Thursday, May 31, 2007

Life's Milestones

Last week, due to some unexpected events in my sister's family, Todd and I were asked to escort my niece, Maddie, to an important event: her Kindergarten final program and graduation.

Maddie is my youngest niece, the one born just after I graduated from law school. So while I was representing my first client, having (and losing) my first trial, and switching sides of criminal law, she was learning to talk, walk and read.

Looking at it that way, the past six years have been much more eventful for her. (Although I did get married, and THAT's no small feat, people.) She's accomplished a lot. She's gone from being what Angelina Jolie would kindly refer to as a "blob" (although she was always a very cute blob) to being a spirited personality who out-danced me at my wedding and who can already out-lawyer me in an argument.

At her graduation, she performed her role (the star of "Jack and Jill") with grace and enthusiasm. Here she is, post-performance, posing with her diploma (Yes, it's upside down. Don't tell her.).

As you can see, she was quite pleased with herself. Pleased, that is, until Todd gave her a big Congratulations, and she realized that GRADUATING from Kindergarten meant she had to LEAVE Kindergarten and START first grade.

Come on, you would be shocked, too.

We assured her that she would someday be glad to have graduated from Kindergarten, since, without it, her resume would always be woefully inadequate. Then we offered to take her to Cracker Barrel, which was accepted.

While we were eating, the waitress asked me if it was okay for her to have some more to drink.

I blanked. I sort of looked around and finally said, "I don't care."

From the look on that waitress's face, I won the Worst Mother Ever Award. I hastily explained that I was not, actually, her mother, but her aunt, and an aunt who would be shortly returning her to her mother safely and soundly, although a bit hopped up on sweet tea. That waitress was relieved, let me tell you.

I ask you, how much sweet tea is too much for a six-year old? A girl's got to celebrate life's milestones, and the way I see it, at least I didn't give her a vodka martini, "up" and "very dirty."

'Cause that's how I celebrate.

So, anyway, Congratulations, Maddie! We're just waiting to see what you'll do next.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Working Off All That 3-Day Weekend Beer

Lord knows, I am not the kind of girl who has a bunch of t-shirts from various road races. Truth be known, those people who claim to get up early on a Saturday morning (not to mention going to bed early on a Friday night) to RUN MILES for what they call FUN . . . well, those people kind of scare me.

Yes, I married one, but that's a-whole-nother-story, as they say in Eminence.

I have to admit, though, that I actually like the Mayor's Hike and Bike that we have twice a year here in Louisville. Yesterday's drew more than 2,500 people. At one point, I could see the crowd ahead of us (because looking at the crowd behind you while riding a bike is dangerous) and couldn't resist saying to Todd, "Hey, look at all those people!"

He says that's what all those runs are like. I'm taking his word for it.

Anyway, I am quite pleased that I actually finished the 15-mile ride. Of course, if anyone had given me a "not-finishing" option at around Mile 13, I may have taken it, but they didn't, so I finished. I even made it up the one hill.

Yes, I had to stop in the middle of the hill and call Todd to come back and fix the chain on my bike that had JUST GIVEN UP and tried to escape halfway up, but after it was fixed, I (and my chain) made it up the hill.

What cracks me up about a bike ride with 2,500 people is all that "courtesy yelling" that goes on. I'm riding along, trying to catch a breeze, and all of a sudden 15 people in front of me are screaming, "HOLE!HOLE!HOLE!"

So I'm all, "What? Why are these people yelling at me?"

Then, I'm all, "Oh, hey, there's a hole."

And it wasn't just holes that prompted the yelling. Throughout the ride, I heard lots of "CAR!"



And my favorite:


Me? I just ride. Yelling stuff takes too much air and just might possibly destroy all my balance, which means I would have to call out,


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Friday Fripperies

In honor of it FINALLY being Friday (and a long weekend coming up, even), I give you my very, very favorite jokes. As a bonus, it's actually a trilogy.

These are not the best jokes to read, but I promise you, actually telling them is more fun than you can imagine. Just remembering the look on Todd's face when I told him the last one gives me a serious case of the giggles.

Okay, so it was way more fun for me to tell than for him to hear. Just tell 'em to somebody, you won't be sorry!

Joke #1
Me: Knock knock
You: Who's there?
Me: Interrupting Cow
You: Inter...
Me (interrupting before you can finish saying your line): MOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Joke #2
Me: Knock knock
You: Who's there?
Me: Confused chicken
You: Confused chi...
Me (interrupting): Moo!

Joke #3
Me: Knock knock.
You: Who's there?
Me: Interrupting giraffe.
You: Interrupting gira-
Me(interrupting): (Leans in very close and stares.)

Go forth and spread laughter!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Crafting Success!

If you ever do any surfing the net for crafting/sewing stuff -- and SOME people do -- you've probably seen this turn-a-pair-of-pants-into-a-skirt trend.

If you never surf for such thing, just trust me -- it's a trend.

And since I happened to own a pair of pants which truly looked like ASS on me, I decided to try it out.

Drum roll, please . . .

It worked! I turned those crappy pants into a skirt I actually like! And, oddly enough, the things that made the pants look like ASS actually made for a pretty flattering fit in the skirt. (Sorry there are no skirt-in-action shots, I could never quite get it together when I was wearing it to have my portrait taken.)

Here's a closeup of the insert fabric, which I love (and which took a very long time to find at Baer's):

This was a really easy project; I started ripping seams on Sunday afternoon and finished the skirt on Wednesday (and I don't think I even worked on it on Monday). Keep in mind, too, that I am the world's most beginning sewer. Someone who actually had a clue could have probably done the whole thing in an afternoon.

If you're interested in doing this, I recommend looking around the net for various instructions. They will all seem pretty vague, but that's okay. Really, you just cut the pants off where you want the skirt, rip out the leg and crotch --

(man, I am truly afraid of what internet searches might bring someone to this post, given that last phrase)

-- and then kind of sew it back together however you can get it to lay flat.

Even thought it's corduroy, I have already worn it with a t-shirt and sandals. I think it will truly shine, though, if I ever do come into possession of those red cowboy boots I have been dreaming about for two years.

A girl's gotta have a dream, you know.

News Flash: Plants DO Grow From Seeds!

I may have grown up on a farm, but I can't say I was very good at it. My sister eloquently summed it up recently by saying, "While you were in the house with Mother playing the piano, I was working the land."

True, true. I did not do much working of the land. If you want the honest to God truth, I don't think I ever trusted "the land" and what was supposed to happen on it. I mean, how was I to know that seeds would actually work? I didn't really understand that whole "germination" explanation they gave in middle school science class, either. Sounded like a bunch of hooey to me.

So my gardening has mostly been of the buy-small-plant-stick-it-in-the-ground-and-hope-it-gets-bigger variety.

But for Christmas this year, I got a Chia herb garden. (You didn't know Chia products were still around, did you? Well, they are.) In honor of Spring a few weeks ago, I put those babies together. And lo and behold, while I was having the week from That Hot Place (otherwise known as the Hall of Justice) last week, here's what was happening in my kitchen windowsill:

I am totally not kidding. Those little plantlets you see there (sprouts, if you will) GREW FROM SEEDS.

And the wonder of the Chia? You don't even have to PLANT the seeds. You just sprinkle those little suckers on and wait.

Who wudda thunk?

And in other gardening news (you like gardening news, don't you?), I also have further evidence that the buy-small-plant-stick-it-in-the-ground-or-container-and-hope-it-gets-bigger method works pretty well, too:

The Lewis Family Container Herb Garden (Including not one, but three varieties of basil. We Lewises love us some basil.)

And the crowning glory of them all:

The Lewis Family It-May-Look-Like-a-Marijuana-Plant-But-It's-Really-a-Tomato Plant

Because people, where I come from -- 'tain't summer until you have sores in your mouth from eating too many tomatoes.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rising Above My Inner Buffer (or, Self-Improvement's a Bitch!)

Ack. That pretty much sums up my week.

I think I've mentioned on here before that I've been watching The Riches on Monday nights. Suddenly, I've realized that it is actually the only thing I'm watching these days. (I even let the series finale of Gilmore Girls get by me . . . )

If you're not watching this show, you should be. The premise is that a group of itinerant scam artists, through an appropriately wacky series of events, begin impersonating a wealthy family and trying to live their lives. Hilarity, of course, ensues, but so do the moral quandries.

What moral quandry, you ask? Not whether it is okay to "steal the American dream," but whether you are wrong for wanting that dream in the first place. The Malloys (now known as the Riches) refer to "normal" people living on the grid as "buffers." This late in the TV season, they are discovering that, slowly but surely, they are becoming more like buffers than they would like.

I'm a buffer. I've never been anything but a buffer, and I guess that's what I'll always be. But, while I don't plan to become an itinerant scam artist anytime soon, I'm beginning to wonder if buffer-dom is all there is.

I think a mentioned a few posts back that I am currently reading two different self-improvement-type books these days. The programs involve a lot of stream-of-consciousness writing and meditating. I'm realizing that my mind, on any average day, is cluttered up with a lot of crap. Pure buffer crap.

Bills, household chores, cooking, work issues, weight issues -- this is the stuff that goes meandering through my head all the time. Seriously -- ALL THE TIME. People, my brain is not a very interesting place to be. I'm quite bored with it, if you want to know the truth.

So . . . where was I going with this? I don't know. I guess the goal at the moment is to clear out the ol' noggin -- much like a spring gutter cleaning -- and try to fill it up with some better stuff. Some less buffer stuff.

Or maybe just less stuff, period.

Do you ever wonder what your brain would do if it had the space and the time? If it was just left alone FOR FIVE MINUTES without worrying about the minutae of everyday life.

You might solve world hunger.

Develop the power of telekenesis.

Write the great American novel.

Heck, you might actually hear an answer to all those frantic prayers you send up a hundred times a day.

It's just a thought, I suppose. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to meditate. For 8 whole minutes.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

I had dinner with my mom last night for an early Mother's Day celebration. We had a great time -- since she's been living about an hour away from me, I have to appreciate the time I get to spend with her even more.

I know that, if my mom had not decided to be a mom, her life would have been totally different. I'm not sure what she would have done -- maybe traveled the world, gone back to school for a different career -- whatever she chose, I'm sure it would have been something exciting and completely unexpected.

When I think about that, it occurs to me that as children, we have all, in a way, stolen our mother's lives. All those OTHER lives she could have lived -- she had me instead.

My mom was the "cool" teacher in my school, the band director, the cheerleading coach. She was one of those moms that other kids wished was THEIR mom. I wasn't, on the other hand, one of the "cool" kids. I used to think that if there had been an application process to be her daughter, I probably wouldn't have been picked out of all the other competition.

But I know she loved me. She gave me my love of books and music and movies that make me cry. She always tells me I look pretty, even when I probably don't.

I have learned so many things from her, both from her words and her example. That it's nobody's business but mine who I vote for. That white shoes should never be worn before Derby Day or after Labor Day. That great chili doesn't require a lot of fancy ingredients or even a recipe.

She taught me that it's never, ever, to late to start over in life and in love. That real love changes things you thought could never be changed.

And now that I'm supposed to be a grown-up, she's let me be her friend and not just her daughter.

This year for Mother's Day, I gave my mom an azalea. It was a nice one, but I hope she knows that I know it could never be enough to say thanks for everything she's given me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Christmas in May

A few posts ago, I was bemoaning the loss of the craft mojo. While I haven't made a whole lot of progress since then on . . . well, anything, really . . . I am feeling more in the spirit of things.

Here's my current favorite project:

Yep. I'm knittin' myself a Christmas stocking. In May. After last year's Christmas knitting angst, I decided two things:

1. "I'll just make all my Christmas presents this year! Who needs shopping?" These are the words of a crazy person. If you ever hear these words from a person you care about, get thee to a pharmacy. Stat.

2. Any knitting intended for the Christmas season should be started no later than February 1 of the preceding year. No exceptions, even for scarves and dishcloths. You may think there is an exception for the "Starving Children in the Desert Who Really Need Hand-knit Mittens More than Water or Food" project, but there isn't. An exception, that is.

That said, I'm really pleased with my stocking. It's from a great sock book (there's a link over to your right) that I bought with a Christmas gift certificate from my sister-in-law, who understands about yarn.

This is my first attempt at fair isle, and I can't tell you how surprised I am that it actually looks like real live fair isle! And it's not that hard, really. I had been told by a certain experienced knitter that I know that you need to be able to "knit with both hands" to do it, but to that I say, "hooey." I've managed just fine with one hand . . . well, actually, with two . . . what the heck did she even MEAN?!

All I know is: Hey! I made stars!

It's enough to make me want to make myself a hot toddy and head for a ski lodge . . .

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

New Skill: Pictures!

Ahhh . . . finally, some color around this place. Some vim and vigor, if you will. Just to prove to myself that I really know how to do it, I present to you . . .

. . . drum roll please . . .

Sam the Best Dog Ever and Penny the Wonder Puppy!

No, they don't always look like this. This, in fact, is immediately following a major time-out in which Penny had to sit in her crate and think about what she had done.

This is her thinking about how she can't wait to do it again.

This is Sam, day-dreaming about the glory days of being the only dog.

Notes From the Long-Range Planning Committee

So, I went to my first Deacon's meeting last night. I remember when I was a kid, and it seemed like at least once a week or so, my dad would be going to an Elder's meeting. I always wondered what went on at those meetings.

I think I had vague images of a bunch of solemn old men (which my dad wasn't) sitting around in suits, speaking very quietly of who was "doing well" in the church and who wasn't. Like, who was showing up looking appropriately solemn, who was actually opening the Bible and reading along during the scripture readings, and who could be counted on to give comfort to the shut-ins.

And by the way, I was absolutely fascinated by shut-ins. Who were these people, how did they get to be shut-ins, and, most importantly, how does one accomplish the actual "shutting in?" Seriously -- does being a shut-in mean you can't go to the grocery? To the end of the driveway to get your mail? What do they do if they run out of toilet paper? I finally determined that they must all be suffering from agoraphobia (that is the one where you're afraid to leave the house, isn't it?), which meant that I didn't think it was very nice for us to go Christmas caroling to a shut-in's house. Prolly scared the you-know-what out of them.

So, anyway. The Deacons meeting. Almost a disappointment. All that really happened was I got my list of people I'm supposed to keep in contact with. There wasn't even a secret handshake or a pledge to the deacon flag.

Todd picked me up after the meeting, and I showed him the list. He seemed surprised -- "All those people are shut-ins?"

Well, no, actually, they're not. At least I don't think so. And if any of them are, I'd like to know so I can ask them some of the above questions.

On our way home, there was an interview on NPR with some dude who has just written a biography of Condeleeza Rice. It seems that poor ol' Condy had her hopes and dreams dashed at the ripe old age of seventeen when -- as a sophomore in COLLEGE -- she learned that she wasn't good enough to be a concert pianist.

Well, sheesh. Just cry me a stinking river.

ANYWAY -- so since recovering from that devastation, Condy apparently no longer makes long-term plans. (I ask you -- is that a good quality in a Secretary of State?)

But -- the point of all this -- the guy who wrote the biography explained this no-planning thing by saying, "Well, she IS a Presbyterian."

Wha . . huh? Presbyterians don't make long-term plans? Well, shoot! Nobody told me that! And I joined and everything! Cancel my retirement fund, I'm a Presbyterian!

Let me tell you, though, a group that does believe in long-term plans? Boy scouts. Todd and I were talking to a kid, probably 12 years old if he's a day, about his scout troop. Todd encouraged him to continue with it until he makes Eagle Scout.

To which the kid replied: "Oh, of course. It will look good on my resume."

Monday, May 7, 2007

Book Talk

Good grief, has it been 6 days since my last post? Say it ain't so!

In my defense . . . well, I have no defense. I spent Derby Weekend unhealthily engrossed in the "Undead and Unwed" series. Seriously, people. High-falutin' stuff.

But, I have to say, while my Derby Day reading marathon may not have been that high-falutin', it was highly intertaining. Fascinating stuff, really. If I am to die suddenly, I SO want to come back as the Queen of the vampires. And since I also watched "The Queen" this weekend, I can tell you that the Queen of the Vampires has a lot more fun than the Queen of England. (Not that Prince Phillip wasn't Mr. Hotty-pants back in the day, but immortal, he ain't.)

I don't feel the slightest bit of shame for my fluff reading, because I just came off of reading a much more serious book, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. It was fantastic; so much so, that I decided it should be the first book review here on Around the Subject.

Ahem. (Serious literary content to follow.)

I stumbled across Haruki Murakami when I accidently (darn those book club return cards!) purchased Kafka on the Shore a year or so ago. Since I bought it, I went ahead and read it. I really enjoyed 90% of it. I thought it was inventive, had the right bit of dark humor thrown in, and I was actually pretty excited to come across a new-to-me fantasy/sci-fi writer. Then I got to the ending, and, well . . . it didn't end.

Murakami totally left me hanging. Characters just disappeared without developing further, plot lines just stopped, and there was absolutely no explanation for the probably supernatural events. I was not amused.

Then, a few months ago, while lurking around on Altdotlife, I read a bunch of stellar reviews of Murakami's other works, so I gave it another try, in the form of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. (Which gets points for a fabulous title, by the way.)

This one was much better. It had an odd little dual story line going on that was hard to figure out, but not TOO hard. And -- BONUS -- it had an ending! Not a wrap-everything-up-with-a-neat-bow a la the Charmed finale, but an ending nonetheless. It explained just enough to leave me feeling satisfied with the plot, but left enough questions that I could still ponder it after I was done.

So, moving on (and with much more enthusiasm), I bought The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. And loved it. Really -- Loved. It.

I would have trouble describing the plot of the book. The simplest explanation would be something like this -- guy quits his job, his cat runs away, his wife leaves him, and he spends the next few years trying to figure it all out.

But that doesn't tell you anything. Reading this book was like becoming someone else -- with no explanation, no back-story, no hologram named Al, nothing. You have to live this person's life as it comes. People come in and out of that life and you learn some things, but not everything, about them. Your life takes some twists and turns, and some of them are amazing, but some are almost dull. And in the end, all you understand is that you don't understand much.

And -- I can't stress this enough -- the not understanding? It's OKAY! If some weird shit goes on that you can't explain, at least it's interesting, and at least it's not some lame-ass hokey explanation like in Vanilla Sky, or some dull pure science thing (because even though I know evolution is true, you have to admit Creation would be a lot more fun).

I don't think Murakami is for everyone. I think you have to at least be open to the fantasy/sci-fi/magic realism genres. But if those are the kind of things you like, even just on occasion, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle should be on your list.

Here endeth the serious literary content. Humor to resume momentarily.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Penny, If You're Reading This, Get Back in the Pen!

I'm feeling a bit new mommy-ish this morning. We took the plunge and put Penny the Wonder Puppy in the outdoor pen with Sam the Best Dog Ever. She's been in there for some trial runs, but never for a whole day with no one home. I will count the day as a success if none of the following occur:

1. She breaks out and runs free in the neighborhood.

2. She breaks out and runs free to the neighbor who is convinced my entire household is involved in a conspiracy to kill her yippy dog.

3. She breaks out and kills the neighbor's yippy dog.

4. She gets a sunburn on the shaved part of her ass. (Don't ask, it's a long story. Just hope it all grows back.)

5. She bites one of Sam's ears completely off.

6. She drives Sam crazy and we find him this afternoon drooling and banging his head against his house.

Any of those is a distinct possibility, I'm telling you.

Really, I had no idea what the addition of one little puppy would do to our household. I think that I thought we were all such a mess anyway that it couldn't get any worse. The truth, however, was that we really WEREN'T a mess before, but now we ARE.

Someone please remind me of this the next time I watch E-Vet Interns and demand a Great Dane puppy. Or come home from dinner at Jonathan's Mommy's house and think that kids might be kind of cute, after all.

Both dogs completely foiled any attempt to watch the Mormon special last night. Seriously, that story is convoluted enough without having your toes chewed off while trying to watch it.