Archive for the 'Miscellany' category

Instruments of Torture, AKA Heels

I recently bought some pants that are a smidge too long, breaking my cardinal rule about never purchasing slacks that need to be hemmed. This deviation then prevented me from wearing a typical work shoe with my new suit in an effort to accommodate the longer leg length. You see, I normally wear something from my collection of Danskos for work (various colors and styles, but no clogs), which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. They are wide, comfortable, sturdy, attractive … well, in sort of a man-suit kind of way.

I have dubbed these faves my “nun shoes,” which could be interpreted negatively, but rest assured, it is an affectionate nickname! These shoes were my best friends when I worked in brokerage–valiantly trudging through construction sites, standing up to cold empty warehouses, shedding the rain, and not causing fatigue after a full day on my feet.

Strangely enough, I am used to comfortable shoes now. I am acclimated to not torturing my feet. To actually expecting my shoes to fit and be comfortable…ALL DAY.

This was a lesson relearned recently when I wore the pleather boots, shown above, to prevent my aforementioned new pants from dragging on the ground. I had to dash about 1/3 of a mile to pick up my Zipcar for a work meeting, and I have to say, I felt pretty hobbled. (Our new car-free lifestyle is, well, demanding on the old shoes.) Which is not to say I can’t walk in heels, because I can, but good grief, I was really missing the long easy strides I achieve with my nun shoes. And, I was left feeling…hmmm, maybe less substantial… because I was mobility challenged of my own making. (Thank God a train didn’t come, no mad dashes across the tracks for me.)

If you attend a wedding, you will notice as the event winds down that women’s formal shoes are strewn all over the dance floor and can be found tucked betwixt and between tables and chairs. The ridiculousness! Wearing shoes that destroy our feet…buying shoes in which we can’t walk for protracted periods of time! Footwear designed for sitting. I mean really, as we mince and wince around the city in our stilettos and wedges, can we honestly snicker about barbaric practices of the past, like Chinese foot binding? (X-ray of bound feet shown below.)

EPILOGUE: You would think that my desire to avoid sprinting for a Zipcar in the boots of death might motivate me to get those pants hemmed, right?

Sadly, it didn’t. I am lazy.

The next time these particular slacks entered the professional clothing rotation, I avoided my fake leather friends (which are clearly footwear designed for reclining on a black leather chair whilst pretending to be a Dominatrix) by instead using the college trick of temporarily raising my pant’s length with the strategic application of two-sided tape.

Yep, that meant nun shoes for me. Pain-free strolling on the way to my work appointment.

In truth, I felt very smug with myself as my meeting began. Stifling a contented sigh, I crossed my legs during the presentation to sneak a quick peak at my superior temporary hem job, only to realize that I was wearing the wrong color socks! *sigh*

Sometimes, I think I am a horrible girl!!

Mommy’s Got a Cruisin’ Beach Bike

Readers, meet my new bike! Well, I should say, my new used bike. I love my new bike. It is so awesomely fabulous, I would still adore it, even if it spent the rest of its life sitting in the downstairs bike storage space…which it won’t, I assure you. This baby begs to be out on the open road…and I feel compelled to park my wide ass on that equally wide seat. In truth, I was really bummed I couldn’t ride it to my lunch appointment today — I didn’t have my accoutrement together, such as lock, helmet, etc.

I plan on using this little gem as a fun, commute to in-city work appointments, mode of transportation. I do believe that I need to get a little white basket for the front (yes, I mean “need,” not “want”). I haven’t spent a lot of time on it, but it is a kick to ride. It’s an instant age regression. Sitting so upright…no gears…a big fat cushy seat…pedaling backward to brake. Love it!

Learned something interesting at the bike store today. Our sales guy said that the way thieves are popping kryptonite locks these days is by using the tiny jacks from tiny cars, such as the Mini Cooper. If a bike owner wants to thwart said robbers, it was recommended to us that we buy a lock with the smallest opening needed to affix our two-wheeler to a bike rack. The goal is to prevent them from having enough space to maneuver the jack into the lock, because if they have enough of an opening, they can pop it. The smaller and tighter the fit, the better. Who knew?

There’s a Lady in my Tea Cup!

No really! I’m serious.

I have had the tea set pictured here since 1998. It was my paternal grandmother’s, and it became mine when she passed away that year. All of the pieces are white ceramic with painted dragons on the plates, cups and teapot. But today … just today, as I was washing out the cups to make some Chai for myself and my homebound family, I noticed something … there was what appeared to be a white relief image of a face in the bottom of the tea cup.

It is very faint, hardly noticeable. (As you can see in the photo above, you can’t tell it’s there at all.) When I angled the cup around, it became more and more obvious. Then, I held it up to the light and the face went from a faint negative image to a very clear positive depiction of a woman. To see it in more detail, you can click on the the three thumbnails below. The first picture is the white relief made more visible by adjusting the image. The next displays the positive image when held up to the light. The last is her peaking out from underneath some Chai!

Fascinating, the things you don’t notice, for years, under your own nose … or lips … or tea.

To Blog or Not to Blog, That’s die Frage

Yes, we’re back in the good ol’ US of A…so I ask you, do we keep blogging? Tom and I have given it some thought and have decided that we still have something to say…big surprise!!

We figure we have a lot of future fodder related to:

  1. Did our sabbatical actually help us accomplish any life changes?
  2. Sharing our experiences related to starting up a business.
  3. The difficulties and joys of re-entry to living in the US.

And besides, Futból says we have to keep on writin’, so what else can we do?

Doodling in the Margins

I love the feel of ink flowing out on paper as my fountain pen tip glides, meeting just a hint of resistance — a sensation that is unique to this old-fashioned writing implement.


This Is It — A Review

We Went. We Watched. We Enjoyed.


  • It is a blend of behind-the-scenes and concert film genres and it worked well.
  • It was riveting to see him, and everyone else, at work…it was clear that Michael was very skilled at the business of entertainment. There were a lot of musician references about how unusual it was to work with a pop singer who knew their stuff! (A sad commentary on the state of the music industry, of course.)
  • He has really big, rather masculine hands. Given how emaciated he was at that point in his life, I expected thin effeminate hands…
  • There is a 24 year old Australian-Greek guitarist who solos with MJ for two songs during the movie and she was really rocking! Her name is Orianthi Panagaris, and she can fly on the strings and smack hard on some chewing gum at the same time. How does she do it?
  • My heart broke for everyone who was in the show and never got to actually perform; and frankly, I feel he let them all down. I’m pleased there was a movie so their hard work can be rewarded and recognized.
  • Costume-makers discussed plans to create clothes for the show that would involve a meld of textile and technology, the likes of which had yet to be made. Unfortunately, we never got to see any of them!
  • The cattle call for the dancers’ auditions was crazy. A blessing to all artists who put themselves out there for rejection time and again.
  • And lastly, I came away saddened that the aspects of his life that made him such a talented entertainer (a pushy and abusive stage father and a childhood spent honing his craft) are the very things that led him to hate himself (evident in his body and facial dysmorphia) and hastened his death. You get the sense that the only place he was truly home was on stage.

Waxing Rhapsodic about Vinegar

This is a heartfelt ode to vinegar!

If I had to reduce my cleaning cabinet down to one substance, it would be vinegar. It cleanses like a charm, isn’t poisonous, and has medical benefits as well!

Just in the last week, I used it to remove smeary kid fingerprints from the underside of our dining room table, which is etched glass (horrible design) and to wash some shirts to remove odors.

On the medicinal front, it cured my toe fungus!

About 3 months before I I had knee surgery last year, I somehow managed to bruise my right big toe, which led to my nail bed being susceptible to fungus, which I figured I picked up at the pool. *sigh* After a zillion hours of online research and a visit to the podiatrist, I was told that none of the home remedies would get rid of said fungus. Instead, the doctor told me that the drug Lamisil was the answer.

(Just so you know, Lamisil is evil incarnate. After 4 days, I had to stop because it gave me a funny taste in my mouth, I literally couldn’t sleep, and my joints hurt, blah blah blah. Death in a pill.)

Stopping the drug brought me back to square one, at which time I recalled the podiatrist saying, “…maybe some of the home remedies would work, but they’ll take 6 months to a year, and I don’t think people really stick with them.” Right then and there, I swore I would be the one to see it through. I filed down the surface of my entire infiltrated nail so it was very thin and then I taped a white vinegar-soaked cotton ball to my big toe for 20 minutes every morning and every night for over a year. (This digit was dubbed “cider toe.”)

While I missed the occasional day, I really rocked my schedule, for the most part. Now, this was not easy during all of the traveling we did last Dec/Jan/Feb. For instance, while we were in Nono, Argentina in the middle of nowhere at an estancia, there was nary a place to buy more vinegar when I ran out. Ian, dear brother that he is, went to the kitchen and asked for a container of vinegar to take back to my room (he’s still mad about having to do it). Anything for the cider toe!

I am happy to report that my home remedy and stubbornness worked — I stopped the cider toe regimen about 14 months after starting, and my nail looks perfect!

All Hail Vinegar.

We’ve Stopped Saying Cocksucker, Feel Me?

Tom and I have this horrible habit of mirroring the speech of whatever characters are featured in our current book and/or iTunes TV obsession.

When we were reading the series of maritime novels by Patrick O’Brian that take place during the Napoleanic Wars, we ran around the house speaking a wretched approximation of the Queen’s English, utilizing more formal than necessary sentence structures.

During our watching of The Wire, we would attempt to work the theme of an episode into our everyday lives, such as “You come at the king, you best not miss.” (By the way, can you believe that this amazing show never won an Emmy or Golden Globe? My personal opinion: best TV series, ever.)

We have Deadwood to thank for introducing the word “cocksucker” into our everyday lexicon, which, as foulmouthed as I can be, had never been a word I used, either as a noun or an adjective. A few episodes in, and alas, I could no longer make that claim. Sadly, it was in heavy rotation for both of us for a few weeks (only with the older set, of course).

Our vulgar period has passed now that we’ve moved on to our current TV addiction — Mad Men, the series about 1960s Madison Avenue. One of our favorite characters is Roger Sterling, a partner in the advertising firm featured in the series. He has some gems, such as:

“You don’t know how to drink. Your whole generation…you drink for the wrong reasons. My generation, we drink because it’s good, because it feels better than unbuttoning your collar, because we deserve it. We drink because it’s what men do.”

“You know what my father used to say? Being with a client is like being in a marriage. Sometimes you get into it for the wrong reasons, and eventually, they hit you in the face.”

“I bet there were people walking around in the Bible complaining about kids today.”

Unfortunately, Tom and I have nothing to say that would be as cool as the writing on Mad Men, so Tom has suggested that we start drinking and smoking in the same copious amounts as the characters, really taking our emulation to a whole new level! (He’s willing to go the extra mile, my husband…)

LM Montgomery Versus JK Rowling


One of the fun aspects of having wee copies of yourself running around the house is that you get to reread your favorite examples of children’s literature.

Lately, I have been performing Anne of Green Gables for the girls before bed, which has helped me crystallize my thoughts on another popular series for kids, Harry Potter.

The entire time that we read the magical tomes to the girls, I couldn’t escape the thought that while her world building and story arc were admirable, Ms. Rowling’s writing skills simply didn’t measure up to the classics that I enjoyed in younger days.

Of course, it was impossible not to wonder if I wasn’t biased, making the mistake of looking back with rose-colored glasses. But something has really struck me as we make progress with Ms. Montgomery’s story; I never change a word while I am reciting it to the Zs. With Harry Potter, I was constantly editing as I read out loud, such as rewriting the ridiculous boy-girl flirting dialog that peppered the later books. (And frankly, reading plucky Anne Shirley’s tale has made me mourn Hermione turning into a hormone-challenged, lovesick twit.)

LM Montgomery transforms Anne’s everyday life into an adventure that has the girls on the edge of their seat…well bed, and she does it with a flowing and poetic voice that is mesmerizing. It makes me admire her all the more that a book published in 1908 (it was her first novel) can capture my daughters’ imagination so completely, with nary an exploding wand to move the action along!


Below is an example of boy-girl interaction that I feel is suitable for the Zs. (I’m a bit bloodthirsty, I suppose!)

Mr. Phillips was back in the corner explaining a problem in algebra to Prissy Andrews and the rest of the scholars were doing pretty much as they pleased, eating green apples, whispering, drawing pictures on their slates, and driving crickets, harnessed to strings, up and down the aisle. Gilbert Blythe was trying to make Anne Shirley look at him and failing utterly, because Anne was at that moment totally oblivious, not only of the very existence of Gilbert Blythe, but of every other scholar in Avonlea school and of Avonlea school itself. With her chin propped on her hands and her eyes fixed on the blue glimpse of the Lake of Shining Waters that the west window afforded, she was far away in a gorgeous dreamland, hearing and seeing nothing save her own wonderful visions.

Gilbert Blythe wasn’t used to putting himself out to make a girl look at him and meeting with failure. She should look at him, that redhaired Shirley girl with the little pointed chin and the big eyes that weren’t like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school.

Gilbert reached across the aisle, picked up the end of Anne’s long red braid, held it out at arm’s length and said in a piercing whisper, “Carrots! Carrots!”

Then Anne looked at him with a vengeance!

She did more than look. She sprang to her feet, her bright fancies fallen into cureless ruin. She flashed one indignant glance at Gilbert from eyes whose angry sparkle was swiftly quenched in equally angry tears.

“You mean hateful boy!” she exclaimed passionately. “How dare you!”

And then — Thwack! Anne had brought her slate down on Gilbert’s head and cracked it — slate, not head — clear across.

Two Way Parlay on the Hard Six


As we continue our idyllic visit to the Oregon Coast, which has included more marshmallow roasting and the erection of a large tent in the backyard for gaggles of kids to stay in all night not sleeping, I realized that I had forgotten to share a singular triumph from our trip to Las Vegas — my two way parlay on the hard six that came in…twice!

For those of you not versed in craps terminology, let me illuminate you! On the craps table, the box in the middle is called the “proposition box,” which is filled with horrible bets that have a huge house edge.

Regardless of the fact that I know this, I still made a bet with two $1 chips called a two way (a bet for me and the dealers) parlay (we are both going to stack the winnings and let it ride if it hits) on the hard six (the dice will come as two 3s before a seven hits, or before a six comes the easy way, which would be 4-2 or 5-1).

Now, I made this fancy, completely long-shot wager while I was rolling the bones. And, when the two 3s hit the first time, my $1 bets became a $10 bet for me and a $10 bet for the dealers. Then, miracle of miracles, I hit the hard six two more times, which made me $180 richer. Pretty nice!