it still is not idiot or pregnant woman proof.

What pisses me off is that the last thing I thought before catching my finger was "I bet this would hurt like hell if I don't pay closer attention to these onions I'm chopping."

Then, WHAM!

Fortunately for me, I only cut off half of the finger nail. But as anyone who has watched a spy film knows, pulling off finger nails is a form of torture. It bled copiously, and I confess to almost passing out. Mostly because I had to wash and dress the damn thing myself.

Here's a tip (no pun intended): If you're going to do yourself unintentional injury, make sure every one around you isn't busy doing something else. Also make sure you've got more than just Dora band-aids in the house.

My husband was very concerned, of course, but he was also concerned about saving the beans and rice I was in the process of making. I quietly suggested that he might want to toss the pile of chopped onion I was working on, and start afresh. I also told him he might want to wash the knife, the counter, the floor, and anything else I may have come into contact with.

My child was mostly concerned that she didn't have a band-aid, and since Mommy had one she thought she should have one, too. Too bad for her, I was hogging all the bandages to keep from bleeding on her.

By the light of day, it doesn't look as bad as I thought. It still hurts like hell, but when I re-wrapped it this morning (with Strawberry Shortcake water-proof bandages), I realized it was just the nail, and not the finger itself that had been cut. The nail bed looks pretty crappy, but overall the injury isn't too bad, and it's seems to have stopped bleeding. It's just in sensitive place, and smarts every time I bump it.

So, if my typing seems, well...odd, forgive me. My middle finger is doing double duty today.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Tell Me Why

Interrogative, Part II

By Henrix Ibex (no relation to Ibsen)

A short existentialist dinner play.

The scene: Dinner time in an average household. Seated are Mommy, Daddy, and TFYO. Mommy and Daddy are eating. TFYO is pushing food around her plate.

TFYO: Why are you eating pork chops and greens and when I'm eating chicken and corn?

Mommy: Because you don't like pork chops and greens and I didn't feel like fighting with you tonight.

TFYO: Why?

Mommy: Because I'm hungry and tired.

Daddy: My, you're just full of questions today.

Mommy: She's been like this all day.

TFYO: Why?

Daddy: I don't know, you tell us.

TFYO: Because I like asking questions. Why are our plates round?

Mommy: Because square wouldn't fit in the dishwasher as well. Why don't you eat something?

TFYO: Why?

Mommy grimaces. Daddy attempts not to laugh.

TFYO: Why did you make that face?

Mommy: Because you've been pushing my buttons all day, that's why. Can you please stop asking me why? No more asking why at the dinner table.


TFYO: (grins mischievously) When can I then?

Mommy hides face in her sweater attempting not to choke on food.

Daddy: Okay, no more asking why, when, what or how. Okay?


TFYO: Who's that sitting on the couch? Is that Zoe?

Mommy exits stage left into bedroom door.

TFYO: Which door did Mommy go into?

Strangled screams are heard from offstage.

TFYO: Why did Mommy yell?


Friday, January 4, 2008

Friday Five

Everybody is talking about making resolutions this time of year, and I will be, too. But I'm tired of making promises I very rarely ever get to keep, either through my own stupidity or by circumstance. So, this Friday Five will be anti-resolutions.

Five Things I Will NEVER Resolve to Do

1. I will never resolve to be nicer to people.

Seriously, I'm nice enough already. To the point that I never quibble when asked to fill in for someone at the last minute, or gripe at the stupid woman with 30 items in the 12 item check-out lane, or lash out at the rotten little brats who think it's funny to throw things at passing cars. Screw 'em. They don't need me to be nice to them. Half the people in the world don't deserve my niceness, the other half already know I like them.

2. I will never, ever resolve to give up chocolate.

I can't. I gave up excessive drinking. I gave up smoking. I'll eat salads all damn day if you ask me to. But I am never going to give up a nice piece of dark Dagoba chocolate. Pry it from my cold dead hands if necessary. If I had to choose between a limb and chocolate, I might go with chocolate.

3. I will never resolve to get to a certain weight again.

It doesn't work. I know I should have goals, but setting one this specific is self-defeating. I can resolve to eat more healthy, but to do it to get to a certain weight/dress size is silly. Eating better and being more healthy overall is much more important than fitting into a size six (something I haven't done since I met my husband, so I shall lay the blame for my copious weight gain at his feet).

4. I will never resolve to spend more time at work.

Fortunately for me, I have a built in excuse coming up in just a few more months. I love the people I work with, but spending a bit more time at home over the holidays has spoiled me for wanting to be here instead of there. It might be the pregnancy, and the whole nesting instinct, but I keep finding things I want to do around here. Paint the living room, add a chair rail, plant a veggie garden this spring. Nope, I'm never going to want to spend more time at work, no matter how good it is for my career. Screw my career.

5. I will never resolve to be kinder to animals.

Now before y'all freak out, it's because I can't be any kinder to them. I feed strays, I'm nice to the neighbourhood dogs (and their owners!) even when they're out running free, I wait for squirrels and ducks and buzzards to cross the street (even when people in their cars behind me get pissed), and I always try to find the owners of wandering animals. So, I really can't be any more kinder to animals than I already am. Just can't do it. Except for frogs. Ray ran over another one of the poor little buggers a couple of days ago. But they're really hard to see when they're snuggled up to the tires at 4 a.m. (which is when Ray goes to work). So, apologies to the frogs.

Those are my five anti-resolutions, let's hear yours. I'm sure you've already decided what you are going to do this year, I want to know what you won't ever do!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

These rocks won't lose their shape...

As promised, the story of the earrings. I hope you all had a good holiday, I know I did!

The Christmas Earrings

What you first have to understand is that I don't own any fine jewelry. Oh, I've got a sapphire ring that used to belong to my grandmother, but it's a lab created sapphire in a yellow gold setting. It's not something I would wear.

Even my engagement ring was not a genuine stone. Oh, Ray and I argued over it. We were living paycheck to paycheck, just getting started, and I didn't want him to go into debt for something as silly as a ring. Granted, I was a little disappointed I wouldn't have anything, but he solved that by buying a lovely CZ in a white gold setting. I loved it, I treasured it, and I wore it always.

Until the stone fell out over this past summer.

Again, we talked about replacing it. I argued that spending money on a ring, either real or "created" was stupid, as we've just bought a house, and there are things that need doing here. He said he should have replaced the other ring by now, and he felt bad for not doing it. I admit, I did kind of want a new ring, but I couldn't bring myself to agree when we could use that money for so many other things.

So, on we went. He'd sometimes catch me admiring a ring in a jewelry store window, particularly Levy Jewelers on Broughton Street. It's one of the oldest jewelers in town, and they always had lovely items, especially earrings. Simple, not fussy, always classic.

Christmas was coming, and again, we decided to put most of our resources towards TFYO's Christmas, as we knew it would be her last to be the center of attention. I bought him a nice robe and a pair of slippers. Something I knew he needed, and fell within our budget.

On Christmas Eve we opened our family gifts, as we always do. I got a giant body pillow, which I sorely needed to support my very pregnant body. In my stocking the next morning was some gorgeous cream for my very tired feet, with a promise that it would be diligently rubbed into those feet every night if I wanted. I felt bad that I'd spent a bit more than he had, but he seemed happy.

TFYO was bashing on her drums when Ray said this:

"Don't you think it's time we got out Mommy's special present?"

I'm pretty good at figuring things out. It's tough to hide things from me in my own house. But somehow, he'd been hiding this "special present" for two weeks. And, even more amazing, TFYO was in on the secret and hadn't let slip a word.

Ray disappeared into our bedroom and returned with a tiny, red wrapped box. It had a ribbon on it from Levy Jewelers.

I immediately burst into tears. I didn't even open it at first. Just held it, and asked "How did you do this?"

"Well, I had a little help from my Christmas bonus."

This made me confused, because we all got gift certificates for ham from our employer this year.

"What, you traded ham for jewelry?"

"No, we had some gift cards left from that promotion we did this year, and D. (our general manager), let me have a couple as a thank you for taking care of the station this year."

"You didn't tell me about that."

"Well, no I couldn't, could I? It would have spoiled your surprise."

I tore off the ribbon and paper, and found that little, soft, gray box, and flipped it open.

This was inside:

"I know it's not a ring. I didn't have enough to get you a ring, but I wanted you to have something with diamonds. You deserve to have something with diamonds, even though you've never asked. One day, you'll have a ring to go with those."

Of course, at this point, I was sobbing like a baby, trying to get words out, and failing miserably. All I could do was hug him, and snuffle into his shoulder. My big, strong, generous husband, who always worries about letting me down, always succeeds in lifting me up.

I loved the earrings, tiny and perfectly matched, but mostly I loved that he tried so hard to make me happy. And I was incredibly proud of TFYO for keeping the secret. Of course, the thing she remembered most about the trip to the jewelry store was that she got home made brownies from one of the clerks, but I'm proud of her nonetheless.

So, if I sometimes seem to go on a bit about how wonderful my husband is, at least now you have some proof, and not just the prattling of a woman in love. I don't always show my appreciation for him as much as I should. I know I don't. But he really is a great guy.

And I love him.

PS. I'm sitting here crying into my keyboard again. Damn pregnancy hormones, making me all weepy.