Tuesday, November 23, 2010


For dinner tonight, I ate an alien.

At least, that's what Matt said it looked like.

Penny said it looked like a little town. On a mountain.

Personally, I thought it looked like the result of an unholy union between broccoli and cauliflower, as engineered by a fractal-obsessed mad scientist.

(But really, it's just romanesca cauliflower from our latest CSA delivery. Pretty tasty, too.)


When I was little, we almost always drove down to North Carolina to visit my mom's family for Thanksgiving.

I hated the drive. It was about four hours or so, and I was not a good passenger. I was prone to carsickness (I still am, if I sit in the back seat) and my brother and I got on each others' nerves any time we were thrown together for more than a half-hour or so.

I honestly don't know how my parents managed to do that drive several times a year without killing one or both of us.

But there was one thing I enjoyed about the Thanksgiving and Christmas trips: the shopping centers. See, this was a state highway drive -- no interstates were convenient to the drive after about the first half-hour -- so we weren't insulated from the towns we passed by noise baffle walls and strategically-placed strips of trees. We passed houses and roadside attractions and farms and a couple-dozen little towns. We stopped at the stoplights and looked at the shopping centers while we waited.

And most of the time, the shopping centers were just like the ones at home. But at Thanksgiving and Christmas... they were decorated. Always. Sometimes the houses were decorated, and sometimes they weren't, but of course the shopping centers always were. Tinsel and garlands and lights. Every shopping center was different, and every new design just added to the thrill and excitement of the holiday season.

This is my last day of work for a while. I'm taking off Wednesday through Monday for the Thanksgiving holiday, and we've already got lots of stuff planned for pretty much the whole weekend.

But I might take some side roads, and remember to appreciate the decorations I see while I'm waiting at the stop lights.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


When I woke up this morning, the phrase that popped into my thoughts was, "Surprisingly hopeful." It's a nice change of pace; for the last few weeks my dominant mood has been "oppressively stressed."

I'm not sure what warranted the change. I had a lot of dreams last night, though I can't recall them now -- maybe one of them managed to push a button. Or maybe it's that I remembered to take my vitamins yesterday. I don't know what it is that I'm supposed to feel hopeful about, either: the new interview candidate I've got lined up for this afternoon? My determination to go to the gym today? My Christmas plans? Having found my slippers so my feet don't freeze in the evenings?

I don't know. Don't really care, either. It rained yesterday, but this morning was all jewel tones, sapphire sky gleaming between ruby and topaz and emerald leaves. The leaves are usually all off the trees before my birthday, but this year they're hanging on extra-long. It's nice. Everything looks extra sharp and colorful, everything smells like fall, everything feels... hopeful.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Post With the Most

I swear, I'm trying to get back to a regular posting schedule!

There's even hope on the horizon; we had a second interview for the position I'm covering yesterday, and there's a third scheduled for Wednesday that I hope goes well. We'll probably make a choice by the end of this week and then ask HR to send out an offer letter next week before Thanksgiving. With luck, I'll have someone in here and starting to train by mid-December.

This week looks calmer than last, at least. I'm hoping to get my enormous pile of paperwork cleared, and possibly even get back to the gym, which I haven't been to in almost a month now (and it's starting to show).

Friday, November 12, 2010


Wait, what's that? Who's that in your RSS feed...? Why, it's ol' Liz! Nearly thought she'd given up and left this blog to become a ghost town, decorated in out-of-date pictures and populated by only a few hardy hangers-on hoping against hope for just one more spider encounter, one more anecdote about the kids, one more tale of corporate lunacy, or even one more miserable whine.

But here I am! Not dead! Not deserted! Alive and kicking!

So what's happened in the last 12 days or so?

I eventually got the Hallowe'en decorations down and put away, and turned over all my paper turkeys to Penny for her to put up. She put a sign on the wall by the dining room: "Beaware! Turkey Atack!" and put turkeys at every place at the table (like tiny placemats), and on every chair. It was merely amusing until she said, "Do you know why I put the turkeys on the table?"

I said, "Um. To decorate for Thanksgiving?"

"They're so we can all write what we're thankful for!"

Wow. I mean... Wow. What an awesome idea, Penny! She wrote on hers, "I am thankful for my family and friends." She's come a long way since last year, when for her class play, she wrote about being thankful for puppies and ladybugs.


 Work has been... busy. Thus, the neglected blog. This week in particular was insane, as I had four software components and sixteen documents to edit and deliver, and a couple of those documents were in excess of 200 pages. Next week should be calmer, thank goodness, and the week after that (Thanksgiving week) is currently scheduled to be completely dead. I may take off a day or two more than I'd initially planned, if nothing extra crops up.


I got my first royalty check from my book last week (as those who follow the writing blog may already have seen). If seeing it up for sale made the whole thing feel official, it was the check that made it all feel real. I'm still waffling over what to do with it, though. I feel like this first one should be spent on something celebratory in nature... but what? If it had been the $50 or $100 I was expecting, I'd have gone out to eat somewhere extra-nice, but what do I do with $300?


I had a birthday earlier this week. My 39th, in fact. Vicki came over for dinner on Monday and brought me a present (the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince DVD -- she was shocked and dismayed to learn we didn't already have it, apparently) and then Tuesday morning I got up to extra hugs and kisses from the kids, and presents from Matt (the How to Train Your Dragon DVD and the Mouse and Dragon book and a really awesome necklace) and then I spent most of the day working from home. (Admittedly I stayed home because I was waiting for a locksmith to come and repair our front door, which apparently had gotten something stuck in it and no longer unlocked, but working from home was nice nonetheless.) That evening we had a nice dinner and chocolate cake, and then I stayed up until 1 in the morning to finish reading Mouse and Dragon. And then Wednesday, KT came over for dinner, and she gave me a mix CD (she is the undisputed champion mixer among my friends) and The Hunger Games (which she recommended recently and had been next on my to-buy list and I'm looking forward to reading).

I also got lots of Facebook waves, and cards and presents in the mail (checks and gift cards and Karen sent a gorgeous picture of a flower that she took and I've been wanting a print of since I saw it months ago). So all in all, it was one awesome birthday!

I admit to some trepidation over next year's. When I turned 30, it didn't bother me in the slightest, but for some reason, 40 sounds much more intimidating. Somewhere in my subconscious, I guess, 40 is the age at which physical appearance is no longer expected to be attractive. Which is not to say a woman over 40 can't be attractive, but where a woman in her 30s might be simply "sexy," the same woman in her 40s is "sexy despite her age." (I hasten to underscore that this is my subconscious and very much a mileage-may-vary thing.)

At any rate, it's a bit disheartening to have the magic age looming so closely, when I've only just started to have any real confidence in my appearance.

But rather than get entirely neurotic about it (I hope) I have decided that I'm going to throw myself an enormous birthday party next year. No, bigger than that. Not a joke party, with coffins to symbolize the death of my youth and "Over the Hill" balloons, but a fun party, with good food and great music and games for the kids (and possibly some for the adults) and bright, happy colors. The idea is to drown out the encroaching depression with cheerfulness. Mark your calendar; you're invited!

(Seriously. I'm considering renting a space and hiring a caterer. That big.)


Monday, November 1, 2010

Hallowe'en Follow-Up

I forgot to mention, the Cuteness winner of the evening goes to a kid I didn't even see, but Matt's anecdote was so awesome it made me squee:

Tiny kid, walking but definitely not as old as Alex, dressed up as a skeleton, approached Matt, who was handing out candy from a chair in the front yard, and said...

"I'm scary."

How freaking adorable is that?!


Awesome weekend!

Matt and Braz had a great time at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, and from what I saw on the TiVo recording, it looked awesome. In the meantime, we had Adin and her kids over, and Emma and Sarah joined us for dinner. All four girls played outside with the neighborhood kids pretty much the whole time, and I only had to go out and mediate disputes about three times, so mostly Adin and I got to hang out inside and watch the boys and chat. It was awesome.

The rest of the weekend was all about Hallowe'en. We went to Fall Festivals on Friday night (Penny had an awesome time at the middle school, and was less intimidated by the press of bigger kids than I expected). We watched Coraline and Nightmare Before Christmas, and a Dora Hallowe'en special, and Penny and I watched the first half of The Mummy, though she decided it was a little too scary for her. We carved our jack-o-lanterns, of course. We made pumpkin muffins, and Penny put about half of them in a pan and wandered the neighborhood door-to-door, doing reverse trick-or-treating. For dinner, we had roasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin soup.

Then we put on our costumes and hit the neighborhood!

I took Alex, and this year, he did not get distracted by the joy of rocks. We started with Ray's house, and when Ray's dad dropped two miniature chocolate bars into Alex's little bucket, a little lightbulb went off in his head. This is about candy. From that point forward, he was unstoppable and indefatigable. At the end of our street, I said, "You want to go home?" and Alex said, "No, I wanna do anudda house. More candy!" We did another block and a half. "Anudda house!" Finally, after a good four blocks and as twilight deepened into true night, I said, "Okay, we'll do these three, and then we're going home." As soon as he's old enough to go out on his own, Alex is so going to be one of those kids who disappears at 5:45 and doesn't come back until 8:30 or 9.

Penny, as has become tradition, went trick-or-treating with Ray, and they were gone for well over an hour, and then they returned to the rest of their Hallowe'en tradition, which is to say we gave them glow-sticks to play with, and they ran around in the dark, hyped up on sugar and excitement. (Penny's blood sugar was surprisingly well-behaved all day, despite the added treats and our forgetting to give her a shot after dinner. She was, of course, over 300 by the time we got her to check, but the insulin did its job well and by the time Matt and I were getting ready for bed, she was back in range. She actually woke up low this morning -- guess all that extra exercise caught up overnight.)

Alex played with glow-sticks as well until I took him in for a bath and bed. He was still so wound up as I was tucking him in that I wasn't sure he'd go to sleep for another hour, but he did eventually settle down.

It was a good weekend, a great day, and an awesome evening. Though after all the miniature candy bars I snarfed last night, I'm hoping I can make it to the gym at least a couple of times this week so I don't feel too guilty when I dive into birthday cake next week.