Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Scene from a trip

Scene: Mr. B and I are standing in the produce section of a grocery store in Santa Elena, Costa Rica, a small town on top of a 4500 ft mountain. We're looking to buy apples to fortify us for the hour-long drive back down the winding, bone-jarring rocky dirt road (with extra rocks).

It looks like there's a clerk weighing and bagging produce before customers take it up front to pay. We're unsure whether the apples need to be weighed.

We look at each other. Mr. B, aka the Spanish speaker of our team, says 'Go over there and look inquisitive.'

Ohh... kay....

To be fair, Mr. B speaks some Spanish and did a masterful job of figuring things out during the trip, but he is, after all, a card-carrying introvert and at times it got to be a strain. Plus, we had noted that people generally turned to me when initiating conversation, even though I could only gesture helplessly toward Mr B (unless they were asking me about a color or a fruit). We figured out that either I have the more open body language or my 'Ola!' is flawless.

Oh yeah, Mr. B also generated a new swear word for me, probably while driving: Sombrero de ano. Babelfish kindly translates that to anus hat. Nice, huh?

I'm thinking it will come in handy, since Young Son's Spanish is limited and I don't they've covered 'ano' on Dora the Explorer yet.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Just when you thought....

Well now.

Here I was, all like, Oooo! Look at me, I'm handling things so well! and Aren't we just the shit, getting our relationship all squared away and perfect!

Then Mr. B gets a call with less-than-optimal results from a pathology report, and all of a sudden the future, which had previously been a rose-strewn path tinted with a rosy, twinkling glow and surrounded by happy, rubbery cartoon flowers and birds bouncing in time and singing a cheery song, now appears dark and gray and foggy and scary and full of Unknowns with nasty, sharp, pointy teeth and background music from Night on Bald Mountain.

You know, I really f'n hate it when that happens.

Fun optical illusion: The image on the left doesn't actually exist!


Monday, April 28, 2008

Pura Vida

Ah, Costa Rica! I appreciate their whole Pura Vida ("pure life") concept and all, but I've decided that they really need a new slogan:

Costa Rica. Where Houseplants Come From.

I shit you not, there were houseplants everywhere! All those philodendrons and mother-in-law's tongues and all that kind of stuff were just laying around like they owned the place. Amazing.

We rented a small house on the central Pacific coast. In the yard grew bananas (probably decorative), pineapples, mangos, and coconuts. I'm guess many of those didn't just spring spontaneously from the ground and were probably planted solely for the benefit of gringo renters, but it was still cool. We didn't do any beach lounging -- Mr. B and I both being Very White People -- but we did sit in the shade of the gazebo and stare a lot. I think that's pretty much my favorite vacation activity. Especially staring out over the ocean. Lest you think me a total slug, we also did a guided hike and a boat tour to see some wildlife. May I just say: crocodiles rock.

(Sorry. I had to go there.)

And I found a new love in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican national dish is Gallo Pinto and it's an exceedingly yummy combination of rice and black beans and assorted seasonings that I could probably eat every day, which apparently is not an uncommon practice in Costa Rica. The key ingredient is Salsa Lizano. It's a distinctive flavor, kind of like Worcestershire sauce but less salty and more vinegary and somehow 'greener' tasting. I didn't bring any back since Mr. B has the most of a large bottle left from his last trip. But now I'm thinking I should have. Oh well. I'll just have to go back.

Other things I learned about Costa Rica*:
  • Since they are so close to the equator, the sun rises and sets about the same time year round -- a more-or-less constant 12 hours of sunlight per day. After all my whining about winter, now that it's light here until after 8 pm, it was strange to have it completely dark at 6 pm.
  • All yellow lines, solid or dashed, apparently look exactly the same to Costa Rican drivers. If they want to pass you? Oh, they will pass you. Steep curve, steep hill, or steep curve on a steep hill be damned. Fortunately, they are very good at it. I, however, am not. I pissed off a lot of drivers in Costa Rica.
  • It's amazing how quickly driving a stickshift comes back when needs must**.
  • Waking up to the screeches of scarlet macaws overhead is not a bad way to start the day, even at 5 am.
  • There are a lot of dogs in Costa Rica, mostly small, cute ones***. I saw one cat.
  • Most male animals in Costa Rica are not neutered. I have not seen that many testicles in... ever. C'mon! How can you not look?
  • The water quality is OK. Not recommended for gringos with delicate systems to drink, but OK to brush teeth with, cook with, wash produce with, etc. I hear it bothers some people but not others.
  • You cannot flush toilet paper in Costa Rica. It goes in a trash can, sometimes a trash can with a lid, if you're lucky. I was not a big fan of that. Even with a lid.

  • I also learned that I really need to learn some Spanish. I mean other than what I've picked up from Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street over the years. I was pleasantly surprised, however, at how many words I did recognize, even if most of them were completely useless when it came to figuring out what was going on. Names of colors and fruits will only get you so far, you know.

    And the best part of all is that it's the first time in recorded history that I came back from vacation without having gained a single pound. It's amazing what 90 deg. temps will do to an appetite. I don't know about you, but that's a big freakin' deal in my book. Mr. B lost 5 lbs but he doesn't recommend his methods. (see footnote below)

    I know there were other highlights I wanted to share but my brain is having trouble transitioning back into Real Life Mode so I'll have to get back to you later.

    * And by 'Costa Rica' I mean the small percentage of it that I saw. Which is totally enough for gross generalizations, right?

    ** Mr. B picked up an intestinal bug and was not able to drive us back to San José, a 2 hour drive over the mountains, to catch the plane home. I took a deep breath, nutted up, and managed to acquit myself passably well. The only casualty was an already-dead iguana. Even though it was already dead, I still felt bad.

    *** This is Mimi. She belonged to the caretaker of the rental house and came to see me every day. I so wanted to bring her home....
    See that foot? I told you I was a Very White Person!


    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    See ya!

    Mr B & I are skipping town today for a week in COSTA-frickin'-RICA! I hear the place we're staying has dial-up internet (Oooo, sweet! I love me some dial-up!) so if I decide to take a laptop, I may post a gratuitous picture of a macaw or something next week. If not, you'll have to wait until the 28th for your macaw picture.

    Or, hell, I could just give it to you now!

    I kifed this shot from the website of the place we're staying, so it's kinda like I took it myself, isn't it?

    I'm off to burn my lily-white hide to a crisp. Bye!

    Friday, April 18, 2008

    I've been a bad, bad girl*....

    Another one of my most favoritest songs. I heard it on the radio the other day and knew that it would Rock this Friday perfectly.

    There may be a short commercial at the beginning, but stick with it and your patience shall be rewarded. I couldn't find an embeddable copy YouTube so I had to go straight to the source.
    Criminal, Fiona Apple, Tidal

    More memories.... This song came out about 10 years after a PBLJ w/MULC** that occurred in my mid-20s. You know, if you have regrets of a particular sort and you blast this song and sing it at the top of your lungs, it can be a cathartic experience.

    Give it a go. I promise I won't tell. You might want to shut the office door first, though.

    * But not lately. Lately I've been pretty well-behaved.

    ** For those not up on the latest Internet lingo, that's a Particularly Bad Lapse in Judgment with Many Unpleasant and Long-lived Consequences, also known (euphemistically) as a Personal Growth Experience. Which is like describing the primary symptom of a sucking a chest wound as 'a slight cough'.

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    Blogwatch: LOTD

    When I'm stuck at work and I need a quickie*, I rely on Cary's List of the Day blog. It's not all G-rated and polite and shit, so those with... sensibilities might need to occasionally avert their gaze. But even though the humor may sometimes be some combination of crude, rude, and/or un-pc; it's good, reliable, and prolific -- sometimes upwards of 6 or 7 times a day! Other than going pee, I can't think of anything else that I look forward to 6 or 7 times a day.

    There are so many great posts I could point you to but it would take longer than my attention span would allow. So here's a recent favorite of mine and Mr B's. Mr. B is always happy to get a nice meal.

    If Men Wrote Advice Columns (LOTD)

    * And who doesn't, really?

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    The Compleat History of Haiku

    I was all set to post one of those classic pieces of internet humor that pops up every year like the Wizard of Ozon network TV*, but I thought it might be fun to first find out where it came from. It's possible it sprang directly from God's lips**, but hey, color me skeptical.

    I immediately put my research team on it. They spent hundreds of hours tracing the unbelievably long chain of email forwards, forging onward through eye-numbing amounts of flashing emoticons and lime green bold CAPS TEXT, until they reached the ultimate prize; yes, we found the source! And you, gentle reader, are about to reap the benefit of our exhaustive search***.

    With one simple click
    Haiku Error Messages'
    origins will be revealed

    Long story short, Salon Magazine ran the Haiku Error Message Challenge waaaay back in 1998, which is, gosh, like a century in Internet years. We've been inflicting the... forwarding the results to random strangers friends ever since.

    Spread the word, and together we can banish forever the rumor that these were created by the Japanese to replace the standard Windows error messages. C'mon! We all know the truth:

    Permission to change
    Microsoft's precious source code
    is not forthcoming

    -- Liz C

    * Am I dating myself here? Do they still do that?

    ** Fossil record? What fossil record?

    *** OK, so I did a Google search. Sue me.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    Room Temperature Day

    In case you missed it, Saturday April 12 was Room Temperature Day 2008 around here.

    Young Son coined the phrase. Ain't it great? As you may have suspected, Room Temperature Day is officially defined as the first day of the year that reaches, ummm, room temperature. Which in our house is about 68 deg.

    This past Saturday, after weeks and weeks of 40-50 deg days and 30-40 deg nights, the thermometer blew right past the 60s and skyrocketed to nearly 80 deg! Wha-aaa?!?

    We threw open the windows. We enjoyed the first egg salad sandwiches of the season for dinner and toasted the occasion with a fresh pitcher of Crystal Light. The future seemed bright and full of possibility.

    But Nature quickly bitch-slapped us back to reality. On Sunday we resumed our regularly scheduled weather already in progress. I teased Young Son that that was our summer -- that's all we get. He laughed uneasily, unsure whether I was joking or not.

    Hell, I wish I knew whether I was joking or not. I hope I didn't just jinx us....

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    A Year Ago, Part VI

    In which the best laid plans go awry, with interesting results.

    As luck would have it, my running class was scheduled for a field trip to the Big City the Saturday morning after the Stephen Hawking lecture. Despite my resolution that I was not going to initiate the next get-together, I did mention it to Guy. He suggested getting together afterwards for lunch then going back to his place to watch episodes of Firefly. We'd talked before about doing this eventually since I really wanted to see that series* and he had the DVDs.

    But sometime during that week I reached a critical decision point. Based on my reaction to that simple hug, I had to acknowledge that I was having way too many... thoughts to be able to settle into Just Friends status. I concluded, despite my better judgment, that I had to find out if he wanted to go down that path.

    Yes, I was thinking the d-word. Would he want to Date me?

    And if he wasn't interested, then given my fragile emotional state I realized I would have to walk away. As much as it pained me to admit it, I knew I didn't yet have enough control over the right side of my brain to shut those feelings down and behave like an adult.


    Saturday arrived. I made it over for my class. Guy picked me up after. We got some lunch. Back at his place, adrenaline pumping (fightorflight?fightorflight?) it once again occurred to me that I had

    No Freakin' Idea What I Was Doing.


    As for the rest of the afternoon, picture the two of us -- our average age is 50, mind you -- sitting at opposite ends of a very l-o-n-g couch watching episode after episode of Firefly, mostly in silence.

    I was completely paralyzed. I felt like my head was going to explode, but I couldn't make myself initiate The Conversation. I swear, I felt like I was 15 years old.

    I'll spare you the minute-by-minute accounting, but in hindsight it was pretty funny, as awkward scenes often are... in hindsight. And it was kinda sweet, in a slightly uncomfortable, what-in-the-hell-are-we-doing-here sort of way

    Long story short, it took me over two hours to nut up, stand up, and ask if I could sit next to him**. He graciously acquiesced, but it took another l-o-n-g while for him to take The Hint. By that point but I think we had been on that damned couch for probably four hours. Once he caught on (or wrestled his own demons into submission, I'm not sure which) and the first kiss was thrown, all hell broke loose. And I mean that in the best possible way.

    Quote of the Day:
    L (mid-smooch): "I guess this means we're dating...."
    G: "Yep, I'd say so."

    Later in the evening I realized I either had to leave to catch the ferry home... or not. After much agonizing I decided not. I was surprised to realize I was having guilt pangs about staying, even though I knew I wasn't doing anything wrong. But... I quickly got over it. At that point, not even real, bona fide guilt pangs would have been enough to get my ass on that boat.

    The next morning Mr. Gives-No-Clues happened to have a fresh pint of half & half on hand for my coffee.

    The punch line: He doesn't take half & half in his coffee. He had procured it on spec, just in case. Fascinating behavior, for a guy who hadn't even tried to hold my hand, no? The male mind is indeed a mysterious thing.

    In embarrassingly short order -- maybe all of a week, probably less than two -- it was clear that we weren't dating, we were Together. And here we are, a year later, with no end in sight.

    Somehow, despite our best efforts, it seems to be falling into place. Not without rough spots but we're both willing to keep at it.

    And so concludes our tale. Yeah, I'll take my story over Cinderella's any day.

    * I told you I'm a geek

    ** How stupid is that?? Like he would have said no. I'm an idiot.

    Friday, April 11, 2008

    Who wants to know?

    Dammit, I'm going to say it out loud and I don't care who hears it: I freakin' love this song!

    Are You Jimmy Ray?,Jimmy Ray, Jimmy Ray

    Ah, the memories... this came out ten years ago. Even though I was pushing 40* I bought the single on cassette (extended dance mix on the B side!) and played the crap out of it. Eventually it fell out of favor and under the seat of the car and I forgot about it.

    I found that cassette sometime last year and it's been in the cassette player of my car ever since. Every once in a while -- when I feel like gettin' dangerous -- I'll fire it up and crank the volume. Ah, good times.

    You know, to this day, if I had the chance to learn to dance like those girls in the red shirts, I'd go for it. Hell, I'd even wear those white balls in my hair if it would help. Although I look a whole lot more like the mama in the gold lamè (lamé?) halter and shades, exceptin' I'm much paler and probably much older.

    Go along now and get that pencil to stick in your mind's eye, 'k?
    * Waye backe inn ye Olden Dayes

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    A Year Ago, Part V

    In which our protagonist is going places with a guy in the Big City but is most definitely not dating.

    As the week after our first encounter drew to a close, I was in particularly rough shape from an extended bout of generalized demon-wrestling. With Guy's input I concluded that I needed to get the F out of my own life for a while. I considered escaping to a hotel or B&B or something for the weekend, but I quickly realized that more time by myself was not going to give me any sort of vacation from... myself. I decided that getting the F out of my apartment and interacting with another adult might be a better choice.

    Gee... who might be willing?

    I asked Guy if he wanted to meet at the City Market for a Saturday afternoon stroll; I'd spring for food if we deemed it necessary. Being the agreeable sort, he agreed. I caught the ferry over in the early afternoon and we wandered through kitchen shops and bookstores (shared weaknesses) until it dinnertime.

    We enjoyed a really good dinner in a Thai restaurant then I caught the boat back, feeling better for having gotten out of my own head for a few hours. I was also feeling reassured that we could indeed hang out successfully.

    The first cosmology lecture (Brian Greene!) was a few days later. I don't know what I was thinking. Getting to the Big City and back on a weeknight was a huge hassle required unprecedented effort. Aside from getting dressed like a grown-up -- full warpaint included -- it would take an hour each way by ferry, require complicated and costly child care arrangements, plus I'd be getting home after 11 pm on a work night... any one of which was beyond my normal capabilities at the time. But all together? What was I thinking?!

    But it was Brian Greene and the tickets were bought and paid for. I pushed through it and somehow got there in one piece on time. The evening was congenial enough, but getting Guy to interact appeared to require extra effort on my part. I did not take that as a sign of interest in... being interested. And I was OK with that, or at least working on believing that I was. Hey, at least it wasn't an outright snub.

    Another week passed. Somewhere along the way I learned that the Symphony was going to be performing Beethoven's 9th Symphony,one of my all-time favorite choral works. I had to go!

    Gee... who might be willing?

    Once again, Guy stepped up. The concert was on a Friday night so it wasn't nearly as painful. Even so, I wasn't too thrilled about getting back home well after midnight, so I decided to deploy a gift certificate I had for a night in a nice downtown hotel. Problem solved. Dinner, a show, a nice hotel -- practically a mini-vacation!

    We met for dinner, saw the concert*, and on the walk back to the hotel it occurred to me that I was a single female out with a single male and I had a hotel room. Gulp!

    Yep, there was palpable tension in the air as he walked me back to the hotel. I thought I might well puke.

    Yikes! What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to, like, make a move or something? And how exactly would one go about that, anyway? If he made a move, would I even realize it? There are rules, right? Crap! I didn't get a copy of the manual!

    That was when it hit me that I had absolutely no clue about how grown-ups handled such things. Of course it was all largely theoretical as there still was no indication whatsoever that he was interested in anything other than hanging out. But there was no indication that he wasn't, either. Shit!

    Play it off, play it off... act like you know exactly what you're doing. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain....

    In hindsight, we managed to ignore the elephant in the room fairly well. Upon arrival at my destination after the concert, I gathered every bit of courage I possessed and walked over to give him a hug before he headed off to his car. Sounds easy enough, but I seriously thought I might pass out**. I held my breath... and after a moment's pause he hugged me back. Gulp! After my heart lurched back into motion, I remembered that hey, this was no big, right? Just friends hanging out, right? A hug would certainly be appropriate that context, right?

    Maybe so, but I still had a big old smile on my face as I climbed into bed that night.

    The next lecture (Stephen Hawking!) was just a few days later. Once again I dragged my ass over to the Big City on a weeknight and got my ass back on the ferry as quickly as possible afterwards. It was, I admit, a slight letdown after the buzz I'd been hanging on to since Friday night, but sitting side-by-side in a dark lecture hall simply didn't allow for much interaction. Or so I told myself.

    Oh well. Maybe it just is what it is.

    That was our last scheduled event. I didn't know what to do. I was confused (on many levels) and still receiving no signals (that I could read) from him as to where we were headed, or even if we were heading anywhere. There was email and the occasional phone call, and to the casual observer it seemed that not much had changed...

    ...except that the more time I spent talking to him, the more I liked him. And it was taking increasingly more effort to remind myself that this was neither the time nor the place to be thinking about A Relationship.

    It dawned on me that I had been the one oh-so-conveniently finding reasons for us to get together over the past few weekends. It seemed that the prudent thing to do would be to kick back, take some time, and just see what (if anything) was going to happened.

    But the best laid plans... well, you know.

    Part VI: In which the best laid plans go awry, with interesting results

    * It was an amazing experience. I'd sung in it but had never just seen it.

    ** Christ on a cracker, how old am I, again?!? Pathetic.

    Wednesday, April 9, 2008

    It's Wednesday...

    ...and you know what that means, don't you?

    It's Business Time!

    Can I get an amen! from all those LTR survivors out there?

    Tuesday, April 8, 2008

    IoM Wrap-up

    I can't believe I forgot to post this!

    Here are a few pix from the Ides of Meatloaf, both Evil Twin's East Coast extravaganza and my own humble West Coast happening.

    Dig Evil Twin's apron! She made it herself. :)

    And isn't the stuffed Jello amazing? That's a Twinkie in there, folks. This was Evil Twin's daughter's creation. Definitely on my menu for 2009.

    As for my own celebration, I did use instant potatoes as required by doctrine but I won't make that mistake again. They're impossible to pipe! I cheated by roasting baby carrots instead of opening a can of carrot coins. Yes, canned LeSeur peas would have been more traditional, but they're nasty. Apparently I've become a pea snob.

    The jarred gravy was simply vile. Mr B had suggested making gravy from the meatloaf drippings but I gagged at the thought. Too bad, 'cause he was right. I don't eat gravy often, so when I do, it had damned well better be worth it. That abomination from a jar was definitely not worth it.

    Despite my whining, IoM 2008 was a rousing success. My secret dream is to make it Back East for Evil Twin's 2009 celebration. Whoo-hoo!

    Monday, April 7, 2008

    I mean it!

    Saw this in the mall parking lot.

    Don't even think about it!

    I know, I know. It's so very tempting, especially when you've already got the dog sitting in the stroller.

    p.s. I know it's not a true 'No-shitter or Bullshitter' but I figured that it was just as good a label as 'You've Got To Be F'n Kidding Me!' or 'Did They Realize They Said That Out Loud?'

    I'm just sayin', is all.

    Friday, April 4, 2008

    On a roll

    Welcome back! Now that you're here, I need to send you off-site for today's Very Special Edition of Fridays Rock!

    Click here.
    (Go on, it's safe, I promise. Nothing foul or scary. Really. I'll wait right here.)
    doo da doo da doo da doo.....
    Ah, you're back. You've just been Rick Rolled!

    Say wha-aa?!?

    Here's the official explanation of the Rick Roll meme from Rocketboom:

    I do so love learning about the latest* wacky internet fads that the young folks are into these days. I just learned about the Rick Roll yesterday on my friend Jessica's blog.

    The sorry part is that I remember when this video was actually almost cool.

    Don't you get all uppity, you young folks. Your time is coming. Eventually today's most radical, hip, and happenin' songs will become the subject of ridicule and mockery. Milkshake**? Puh-leeze! Mark my words, someday it'll look like this.

    * Meaning I'm the last one to hear about it. Which means everyone else is sick to death of it by now, I'm sure.

    ** If you don't know what that is, don't ask. And yes, I know the song is five years old now. Hey, I'm a MAWF. What did you expect?

    Thursday, April 3, 2008

    Can I tell you something?

    You know, it's one of those goofy, cute things that your kid always says that drives you absolutely nuts after, oh, four or five years.

    "Can I tell you something, Mom?"

    "Hey Mom, can I ask you something?"

    Young Son initiates probably 80% of his conversations with me using one of those phrases or variations thereof. And if I don't respond in some way, he'll ask again and politely wait for a response before getting to the heart of the matter.

    That's a whole lot of grunting required on my part.

    Not sure what I can do to stem the flow, but I can only hope the habit fades before he hits the job market.


    Wednesday, April 2, 2008


    After yesterday evening's dinner rush concluded and Young Son was safely engrossed in his pre-bedtime activities, I sat down with a wad of plastic grocery bags and a pair of scissors to make me some plarn.

    Last time I engaged in plarn production it seemed to take forever to generate enough to make a bag. But last night, in just over two hours (with occasional interruptions) I managed to cut, loop, and wind a 3 oz ball of plarn. My monster bag weighs only 12 oz.

    I may be crocheting before I know it!

    As I mentioned before, I'm planning on reproducing the size and shape of a WM bag. But last night as I was cutting, I got the impression that there might possibly be two sizes; perhaps one used by the cashiers and one used at the self-checkout stations. I'll do some measuring tonight and see if I can confirm that. If that's the case, then I shall reproduce the larger.

    See? This is what happens when I enter Project Mode. Just imagine what would happen if I spent all of that mental energy on something productive. The mind boggles.


    Tuesday, April 1, 2008

    Not what I wanted to write

    I really wanted to write a monster April Fool's Day post; something completely outrageous but just close enough to reality to make you wonder.

    I thought about posting something dramatic and unexpected about Mr. B and me, or that I've quit my job to run off and become an artisan baker.

    But I just can't get there from here, at least not today. The funny just ain't happenin'.

    I can't shake the sense that I'm reaching another one of those dreaded emotional breakthrough points. I thought I was just about done cleaning myself up after All Hell Broke Loose.

    Apparently not.

    It's probably because I haven't had much experience with certain aspects of interpersonal relationships over the past 25 years. Nor have I spent any measurable amount of time being emotionally independent. I'm guessing I still have some maturing to do.

    We hates nasssty maturing! It burnsss!

    We hates change in general. We fear change*.

    Plus, it is really embarrassing to continually reveal to Mr. B that I am not as mature, confident, and together as I'd like to appear. I feel like I'm pulling him backwards through a maze by his ankles. That doesn't sound like much fun at all now, does it?

    Sometimes I wish I could crawl into the Women's Hut until it's all over.

    * Gee, ya think?!? Maybe the 30-year relationship was a clue?