Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cayenne Chocolate

From the movie Chocolat, which was one of my favorite books long before it was a movie:
Armande Voizin: Your cinnamon looks rancid.
Vianne Rocher: It's not cinnamon, it's a special kind of chili pepper.
Armande Voizin: Chili pepper in hot chocolate?
I've never been a chocolate freak, like a lot of people are. I actually crave salt and heat over sugar any day. While most woman are turning to Godiva during times hormonal, I am searching for sushi, with a side of high-sodium soy sauce, and enough wasabi to knock me off my ass.

I don't dislike chocolate—I'm in heaven with a $2 bite of dark chocolate from a good chocolatier, but that's about all I can handle with out reeling from sugar-nausea.

Every time I watch the movie or thumb through my copy of Chocolat, I've been intrigued with the idea of chocolate and chili pepper. Sounds, darling, like it's right up my alley. Why have I not searched it out?!

As luck would have it, a friend begifted me with this bar of chocolate, after a trip to San Diego last week.Uh-my-gawd, chocolate and chili pepper ROCKS! Where in the hell have I been?!! Look, baby, I doled out a square of this my son and his friend, who happened to be around when I opened the bar, but that is IT!!! The only reason this candy bar lasted 4 days is because I meant to ration it and make the heaven last. I had to FORCE myself to stop eating it!

I did a bit of research. Chuao Spicy Maya Chocolate Bar is not inexpensive. One candy bar runs about $13, but Va-Va-Voom, is it ever worth it!!!

I don't know if I'm the last goober on earth that hasn't experienced this stuff—for all I know it's as common as Hershey's, and I've merely remained oblivious in the chocolate loop in search of nori and wasabi. I am pleased as punch however, to finally have tasted cayenne pepper chocolate, to have moved a little closer into one of my favorite books, and to understand the surprise of Armande Voizin, when she tastes her chili chocolate.

Joyfully, the movie will never be the same. Neither will I.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sundays with Mama #1

I've decided that I'll make a weekly attempt to post something about my Sunday afternooons with my mother; Lord knows there's always some kind of blogworthy fun being had. Read on for the first edition.

"Mom, will you pose with the mask on?" "Sure."
Isn't she fun?

After lunch at the Mexican Restaurant, we went mucking around, got her glasses adjusted, and ended up strolling around Bed Bath and Beyond. We smelled all the candles and touched all the fuzzy blankets, and ended up poking around a stocking-stuffer bin. Mom picked up a sleeping mask, and asked me, "what's this thing?" I explained to her what it was for, and she replied, "Oh. I thought it was panties."

Panties? PANTIES? Give me that thing, I have to figure out how she came up with that.

Oh. Ok. A reasonable misunderstanding after all.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Black Friday

I dared to go out on the most dangerous of days yesterday: Black Friday. Once upon a time, my son and I would wake up at 5 and head out for a couple of hours, end up having breakfast at a downtown cafe around 7, and then come home to sleep. It was a self-indulgent hunt for good cheap loot; we mostly ended up picking up stuff only for ourselves, saving Christmas shopping for a more appropriate time of year...like Dec. 23.

These days the son is just getting home around 5, and I certainly don't have the discipline to get up at that hour on my own, so this year I headed out with a friend at the crack of 10:30.

First stop: Best Buy. Look, I HATE that store, but they had A Home Theater System for $49.99!!! I had originally been on a hunt for a a docking station for my iPod, but here was an entire home theater system for 1/2 the price. This could work! I threw one in my cart, along with a memory card for my camera. We picked up a car stereo system for an out-of-town friend, and headed to the check-out, approximately 11:45, 15 minutes left to get the great prices!!

The Best Buy Authorities directed us with those air-traffic control-orange-popsicle-lights to a recreation-park-esque queue that had been taped off through the kitchen appliance department. It was extremely organized, but approximately 500 miles long.

'Tis the season; we took our place amongst the Frigidaire's. We were soon joined by a woman with a cartful, who seemed to have no idea the significance of the day. Harumphing and sighing, she stood with us around the first corner before beckoning a poor BB employee, "EXCUSE ME, EXCUSE ME...," she snapped, "IS THIS THE ONLY PLACE TO CHECK OUT?!!"

I keep standing and smiling, but I am thinking "No, bitch, there are 1,000 people standing patiently in a line that leads to 15 checkout lanes, but there's one register open back in the rear of the store, wayyyyyyyyy back there with the Princess telephones, that has no waiting. Run on back there and find it. Jay-zus, people should be more patient!!!! More patient I say!!!"

No wonder riots break out, eh?

[P.S. The $50 Home Theater System sounded exactly like a $50 Home Theater System would. I gambled and lost; have returned said system, and instead run a complex system of Campbell's soup cans and string from my television to various corners of the room for a vast improvement.]

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Banana Fanna Fo Fori

Observation: Have you ever noticed that anything, absolutely ANYTHING will be gobbled up if you just leave it on the counter in your workplace? The last pruny tomatoes on September's vines, Halloween candy, leftover wedding cake, the giant Sam's club bag of sugar-garlic potato chips... just put them on the counter at work. Some poor schmuck that skipped breakfast will ALWAYS, eventually come along and devour the food that you and your family won't touch with a 10-foot pole at home.

(I have been polishing those bananas off at a rate of one a day.)

Monday, November 21, 2005


I noticed this the other day. What the heck is it?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Russian Oil-Pulling Therapy

I periodically thumb through a small paperback book at a friend's house, entitled "Acupressure and Fitness" by Dr. H. Bhojraj, an accupressurist (is that a word?) from Sri Lanka. Copyright 2004.

I came across a Miracle Therapy that will ease or cure the following ailments: colds, cough, asthma, digestive problems, chronic headaches, pimples, cracking feet, and (honestly!) "etc." It cures etc.! It also cured one man of gas, insomnia, and sensitivity to weather.

Ok, here's what you do—be sure to read all through the directions before you try this.
Measure 10 ml of refined sunflower oil or groundnut oil (approximately one tablespoon) and without any great effort or hurry, wash and suck the oil inside the mouth like using a mouthwash. Never gargle or swallow the oil. Pull the oil through the teeth often; this oil will pull all the toxins from your mouth through saliva.
You have to do that for preferably 15 to 20 minutes, until the oil becomes a "thin, white foam."

It's best performed early in the morning, and on an empty stomach. If you're in a hurry to cure your cracking feet, do this 2-3 times a day.

When your 20 minutes is up, NEVER swallow that toxic saliva; it's best, the book says, to spit it into a sand-filled dust bin, and dispose of it regularly. (Like a litter box. A Spitter box. Ha! Get it? Spitter box!)

This has been a public service announcement. I'll be on my way, now, to take some Nyquil, put some lotion and cotton socks on my feet, count sheep, and wait for your comments about how ROPT works for you.

At the very least, I hope it cures your itchy et cetera. Keep me posted.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Pane & the Ass: Update

Hey, everyone, thanks for the outpouring of support, here and through e-mail, with websites, addresses, phone numbers, and advice on my windows issues.

I did allow a male friend to make a call to Midstate on my behalf. Here's an excerpt from The Hero's report:
At the beginning, D*** thought he had me on his side. Surely I could see things from HIS point of view, couldn't I? I parried inconsequentially allowing barbs directed at you to pass by without apparent friction—at least at first. He actually responded positively to my assertion he wouldn't accept that work in HIS house. "No he wouldn't" was the outcome. "Well, neither would I, D***. Neither would my business-owning friends. So, I gotta wonder, D***. Why'd you do it?" He implied it was because you were "cheap."
Grind, grind, grind <-- My teeth. He went on:
He called me a "modern-day Robin Hood: stealing from the honest and giving to the dishonest.
Repeat grinding.

If you've read previous comments, you'll know that the conversation between the boys escalated into what my friend The Rhinestone Cowgirl refers to as "tool time": Swinging tools, and she's not referring hammers and drills. When all was said and done, Mad Dog's advice to me was:
Losing situation, sadly. I am convinced in my own mind this company is rife with ineptitude. They ignored Business 101 classes down at the local community college and opted for the "caveman" business principle of "bashing with a large stick and hauling off the carcasses." A tawdry way of running a business (if they may indeed be referred to as a 'business.') I'm also quite alarmed at their (oddly suicidal) practice of speaking in such abusive and demeaning ways to individuals they've never met, nor sized up physically.
So. What to do, what to do?

Well clearly, I am not finished here. Baby, it's cold outside. I am remodeling, and I HAVE to move forward and get these windows taken care of. Oh, in their defense, Midstate has made it clear that they WILL rectify the situation.

For a fee. They don't just GIVE labor and materials away, what kind of businessman would do that?

Here are some tidbits from my last response to them, then, until I can calculate what it's actually going to cost me to straighten this out, and which actions I will ultimately be taking:
An honest attempt to straighten out some misunderstandings on my part has resulted in my being referred to cheap, dishonest, undereducated (as if I have only a 6th grade education], and conniving (trying to get something for nothing). You have also threatened my friends (suing them for slander...)..

...[A] mere "it's not in the contract, we will do nothing more for you, good day, Madam" would have been enough.

I will be contacting the attorney general and the better business bureau, primarily for the intimidating tactics you've used in attempting to convince me that sealing off the windows you installed in my home was not your responsibility.

But let the record show: I am neither dishonest, conniving, cheap, poor, or uneducated. When all is said and done here, I walk away shaking my head at your business tactics, wondering if your own life is fulfilled working for a nice guy like D***, if you both go home feeling good using your belittling tactics.

I have received two seemingly very polite phone calls from D*** since I sent that message along. He would like me to return his phone call; he has a proposal for me.

Eh, No thanks.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Here comes the Sun...

If you know me, you've probably already seen this picture. It's just too pretty not to show everyone. I grabbed a stepladder and a camera and took a road trip to this field in Decatur, Illinois, 2 summers ago. There was no taking a bad photo in this glorious place.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tales Part Deux

Sit down.

I've been trying to decide whether I'm going to use this blog as an avenue for venting about my consumer woes, and have decided, HELL yeah! It SAYS it's about my encounters, doesn't it?

Here is the summarized response from the company that installed my new windows: I purchased cheap windows and would have to expect water coming in to my house. I can't possibly expect a dry, sealed off window.

Ok, it's been a LOT more drawn out than that, and I've been yelled at and belittled by some chick named Becky. Trimming and sealing the windows, I was told, was not in my contract.

I asked her "why would I want to replace leaky windows with leaky windows?"

And she replied, "I don't know. I'm not you."

Now THAT is service, don't you think? Midstate Siding and Windows has been done proud by this employee!

As you can imagine, the conversation went downhill from there. She offered to have more people call me, probably to explain to me how it is I am wrong to have expected my windows to be sealed off, instead of merely suspended in a hole in the wall. I said, sure, bring it on.

In the meantime, I'm tired of her avoidance and condescension, and I won't hold my breath waiting for some salesman's supervisor to get in touch. I'm sending out a registered letter tomorrow, with photos, demanding repairs and an apology. Better Business Bureau and Attorney General will hear from me, and, if this isn't fixed, so will small claims court.


I accidentally paid for a lofty car repair last week that should have been covered my extended warranty. Once we figured it all out, the HONDA people were downright merry at the prospect of setting this to rights, and getting my money back to me as soon as possible. YAY for Honda!!


Last January, I purchased a carpet remnant from Carpetmasters in Champaign, and had it cut down and bound into an area rug and 2 runners, for an odd-sized space. Unfortunately, the main rug curled up at all 4 corners, growing increasingly worse with summer's humidity. My initial phone call to the company to fix this was met with nothing but an apology. After my mother nearly killed herself tripping over a curling corner, I knew I had to dispose of the rug.

I wrote the company telling them how disappointed I was with the product, and mailed it on a Friday evening 4:00.

NEXT MORNING, 9:00, Cookie, the manager called me, and made it right, on the spot. They couldn't steam the rug down, so I was invited into to pick out new carpets, and 3 new rugs were made for me, at their expense.

I have yet to send her a letter of thanks, but I am impressed and grateful, that she'd stand by her product 10 months after selling it to me, and I will DEFINITELY be talking to Cookie again when this sunroom issue is rectified.

So, there's good in the world. Look at my cute, flat rug:

...last gift

Every Sunday, I take my mother out to lunch. I haven't written anything about my mother yet, but I intend to, because if there are angels walking among us, she is one, and you should know! If I were to give you a quick summary, I'd tell you that I look back on her a as wacky and fearless woman, providing, in her day, daycare to as many as 10 babies at once in a 3 bedroom house, falling in love with every single one of them, and crying her eyes out when one moved away, or had to actually, say, go to kindergarten.

She is shyer now, still sweet, but anxious. She is beginning to lose her memory. It is little things; a word here and there, and numbers frustrate her: "8" is obvious, she knows, but how does she write the numeral "teen"? Medication helps, but she is just as comfortable handing over her checkbook and bills, to me and my sister, to ensure that everything remains in order. We do what we can to take over and ease her panic. In the meantime, she is otherwise functioning fine, and we rejoice in her company.

SUNDAYS ARE A TRIP! We go, most Sundays to the same small Mexican restaurant, in which the waiters yell "Hey, Mama" and give her hugs, pat her shoulder. After lunch, we determine which errands need running, or just head out shopping. I drag her to my favorite cafe late in the afternoon, where she often has a chance to meet a few of my friends. She's quiet, but adores them, and loves going there. She will notice who is missing, and say "it's not as fun without ____" there, though she rarely speaks to ____.

There's more, but you get the idea, right? She's sweet and sunny and naive, and she's been talking to 2-year-olds for the last 45 years, and she will crack you up! I am 42 years old, and she will still make me look at a train, a plane, or a cow, on every roadtrip we take.

When I called her yesterday morning, she was giddy. "I have some surprises for you!!!" she said. I could just HEAR her doing a jig. "What? What is my surprise?" I tried to trick her. "I don't know! I don't know what it is!" she giggled.

Yah, Ok. Par for the course, Mom, although I know something's in store for me. When I arrive, she hands me THE softest micro-fiber throw I have ever felt. She has gone with my sister and some girlfriends and had a blanket-buying frenzy, she must share the wealth, these things are so warm and soft. YAY, it is heavenly; she bought one for Brian also.

"What" then, "is the surprise you don't know?" I ask her. She pulled a gift-wrapped package out of her purse. She found this box, as you see, labeled, "Love, Mom and Dad." She has absolutely no recollection which year she forgot to put this under the tree.

Can you imagine?!! We both look at the box as if it were the Holy Grail! It could be a child's gift! Was it for my teen years? Was my son even born when this gift was purchased? We know only one thing: It was Christmas 2000 or earlier, as my father passed away in 2001.

And this is not lost on me: Unless Mom stumbles across a cornucopia of lost Christmas gifts, which isn't likely, it is the last gift I will ever open that is signed, "Love Mom and Dad."

It doesn't really matter what was in the box, then, does it?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Excess Baggage

'Dja ever walk around putting more mental energy than is necessary into a thing?

This suitcase has been at the base of my neighbor's driveway since Friday afternoon. Just sitting there, no one has come or gone. It's bothering me the way shoes in the street bother me: what's the story behind them?

I am worrying about that luggage, and about my neighbors, whom I have never met. I imagine them having set about a long trip, and placed this piece of luggage on the top of the car, while they arrange the rest in the trunk. OFF to O'Hare airport in Chicago they go, joyously looking forward to their vacation in the Bahamas, or their honeymoon at Niagara Falls. With traffic, three hours before they arrange themselves in long-term parking, and find themselves perplexed: Where is the big suitcase? Where are our underpants?!!

I want to run over there and unzip just a bit and peek! Maybe there's ID in there, and I can call the owner—no money for me, please, solving the mystery is reward enough.

But, as I said, I don't know the people that belong to that driveway, and I don't want to appear the crazy screw-loose neighbor [and steal CJ's thunder], should I approach the thing and give it a tap with my toe.

Instead I'll just blog about it.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

...Tales of a Pink-Blond Homeowner

"You're such a girl"...recently commented my friend, MadDog, much to my amusement.

Boy-0-boy, that phrase has been on rewind-repeat in my head for the last 24 hours.

I purchased my 'lil house a little over a year ago. The former owner had done a general amount of maintenance and remodeling, which was a big selling point for me. Home maintenance isn't one of my strong points.

Oh, I'm a terrific homemaker and decorator, but I don't do wiring, plumbing, roofing, siding, window installation. Worse, even, is that I often can't even recognize when these things need to be done...or if they're done incorrectly.

I have a sunroom on the back of my house that consumes roughly 1/6 of my living space, so I've been working towards making it as functional as possible for the most months of the year. The windows to the sunroom, when I bought it, were disasatrous; it seemed as if each were picked up at different junkyards, none matched. Pine needles blew right into the room through the mis-aligned windows and frames. I had to seal the room off for my first winter here.

This summer I hired a BIG company to put 11 new windows in my sunroom. Windows are expensive, jack, and it was a somewhat stressful transaction for me.

There were a few red flags: When I phoned to schedule an estimate, the woman on the other line asked me, "Are you single?" The idea of her checking off a box on a form somewhere: "SINGLE", didn't sit well with me. I asked her, before getting off the phone, what difference it made. She said they require all homeowners to be at the estimate meeting. Hmph.

This particular company, a very large one, made me an offer I couldn't refuse. $2K, actually, to install 11 windows. I'd done some shopping at home depot, and the numbers seemed to make sense, so I signed up.

It was months before the work was actually done, but they were finally installed, and I thought them beautiful. I can begin the painting, carpeting. But first, I must hire someone to insulate the room, and perhaps add a heating duct to it.

I called an old friend starting a new business, Herman, to give me some ideas and estimates. He had plenty of ideas, and in the interim, he's shaking his head at the shoddy workmanship on the entire structure. Well, yes, even I can see that it was sort of a piecemeal project for whoever put this together; and I am trying to fix this now. Then, Herman said, "your windows are in some sad shape, that guy must have been a moron."

I am dumbfounded. My WINDOWS are in bad shape? I let it sink in for a few minutes before I meekly admit that my windows were just installed in August, and maybe he should show me what is wrong with them.

Herman has a fit, and drags me around to show me my window problems. The windows are not even sealed into the walls. They clearly do not fit, there is wood showing, and rain can run right into my walls. He brings me inside and stands me on a chair to show me that daylight is shining right through, around the outside of the windows. The tops and bottoms of 8 of my 11 windows look like this:

I am feeling like a little pink-haired girl in a dunce-cap; How can I not have seen this? It's very obvious; did I ever even go outside and inspect them?!! NO! I was on autopilot; I was pleased; the windows are done, I paid good money to have them done, and it didn't occur to me that Midstate Siding and Windows (heh heh hehhh) would have done anything less than a stellar job.

Herman is *thoroughly* annoyed, I have been taken for a ride. He insists, of course, that I get on the phone, and make them make this right or there will be hell to pay. I am deflated, now, and unsure of my abilities even to have that conversation. I honestly don't even know what to tell them is not right about the windows, or what I want them to do to fix them. Is there a part? a frame? is flashing something? I know only that I should be seething! Herman told me so, so I believe it!

I'm somewhat anxious; when the workmen last left here, they made me go through, I kid you not, a RECORDED exit interview: Is everything done to your satisfaction? YES, I said, happily.

While I'm not meek or stupid, I will probably call on the assistance of my knowledgeable men-friends to help me fight this battle if it become a battle. I can write a mean letter, and make phone calls, and this will be right.

I still wonder, though: Was SINGLE checked off somewhere?!! What if, on that initial phone call, I had lied, and suggested that there WAS a man of some sort in my house, a man that would be inspecting those windows, a man that would have said "I don't freakin' think so" on the exit interview, would those installers DARED to have walked away leaving sunlight and wind and water to rain to run right into my walls?

I'm disenchanted.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Pucker Up

Busy day today, working outside. Found myself eye-to-eye with this guy while I was carrying outdoor furniture from the back yard to the garage. While I sidled my way through the gate, I asked him, "please don't jump on my face."

He didn't, so I went back and asked him to smile for the camera. He was a real natural.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Enjoy your walk...

I was reading a disturbing story on another blog recently (http://bougieblackboy.blogspot.com/2005/11/gothic-tale-firefighter.html) about a guy who dressed as a fireman, started a fire in an apartment, and manipulated his way into a woman's apartment. The story was depressing, but the comments to Stephen's (I write his name as if I know him; I do not) blog set me to contemplating.
"I think you've highlighted a tremendous fear that women, who like myself live alone, have about living alone." "It sucks, as a female, that I constantly have to be looking over my shoulder and be on guard." "This is why-I never lived alone. I was always afraid of being stalked."*
I was 13, and in junior high when a "self defense" was first formally presented to me, in a school assembly. I distinctly remember the hypothetical question, "what would you do, if attacked?" We knew: Hit! kick! Scratch! The instructor then pulled a boy from the audience, and asked him what he'd do if a girl hits him. "I'd stop it. I'd hit her back." The overall message was that we should try to outsmart our assailants if we can, but what stayed with me this: Should I fight [an assailant], I may only stand to be responsible for my own further injury. Wonderful. Damned if I do, damned if I don't.

Women are inundated with safety information then, from childhood until forever more. Our magazine articles, e-mails, talk-shows, girlfriends, and local police officers are reminding us of how predators think, and what we can do to thwart them. Every woman knows to
  • Carry our keys poking through our fingers, hands in fist.
  • Avoid walking near doorways and stairways.
  • Look under our cars and before approaching it.
  • Look in our backseats.
  • Don't walk near shrubbery.
  • To never leave our drinks unattended.
  • When and where to kick. That are elbows are strong. Go for the eyes. Keep porch lights on. Carry your purse in front of you. Don't walk and talk on the cel phone. Move our cars after we load them with shopping packages. Get a deadbolt. Get pepper spray. Walk in pairs. And then some.

I have become, I think, instinctively aware of most of the items on this list. Stairways creep me out bigtime; I enter a parking garage stairway like a cat with an arched back. I listen and watch at every level, and keep an eye on the doors. I walk nearer the streets and stay visible, and try to avoid digging aimlessly for keys while I'm wandering.

I received an email 2 days ago that included this helpful hint:

  • If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy! The driver won't see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

What?!! If I am ever thrown into the trunk of a car?!! I have to keep all of these things in mind, and NOW I have to remember how to kick out a taillight? I have to keep in mind that firemen and police officers might not be what they seem? And I should also never take anyone up on the offer to smell a new cologne; it's chloroform.

Am I paranoid? I've taken a mini-poll, and I am assured that most of my girlfriends are watchful and aware of these same things. Most of their statements reflect those of my friend and fellow blogger (Room with a View):

"I've talked to [my husband] about it before. He was amazed that I felt fear at night walking through a parking lot. It just doesn't affect him that way."

Right! I also polled my male friends, and my son and his friends with one question: "How often are you nervous when you walk to your car at night?" I was met with blank stares, a couple of "pfffts!" and one "what are you talking about?" The unanimous answer, in a nutshell, was "Never."

Never? NEVER? What must it be like to just wander around all worry-free, oblivious to your surroundings, and the fact that there may be a nutjob in those shrubs? Are you telling me that you just walk to your car without worrying someone's going to grab your ankles?!! You are lucky to be alive, my friend.

I know I do stupid things, put myself at occasional statistical risk, and I have considered myself lucky, in hindsight, on several occasions. Not to advertise it, but I know very well that I would have answered my door and let that faux firefighter into my house, under the same circumstances. I probably make too much eye contact, and speak and offer assistance to too many strangers.

I like to think that common sense and gut instinct will prevail, and I'll just *know* when not to do those things; but that's ridiculous; it serves only to insinuate that other women had neither of these traits. Of course they do.

I'm not saying that I walk around in constant fear—I simply refuse to. But I do try to move through my life exercising a bit of awareness and common sense. It would be nice not to have to think about it, but I'll continue to jump through a few hoops and keep my ears and eyes open.

Because, maybe it's all for nothing, but maybe I have thwarted off just ONE encounter in my life, or stand to, in the future.

And, that's reason enough.

Be safe, dearies.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Please Hold, for Superficial Blog

Look, I have "real" blogs lined up, with guts and grit for content, but I'm racing deadlines, and simply have no time to "develop" those entries right now. Meantime, mean old co-workers named Charles are reminding me it's been DAYS since my last blog.

So, I colored my already-colored hair a few days ago. Quite honestly, I have no idea the real color of my hair anymore. When I began highlighting and messing with it, 20 or so years ago, it was sort of a muddy dishwater blond; I imagine it's something like that now.

I imagine also that I am blissfully ignorant, and content to remain so, about the amount of greying that may have occurred, since I began manipulating my hair color.

I digress.

On a whim, and by taking a vote from my son and his friend, (the aye's have it) I decided to try red again, a change from my ExtraLightAshBlond, #9-1/2. Or whatever.

I got chickeny, though, and went "Light Red Blonde."

THINK about it, Lori! You're an artist! You're a painter! If you put "light red" on "extra light blond" what are you likely to get?



My hair is Pink. Ish.

There have been those kind enough to ensure me, "No, it looks good." And I walk by shop windows in broad daylight, and think "Why, there's Cyndi Lauper! Celebrity Point for me!"

I don't much care, it's only hair... but since Pink was never really one of the options, when I was considering "blond again, or red?" I am moved to fix it, tonight some time.

What to do, what to do?

Go Red, so Red that there's absolutely no question of my Cyndi Lauper vs. Lucille Ball status? Or back to blond, which might turn out even bubble-gum-ier?

There's always ManicPanic AfterMidnight Blue, but I imagine that would bring out the dark circles under my eyes.

What do you think?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Dad's Rules to Live By

1. Do Unto Others.

2. You only get the respect you demand.

3. If you meet 3 S.O.B.'s in any one day, you'll find the 4th in the mirror.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Smelling the Roses....[Leaves]

I can't help it. I'm burning the candle at both ends, and consciously trying to get a grip on my life. Seriously, my purse is dysfunctional: full of receipts, envelopes that need to be mailed, an application to a pizza-eating contest, and an actual lightbulb, so that I'll know, when I go next to the hardware store, which bulb I need to get my lava lamp up an running.

I'm out of checks, there's a load of laundry in the washer, I'm behind on the icon-designing. I'm tired; I slept til 11:00 this morning (!!!) and lunch with La Familia took 2 hours longer than I expected. Errands with Mama ensue after, and...

I have no regard for all of my responsibilities! This year, as every year past, I am WOW'd by Autumn's Exhibition. Mother and I spent the afternoon merrily dropping stuff into the Goodwill box, then pulling over for photos, and picking up Rx, then another photo; repeat, repeat.

Well, here are a mere few we pulled over to capture, this afternoon.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Don't You Lovett?

Doh! I canNOT believe it, I searched high and low for this photograph last week, so I could blog it before Halloween. And then, tonight, I just pops out of nowhere. I blame my poltergeist, which I'll tell you about in some other entry.

So, HERE is Lyle-O-Lantern, carved several years ago by my friend Shy_Smiley (great blog, check it out at www.chemicalfeel.blogspot.com), at an impromptu pumpkin carving party. Lyle's one of my favorite artists, and this pumpkin makes me laugh every time; I still remember the gleeful dance 'round the table, when she realized she'd actually captured him "You did it!" "I DID do it!"

Well, I forgot to wear my dang Halloween socks this year, and I forgot to pull my bat earrings out of the jewelry box, and for those, I'll wait another year. But I can't wait til next Halloween to show you this.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Trick or Aurrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhh

It was, once again, a cold, drizzly Champaign Halloween. Here's an amusing pic that my friends Paul & Mary sent me of their son.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Diwali: Festival of Lights

I have been beating myself up lately for my lack of organization, for running my life all willy-nilly. I need to work on becoming more structured, more organized in many aspects of my life: diet, exercise, finances, housework, yardwork, artwork, sleep. Seems I'm waking up too many days and racing off to work thinking that TONIGHT, and maybe for the next couple of nights, I will stay home and work hard, and scratch several things off of my to-do list...and then sit back and revel in the forthcoming serenity.

This evening, I showered early, crawled into sweats, and dug into doing rough sketches for icons for software developers. Elves and Ogres are in order, I will brainstorm from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.; my sketchbook will be full.

And my friend, Ilaiy, who happens to be from India, called me and asked me "Lori, do you know where the (U of I) quad is?" I've lived here all my life. Of course I know. "Take a break, I have a surprise. Come to the quad with me." He would not tell me what it is, this surprise. Ok. I'll bite. I bug him all the way to the quad, as I give driving directions. WHAT is it?

He is tight-lipped. Not knowing he is teasing, I am irritated when he finally leads me to believe it is "Flash Night," and that sorority girls will be lifting their tops. "Why in the HELL would I want to see that?" I snipe, chapped that I was tricked into leaving my artwork.

We parked and walked in, and I see from a distance...lights..everywhere lights. "Have you ever seen THIS?" he said. No...this is not right, unless they've lined the sidewalks with lights since last I was here. It's candles! Thousands and thousands of candles!

It is Diwali, the Festival of Lights, an Indian holiday. The festival on the quad is sponsored by the Indian Graduate Students Association.There are hundreds of students and families there, wishing one another Happy New Year. The literature we picked up reads:
It is through light that the beauty of this world is revealed or experienced. Most civilizations of the world recognize the importance of light as a gift of God. It has always been a symbol of whatever is positive in our world of experience.
Darkness represents ignorance, and light is a metaphor for knowledge. Therefore, lighting a lamp symbolizes the destruction, through knowledge, of all negative forces. Diwali emphasizes the journey from darkness to light."
And the photo doesn't do the evening justice, and there's still time for icons and housework, and tonight I am thankful for my undisciplined nature.