Friday, March 28, 2008


I think I finally figured out why I've been such a dull girl this last week or so. I'm still processing everything we did in New Orleans. Turns out that trying to cram every experience you can into a week in a strange city catches up with you when you get home (at least it does if you're an introvert and a slow thinker, lol) Alternatively, it could be that I am just lazy and boring, but as I also work pretty hard to avoid responsibility, I'm going to go with Door Number One.

In an effort to kickstart some brainwaves (other than participating in commerce on the inernet - turns out overstimulification doesn't provide much of a damper on hitting the "Buy" button on agreeable websites) I'm going to dip into Random Thoughts mode and jot some stuff down. Maybe the release of pressure of all the gurgling jumbled thought fragments will give me room for focused, pithy, and well-reasoned... or maybe not, as I don't even seem to be able to end that sentence intelligently (where do "they" hide the words that perimenopausal women are trying to think of? Because I'd seriously like to dig through that warehouse and see if I can find the other half of my vocabulary).


I got a new computer for my birthday (please note aforementioned reference to internet commerce, 'cause this was one BIG button and pretty darned fun to push). My husband actually challenged me to buy the coolest thing I could configure, and doggone it I love my husband and want to please him with every fiber of my being! (particularly in regards to aforementioned internet commerce, although I'm not sure he intended this every fiber of my being thing to extend out quite so many days), so I did. It's bee-yoo-tee-ful.

And as you can see, I DID ACTUAL PHYSICAL LABOR to set it up. (please note aforementioned reference to not being lazy and boring. While no actual refutation of boringness, I think we can lay LAZY to rest, at least for an hour or two). As you can also see in picture number 2, Actual Physical Labor was content to rest after computer was assembled and before boxes were put away. No actual surprise there, as you cannot participate in internet commerce with empty boxes. And yes, I know they weren't technically empty, being full of packing materials (and a few shreds of my hair and self-dignity from the assemblage process).

I'm feeling all kinds of better about myself, now. Just seeing in print that I'm not a total slug (and pictoral evidence, too! True, both print and picture have been manufactured by me, but y'know, I think I'm okay with that) gives me new hope and verve.

I think I need to go shopping.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Somedays you might as well stay in bed

Ok, trying to fix my slideshow, and it is not going well. It's cloudy. David's leaving for a week. I didn't wake up thin OR gorgeous.

Might as well just go back to bed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Vacation stuff

A bright person would take a camera with them when exploring, wouldn't you think? But no. Friday morning we hit the sidewalks as a complete family. We enjoyed our cafe au lait and beignets, and then hopped on a horse drawn carriage for a tour of the French quarter.

Perfect day, slight breeze, lots of sun (and a covered carriage - lol, kept thinking of the "surrey with the fringe on top" - I couldn't help but feel the tug of wistfulness for a day and age gone by, as we rode up and down the quaint streets at the gentler pace of yesteryear. Of course, I got over the wistfulness in about 3 seconds when I thought about air conditioning and refrigerators and internet (not to mention cell phone cameras, LOL). But a tiny part of me is still enchanted by the saturation of age and history in every cobblestone and cast iron gate.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Anatomy of an addiction.

Turns out just a little over 50 hours in New Orleans can saddle one with an awesome Beignet addiction. Here it is just a day after we arrived home and I'd really REALLY like a cafe au lait and a beignet. I'd even walk the three inches on the map to get it. Which, if you're counting, is really six inches by the time you get back to the hotel. And yes, I was counting.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Efficiency is highly overrated.

Efficiency can sometimes mimic meddling, especially when it comes to Blogger. I was quite comfortable with forgetting to edit my "new" age on my profile; I knew I'd get around to changing it (in a year or two), but seems that not only does Blogger "efficiently" act to save my posts as I craft them (anticipating the cry of dismay as my computer freezes and I realize that the careful coordinated blather that flows over the page has disappeared into frothy nothingness with nary a bit nor pixel left behind to prove that I wasn't REALLY wasting time, well at least not completely), but also auto-updates the blogger's age. Hmmm. MUST we?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

About getting things done on time. Or Not.

So a friend sent me a list of aphorisms* today. Number one said:

The nicest thing about the future is
that it always starts

This philosophy suits me to a T. Now, earlier today I had been thinking about mentioning procrastination here on my blog ( I just said that because I feel younger and hip and stuff saying "on my blog.") Once I read this clever little saying (and hey, it was NUMBER ONE on the list. That REALLY means It's A Sign I Should Blog About It, right?) I was pretty sure that this was divine confirmation that my failure to act according to human rules of decency needed to be blabbed to the hordes who read about my other failures to act.. oh, you get the drift. So. Let me proceed:

Garbage comes on Thursday.

Above concept is not particularly difficult to grasp. The sticking point is in the relentlessness of the arrival of Thursdays. While technically they only occur once each week, their significance is magnified by the regularity with which Thursday is encompassed by one of my husband's business trips. This means that I, and I alone, am responsible for positioning said garbage out by the curb, ready for the ferris wheel ride into the gaping maw at the rear of the truck (ok, it really isn't, we don't have that kind of garbage truck, but I'm totally going with this description because I've already written it, and I have my heart set on using the word "maw" in a sentence today, and it is 20 minutes to midnight, so my opportunities are dwindling, y'know?)

It used to be acceptable to put the garbage out on the curb on Wednesday evening. It probably still is, but somewhere along the string of Thursdays that have comprised my duty roster, I made the discovery that garbage trucks don't arrive on my street until the afternoon is well-advanced. I'm guessing that it dawned on me during a few trips outside During The Day Especially to Nobly Refrain from Cluttering the Neighborhood Sidewalk with my Trash, only to find that my thoughtfulness and prompt attention were totally squandered, as the all important trash conveyence had not yet visited my general vicinity. Nor my specific vicinity, for that matter. Once this concept of time delay had settled into my brain (no comments, please) it became apparent that Wednesday night was far too early to prepare our weekly contribution. Thursday morning was a much more appropriate time; one only needed to read the finger-wagging scold contained in the Homeowners Association newsletter to realize that garbage left on the curb too long impeded school children on their walks to school, caused unsightly clutter if the wind kicked up to distribute used dryer sheets and unshredded bills in various neighborhood shrubs, and threatened wildlife (and local felines) with unsanitary yet savory dainties hidden just out of reach but worth a concerted retrieval effort even if it involved scattering undesireable items hither and yon on the sidewalk.

Of course, once one has begun to refine one's schedule, it is difficult not to make the effort to improve upon the timing. This generally leads to restraining one's garbage divestation until much nearer the time of the removal vehicle's arrival. And as that arrival tends to be in the waning hours of afternoon (around 4 pm, for the reader desiring to know the specific nature of "waning," in this usage), there is no real point in moving one's items until after lunch. And if one has a late lunch there is still no need to panic, as after the mid-afternoon beverage break is perfectly adequate promptness.

The trouble with being too accurate in life lies in the deceitful nature of life itself. Accuracy is only as good as the moment it enfolds. The next moment might just be totally inaccurate, and then one is left- holding one's garbage in one's hand with an expression of shock and revulsion on one's face - while distant sounds of the "ferris wheel ride into the gaping maw of the garbage truck" echo down the block. Echo down the completely WRONG side of the block. Echo down the side of the block that means that the garbage truck has PASSED MY HOUSE and left my trash decaying in solitary splendor in my garage (solitary because none of my neighbors are nearly as devoted to being accurate in life as I am, and have therefore had their refuse on the curb since Wednesday evening).

Fortunately, in addition to my passion for excellence in timing, I have something left in my favor. My house is located on the initial pass of the truck into my neighborhood. Because of the nature of the route, I have about fifteen minutes to wheel my week's worth of rejected excess across the street and park it neatly adjacent to that exceedingly tidy collection of the gentleman directly opposite me, ready for pickup. Unfortunately, Mr. Tidy is (what else) picking up spare dust particles in his immaculate yard, so I can't really sneak it over and am forced to beg permission (which of course entails a bit of excuse-making and general self-deprecation, as I know the concept of advanced time refinement is a bit difficult to explain to strangers). I deem this a necessary sacrifice, and the garbage issue is resolved with little further fuss.

The thing that worries me a little though, is this. Now I know that I have a fail safe. I'm just worried that my obsessed nature is now going to lead me further down the path of adjustment. Now that I know I can wait until the truck has already passed...

Maybe I had better start paying attention to when the garbage truck comes in my neighboring subdivision.

*A short, pointed sentence expressing a wise or clever observation or a general truth; adage.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Whose brilliant idea was this?

So as I stagger from clock to clock tonight, trying to remember the magic combination of buttons to push simultaneously to set them forward an hour (it used to be so simple, when it was just hands on a clock), I can't help but wonder why this seemed like such a freaking brilliant idea. Oh sure, let's mess with time. No hubris there. And if it's such a darned good idea to be an hour ahead, then fine. Let's have it be an hour later. And LEAVE IT THERE, doggone it. None of this back and forth mess up the kids' and dogs' schedule and embarrass people who accidentally have so much of a life that they don't hang on the clock-changer's every whim of tampering with God's original plan...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Of Smorgasbords & Scrapbooking...

I should just stop with the title and let everyone wonder what cog has slipped (further, some might say) in Julie's brain.

[dramatic pause for effect]

First, my apologies to my non-scrapping friends and family. Yes, I know, constant allusions to the new hobby are getting tiresome. It's just too bad. It's my obsession and I'll allude if I want to, allude if I want to... you would allude too if it happened to you... Just be glad I've opted out of sound on my blog and you were spared the singing voice in my head. See? I care about you. I've given you cause to be grateful that it's just scrapping you're putting up with (along with some questionable grammar, but hey, colloquial is where it's at, right? No one is going to have to diagram any of my sentences, anyway, unless they continue to protest the scrapbooking references.) Now that I have tucked parenthetical asides into my parenthetical asides, I'll move on, if I can remember my topic.

[dramatic pause for effect and for me to remember my topic]

There aren't that many places anymore that serve a geniune all-you-can-eat buffet style meal, and I think I know why. It's because it brings to the forefront some of the least desirable traits of humankind and puts them on display with uncomfortable clarity and in full view of the dining public.

I see your skeptical look, however I am speaking from my own experience as well as my observations. I like to think of myself as a fairly decent human being. I try to be respectful of others, appreciative, thoughtful, and supportive. I make a concentrated effort to be wise with my resources, take care of my belongings, and to use what I have been given to its full effect. And I know for a fact that all that self-discipline goes right out the window at just about the same moment that I approach the first serving stand and see the self-replenishing stack of plates beckoning me with the promise of unlimited gratification.

What IS this??? I'll be honest, I don't even LIKE most buffet food. It sits out in a display designed for ease of access rather than optimum quality maintenance, so it's too warm/cold/dried out/limp/soggy/hard to truly merit epicurean credit. And then there's the whole problem of portioning - if you take too little of an item, you will surely be sorry when it turns out to be the One Food on Earth that actually improves when it's too warm/cold/dried out/limp/soggy/hard, and you will be the One Person in the restaurant who Fails to Anticipate Greatness with a generous scoop reflecting proper recognition of its potential. On the other hand, if you take too much of an item, the converse threat is equally intimidating, usually ending in the scornful eyes of the busperson taking away the plate bearing your leftover shame (good try, hiding it under the artistically crumpled napkin). And dessert is the very worst, following on the heels of at least two plates' (ironically, the warm one for the salad, and the ice cold one for the entree) worth of wavering between portion size one and portion size two and usually resulting in stomach fillage size three and yet... one has paid the full price for the buffet and therefore MUST HAVE DESSERT (please see above-referenced self-congratulation re: "using resources to their full effect," this being the only vestige of self discipline apparently remaining available to me - who am I to question self discipline?).

Dessert. Spell it the other way in a buffet line, because your good sense (had you actually maintained some to this point) is surely about to desert you now. What under normal circumstances (i.e. if you were paying for each one individually) would attract your eye and send a frisson of delight rippling over your tastebuds is no longer valid. Suddenly each and every doughy pastry, hard (not crisp, HARD) cookie, gelatinous pudding, dry-as-cracker-crumbs cake square (complete with microscopic layer of over-sweet and under-effective frosting), faux cut-glass dish piled with impossible cubes of highly colored jell-0 with equally impossible rosettes of unyielding whipped "cream," vie with each other for a spot on your tray (forget the plate, use the tray). You're standing up, so it's easier to forget the cruelly unyielding button on your jeans, so you choose, oh, say, two Modest Choices from the mesmerizing display before you, feeling slightly smug about your restraint. At that point you notice, standing in its own glory at the end of the dessert station, the Ice Cream Sundae Bar. And a discreet sign indicates that even better, it's Frozen Yogurt. Practically Diet. You make a beeline for the line of children who want to get Gramma & Grampa some ice... er, I mean Frozen Yogurt mainly so they can pull the handle and watch the frozen goodness snake down out of the spout and into the dish (latter part optional for the youngest ones in line). Finally it's your turn, and you get your own little thrill out of said snaking, and a slightly larger thrill out of the toppings (hot fudge, mmmm - well, hey, it's frozen yogurt, so pour a little more on!). You feel vaguely uneasy about the first two desserts on your tray at about this time (c'mon people, it's HOT FUDGE, fer cryin' out loud! you can't turn it down just because you've already taken a couple of token desserts!) but you resolutely shove the thoughts down because you can't put the desserts back (they've been on your tray, they now bear your germs and it is your duty to protect the gluttonous public from your cooties), and besides, you can always artfully arrange some more napkins if you have to. Off you march to your booth joyously bearing the fruits of your labor (because marching is more exercise than sneaking, and the button is still hammering home its disapproval).

Fast Forward. You leave the restaurant, making sure you get your free toothpick at the door, even though you mostly had soggy and limp and hot fudge and none of it is likely to be lodged between molars but doggone it, you paid for the buffet and you're going to get your money's worth, and that includes a toothpick. The whole sorry tale (other than the one your jeans button is about to tell in a decidedly strident voice) is over. By the time you reach your car, you are wondering what exactly you have done to yourself, and why oh why oh why - what came over you???

It's the Smorgasbord Syndrome - the inability to control oneself and cling to virtue in the face of unlimited gratification. At some point in time, you not only come to feel entitled to as much as you can grab, but greed sets in until you are grabbing things you don't even want with every bit as much fervor.

My Digiscrap friends will know where I'm going with this by now, and possibly others who participate in a hobby that's peopled with many kind and generous folks will also relate. There are so many kind people who are willing to share the fruits of their labor with others by giving away knowledge just for the creativity and the joy of passing it on to others who share that love. Sadly, I sometimes feel the same sort of disconnect from my normal values that I fight at the Buffet Restaurant. It's tempting to take things I don't care for just because they're free. It's tempting not to count the cost, everything from bandwidth to hard drive space, to simple human dignity. And in the final tally, it isn't just my jeans button that will condemn me.