Monday, January 29, 2007

Back to school

Yes, I finally submitted my application to Bauman College, and unless i suck so much that they don't want my tuition, I will get an email within the next 2 weeks confirming my acceptance! In honor of the occasion, please enjoy their vaguely informative youtube promotional video, featuring the hippie founder and 80s production values. Excellent.

Also, I passed the VA hospital sign on the way to Mahoneys tonight (I jetted up for a last tasty Mahoney dinner before I head back west... do you wish I was always at your house when you called, kt?). It informed me that January is "Poverty in America Awareness Month." Upon closer inspection, this month appears to be founded by the Catholic Charaties. Check out their website if you want to a) read the word poverty so many times it starts to look funny b) Be extremely bored by the overly hyped "Poverty tour" which turns out to be an endless stream of government figures about the poverty line. c) Be fed up with the evils of poverty, but wonder how your new awareness helps reduce poverty.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Speaking of pictures...

...I just added a whole pile of (Rebecca's) holiday photos to the 2007 album. Check 'em out!

P.S. Don't you wish that, like me, you managed to be wearing the same shirt in every single photo taken of you over a seven-day period? Heh.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A full tummy and guilt induced photo


It was so lovely to have a tasty and relaxing dinner on this cold winter night with one just-arrived Lauren!!! We ate at the south Indian vegetarian place in Middletown. You know the one, it's on that road if you keep going past stop and shop. I can't wait for her to get her silly interview out of the way (it's not the reason she's here or anything...) and come back up to spend the weekend with me!

I keep meaning to post, but yet again it's late and I spent too much time reading fanfic... i mean... working on my application essay or cleaning my room... yeees.....

So to appease my guilt at not posting anything of substance for quite awhile, enjoy this photo from Fake Christmas 2006!

Friday, January 19, 2007

A holiday made just for me




That's right... it's National De-Lurking Week! Actually, I'm lying... last week was National De-Lurking Week. But there's a National De-Lurking Week! It's real! Well, as real as a blog-oriented holiday can be. After stumbling across several mentions of this wondrous holiday, I became more and more convinced that it was too good to be true. Much like the fly infestation in our office, it must be the product of spontaneous generation. Turns out it was in fact created by this random but highly entertaining housewife/blogger in 2005, to raise money for tsunami victims. (As for the flies... I keep hearing something about "biology", but I'm not paying it any mind.) So while I don't have any higher purpose in mind, I salute National De-Lurking Week and invite you to stand up and be counted! (or, just leave an anonymous comment. My ego will be soothed either way.)

Also, in honor of MLK day, check out my favorite post by this holidays most hallowed founder.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Perhaps you can gather from the incessant posting that I haven't gotten out much lately. In fact, I've managed to pretty successfully not leave the house for the majority of this three-day weekend, barring a brief trip to the Blanton Museum of Art, a Target run, and a bit of (highly restrained) thrift-shopping. Why, you might ask? Well, faithful reader, because we're in the midst of a very exciting WINTER STORM WARNING here, in which we are advised to STOCK UP ON BATTERIES and to NOT LEAVE OUR HOUSES and if we ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO, to BE VERY VERY CAREFUL. The WINTER STORM consists of the following: 35-degree weather, scattered showers, some ice crystals in the mud left over from last night. Texans are so cute. But let's be fair... a complete lack of sand and/or salt on the roads, coupled with drivers who have NO IDEA how to navigate slick roads in their massive Ford pickups, means it's genuinely as dangerous as an actually storm in places that actually have winter. I'd tell you what the temperature and wind chill are right now, but according to the Austin American-Statesman, there's currently no way of knowing. (Quoth the Statesman: "Want to know the wind chill in Austin? Local meteorologists would love to be able to tell you. But they can’t. Equipment that measures wind speeds at Austin Bergstrom International Aiport and at Camp Mabry — the city’s two official weather data-gathering spots — have been frozen for several hours, said Bob Rose, meteorologist with the Lower Colorado River Authority." Our city's intrepid meteorologists have apparently been "relying on information from nearby cities to estimate.")

It sure feels like winter to me in our drafty little icebox. In order to save on (what would surely amount to less than $2.00 worth of) heating costs, I'm decked out in long underwear, flannel pajama pants, fleece pajama pants, t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, fleece shirt, fuzzy hooded sweatshirt, scarf. I've essentially lived in this outfit - minus the flannel pants and the hoodie, which provides R with endless hours of amusement mocking my all-fleece ensemble - since Friday.

What more can I possibly tell you about my incredibly boring weekend? Don't worry, I'm trying hard to come up with ideas. I figure I should squeeze in all my online communication now before the power undoubtedly goes out, which will be a much more dismal prospect at this time of year than when we lost it for two days in the storm last summer. I suppose we may not lose power, but all it'll take is one tree blown down onto one power line somewhere, and the whole city will shut down. If only I knew how fast the wind was blowing...

Okay, time to eat something and keep cleaning the guest room. (Our house has managed to get a modest interior makeover due to the copious amounts of time we've spent inside it of late. Once we paint the exterior trim and convince something - anything - to actually grow in our yard, it'll be a whole new place!)

Let's close with something new I learned today: Did you know that HRC's "Buying for Equality" shopping guide gives such corporations as General Mills, Kraft, Miller, SC Johnson & Son, Estee Lauder, and Pepsi a 100% rating for GLBT equality? Tragically, the Hain Celestial Co (which manages to hold a monopoly on our entire kitchen and bathroom by controlling such brands as Celestial Seasonings, Jason, Health Valley, Arrowhead Mills, Rice Dream, and WestSoy) rolled in at a dismal 43%. If only I were man enough to give up my Jason aloe lotion. But I so am not.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Nerddom

Okay, I'm not sure what makes me a bigger nerd: The fact that, as Rebecca pointed out, I went to the trouble of underlining the titles of every book I mentioned in my "Best of" list... or the fact that, as per her suggestion, I just went back and linked them all to their description on Amazon. (No votes on this one, please.) So, for your literary pleasure, you may now find out more about all the books on my list (but why would you want to find out more about Plenty Good Room?).

Saturday, January 13, 2007

KT's Best of 2006 (etc.)

I guess technically, that should read "Best of (etc.) 2006": some bests, some worsts, some miscellaneous mentions of note. Unlike Rebecca's post, you won't get to vote on the nominees. Fortunately, none of you seemed to want to do that anyhow. Without further ado, the highlights and lowlights of my past year:

Best Concert: Sufjan Stevens, 9/15/06 (Against all odds! While I'm a big fan of the "Illinois" album, I wasn't expecting much from this show. Had anyone warned me ahead of time that his 15-piece backup orchestra would all come out wearing giant strap-on butterfly wings, and the entire show would be accompanied by psychedelic patterns alternating with grainy home video projected onto a giant movie screen behind them, I'm pretty sure there isn't a chance in hell I would have gone. But I did, and it was wonderful. "The Predatory Wasp..." {see amateur audience footage of that song from a show in Berkeley on that same tour... he seems to have a backup choir that he didn't have at our show, but the quality of this video far exceeds the Milwaukee one that I originally posted} made me choke up, and it's DAMN hard to get to me to cry at a show. Contrary to what anyone who's seen a Tracy Grammer concert with me between July 2002 and December 2003 may have been led to believe.)

Best Places Visited: American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore; Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum in Hot Springs, Arkansas; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Balboa Park in San Diego (All special in their own special ways.)

Best Culinary Discovery: Quinoa

Best Convention: Southwest Texas Sacred Harp Convention, spring session.

Least Favorite Form Of Pestilence To Be Afflicted By: Three-way tie between ants, cockroaches, and Richard's mysterious hives.

Runner-Up: Fleas (Those were so 2005.)

Worst Social Event: Staff holiday party (One of those unfortunate circumstances in which six people with completely different social chemistry get together and the entire evening bombs. I'm pretty sure Richard is still mourning the loss of those three hours of his life.)

Best Movies: "Brokeback Mountain," "Little Miss Sunshine," "The Departed" (I undoubtedly saw other movies, perhaps even ones I liked better, but I can only think of five movies I saw in the theater in 2006, so these are the winners. Sorry, "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Superman.")

Worst Job: Babysitting on Sunday mornings at the church in Round Rock (I just got my W-2 from them and all the memories came rushing back. At least I only stayed long enough to earn $410...)

Musical Discovery Of The Year: Fats Domino's cover of "Frosty the Snowman" (Thanks, Dad.)

Celebrity Sightings/Encounters Excluding All Musicians: Sarah Weddington, Jim Henson's daughter, Liz Carpenter

[Editor's Note: And now we come to clearly what is my favorite part of this list.]

Favorite Books: Three Junes by Julia Glass (recommendation from Lauren), Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (recommendation from Kate P.), Singing in the Comeback Choir by Bebe Campbell (oh how much I am a sucker for inspirational novels about cleaning up dangerous neighborhoods and making the world a better place through music)

Honorable Mentions: Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger, Cheri by Colette, Zenzele: A Letter for my Daughter by J. Nozipo Maraire, Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood,

Classics (And I Use That Term Loosely, Mr. Crichton) I Finally Got Around To Reading In 2006: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Books You Shouldn't Touch With A Ten-Foot Pole: Plenty Good Room by Cheri Edwards (I was going to re-direct you to my Amazon customer review of said book, in which I gave it one star and discussed its many shortcomings at great length, but it seems to have been deleted {!!!!!!!!!!!!!!}. Can they actually legally DO that?)


Okay, those are all the bests and worsts I can think of at the moment. I'll add more if I think of anything...

today's culinary adventures

Just because I felt like sharing. It's almost like eating it all again, except without the incapacitating fullness that would entail. (And as Richard can attest to after the infamous Taste of Chicago 2001, this is not a pretty sight.)

So I went out to do some errands on Main St. today.

First stop: Brooks Pharmacy (formerly Peltons) where, at 29¢ I just couldn't pass up several boxes of these lovelies. And in searching for a picture, I came across this new and improved version! I can't WAIT to buy a pack next year!!!

Second stop: Middlesex Fruitery. The purveyors of those melt-in-your mouth dates finally opened up again after taking a true middletown style extended vacation. The only place I know of where the owners pick through the bananas, giving you only those unblemished specimens, and mixing and matching various stages of ripeness to match your preference. Or answer the question "How are those Ida Reds?" with the advice that they are really baking apples and the best eating apple right now are the Cortlands, and then cut you a sample slice. And those DATES. Don't worry, before I leave town I'm going to sink a serious portion of my savings into those babies and just maybe share a few with you lucky few :)

Third stop: It's Only Natural, the local natural foods store. Since I overindulged at WF and TJs last week, the only item on my shopping list today was milk. I didn't get as lucky as last time, when I picked up some expired milk for free.

Back at the ranch...
Andrea and Albert: "We're hungry... let's order a pizza!"
Me: (gasping in horror) "Do you know how much food we have in this house?? That's it, I'm cooking you dinner."

To the corn muffins I had already baked this morning, I added to the menu:
My favorite mac and cheese, which is whole foods brand cooked with broccoli. At Al's request, I baked it with crumbled crackers on top (in lieu of bread crumbs). Secret ingredient: mixed in dill havarti from the Nancy Mahoney Excess.

My new favorite baked beans. I usually just heat up a plain can of vegetarian baked beans. Today I added: a handful of chopped onion, sauteed. half a can of muir glen fire roasted tomatoes. half a bag of prewashed baby arugula. Black pepper to taste.
YUM.

And now it's time to put the taste buds to sleep for the night with half a grapefruit from the fruitery.

Friday, January 12, 2007

TGIF

Man, it's been a while since friday night meant anything. Yes, that's right, I'm back to being an office drone! Just finished my first week back at the CHC, where time appears to stand still. When I visited back in March, it was kind of cute that both my jobs were still vacant and I was still the expert. Now, a year and a half after quitting and moving out of the country, it's a little creepy. (Though I'm not complaining - a month in a cushy job at my old salary, twice what I was making in my crazy retail jobs, thank you very much.) In fact, all that seems to have changed is Thursday night they go down the street to the new bar for happy hour! That's right, I may not be in Ecuador, but I can still blog about my crazy drinking and partying! By which I mean having one beer at 5:30 pm and suffering through the kind of lame dirty humor all "the girls from the office" across america indulge in when that 5 o'clock whistle sounds. Actually the beer was really good (and a $2 special, which, while twice as expensive as a Pilsener, is still my kind of price tag) and it's a nice new bistro place, so I may have to drag Andrea out for a real girls night out.

Anyway, while not working on the Patient Satisfaction Survey or Patient Demand Study, what does any self-respecting office drone do? Keep up on one's googlenewsing! Entertaining AND with the added benefit of making you look intent at work on your computer. For your own procrastination come Monday, here's a couple favorites from today:

Remember when I was impressed by "Google.com.pe ofrecido en: Quechua"? So was the Economist.
Google it in Quechua

Speaking of Peru...
Have you seen Nepal? Not really, Peru says

Sunday, January 07, 2007

And the nominees are...

(No, I wasn’t kidding when I suggested our readers vote on best blog entry of 2006. Yes, I did just reread every blog entry from the past year. Someone’s got to do it! Well, not really.) Now, you are probably thinking “But Rebecca, you’re just picking the entries that recount your own favorite memories!” And you are right. I also picked KT’s posts that most made me embarrass myself by laughing out loud in public places in Quito. Feel free to nominate YOUR favorite and/or stare inducing post.

R's posts

It’s about time
In which I got teargassed: “For those of you are calling me a foolhardy young thrill-seeker, I would like to point out that I was not looking for a spot of police brutality. I was simply trying to go to choir practice.”

Cowboys and pigs and roommates, oh my...
In which I experienced a “plaintain western”, “don’t wish nature any specific harm” and “had a front row seat for the slaughter”

something to cheer me on...
In which I rave about WMSHC and along with kt and richard “sing through the entire sacred harp. OK, maybe just pages 181-224.”


In which I heroicly chase down a pickpocketer

I think the title pretty much covers it.

The big T
In which I had “fun with local remedies” and infamously “lived to visit machu picchu, and even eat a whole sandwich!”
(this one’s for you, Linda)


KT’s posts


No more public library internet for me, folks!
In which KT recounts the journey to Texas. “Well, imagine me pointing and saying, "Look, Rebecca! TEXAS!" and that pretty much sums it up.”
(Hey KT, did we ever get those Hot Springs anecdotes?)

Austin DOs and DON'Ts
In which KT covers for my record blog hiatus and reflects on her time in austin in hilarious list format. And asks the soul piercing question: “have you ever had a White Russian made with fresh goats' milk?”

Weekend in May
Despite the humdrum title, this entry catches my fancy for its high concentration of hi-lariously redneck quotable quotes. Observe:
“What kind of gentleman puts on a lady's jeans and doesn't realize they're not his own?!?!?! I ask you.” “Bill & Quincy are hosting a dominoes tournament/squirrel fry this evening.” “My co-worker's wedding is tomorrow, and we somehow managed to get all the clothes we need from the Goodwill down the block.” “We can't figure out if we have a cockroach infestation or if we've just been finding a normal amount of cockroaches for a Texas household.”

Sweet sweet space heater...
In which KT reflects that it might not have been a great plan to “announce in back-to-back posts that we're keeping money in a drawer AND it's incredibly easy to enter our house through the window.”


Other categories


Best vocabulary:
my only nominee in this category is...
forfend* - As used by Matt: “...because he's critical of the US (oh, and a socialist, heaven forfend!)”
*as Linda kindly informed us before mocking Matt in person: "Forfend," far from being the made-up word or unlikely typo it first appears to be, means to prevent, protect, or avert, as in "to fend off."

Best recurring theme:
My (much maligned by KT and Richard) constant references to drinking and the beach
VS
KT’s constant references to the snail’s pace at which she types her entries
VS
Our propensity to procrastinate by blogging and propensity to blog about procrastinating

Friday, January 05, 2007

And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught / For auld lang syne

Okay, I've allotted myself exactly half an hour to crank out this post, because the last thing any self-respecting office drone needs when she gets home from work is to get BACK onto the computer. Assuming that allows me a little over two minutes per day to describe each day since my plane landed in Connecticut... I should be about five days into my vacation now. In my defense, I stopped writing to eat a grapefruit. But I digress...

With the possible exception of the weather (two straight weeks of 45 degrees - you call that WINTER??? I've seen colder down here, and we grow CACTUS) it was an all-star vacation. Sweet sweet entry-level employment making it possible for me to disappear unobtrusively for two weeks. I love being lowly.

Highlights:

1. Massive quantities of sleep.
2. A too-short (I didn't even get a chance to replace any smoke detector batteries...) overnight with my grandparents.
3. Singing at Amy & Sheldon's, and at Helen Hills Hills for the first time since last January. Many happy reunions ensued. Mainly involving people who were less excited to see me than I them because they already know all about me from the blog. D'oh.
4. Revisiting Apples to Apples, the board game that Richard and I have been obsessed with since playing it at Christina's on our way down to Texas last winter. I came in a respectable third-to-last out of eight.
5. Making it out to Albany for R's nephews' christening and subsequent party with big extended upstate New York Italian family. Digital cameras, ziti in chafing dishes, and elderly gentlemen discussing their respective barbershop choruses abounded.

Could-have-been-betters:

1. Our first dogless Chanukah in 12 years. For 8 nights every year Watson was known as "Chanukah Boy" based on his compulsion to wake up and run from wherever he was snoozing into the dining room whenever he heard the prayer so he could squeeze himself into the middle of our traditional post-candle-lighting-group-hug. I'm pretty sure God made him extra-smart on these nights only, as he never failed to recognize the prayer - yes, the same dog who got a black eye because he couldn't figure out how to step out of the path of a moving baseball. Go figure.
2. Terrible tummyache on the night of the 30th and residual queasiness for the following week. Unfortunate side effect: I missed the New Year's Eve singing at Laura's. Silver lining: I managed to avoid eating myself stupid at my mother's New Year's party, a feat that no amount of intentional resolve would have accomplished.


I was going to try to beat Rebecca to posting her own pictures online (R and I left our cameras in Texas, so Rebecca was our sole documentator) but unfortunately I can't get the CD she gave us copies of her photos on to open. So you'll just have to imagine fake Christmas, our trip to Boston to visit Briana and Alison, and everything else we did. (Okay, let's be honest, that's everything we did. Unless you count the game of Life, which Rebecca already touched upon in her previous post.)

Okay, tune in later for pictures. And possibly a "Best Of 2006" list, which now that I have a blog I feel strangely compelled to come up with. How generic of me.

Happy 2007, y'all!

Love,

K

P.S. It's been an hour and a half.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Home again

Another day, another homecoming! This time it's Middletown, where I'm staying with ex-roomie Andrea. (And fabulous cat Foster.) Her house is all fixed up, she finally has good permanent tenants, and an empty room just waiting for me! I was so happy when she decided to stay and buy a house in town - I have an excuse to come back here, and when I do it's with A and all her familiar things. And my timing couldn't be better - she just had surgery and can't use her left hand, so I can give her some extra help with things like dishwashing and typing, and help out with of the never ending projects around the house. So I get a rent free stay, and a reason to stick around even if working at the CHC doesn't pan out. That's what I get to figure out tomorrow, when I can hopefully track down my old bosses and secure employment for the next month. Now it's off to play the game of Lost (not to be confused with the game of Life) with A and her weekly Lost watching buddies.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Feliz Año!

Welcome to 2007!

Rebecca's new year's eve 2005!
Rebecca's new year's eve 2006: shape note singing, watching a knitting show (on which amy was featured as a "knitting expert!"), and playing apples to apples! Just a tad more wholesome, but in no way less enjoyable.