Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Post O' the Year

Here we are. On the couch. Drinks in hand, potatoes on the boil, pajamas on.

The last hour of 2010, which was a great year.

A year in which I figured a lot of things out. In which Steinvic moved here and we set up house. In which we married and made a home. A year in which we began to figure out our lives and our life together.

Mick Jagger is prancing around on the television and it makes me wonder how he can be in such phenominal shape and I have the same 20-30 lbs to lose that I've been toting around for the last 10 years.

2011 is time to exercise and get healthy. I've already ditched smoking and continue with my nearly unprocessed food diet. But I'm not perfect yet. There is room for improvement.

There is room for reading. For writing. For more art. I am almost 40. If I'm going to do something, now is the time.

I was awake before Steinvic this morning, and watched the movie about Harvey Milk. He didn't start his advocacy until after his 40th birthday. While the story was profound and deeply sad (how did the movement lose momentum after all the hard seems like equality should have immediately followed!) it reminds me that a lot can be accomplished quickly if you've got direction.

I need direction. Am I an artist? A writer? What?

I am not setting goals, but I'm open to possibilities.

But first, I'm off to drain and mash potatoes...

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Open Letter – Restroom Cell Phone Talkers

Dear Restroom Cell Phone Talkers –

I need a word with you.

I’m sure that at your house, your bathroom is your sanctuary. You can hang out in there, take a soak in the tub, read a novel on the potty, or surf the internet if you are fortunate enough to have something wireless and portable to sneak in there with you.

But our workplace is not your house. And our restroom is not your personal lounge. It is a place to – as privately as possible - seek relief, wash your hands (thoroughly, please), freshen up and move on.

You are not The Fonz.

Our workplace bathroom is not your "office."

So, why – oh, why – are you talking on your cell phone from that corner stall?

So often, you are guilty of the “sneak attack.” This is where you are already in the stall when I arrive and you're on the phone, but you’re in the listening part of your conversation, so I don’t know you’re talking to anyone. (Had I known you were on the phone, I seriously would have gone to a different bathroom on another floor if necessary.) Then suddenly, you start the talking part of your conversation. And, with technology being what it is, I can’t help but think that your talking must be backed up by the sound of tinkling.

I don’t really want my tinkles to be overheard by the friend with whom you’re bashing your ex-boyfriend, the receptionist from your doctor’s office who finally called your prescription in or the mechanic who fixed your car for an amount greater than what you’d agreed to pay. But more, I don’t understand why you’d want the person on the other end of the line to hear my tinkles, your own tinkles or any other Sounds of the Ladies’ Room.

It makes me wonder if you think that the person on the other end of the line isn’t on to you…that somehow, you don’t think they hear the echo-chamber-like effect of the bathroom or the tinkles or any of that. It makes me think that you think that they don’t know what’s up when you say, “Hold on,” set the phone down, pull off some toilet paper from the roll (pretty distinct sound there, Fonzie), and then FLUSH. Do you think they don’t know what they’ve just involuntarily witnessed? Surely, you didn’t ask their permission, “Say, Mr. Jones, I want to hear more about that lawn care special, but I’ve got to use the can. Want to come with me?”

This building is HUGE. We have break rooms, conference rooms and learning rooms that are soundproof. You are allowed to use them! But the fact is that you are either void of etiquette or just flat out too lazy to walk down the hall and you prefer to duck into the one place that is supposed to be reserved for a function that does not require telecommunicating.

Regardless of the reasoning behind your rudeness, I’m asking you to reconsider. Either that, or I may begin using your cubicle as a toilet while you aren’t there.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Recovery

We had a great Holiday. Steinvic and I celebrated on Christmas Eve – just us. We had cocktails at our local, a fabulous cheese & cracker and homemade soup feast at home, and then exchanged gifts and fell asleep on the couch during “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

We were lazy on Christmas Day until time to go to my folks, and Young Man and Girlfriend met us there. One of my (distant by logistics only) older cousins (she’s English, and 80 going on 50-something) was also there, and her love of music and sparkly personality kept the kids smiling. Young Man and my Mom bonded over their love for jazz records and made a date to get together to compare and share vinyl soon.

The kids, Steinvic and I all headed home and had our own Christmas there, sharing stories and joking in the kitchen while I made appetizers for the day after celebration at Steinvic’s sister’s home. Suddenly, we realized it was 1 a.m. and that would have been fine, save for the kids needing to get up and head for Columbus REALLY early (6 a.m.!) so everyone was off to bed.

I woke up early to make strong coffee in travel mugs and pack up some blueberry muffins for the kids' long, dark commute home, then slept a wee bit more and then we were up to get ready and drive to Columbus. A full house – all siblings and their kids – gathered around big, beautiful tables for an Italian feast, which was fantastic. Then lots of drinking and visiting and finally sleep.

Then back home yesterday…and we’re worn out, and both back to work today. I’ve managed to get some kind of goofy sore throat, watery eyes funk, probably from all the running around I’ve been doing. Seems like my body has a cut off for how long I am permitted to burn the candle at both ends, and then BOOM – hello, cold! Just need to shake it before next week…we’re headed out West for a belated honeymoon!

It’s time to load up on the B12, B6 and Vitamin C…and relax!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas Tale

Here, we see a small penguin from my friends in front of roses from Steinvic...

Once upon a time, in a city not so far away from here (though it feels like a million miles away, or that it never happened at all), lived a groovy chick who found herself in a bad situation. It seemed that a horrible monster had taken over her castle and was slowly but surely destroying everything within it.

The groovy chick thought carefully and one day, with the help of her very brave parents, quickly packed everything she could and began to move away while the monster was out of the castle.

She packed her clothes, gathered some personal belongings and – at the last minute, as encouraged by her parents – brought along a very special, small, grey and black kitty (who was quite grateful to be escaping with the groovy chick.)

However, in her haste, the groovy chick could not take a lot of her most precious belongings. You see, there was no time…if the monster had returned to the castle during her escape, the brave parents, special kitty and the groovy chick ALL would have been in serious trouble.

So some things had to stay. Most of those things she didn’t care about because she imagined some day, she would buy things like furniture and artwork and dishes again. But other things…those she would grow to miss.

Her childhood Christmas ornaments – the ones she’d carefully made so long ago that her mother had saved for her until she had a home of her own – remained tucked carefully away in the upstairs crawlspace. The table runner, cookie jar and Christmas dishes from her only aunt stayed packed in tissue, stacked lovingly in plastic bins (she really loved her aunt, and cherished those matching decorations.) She left her bike. She left her Beatles scrapbook. She left.

She moved with her kitty to a new home. They bought a small tree. They bought some glittery things from the dollar store to make their home cheerful that first Holiday. It was sparse, but sentimental…and that became more important than anything.

A handsome Prince came into the picture, and over time, brought them love, happiness and some special decorations to help the cause. Years passed and he came to stay for good and had some of his own Christmas decorations to share.

And then, one fine Christmas weekday, the groovy chick met her dear friend and her dear friend’s lovely children for lunch. And the groovy chick was given MANY Holiday treats by the friend and children. So many beautiful, special, fun and handmade Christmas decorations that the chick thought her heart might burst with joy…and that her arm might fall off under the weight of the packages on her way to her car! The decorations would merge with those she’d begun collecting once again, and would make her home look and smell like the Holidays.

And as she drove away from the luncheon, she thought to herself, “Too much.” Her friend said she remembered how the groovy chick lost all of her ornaments long ago. And knowing that her friend cared made the groovy chick…well, some icicles dripped just a little on her face as she walked to the car. And she realized, this is how you really escape the monsters…by making happy memories with the people you care the most about. And she knew that all of her Christmases would be full of goodness from now on.

And the brave parents, handsome Prince, dear friend, lovely kids and groovy chick all lived their very blessed lives, happily ever after.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Es Ist Morgen

It's 8 a.m., and instead of being snuggled down, sleep-in style, I'm sitting in the living room...Young Man and Girlfriend snoozing downstairs, Steinvic slumbering upstairs. The Christmas tree lights are on, all of my favorite candles are glowing and I've got a batch of lemon-poppyseed muffins in the oven. I've got a small pan of water and mulling spices simmering on the stove to make the whole house smell heavenly. Except for the furnace kicking on ever so often, it's completely quiet.

This is a feeling that is, on one hand - foreign to me, and on the other - something I've embraced so naturally, you'd think I always had a family like this.

Yesterday afternoon, Young Man and Girlfriend arrived. We left early to go to the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo. It officially doesn't start until 5 p.m., but the traffic to get there from here - way north of the city - is horrible. So, we left just after 3 p.m. and they let us in...we almost had the entire place to ourselves for the first hour. We bought hot chocolates with Baileys and a winter beer for Steinvic and made our way through the paths, lights already twinkling, feet freezing, but also ducking into any of the animal houses that were open to warm up and to see the beings inside.

You know, I just finished and posted this entire, beautiful post, complete with a photo and links and blogger kicked me off and deleted everything I wrote!! ARGH!

So, let's try again! Festival of Lights was fun and Young Man and I got to pet pygmy goats, and one had a tickle spot that I accidentally found, and it made us giggle to see him bobbing his head with glee. We encountered peacocks, and one of us - Steinvic, I think - noticed them up in the trees:

Because of Steinvic's smart planning, we left the Festival just as the temperature was dropping and everyone else was clamoring to get in.

We took the kids to Melt for dinner, which was very different from what Steinvic and I had pictured in our minds. It was not a sit down restaurant exactly...more you go in and order, they give you a funky table card (ours was Betty White, and I saw Nancy McKeon and Lavar Burton on the way back to our table) and bring your order out to you. We picked it because it had vegan and vegetarian options and Girlfriend is now a vegan. And while we were a little apprehensive, it turned out to be really good.

Steinvic had a barbeque chicken sandwich, Young Man had a three cheese melt, Girlfriend had a vegan melt...and while I'd never have imagined tofu and peanut butter on a sandwich together, I had the award winning Rothko Tofu sandwich which featured those two items plus ginger hoisin sauce, greens and red peppers on multigrain bread. It was great! In fact, Young Man finished mine, because it was extremely filling, and then proceeded to finish Steinvic's sandwich, too. (He is a growing boy.)

We left there, pleasantly surprised and headed to Shake It Records - perfect spot if you like an intellectual, hipster, alterna-post punk environment. Young Man found a few jazz records to take home and we all enjoyed looking at the hard-to-find records and magazines lining the walls and shelves.

Then home for drinks and comfy pants and vegan soup making (I whipped up a GREAT pot of vegan potato soup that I'd been mathing out in my head all week and Holy is good!) and television watching and visiting.

It was a great night. And Steinvic is up now, so I'm off to make tea and coffee for us...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow + Tweaked Back = Grrrr

And now, a musical interlude to illustrate my morning. Feel free to sing along:

Stupid Snow
(To the tune of “Jingle Bells”)

Dashing through the snow
Because I have to work.
We are having a snow storm.
People are driving like jerks!

The snow is packed real firm
On the highways now,
It’s going to be a royal bitch
To get home without a plow!

Stupid snow!
Stupid Snow!
Snow sucks really bad!
Oh, how much I wish for sun
That SUV just made me mad, oh
Stupid snow!
Stupid snow!
Snow sucks really bad!
I hope I will survive this drive -
This is really sad.

So, we’re having a little snow here in Ohio today. And it doesn’t show signs of stopping. Steinvic is working hard from home today, but I needed to come in to do something that had to be done in person. It took me an hour to go about 8 miles. I basically rolled here.

But I’m safe, warm, dry and getting things done.

Somehow, I tweaked my back last week and have been dealing with it ever since. Yesterday was the best day so far and I felt like I was at about 93%, so of course I did things I shouldn’t have last night (vacuuming, mopping, carrying big things, crafting hunched over) and now, I’m sitting here like a dork with a heating pad draped across my back again. It helps, but man, I’ve got THINGS to do and don’t have time to be ailing! Steinvic has taken on the additional role of masseuse, which I appreciate, but I know I will need to go to the doctor soon to get help if this doesn’t stop. It just flat out hurts…the kind of hurt where all the sudden you’re like, “I’m clenching my jaw because I’m in pain…I didn’t even realize it!” and then you try to shake it all off, take more Aleve and crank up the heating pad.

Other than a tweaked back, and non-stop snow, life is good…really! It is. I just need a snow plow and a chiropractor today...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Is It Really Inclusive?

Did you ever see that episode of Seinfeld, where Elaine and Jerry and George decide that instead of saying “G*d bless you!” when someone sneezed, they would instead say, “You are soooo good looking!”?

It’s a great episode (aren’t they all?) and it’s also a nice reminder that what some of us find comforting, others are offended by.

But when is being considerate taking things too far? And at the same time, when is being offended an excuse to be hyper sensitive and to just have something to gripe about?

Christmas seems to bring out the sensitivity in all of us. I was raised Unitarian, and while I don’t really consider myself a Unitarian now (Belief-O-Matic says I’m a Quaker…go figure), one nice thing I took from that upbringing was a respect for other religions. I’m pretty darn tolerant, unless someone is cramming their beliefs – whatever they may be – down my gullet, and then I become a bit of a B.

In college, there was a very tight group of students who attended a nearby church and they were out to recruit as many members as possible. While skipping class and sunning myself on the lawn behind McMicken, my sunshine was suddenly eclipsed by a few of these students. I squintily looked up at their silhouettes and raised my head from my backpack which was doubling as a pillow.

“Can I help you?” I asked, shielding my eyes.

“Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” the girl silhouette asked.

“I’m sorry?”

“Do you have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?” the boy asked.

Now I’m getting up. Something about talking about Jesus while reclining with my jeans shorts rolled up extra high and my midriff showing for optimum tanning made me kind of uncomfortable. I unrolled, adjusted my tee shirt and brushed the grass from my butt. “Do I have a personal relationship with Jesus? Is that what you’re asking me?”

“Yes. Because we’re from the…”

“I know where you’re from,” I interrupted. My face was hot and it wasn’t from the sunburn I was working on. “Didn’t you just ask me about a personal relationship…operative word being personal?”

“If you’re a BELIEVER, then you should be proud to say yes,” the boy said, extending a pamphlet toward me.

“It’s really none of your business what my beliefs are. What kind of underwear are you wearing? Boxers? Briefs?”

I have never seen two people zip away so quickly. And I didn’t notice that anyone was listening to our conversation until about a half dozen of my fellow sunbathers began applauding.

So, I do get it. But there is a big difference, at least in my happy logic, between impeding on someone’s privacy or religion and putting up a tree.

I am all about sensitivity and consideration, but I just don’t understand how a lighted, decorated tree is offensive. We have a ginormous one at my workplace and I honestly don’t think of anything religious when I see it. I just think, “How pretty…” And then as soon as January 1 hits, I think, “Good gosh, let’s take all this Holiday stuff DOWN!” because I’m completely over it (as well as the snow and cold) once the festivities have officially passed.

Steinvic and I were watching something on the History Channel or the Discovery Channel or some other brainy channel over the snowy weekend and it was all about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. And then there was a show right after that featured former American citizens who had defected and joined terrorist organizations, now hating America and all it stands for, as well as Christianity.

It boggles my tangled little brain because while I certainly have my hot buttons and convictions, unless someone’s religious beliefs include killing or hurting sentient beings for pleasure, I don’t know how anyone can get ticked off about how someone else chooses to worship. It’s a personal belief. Keep it personal! Or discuss it civilly, just because it's interesting to share ideas and hear other viewpoints, peacfully. (Some of the comments after the article are perfect.) And let others keep their beliefs personal. And then everyone can be personal and personable and we can all get along because we’re not impeding on anybody.

I guess it’s a mixed message to be careful but also lighten up…and maybe have some egg nog or peppermint hot chocolate with Bailey’s (or ice water or whatever your drink of choice is) and appreciate the lights, whatever they mean to you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

No Babies

Two things happen when you’re a woman and you get married, and it doesn’t seem to matter if you’re 24 or 40. The first is that suddenly, everyone expects you to reproduce.

The second is that everyone loses their manners and openly asks you pretty direct questions about it, like, “When are you and Steinvic going to have a baby?”

If someone knows us well and asks us this, I don’t mind so much. I know that when family members ask, it’s because they love us and they all have kids and they think it would be super-cool-neato-mosquito for us to share the experience.

However, they momentarily forget that Steinvic and I are not young (we aren’t old, either, but for our comfort, a little too old to start our own family) and that Steinvic already has a wonderful son, Young Man.

So, those are the answers we give to the questioners. “We have a baby! He just happens to be 20 years old with a beard!” or “Nope, we don’t want to be the only 60 and 70 year old parents at graduation.” (Please note: I am not criticizing my fine 40 & up friends who choose to have children now. This is our personal preference for our lifestyle.)

However, if I’m honest, since getting married, a third thing has also happened: all of the well-rehearsed, sincere responses to the “when are you having babies?” questions have finally sunk in.

I actually now realize that I am not having children of my own.

I’m ok with this for many reasons. I’m not selfish, but I LOVE my free time and have no idea how I’d ever get away with simultaneously painting my toenails, watching girl stuff on TV and creating something artful between toe polish coats like I do now if I were a mother. (Of course I wash my hands after touching my toes – c’mon! I would not create art or anything else with feety hands.) I also know that I would be a complete wreck every time my child was not in my sight and I can’t imagine how edgy that would make me. I might be the kind of mom who got too involved. I might be too strict and expect too much of my child, or perhaps I’d be too permissive – either doing the same or exact opposite of my own upbringing. I might be a complete, psycho mess. I sometimes kid Steinvic, saying I’d be a crap mom, but what I’m really saying is that I don’t know if I could deal with the emotional challenges and major responsibilities of being a parent. I don’t think I’d abandon a child – even though it runs in my family – but I might do something worse for my child, like stay. (I know that sounds odd, but some people should not be parents.)

Not to mention that physically, I likely can’t have kids. (Which, by the way, is another one of the questions that near strangers ask that I really can’t believe: “What’s wrong?! Can’t you have kids?” with no pause or sensitivity whatsoever.) Since surgery, I’ve had about four years to get that through my head, even though I know that with the miracles of science or adoption, I might still have been able.

So, while I know that I’m not having babies, and I am logically fine with that and emotionally very happy to have Young Man in my life, it is bothering me, ever so slightly.

What has dawned on me recently is that I am realizing just what I’m missing. And maybe it isn’t marriage that has triggered it, but more things going on around me. That a good friend of mine – just my age – recently had a baby and plans to have another this year. Or that J’s kids are so wonderful and creative, with such great personalities…they really give her purpose and happiness. Or the way that Young Man looks at Steinvic sometimes. I see it and it goes straight through me – he really, really loves his Dad.

I will never know what it is like to love and be loved by someone who is part me and I won't have the chance to raise a person who could go into the world to experience life and love and do meaningful things. And I guess that realization is what is giving me a little pause.

But I’m okay. I realize that chapter is finished and for now, I think I’ll put a place marker there and set the book aside for a little while. Just long enough to rest my eyes. And then I can think about it again and about what I might do instead of parenting that could fill those pages.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Let it Snow...

It's Saturday. We're in our pjs, sitting on the couch. We've had brunch, watched some shows, done a little Christmas shopping online. Laundry whirs in the background. Whatever ball game Steinvic wants to watch on TV is in the foreground.

And it's snowing.

It keeps on coming, even though they said just 1-3 inches today.

And we don't care. We're safe and sound. We took yesterday off and during the day, did our grocery shopping. Our bar is stocked. I'm getting ready to start a pot of soup. Then we'll undecorate our tree and redecorate it, as a strip of lights has quit working and can't be repaired. (small tree...not such a big deal to undo and redo.)

And we'll just be here today. Here and warm and out of the weather...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Conspiracy Theory - Graphite Spray and Pumpernickel Stix

Why I am not totally stressed out, I have no idea, but I am as cool as a cucumber despite my crazy evening.
It started out innocently enough...Steinvic needed Sugar In the Raw in packets and plasticwear for work, and he wanted graphite spray to shoot into our locks since we're going to have bad weather this week.
I got through working before he did, so I called him at the office and said, "Want me to just stop so you don't have to?" His company's e-mail had been down part of the day and I imagined he'd have to stay late. "If you don't mind stopping...or I can stop," he said. But I wanted to make life easier and figured I could get everything he needed, plus sourdough bread and pumpernickel sticks at one place close to home: Meijer.

I pulled in, enjoying the sounds of my awesome iPod touch (amazing wedding gift from Steinvic) and clip clopped up to the entrance, remembering that last year, Meijer carried a Nutmeg Spice spray that I've been coveting since last year and figured I could get again this year. Wrong! Discontinued. Me and my boots clip clopped on over to the automotive department.

I wandered through the aisles. No graphite spray. I loitered in the outer aisles, hoping to see a clerk. Nada. Picked up the courtesy phone. "I don't think we carry it, but I'll send someone over." Nope...they don't carry it, the super duper nice lady told me. But maybe Lowe's.

I bought the plasticwear and sourdough bread - noting that they didn't have Pepperidge Farms Pumpernickel Sticks and thinking WTH - and checked those off the list.

Lowe's is across the (very busy) street. No problemo, I thought. In fact, a tiny Sears Hardware is also in the same complex, and I know they're struggling, so I figured I'd try there, first, and Lowe's second, stopping in Aldi's in between for the sugar in packets.

Sears Hardware does not have graphite.

Neither does Lowe's.

And Aldi's does not carry sugar packets at all, including Sugar in the Raw, Steinvic's favorite. Nor do they carry pumpernickel sticks.

So, I headed on up our main drag, seeking an automotive shop, figuring they would have the spray. Advance Auto Parts had graphite spray - yeah! I kidded the clerks, "Yay! I will be allowed in the house tonight!" He said, "Will your husband have a glass of bubbly waiting for you?" I said, "I know my husband...after this trek, he'll have a drink waiting for me."

I went to Kroger. Sugar in the Raw? Check. Pepperidge Farms Pumpernickel Sticks? No! They had Snyders, Pumpernickel and Onion, but I can do without the onion dust, thanks. A quick check to Pepperidge Farms' site shows that I'm S.O.L....)

I got home and sure enough...Steinvic right there, at the door, grateful, icy cold Whipped Cream flavored vodka + club soda on ice waiting for me, and soup thawing in the microwave.

Life is good. We've got supplies. But what the heck, Pepperidge Farms?!

p.s. I wanted the pumpernickel sticks because they're awesome and I'd made the double batch of spinach dip this weekend...pumpernickel sticks wouldda rocked with that! And yes, D was very appreciative of our efforts...he ate a ton of the bread and dip when we saw him on Saturday...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Getting Ready for Christmas...

I love Christmas. It would be easy for me to not really care about this Holiday, or to even not like it at all...

I worked retail for more than a decade. THAT could kill the joy of the Holiday Season for even the toughest of us.

But once I got out of retail, and began celebrating the Holiday without the aid of a mall, I really have come to love this time of year.

I think that, no matter what your religious beliefs are (I had an associate who was of the Jewish faith who LOVED the Holidays) or no matter whether or not you love the hustle and bustle of the Season, you gotta admit that people (for the most part) seem to want to be in a festive mood.

The key is not getting too caught up in the have to's or the spending.

So yesterday, we made a list of gifts for others we need to buy (it's not a super long list) and talked about our plans. We purchased and assembled a tiny shelf for the basement (which now holds the last two boxes of unpacked memorabilia from when Steinvic moved here) so that it will be prettier down there for when Young Man and his girlfriend join us in the next few weeks. Steinvic got out the little tree from his place, and put the exercise bike in the basement so that our living room is clear.

Now, we can decorate. Maybe tonight, maybe throughout the week. It's not massive amounts of decorations or anything...but I'm excited because this is our first married Christmas, our first Christmas in one home, our first Christmas of mixing our decorations and beginning our own new traditions.

Hope that you're finding some joy in the preparations of this season. Pop Elf into the DVD player, dim the lights, light some candles, pour some Nog (or Peppermint Coffee if you're anti-Nog) or wine and kick this season off the right way!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cooking Post - Spinach Dip

Howdy! We have had quite an extended weekend so far...enjoyed Thanksgiving up north with Steinvic, came back in the rain and dark that night, then basically sat around like couch cushions yesterday, fiddling on the computer, watching a Seinfeld marathon and looking for adoptive puppies online. I did run out to the grocery in the evening (no traffic!) but other than that, we were pretty chill.
I'm making up for it all today. I got up early, put a turkey breast in the oven for Steinvic, and I've done two loads of laundry already.
And I made a batch of spinach dip for a nice fellow named D. We've gotten acquainted with him because he's been coming to our local for a few months. He is here from Florida - he's a liquidator - and can't go home because he doesn't get days off. On Wednesday night, he told us that he hadn't had a day off since Easter. He is living in an Econo Lodge. We told him that if we were going to be here for Thanksgiving, he'd be welcome to come to our place and he was so appreciative. But he seemed pretty happy about just being able to be off work. He said he planned to stay off his feet the entire day and sleep. Besides his family, one thing he said he missed about the Holidays was home cooking and that he had been craving spinach dip, "the kind you put in the bread bowl."
Lucky for D, I have my own little recipe for that and I told him I'd whip up a batch and bring it to our local on Saturday. And I'm going to share this recipe with you! Grab your bread bowl and get started:

You'll need:
  • A cup of drained frozen spinach
  • One 16 ounce container of sour cream (huge fan of Daisy Light)
  • One 8 ounce container of whipped cream cheese
  • A packet of Ranch Dressing Mix (I think Kroger's brand "Salad Magic" is just as lovely as Hidden Valley's at a fraction of the cost.)
  • About a half cup chopped water chestnuts
  • One small carrot chopped fine
  • About 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • Garlic powder
  • Dash of salt
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Black pepper
How to make it:
  • In a big bowl, mix the sour cream and whipped cream cheese until thoroughly blended.
  • Add the ranch dressing mix, dash of salt, about 15 turns of the black pepper grinder, four dashes of garlic powder, and about a half teaspoon of the crushed red pepper. Mix thoroughly.
  • Add the water chestnuts, onions and carrots and mix completely.
  • Add the spinach and gently mix until it looks like this:

You could add a little more or less of any of the ingredients and still be fine. This is one of those recipes where every ingredient tastes good on it's own, and putting t hem together makes them taste even better. You can't go wrong!

I'll let you know how D likes it, and if you try making it, let me know how you like it! Enjoy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

In the Club

I've spent the last week joyfully changing my last name to match Steinvic's.

I actually had a colleague tell me that she was disappointed...that my maiden name "carried a lot of power" because it was the name I'd had most of my life, and a name I worked really hard to get back when I went through the divorce from Hell.

She has a point, but I really felt strongly about having the same last name as Steinvic, primarily because I adore him, and also because I love his family and what they stand for. I feel like I have a whole army of people who love and support me. While I know my Mom and her husband love me, too, I am grateful for the amount sincere welcoming and acceptance I've recieved from Steinvic's people. It's amazing.

Actually, I was the last of my last name. With my Dad dead, my sister married, my Mom remarried...well, it's an odd feeling. In one way, given everything in my life, I felt like a survivor, and wearing that last name was a reminder that I could stand on my own and handle anything thrown (hurled, catapulted, shot) at me.

But in another...well, there is something very lonely about being the last one standing. Our unique qualities can make us feel so different that we feel solitary.

And while I believe that as much as possible, I have always had Steinvic's understanding, having his last name makes me feel like I belong. Not in a possessive way, but in an accepting way. I'm one of the gang. I'm in the club.

And it's a damn fine place to be...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bonus Post - The Value of an Apology

Extra post today because I realized I'd meant to tell you this and somehow, with everything going on, forgot.

Remember when I made Kicky Corn Chowder on Halloween? Well, we were kind of waiting to eat until the trick-or-treaters thinned out, so while that was cooking, we were watching TV and answering the door as the little cuties came by.

Around 7, I heard a knock and there, at our door, stood our neighbors.

The wife was right at the door with their tiny daughter and her husband stood back on the sidewalk. She didn't make eye contact but said, "Hi...I think you met my husband, but we didn't get to meet, and this is my daughter," and said both their names.

I was so surprised that I just did what instinct suggested and focused on the child. Then I shook the wife's hand and said, "Great to meet you..."

And then, from the sidewalk, the husband said, "And I'm really sorry about that. About the parking thing, and how I handled it."

Wow. That takes balls. I said, "It's okay. It's fine now." I meant it, and Steinvic feels the same way. Do I ever appreciate the sincerity of his apology and the courage it took to look me right in the face and fix what was broken.

Apologies, when they're heartfelt, really can fix everything. I am a forgiving person in most circumstances. When someone makes a true effort to right a wrong, and it's something as simple as a parking dispute, take the apology and dismiss the garbage. Life really is too short, and I'm reminded of that every day. Read the is over quite quickly.

This apology from my neighbor makes me think about the person who keeps anonymously commenting here, wanting to stir the pot about the "maid of honor" situation. I'm going to address it, even though I think it would be smarter to just keep deleting the comments. Because it is, after all, my blog, and yes: if someone is confrontational and misinformed, I'll delete it, just like I delete the spambot stuff and anything else that doesn't belong here. It's not your blog; it's mine.

If someone really knew the situation, including the details of my last conversation with our mutual friend, that person would not comment. Anyone in the know would understand that I am protecting myself and my family and would also acknowledge that I'm entitled to do that peacefully. In fact, the post this person keeps commenting on is one where I'm wishing our mutual friend well, so the snide comments make no sense at all.

When someone says certain, irreversible things to you, (and slurs their words after the cocktails they've downed before calling you,) you're entitled to create some distance from that person. And anyone who is really friends with this person has undoubtedly, unfortunately been on the receiving end of what I'm talking about, because sadly, she can be very angry and unhappy, and sometimes, as a result of this anger, lashes out. Honestly, it is the only thing about this person I can't live with. And so I won't. It hurts. And I'm grown and I don't have to listen to that kind of talk any longer.

So...if our mutual friend is really better off without having to "deal with my crap," then why comment? Put your energy into something positive, as I have, and relax. You're not accomplishing a thing by posting here, unless you need this crumb of attention to survive. I am sure that isn't the case...I believe you have a good life, full of promise and friends and family. I wish you well, too, and hope your new situation is better than where you've previously been. Be well.

What a Week!

I have been meaning to post all week long and it just didn't happen.

So...where to start...on Monday, Steinvic got home from work and we decided to go up to our local and watch the first quarter of the Bengals game. We like to step outside for a cigar when the weather is cool like this, so I asked him if he had one and he said that there was a packet in his sweater. The sweater was in his car so while he had the door open, he offered, "Do you want me to drive?"

You must know that we take "my" car everywhere. It's newer, gets amazing mileage and it's tiny, so we can park anywhere. So, it was really odd to be hopping into his passenger seat for a routine jaunt anywhere.

He put the key in the ignition and...nothing. Dead again! We thought that was all behind us, considering it had gotten us home safe and sound from C-bus and had transported him to and from work on Monday with no problem, but there we were. I said, "Let's go to Auto Zone and get jumper cables. We should have a set anyway, and we can jump you and drop the car off at Goodyear tonight." Steinvic suggested Home Depot because it's closer and we could get there and back and still see the Bengals kickoff.

We got the cables, jumped his car, and he pulled out, me following in my car. As soon as he turned on his headlights, the car died. I pulled around in front of him and jumped him again so he could park. We decided to handle it in the morning when headlights weren't required.

Turns out, the new battery had a bad cell, and they replaced it gratis. We picked another "to do" from our auto maintenance list, and they planned to have it repaired and back to us at the end of Tuesday. But, once they got in there, found they needed a new part (no after market parts available) and had to order one new. A $200 bill became $800 and Steinvic needed my car to go to Columbus for work, so I hitched rides for two days from co-workers and my folks (Thanks, J, for offering to loan me your spare Jeep!) and when I picked up the car on Thursday night, they said, "The breaks really need to be replaced right away."

Really? Because we'd specifically asked about safety and the breaks and no one put them on the list when we took it in for the new battery last month. But because we want Steinvic's car to be safe, we sucked it up and got them fixed, too.

So here we sit, RAV 4 in good shape, last day of Indian Summer weather, Ohio State on TV, vegetarian chili cooking on the stove (using the last of my frozen Mom-grown tomatoes), and thank you notes strewn around, as I've been taking my turn with them today (Steinvic did a huge batch on Tuesday).

It's been a crazy week, but it feels really good to be sitting and relaxing with no real have tos... I hope you have some down time for yourself today, too!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Party of Our Lives

Last night, about 120 people gathered in a party room in Columbus - a little cozy back room of a restaurant/bar that Steinvic frequents- to celebrate our marriage.

I'm going to come clean and say that when Steinvic recommended this place as a possible spot for our party, I had reservations. Actually, I was kind of a big jerk about it and said I didn't want to have our party in a bar.

But you know, after we went and checked out the back room together, I saw what he was visualizing. I saw that I was wrong. And I'm so glad that we had it there - it was perfect.

The room had a giant bar on one side, tables on the other, enough room to move comfortably, and a big projector so we could run a slide show of photos the whole time.

There were a few people who Steinvic worked with to coordinate - Toni and Meghan and the Bar manager - and they made sure that people had food and drinks and were comfortable. They were amazingly kind and generous.

(We had a small snag...when we arrived, we unloaded everything and began decorating. Steinvic's cousin came to give us a hand and when Steinvic went to pick up our balloon order, our car wouldn't start. We decided not to worry for the moment...our cuz loaned us her car and Steinvic got the balloons, and the next thing I know, Toni says, "You two just have fun...I'll feed the meter until it's 8:00," which is when the meter service ends there. I mean, how lovely is that?)

Ivory table cloths, candles (the flameless one's I've raved about), tiny green organza bags of treats, petite fours, hoers de oeuvres, snacks, a giant veggie tray, pizza, wings, open bar... it was just right. I felt proud...proud to be Steinvic's wife, proud of our family and friends, proud of our party...just bursting with pride.

And while our ceremony was a few weeks ago, this gathering made it feel official.

I'm on Cloud Nine. We had our friends and family all in one place, all celebrating and enjoying and we feel really, really fortunate. We had family from all over - Chilicothe, West Palm Beach, Wisconsin - and lots of friends who drove the 90 miles from Cincinnati to be with us. Blown away at how much people care. I had no idea...

Oh, and our cousin's husband? He got the car going...we were so thankful he figured out the problem (corrosion on our new battery) so that we could come home!

I've had a foot soak, we've had some drinks, some salad and now I'm curled up with Steinvic. We're catching up on shows and relaxing. Happy Wedding Party Weekend...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cooking Post - Kicky Corn Chowder

Howdy! You know what they say about a watched pot never boiling? Well, I thought I might speed up my soup cooking process by posting, and that pot of water on the stove will hurry up and boil if I get out of the kitchen for a minute.

Usually, Sunday is Italian Day at our house. I make a big brunch for us on Saturdays and Sundays, and then a giant pot of sauce that I start right after I've scoured the kitchen from brunch. We have an Italian meal after smelling the sauce cook all day long. Sometimes it's lasagna, sometimes pasta, sometimes pizza, but all those meals involve my homemade tomato sauce that I make in big batches about every three weeks (make lots, freeze batches to use the next week or so.)

But, I had a failed attempt at pizza late last night and now neither of us feels like Italian. (We stayed too late at our local and I don't cook as well when I'm not 100% sober...oops! I do, however, fall asleep on the couch much easier. Thank Goodness Steinvic loves me anyway.)

Tonight we're having grilled portabella sandwiches and soup. I really enjoy cooking soup. Here is my recipe for Kicky Corn Chowder. Yes, I made up the recipe - and the silly-yet-accurate name - myself, and I hope you'll try it and like it.

You'll need:
  • 8 or 9 potatoes, your favorite variety, scrubbed and diced
  • Diced small red onion
  • Diced large red bell pepper
  • Diced celery (I use about three stalks)
  • Sliced carrots (I use two carrots, slicing them thin)
  • Can of whole sweet corn (or you can cut fresh corn from the cob)
  • Ranch Dressing Packet (Hidden Valley or generic works just fine)
  • Emeril Spice
  • Salt
  • Pepper (I always use a pepper grinder. You get better, more intense flavor that way.)
  • Garlic powder
  • Jarred jalapeno pepper slices
  • Olive oil
Here is what you do:

In a big pot, place a bit of olive oil and heat it up on high. Saute onion, pepper, celery and carrots in the pot until the onions are translucent.

Add about 40 ounces of water, smidgen of salt, lots of cracked pepper and you've got a lovely vegetable stock. Turn the heat down to simmer.

In another pot, heat a pot of water with two shakes of salt in it. When it boils, carefully add in your potatoes. I used red and regular potatoes today because that is what I had on hand, and we like to mix things up a little.

While your potatoes are cooking, add a packet of Ranch Dressing Mix to your vegetable stock. Add about a teaspoon of Emeril Spice and a dash of garlic powder. See the nice velvety texture? I used to add milk or sour cream to this recipe, but I don't these days. You can if you want, though.

When your potatoes are fork tender, drain them and carefully add them to your seasoned vegetable stock. If you used a variety of potato types, be sure to spear one of each because cooking times can vary. Don't worry too much, though...your potatoes are going to simmer in the stock while everything meshes, and they'll cook through.

Add one can of drained corn, and jalapeno slices to taste I do about five or so, knowing they'll break down as they simmer and I can add more if it's not spicy enough. Remember, you can always add heat, but it's really tough to take it away!

Let everything simmer for about 20 minutes and then taste and reseason as needed. I let our soup cook on simmer for most of the afternoon, but you should actually be able to eat this in about an hour.

And there you have it...Kicky Corn Chowder, perfect for Halloween or any cool Fall or Winter evening. I serve it with a little sprinkling of cheese and some croutons on top, but crunchy tortilla chips are good with it, too. Make extra and enjoy an easy dinner of soup leftovers later in the week. This recipe freezes and reheats pretty well. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Smoking Out

We went to a party in our neighborhood last night and the focal point of this event was smoked meat. Pork shoulder, chicken, beef ribs, pork ribs, kabobs...these guys watch barbeque and smoking shows all year and converge on one house each fall to drink and smoke meat all day, and then serve up their creations to their families and friends. They even wear matching cute!
What does a pescetarian eat at a smoked meat event? One hamburger bun, some of my famous spicy baked beans and the most awesome coleslaw I've ever had. (I've got to find out who made that and get the recipe...I could probably eat it everyday.) I'm usually more prepared at food-centric events like this, but I figured we'd be more socializing than eating anyway, so what I found to nosh on was just fine.
It was fun, different, and along with our regular pals, we met some super nice folks who live in our neighborhood - a big difference from the nextdoor neighbor situation we've dealt with, for sure!

The smokers mostly looked like this - there were seven of them:
(And you can buy one here, which is where the original photograph appears.)
By the way, this morning, I was in one of my e-mail accounts that gets strange ads all the time and this one - for skin cream - appeared in my inbox. Anyone else thinks it looks like a doctored up photograph of Meredith Baxter Birney?
That's enough for's back to work tomorrow, after our awesome break...

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's Official!

Steinvic and I are married!

We drove to Columbus Wednesday morning, ran a few last minute errands, then met our family at the chapel. My Mom and C, Steinvic's Mom, Young man and Girlfriend all gathered for our short, but meaningful, ceremony. At the end, lots of hugs as our families united. It was awesome.

Then we went to a nature preserve nearby for some photos. It was a gorgeous setting and a beautiful day, but it was also pretty windy. I was a little skeptical about the photos turning out, but we've already received some proofs and they're lovely.

Then, we all converged on a local independent Italian restaurant for a late lunch, which was perfect. My folks had to get back to Cincinnati because C had to work. Steinvic's Mom headed her own way, and the kids went home. And we checked into the Hyatt, who saw our Wedding Wear and instantly upgraded our room, no charge. Really sweet...

We went to our favorite bar there and saw some family and more friends. The drinks were flowing, and we had a great time with everyone. Everyone greeted me with my new last name and that was kind of surreal, but I'm pretty excited about it and I'm quickly getting used to it!

So now we're back home, relaxing and enjoying our time off together. Heading for a movie in a little bit, too...

OH! Gifts. Steinvic bought me an incredible wedding present, which he totally didn't have to do. I wasn't expecting it at all, but I'm the proud owner of an iPod Touch and it ROCKS. He also gave me the car adapter, so I can once again travel in style. I am still getting to know all the features but's like having a computer and a stereo all in the palm of my hand. I think we're both going to enjoy it for a long time. (And I can play Scrabble on it!)

And I bought Steinvic a special piece of jewelry. It's an original design that a silversmith I have used before collaborated with me to create. It's a sterling bracelet with a "compass" design on it, but instead of just the N,S,E,W on the compass rose, we incorporated 71 North and South, a heart and a shamrock. Handmade, multilayered...I love this sentimental gift. The silversmith even personally delivered it to me so I would have it in time for our wedding. And Steinvic loves it, which is the best part. I don't know if he'll wear it every day, but so far, he has.

Okay...I'm outta here. We have a movie to catch and another evening to celebrate!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's Really Happening...

I'm off work today, and tomorrow, Steinvic and I will be married.

Yesterday was a flurry of wonderful things. Work threw a shower for Steinvic and I...he came over for what we thought was just going to be a little lunch with the rest of my team. But instead, they decorated with gorgeous flowers, balloons, confetti, custom cupcakes, pizza, bread sticks and I'd offered to bring a big salad, which I did...(we knew about the pizza part and I really wanted to chip in somehow!) And gifts, which they didn't have to do but they wanted to - Wedgewood champagne flutes, champagne to take with us tomorrow, a gift certificate to an art gallery to have one of our wedding photos framed, and designer chocolates. We seriously felt like royalty... it was so touching. They really went all out and it was the perfect way to kick off our wedding week!

I got my nails done by a friend of ours last night which was relaxing, came home and made a quick dinner, then settled in for a little TV. We turned in early, which I think we both needed.

I managed to get all my work to a point where I could actually take the day off, which is great. I'd requested off and was approved for the extra time, but I had so much going on that I didn't think it was going to happen. I also thought it wouldn't matter if I worked or not, but I'm really glad I was able to take the day, because it's not even 10 a.m. yet and I'm on a cleaning frenzy. So much to do today!

So, enough posting and back to the LIST, which includes some errands and flower decorating and chores and more...but it's all exciting. Here's to tomorrow!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Sometimes, things happen and as much as we would like a resolution, we never get it.

My Dad, who was estranged to me for years before his death, left this planet without working with me to resolve our issues. When he left our family, he became a much harsher, heartless, selfish version of himself than he'd already been. When I turned 18, I realized I didn't have to put up with it any longer. He didn't really care...he had a new family that was more along the lines of what he'd always wanted (son becoming a lawyer, daughters who had gone to great colleges, big house, wife with fake boobs) and I wasn't missed.

We did talk about a year before he died, and it was a little formal and stilted, but in retrospect, I am glad I'd called him. It was his last birthday. We didn't solve any big issues - we didn't even address them - but I could tell he was at peace with everything and he knew he was going to die. (He had Shy Draggers and you don't recover or live very long if you have that.) So, while that last conversation wasn't really a resolution - he never apologized for the things he'd done - I feel like at least I know he was kind of OK, and that is enough for me. It has to be.

Last night, I told one of our friends about the maid of honor situation. I told her because it was on my mind, as we received a package from her yesterday. It's actually from an artisan she's ordered things from in the past, who sent it here on her behalf. I am sure that she ordered whatever it may be prior to our confrontation a few weeks ago, but it just arrived and made me feel weird all over again.

So, I hadn't seen this friend in a few weeks. She is also getting married and asked how our plans were going and I told her. She was totally shocked and asked why.

Before I answered, I paused and considered everything and guessed, "It's either because she simply doesn't want to or because she is upset that we couldn't go to her 40th surprise birthday party." Because when we were talking, she never did say why...just, "I never said I would go to both (your ceremony and party)" over and over. (Which isn't true.) But the other thing she said twice was, "I didn't get mad at you for not coming to my surprise party, so how can you even ask me about this?" In fact, we had a very real reason we couldn't go: we were moving Steinvic here over that weekend and the next. We also got just one month's notice of the party - not more than six, as she had with our events. We would have loved to go, but sadly didn't have the means or the time off, and Steinvic had to be out of his apartment by the following weekend, and we were also relocating Young Man. Those were the busiest weekends ever...if it had been possible to party with her, we'd have loved to, and we sure could have used a break.

Our friend last evening asked what would happen now...would this other friend and I work it out, did I think she'd come to the party anyway. And the answer to both is no.

I don't think we'll ever speak again, and I have to be OK with that. I have to.

It doesn't mean that I don't forgive her or that I'm angry or that I wish her any harm. In fact, I feel the opposite of that. I hope she finds happiness, accepts herself for who she is, finds the love of her life and gets everything she wants. And stops being so angry. I just don't need to keep putting myself out there and getting the short end of the friendship stick, as often happened in that relationship.

The truth is, this life is super short. We have a responsibility to surround ourselves with the people who bring out the brightness in us. Who want the best for us. Who may not believe in the same things as we do, but who respect who we are and can admire our differences. Who will be honest and unselfish and understanding and tolerant. And loyal.

I wish all those things for her. And for me, too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Random Things

I love the new show with Tony Danza called "Teach." Not sure what it is...if it is the fact that I was going to be a teacher, the nostalgia of Danza from the 80s, or reality TV done well, but I freaking love it. If you have access to A&E on Fridays, go for it.

(Thank goodness I didn't teach or I would never have met Steinvic.)

We received our organza bags that I'll put white and green candies into for our wedding party. I'll link to it here another time (right now we're waiting for the homemade pizza I crafted to cool enough to eat, so I don't have the link now) but they are just right and the perfect shade of green.

We're ditching the wedding night/day tradition of not seeing each other before hand, and we'll head north together on Wednesday morning. I'm actually really excited about this...he is my best friend in the Universe and I think I'd be nervous without him. Besides, I'm not superstitious about us; we're solid. It will be easier and less stress to get ready at home together and head up together. I can't wait!

I got my hair colored professionally this week. For anyone who knows me, it's a big deal because I don't spend money on me! And this week, I spent a pretty penny to make my hair dark blond with stripeys. This is - ridiculously - close to my natural color...and I paid for it. But it looks awesome and I'm thankful that Steinvic encouraged me to do it.

The spokesperson for Sargento cheese sounds like someone is grabbing his throat while he talks.

I have a huge list of things to do, but I'm not stressed. Work has me a little taxed, but man, I'm thankful for that job.

Interesting dream about my Grandma last night...still sorting that out...

My Mom is filling in for the bridesmaid-who-would-not-be. She is happy to sign for us and I'm happy to say that everyone who is attending loves us 100% and wants to be there. No drama!

I have a candle to tend to - one of the flameless didn't work and its replacement is here - and boutonnieres and ribboned roses to create, but I'm almost set...

Life is good!

This is my random account of Life right now....

Sunday, October 10, 2010


We went to our local for a few this evening and on the way home, Steinvic said, "Might not seem like it, but we accomplished a lot this weekend." And he is right.

We finally got the nerve to take his car to the shop to find out just what needed to be done to it to keep it running. It's nearly 14 years old, and he's been quietly dealing with the shortcomings, not wanting to drain our accounts, but praying that it would get him to Cbus and back safely each week. We took it in, got the list of needs and tackled four small - but neccessary - affordable fixes this weekend.

I also finished 98% of our wedding table centerpieces this weekend. It would have been 100%, but one of the flameless candles was defective, and is being replaced. They are coming along nicely. Picture these with simple, round, mirrored coasters beneath them.

Aaaand there is a big space beneath the photo and this text, and I'm not sure how to fix it, so, sorry about that! But the company, is fabulous and helpful, and didn't even require me to send the bad one back before sending me a new one.

Then, Mom and C stopped by today to drop off a wedding present for us. We had insisted they not give us a gift as they do plenty for us and we weren't expecting anything, but right now, we're watching the Reds against the Phillies on a 40 inch HD flat screen!

OK...Blogger won't let me upload a photo of it! What the heck tonight! But it is a really nice Sony model and I know we'll have it for a long time. An amazing and extravagant gift...more than we'd buy for ourselves. You can see every blade of grass on the ballfield!

Now, I'm off to slice a from-scratch is good, and it has for sure been a weekend of a lot of happenings.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Rest of the Story

There was a lot going on behind the scenes this weekend, but it's turned out just fine, for the most part.

Steinvic's Mom was in the hospital Friday and Saturday. I know...I didn't say anything about it here, but sometimes, if there is something big enough going on, I can't find the words to do the event justice.

But now that everything is that she is home and safe, we're fine. Whatever is wrong, doesn't seem to be serious enough to merit immediate action, so there will be more tests and we just pray she is going to be fine.

There was a loss in our extended family, outstanding man who was a great, positive influence in his family. I didn't really get to know him, but I do know he will live on through the good lessons he delivered lovingly.

So much going on in the wings. But we feel fortunate to have Steinvic's Mom healthy. To have people who love and support us right here, cheering us on. More on that later...

Good Night

We just had a good night. Not our typical Saturday evening, but a really lovely, different evening.

Our friend J, who I have known since I was about the same age as the ID photo on this page, invited us to her side of town. Usually, she drives all the way out here to see us, but tonight, we went to a restaurant by her place, and then to her house to hang out at her neighbor's fire pit.

What a great evening...we'd usually either chill here or go up to our local for a few on a Saturday night, but tonight we did this wonderfully typical for everyone else thing and it was perfect.

Dinner was yummy, the conversation was fun and J's neighbors were accommodating and so very natural and easy to talk with.

Now, we're comfortable in our PJs, after a nice time with our friend (and her furry felines and puppies) and reflecting on just how good life really is.

And I'm proud of J, who has prevailed despite a flurry of ongoing challenges. She's a good Mom, a great homemaker and a helluva baker...but most of all, a loyal friend.

Sigh...we are tired and full and content...a stellar Saturday night. Hope yours was great, too!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Official Blogger

Steinvic and I were taking our walk tonight - we're lucky enough to have a really awesome path right by our house - and he said, "Did you see that anonymous comment on your blog?"

I asked him what it said and he told me.

At first I was like, "Huh? Who would post that?"

And then I thought, "Get out! Someone gave enough of a darn to comment on a post I made!" Over a year into this, I guess I'm officially a blogger.

A post that had nothing to do with this person or anyone they know. A post that was just my little sad release out there in the world. A post about a friendship gone by, that had been fizzling out for a long while. A post that I made, figuring all three people who read my blog would see it.

But no! When someone random anonymously comments on your blog about something that has nothing to do with them, you realize that you've struck a chord. Good or bad, intentional or not, you've hit a tender spot.

You might go back and read what you wrote and say, "This is stupid," and delete it. You might do as I did more than a year ago and purge every post you'd ever made, not because someone made comments there, but because you just figured you wanted a clean slate and didn't care for what you'd posted previously.

And that is the beauty of this place. I write, maybe someone reads, maybe not. If it's a sex toy advertisement in the comment section that appears in Chinese font, I can delete it. If it's offensive - poof! - gone. If it's a compliment, I treasure it. But no matter what, when someone bothers to comment, you've reached that person, whether you meant to or not.

So, thank you, anonymous poster, who doesn't know the nuances or details of my life or relationships, but who took the time to cast judgment when I let my hair down. I've arrived! I'm a blogger.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

All is Well...

Sorry for my whiny friend post. Sometimes, you just have to vent, and this is a fine place to do it - you can simply log off if you don't want to read, right?

Not if you are Steinvic. Let's give him three cheers for being a great listener. A trooper. Diplomatic. The constant voice of reason. My rock. And looking gorgeous while doing so.

But how did the situation get resolved? Me asking questions. Me being calm. Then not calm. Then calm. And finally, after a very low blow, I realized that the person I thought was my friend was simply not.

Sometimes, we make mistakes, either with the things we do or the things we want to believe. I believed something about this friend that was not true. Now I know the truth and I can move on and I have.

If you find yourself with something stuck in your craw and you're normally a reasonable person, trust your gut. In my case, it was something running much deeper than a friend not making it to a very significant event.

On to other things!

I was on the highway Monday - stopped of course, as the highway here often is - and I saw a three ringed binder full of papers on the side of the road. I wondered what it was and as I sat, staring at the back of the car ahead of me, thought about all the different scenarios that could have lead to the binder being there.

Was it an important school report due tomorrow, that a mean older brother chucked from the car window because his little brother kept changing the radio station?

Was it a project binder that someone tossed out the window in celebration, having just quit the suckiest job of her life?

Was it the Secret of Life?

A psychological test complete with a hidden camera nearby to see if someone would stop to pick it up?

These are the things that go through my mind in traffic.

Meanwhile...remember our crappy neighbors? Well, they've been replaced by crappier neighbors! And these freaks thought they understand the Homeowner Association handbook so well that they'd teach Steinvic and I a lesson by instructing us where to park, and threatening to tow us. We've parked in our spots for six years, harmoniously, along with all the other neighbors, no matter how bad they've behaved otherwise.

How I delighted in posting a note on my car today, after I slipped joyfully into my parking space, explaining how I'd talked to the HOA and that each unit really does get two spaces and that no one has the right to tow anyone.

I felt confident doing this because...well, the HOA lady was supposed to tell the unit owner and she was supposed to contact these tenants. I'm not always brave enough to stand my ground, so I did make super duper sure first that I was correct.

But really! Can you imagine moving in one day, then entering someones gated back yard the next and taping a note to the door threatening to tow? I can't! (By the way, I make the occasional spelling mistake/typo, but the last time I checked, no one had the "wright to tow" another person's car. And too and to were not interchangeable.

Okay, that's it! I'm trying to get back to posting, so sorry if these recent posts haven't been too exciting. I'm getting back into it...bear with me. Or bare with me. Or bair with me.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Never Ending Friending

I am such a dork...look at this post title. Yeah, I kind of rolled my eyes at the title of this post right along with you because I hate when people make up verbs like "friending." Also, I'm not on My Space, Facebook or any of that stuff. I have this blog - this quiet, sleepy little anonymous place on the Internet - and that is about it. But I was feeling rhymey, so there you go - dorky title for a post.

What is on my mind is...when you have a friend, do you get offended when that person doesn't reciprocate your friendship?

Let me clarify the question - when I do something nice for a friend, it isn't because I expect something in return. In general, I don't expect a lot of others. It's not that I'm bitter or's more that I'm 39 years old, I've lived a lot of life, I've known lots of people and I read the news. There are bursts of kindness and kinships in the world, but there are also a lot of sucktards out there who make it tough to keep having hope for the goodness of others. I know some AMAZING people and I feel fortunate for that. But there are a lot of selfish bastards out there who cause a girl to keep her guard up.

Still, if you have a long-term friendship with someone, isn't it fair to assume that they will at least appreciate the friendship and gestures, and not take you for granted?

In fact, while I'm not big on ragging people out behind their back, it's safe for me to vent here because she doesn't even read this blog. I once told her about it, offered to send her a link to it and she said, "I am on a computer all day...I don't have time to read one more thing." So, it's more than safe to assume that she'll never read this...and even if she did, it's how I feel, so I'd be okay with it. (By the way, she doesn't have time to read anything, but she IS on Facebook and a bunch of other social networking sites.)

We invited her to stand up for us at our wedding ceremony and understood that it could be tough for her to get here (she lives about 6 hours away), but she insisted it wouldn't be a problem to do it, and even swore she'd be at our reception.

Then, she revised her plans. She thought she could do the ceremony but not the reception because she didn't have enough vacation days.

(However, soon after saying that, she took several days of vacation to go visit a friend who has not been so loyal to her. Granted, it was because her friend's grandmother suddenly died, but where did these mysterious extra days off come from? More importantly, I tried not to be offended or hurt that when my Grandma died last summer - the Grandma that she always wanted to visit when she came to town and who she sent cards and flowers to - not only did she not come to support me, but only texted or e-mailed during that time...not one phone call for a full month when I really, really needed support.)

Steinvic offered to pay for a hotel room for her and also researched an amazingly inexpensive airfare that he offered to split with her (we'd each pay $70) to cut down on the time she'd need to miss work.

Her response? "I am too stressed at work to even think about it right now." Not thank you. Not, "That's generous...let me see what I can do as soon as I get my calendar together." Nothing.

It's been a week since we offered and she hasn't brought it up. I've gotten myself so pissed about it that when she e-mails with her "Hi! How are you!? What's going on this weekend?" I can't even reply. I don't want to say anything but," What the hell is your problem and how could you be so ungrateful?"

I'm no Bridezilla. I don't expect her to drop everything for us, throw me a shower, make an extra trip here to help me hot glue bows to something or party down with me wearing some tiara with a veil tacked to it. But she hasn't even asked what my dress looks like and that kind of hurts my feelings. Am I a sensitive litte baby or what? I hate that this bothers me so much.

But, if I'm honest, I regret our decision to ask her to stand with us because I feel like that is an honor for a forever friend and right now, I don't feel like she's going to be that to me or to us.

From an ettiquite perspective, I know I could politely call her and say that our plans have changed and that while we no longer need her to take the time off work for our ceremony, we sure hope she'll come to the celebration a few weeks later.

But that seems mean to me.

I don't know what to do...I don't have the energy to hash it out with her, but maybe I'll have to do it. Part of me thinks she should know how I feel and the other thinks I just need to suck it up.

For the moment, I'm just simmering on it. And feeling like a fool for counting on her in the first place.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Being Busy

What does getting ready for a wedding ceremony and party mean?

It means being elated. It means finding just the right things to delight ourselves and our family and friends. It means getting set for a fresh start and loving the thought and feeling of all that...

It also means making lists, freaking out when you realize that the street number on the invites somehow isn't correct (!), hoping and praying.

It means that when the dryer buzzes, I am actually relieved that the clothes aren't dry yet and that I can put them on another light dry cycle instead of folding. (This gives me the time to write here...)

I thought all the invites were out, but a conversation with Steinvic's Mom prompted me to send out a dozen more tonight.

Of course, I didn't have any more envelopes, so I headed up to Michaels to buy up what they had - two packets of our envelopes - just enough!

An hour later, I can check one more thing off the list.

But you know what? I'm so excited and happy...I hope that everyone we've invited can come and celebrate with us.

Six years of commuting, a big move to combine our homes, learning to live together - Steinvic's constant calm and my waves of spaz - it's all coming to a gorgeous place...our marriage.

Meanwhile, work is relentless. Man, I am GRATEFUL for my job, but I can't even take lunch these days. I used to keep trucking through lunch semi-voluntarily, but now it's a have-to...lunchtime isn't about reading a little junk online and then working more. It's all about the hustle and using that extra hour to try to get caught up.

So...right now, I'm having a glass of wine, listening to the dryer tumble sounds behind the television sounds, missing Steinvic (it's a Columbus night) and thanking my stars for the very wonderful busy life I have.

We have.

Monday, September 20, 2010

One Month From Today...

...I will marry the love of my life!

Sorry I've been so scarce. We work, we run around, we try to have some us time, and we run some more. I address, we search, we order...we're finalizing the details and ready to mail out invites to our "wedding party" a few weeks after the big day.

I've never had so much fun planning anything, knowing that it will be a true, stress free celebration of our marriage.

More tomorrow, when I have more minutes!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Odds and Ends...

I feel Fall. When I wake up in the morning, I don't want to move. I hit snooze at least two or three times...I slam off the "big alarm," and pull the cell phone from the night stand and tuck it beneath my arm. The cell phone has my back up alarm set on low. I curl back into Steinvic's arms and doze easily.

When I finally get out of bed, it's still dark. And when I finally finish getting ready and head out for the car, it's cool out - no humidity to warn me about how hot it will grow during the day.

I feel changes happening in the weather, and I feel changes happening in me. It's an unwinding and a rewinding and a gathering of all those loose strings into something else...trying to keep this loop from tangling with that one.

When I was a kid, I can remember my Dad cutting open a neighbor's stray golf ball and giving it to me to unravel while I sat on the cool garage floor. I unwound the rubberbandish insides carefully at first, then faster and faster. The closer I got to the center, the more quickly that little ball unravelled, bouncing, sporadically and drunkenly away from me and against the garage wall. Did you ever do that...unwind the insides of a golf ball?

Anyway, I feel kind of like that ball. Not that I'm coming apart, or like someone is unwinding me, but more like I've been fiestily working my own way down to that little ball in the center. (Which, by the way, my Dad told me was full of Castor Oil. I have no idea if it's true.) I can't say I've been pleasant to be around...I've been emotional and sensitive. And scared. I think "scared" for me comes out in strange, unappealing ways.

Thursday, I was running later to leave work than I'd planned to. See...I thought I'd go to Clifton tonight to go into some of the jewelry stores there to look for wedding jewelry. (I'm not after anything fancy...something unique, green, sterling and me. Celtic would be great.) And I felt so overwhelmed at work that afternoon and so rushed at the end of the day that I almost didn't go.
But then I thought, why am I so hurried? Steinvic was in Columbus overnight, and he would have said, "just go!" And so I went.

I took the long way, winding my way downtown the way my Grandma had taught me - all backroads. I took my time and visited each store. I smelled all the smells I remembered smelling when I lived in Clifton and walked along Ludlow all the time. I looked at the beautiful jewelry (and hats and shoes and soaps and paper) and thought about how much I'd changed - how my life had changed - in the years since I'd been there. And as I headed back toward my car (I couldn't make a decision on the jewelry tonight, though there are three contenders) I noticed that while a lot of my surroundings were familiar, they looked different.

Those shops and restaurants and signs peppering the Gaslight District...they've changed too. They're different, but the same. And still wonderful.

I think I've been pulling against myself for a long time. Instead of embracing it and going with it, I've been trying to snatch the reins back, even though it was my idea to pull the carriage in the first place. And when I've taken a wrong turn, I've either blamed it on someone else or beat myself to death for it.

I feel calm. Everything feels suddenly easy and quiet and situated. And I'm done pulling. I am letting everything and accepting it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Puppy Update

Well...we soul searched like crazy over Maya, and we just decided that with our lifestyle and the size of our condo, we were not the right family for her. And, it was the right thing to do; today the shelter contacted us and said a volunteer there was interested in adopting her. I have a feeling that by us putting her "on hold" (which means if someone else wanted her, they'd nudge us to make up our minds, but it wouldn't keep her from getting adopted) the volunteer had an "Oh, crap! I think I want her!" revelation. I e-mailed the case worker and said we were thrilled that Maya was on her way to a real home and to let us know if it went through. I have a feeling it will.

Meanwhile, a friend of ours tipped us off to a yorkie-poo that belonged to a high school pal of hers. She'd seen her friend's post on Facebook, got her info, told her we might be interested and even brought her own dog up to our local so we could get a feel for the breed.

Tonight, we arranged to meet with the friend and her dog, who we'll call K. K is a mixed breed pup, fifteen months old. He looked like a white Benji instead of a yorkie-poo. Considering that she told us she'd got him from a shelter (puppy mill) that has since been shut down, I think they lied about his breed. Not that we're breed snobs, but we were expecting small.

To summarize our half hour with K and his long bark. K hated us. He hated our house. He hated how we smelled. He hated our hands that were tentatively extended for sniffing purposes. He hated our faces, which he intently barked at. Loudly. He basically gave us the finger, insulted our mothers, threatened our heritage, cursed our loins and then flipped us off again.

He loved his family. He circled them, suspicious of why they'd made this trip. He barked and looked around and barked some more. And then barked. You know, because barking was accomplishing so much.

I gently said that we could tell that he loved them very much. Her oldest daughter started to cry. It broke my heart because she knew that this was bad...she didn't want to give up her dog, but she didn't want to take him home, either, because they just couldn't keep him. I patted her foot (we were sitting on the floor) and said, "It's all going to turn out fine."

The Mom offered to come back later this week but Steinvic and I talked and we agree that this dog would not be happy with us. Our dog will have to be comfy with "strangers" and love change. My Mom wants a granddog and hopes to come by and take the pup to her place some days. We have friends and family that come to our house to stay. Most importantly to us, Young Man loves dogs and I want him to have a friend he can cuddle when he visits.

(K was not a cuddler.)

So I will call her and thank her and tell her that we would love to help her out (really, we would) but that we don't feel like it's the right fit. I will wish her luck from us.

And ten minutes after they left (after my big teary eyes because the whole thing was so sad), Steinvic was looking online for puppies. "We need a little one we can raise ourselves."

He is totally right...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Am Not A Feminist

I read this article and many of the comments at the end of the article.

And I have to say, I am not a feminist and it's not because I am ashamed, old fashioned, beaten down, self-loathing, or afraid people will think I'm a lesbian.

Some of the comments by feminists at the end of the article are the very reason I don't want the label slapped on my forehead.

If I had to put a label on myself, it would be "humanist."

It is rude, judgmental and inaccurate to suggest that anyone who doesn't want to be labeled a feminist "think(s) she will always have a man to take care of her or, poor thing, hasn't got the sense God gave a tire iron."

Well, I never! (just kidding...) But seriously, I certainly went through some life experiences(including a hellacious marriage and divorce) frightening enough to turn any one against people in general. Instead of letting it ruin me, I am self made, intelligent, very strong, outspoken woman who now has healthy, successful relationships. AND, of course I do think that women should have the same rights and make the same wages as men.

But I also believe that men shouldn't be discriminated against when working in a sea of women, that Hispanics shouldn't experience racial profiling or that African Americans shouldn't be treated like second class citizens. It also enrages me to see Vietnamese folks get treated like their own businesses. I didn't like seeing kids with special needs get picked on when I was in school, either, and one of the only scuffles I ever got in was when I stepped in to defend one of the kids in that program when she was about to get touched by a group of disgusting, ignorant high school guys. (The other scuffle was when a wannabe skinhead made a racially inflammatory comment toward me because I was walking with my guy pal who happened to be bi-racial.) Not proud of fighting, but I wouldn't take either encounter back, either.

I think that everyone deserves respect. It doesn't make me a sell out or a chicken to not specify women. It doesn't mean I'm weak. It just means that I'm going to high five any situation where someone is treated fairly and respectfully, and not just when my "sisters" are treated that way.

And, it means that no matter who you are, I'll only let you hold the door for me if I'm allowed to return the favor in the next doorway.

See the benefits of writing an isolated blog? If this blog were a hotbed of readers, I'd have a bunch of people sounding off in the comments... instead, I'm thinking crickets...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We Are Kind of Crushing...

On Maya.

Steinvic took me to an animal shelter on Saturday. Just to look. And we saw three puppies that were beagle mixes, and before we left, the case worker brought us Maya.

I didn't mention her to Steinvic after we left, because I knew she was bigger than what we'd agreed on beforehand, but tonight, Steinvic mentioned her personality.

She'd come into the visiting room, circled the whole thing one time and then sat next to the case worker.

Then she sat with me. And she took a treat from my hand like it was glass. And she let me rub her ears and tilted her head back to look at me upside-down and that was pretty much it.

And she sighed. Wow...

So, Maya is a maybe. She was purchased from a pet store by a teenaged girl who hadn't gotten permission from her parents and Maya had a hidden talent: scaling fences. (That wouldn't be an issue where we live.) So, she wasn't welcome to stay.

We have questions and need more talking, but maybe this is our new friend...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where does a week go?

It's Tuesday, and Steinvic was home for the weekend and then outta here this morning at 6:55. (Aren't you glad I didn't say, "then was outta here this morning at 6:55 a.m."? That morning + a.m. thing is one of my pet peeves...) We had a great weekend of catching up and cozying back in...sure wasn't ready for him to head back out today. But, he'll be home tomorrow, so I'm just looking forward to that.

Since I last posted, I've been to a couple stores (okay, five) looking for a suitable dress. So far, no luck. I know what I want, and just have to hope that what I see in my brain will appear before my eyes as well.

At some point in the last 100 hours, it occured to me that in just two months, Steinvic and I are getting married. And that is an awesome thing.

However, it also means we need to get our butts in gear on the planning and doing of it all.

Never fear...this isn't going to become a wedding blog. But...the wedding is what is on my mind right now and since this blog is a peek into my brain, I will probably be talking about it a little bit!

We now have a venue for the wedding party - we're not calling it a reception, because it's way less formal than that - and we've preshopped a bunch of things, including Steinvic's suit, meaningful favors, menu items... We just need to wrap up the details.

But it's's really, really happening. And I couldn't be happier...

More soon... (I really didn't mean to be away for so long, but I got stuck on a different post and decided to nix it.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Don't Like It One Bit!

It's been a long time since Steinvic has been gone for more than an overnight. We've been in the same place together, living, loving and getting into a routine since April.

On my birthday (yeah!) Steinvic's favorite co-worker (who kinda does similar work to him) gave birth to a beautiful little girl, (I mean WOW...she is so adorable...) so his buddy won't return to work until September.

And at the end of last week, his boss went on vacation for the first time in almost two years.

So, his boss asked if he could stay in Columbus all week long. We're so fortunate that they've been flexible by letting him work from here, we certainly can't complain when they want us to be flexible in return. Plus, his company is letting him stay in their apartment building for most of the week, so he felt good about not having to "put out" his family or spend money on a hotel.'s all good, right?

NO! I don't like it one bit. I totally miss him already, and even though I've stayed super busy tonight, I'm already going, "Really? A whole week of this?!?!" It's just not the same without him here.

What do I do when I'm alone? I have been playing with my NEW camera. I rode my bike. I am cooking up a week's worth of Black Bean Veggie Chili. Here is a photo of that which I took with my NEW camera. (LOVE the NEW camera! Isn't this picture super crispy fresh!?!) And yeah, that is my little good luck candle and charms sitting there...I light it for luck every time I cook. Call me weird, but I've knocked out some friggin' awesome meals from our tiny galley kitchen, so I think my candle ritual works!

(I used to make my veggie chili using Morningstar Farms Garden Crumbles and beer instead of water, but since I'm avoiding processed soy and looking to reduce overall calories, I'm omitting those ingredients in this revised recipe.)

You'll need about seven large blanched tomatoes (just get some big fat organic tomatoes, put them in a pot of water and heat on high - not boiling - until you see tiny bubbles and a little bit of splitting happening on the skin of the tomatoes. Drain them off, let them cool and the skin will slip right off. Then dice them in a bowl so that you can keep the juice, too.

  • Okay, seven large blanched diced tomatoes in their juice
  • Two finely diced celery stalks
  • One small finely diced red onion
  • One small finely diced green pepper
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pinch of organic sugar
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • McCormick's hot chili seasoning
  • Allspice
  • Two regular cans of unseasoned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Olive Oil
  • Hot Sauce (Tabasco is my preference or a touch of Dave's Insanity Sauce)

Here's how you do it:

  1. So, heat up a little olive oil in a medium sized sauce pan. Add the onion, pepper and celery. Saute.
  2. Add in about one cup of water, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the tomatoes with their juice in. Bring to a simmer and then add the pinch of sugar.
  4. After a minute, add in the hot chili seasoning. Put in about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of Allspice.
  5. Let simmer for about five minutes.
    Add the black beans and remaining dry spices to taste, reducing heat to very low. I know I'm not putting exact measurements on the dry spices, but I know everyone likes something a little different and you gotta taste.
  6. Add about five dashes of Tabasco OR a little Dave's one tiny drop.
  7. Cook on low, stirring regularly to keep the beans from sticking.
Boom! You have lunch for tomorrow and the next day and the next. Eat it as regular chili with some oyster crackers and cheese on top. Cook off the moisture for a rockin' black bean dip or burrito insides. You will dig it.

That's enough from me for now...I'm going to watch something mindless and hopefully go right to sleep. And Steinvic, if you're reading, you better come home to get some chili! If you wait til Friday, you'll have to wait for the next batch. :)