Saturday, October 30, 2010


The brownie bites.

They're almost too pretty to eat.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Caramel-Glazed and Chocolate-Filled

This was my day today:

Pumpkin Bars

Apple Spice Cakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Pretty Little Brownie Bites

It started at 9:30 a.m. It is now 11:00 p.m. and my mother is still working on some little cheesecake thingamabobs. We ate lunch standing at the counter (bite, measure, bite, dump, bite, stir...). Dinner was taken between batches of brownies.

Tomorrow I glaze and decorate 6 dozen brownie bites and bake a layer cake.

I'm tired.

I'm crabby.

My feet hurt.

My pants legs are covered in flour. (Really.)

I never want to see another dessert.

Or maybe that's an exaggeration. As worn-out and tetchy as I am feeling right now, I had a great day. I love baking and especially baking with my mother. Her goofy cheerfulness balances my intensity--like, when I was about to cry because the STUPID CREAM CHEESE WOULDN'T STOP CLUMPING UP in the pumpkin bar filling.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oh, I love my friends.

I found the following recipe written on an index card, which was stuck inside a book. There isn't a date noted, but I'm going to guess 2003 or 2004.

(Original spelling and form maintained for comedic value)

"Code Red Mt. Dew! Mocha Chocolate Chunk Sundae"
  • spoon chocolate chunk ice cream into a large cup (or margarita glass, hehe)
  • Nestle Java Ice Syrup, mocha flavor, drizzled over ice cream
  • 1 can Code Red Mt. Dew poured over ice cream
  • use tounge to lap up bubbles :)
Naomi or DoRena: did we make these or did you guys just give me the recipe? I very clearly remember the Mt. Dew cappuccinos, but not this...creation.

Monday, October 25, 2010 Which the First Step to Recovery is Not Taken

I swear I don't have a problem with finishing things, no matter the piles of evidence to the contrary. I'm just good at prioritizing...and realizing when I'm beaten.

Current projects, in reverse chronological order:

1) Lovely knitted baby blanket for a friend, expecting her first son: Obviously, this sort of thing is time sensitive and it was therefore absolutely necessary that I should start before finishing anything else. The instructions say "super easy" and "makes a great last-minute shower gift!" but don't believe it. I've been exhausting my poor fingers for a week now and have less than a foot of length. I don't think I'm that slow at knitting. The pattern lied, that's all.

2) Scrap quilt: I started this last winter, got all the squares cut out and sewn together, backing and batting basted, and knot-quilting started. And then, when it got too warm to sit under a pile of fabric every evening, I folded it up and stuck it in the back of my closet. I finished the knotting last month and purchased the binding fabric...which is now sitting in a Walmart bag under the end of my bed. I'll get to it eventually, but I need (1) several hours of uninterrupted time, during which I will not feel guilty that I'm not doing something legitimately useful and (2) plenty of uninhabited space in which to spread out my work. Both are hard to come by.

3) Hostess apron: I don't know what made me choose this pattern. It's completely useless. When I want an apron, I want an apron that will cover my entire front. Not one that starts at my waist, leaving my shirts exposed to tomatoes, oil, cleaning products, dust, or whatever else is flying about as I work. Anyway, I got the pieces all cut out and then realized that I was missing the lace trim (impractical, yes?) and could not proceed until I acquired said trim. That feat only took two years. So now, instead of a pile of fabric and pattern pieces, I have a pile of fabric, pattern pieces, and lace under my bed. I'll get to it eventually. Like, maybe when I figure out why I wanted to make it in the first place.

4) Pink scarf, green scarf, red and white striped scarf...: Boring. Besides that, I already have approximately 3,762 scarves filling the coat closet (and spilling out on to the floor every time someone tries to grab a jacket). They're destined to be gifts for some grateful individual who won't realize that they're just the victim of a decluttering effort.

In my defense, while these projects have been languishing--forgotten--in closets and under the bed, I've finished other things. Scarves and hats for all my girl cousins, scrapbooking pages galore, a bachelor's degree.... little things like that.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Just a Little Sentimental

Growing up, I was privileged to have a close relationship with my great-grandparents, Robert and Helen Beery. I know one is not supposed to have favorites in the family, but I looked forward to seeing them more than almost anyone else. When we moved to Fort Wayne it meant living within 40 minutes of their house in Magley and, later, within the same distance of their apartment and nursing home.

I was always a little bit in awe of Grandpa Beery, but he never intimidated me. When we were little, Grandpa would take us kids outside and show us his garden. I don't remember him talking very much; my most vivid memories are of him sitting back in his chair, grinning and chuckling at my brothers' antics. That's a fairly standard response to my brothers, but there was something extra-special about Grandpa's grin.

I spent the most time with Grandma Beery. She was sweet and soft, but she also had a core of iron and spunky, sparkling blue eyes. She loved playing with the grandkids. We would paint pictures together or color or go outside and look at the flowers. When I began taking piano lessons, she always wanted "a concert", which would often end in the two of us playing duets. At the assisted living center, she would open the apartment door when I played so that her neighbors could enjoy the music too. When they finally had to leave the apartment for the nursing home, she gave me her beautiful piano. I still think of her every time I play.

Anyway, this was all brought up because my mother and I were looking at old photos of Grandma and Grandpa. And they made me cry. Turns out I still miss them...a lot.

Friday, October 15, 2010

At the Grocery (with snarky commentary)

Cashier-Guy: So, do you like classical music?
Excellent pick-up line.
Bagger-Girl: You mean, like, Elton John or, like, Michael Bolton?
Come on. You could have said, "Like, AC/DC or Van Halen?"
Michael Bolton??? Seriously????

Cashier-Guy: No....
Bagger-Girl: OH, or do you mean, like, Pachelbel?
And then the light comes on.
Cashier-Guy: Yeah, or like Beethoven.
Bagger-Girl: Yeah, I like it okay. I used to play the piano.
Cashier-Guy: Yeah, me too. I can play, like, half of Fur Elise. You know the song Fur Elise?
Maintaining the spelling "Fur" because 1) that's how he said it and
2) I don't feel like searching for an umlaut.

Bagger-Girl: Oh yeah. That's cool. I used to play Beethoven's 9th Symphony.
The whole thing? On the piano? That is an accomplishment, indeed!
Cashier-Guy: You know what my favorite piece is? The Brandenburg Concerto.
Points given for knowing of the Brandenburg Concerti.
Points deducted for not realizing that there are, in fact,
six of them.

Thursday, October 14, 2010 Which We Bring Order Out of Chaos

Proof that I have the best little brothers ever: they still like me after 1) I woke them up this morning and 2) made them clean for 4 1/2 hours.

When I came downstairs this morning I was feeling a little peevish and restless. None of my usual pursuits sounded at all interesting and I was at risk for sitting in front of my computer all day, waiting for something to happen. (Not that I would ever do that.) So, instead of wasting any more of my time wandering around in circles, I decided that I would put my time to good use. If I'm going to be bored anyway, why not clean? I turned on my iTunes "cleaning mix" and got to it. Windows: cleaned. Screens: swept. Curtains: vacuumed. Floors: swept. Woodwork: dusted. Furniture: swept, fluffed, and dusted as needed. (You might say my mother did raise me to be a cleaning lady.) And voila! My churlish lassitude evaporated and I felt invigorated and useful!

My poor brothers were the real victims of my fey mood. They were pressed into service and--before they could even eat breakfast--found themselves cleaning the kitchen, washing dishes, straightening the family room, vacuuming, and doing laundry. (And wearing ruffled aprons, but that's beside the point.) Even with all of that, they retained their sunny and chipper dispositions. Patrick, having school, missed out on all of this cheerful usefulness. He'll pay later.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Heartwarming Scene

In the middle of the Sunday School lesson this morning....

Girl 1: I like your necklace, Miss Bethany,
Me: Thank you!
Girl 2: You're the best Sunday School teacher I've ever had.
Me: Awww, you guys are sweet.
Girl 3: Your dress is so ugly. Why you wearin' green, girl?

Saturday, October 09, 2010 Which I Learn to Spell "Solzhenitsyn"

As I walked out the door on my way to run errands the other day, I noticed a pile of library books waiting to be returned. I grabbed them, stuffed them in my tote bag (ok, fine, Patrick: I "gently placed them" in my tote bag) and worked in a stop at the library in between grocery stops.

When I say a pile, I really do mean a pile. Lots of books. Heavy books. Hardcovers. The sort that--inevitably--get dropped all over the floor, right next to the book return, disturbing the dusty, midday quiet of the library. The lady working at the desk flinched and tried not to look too pained as I cleaned up my mess. I gave her a smile and a clumsy nod and promptly tripped over a floor mat. She watched me walk across the room as though expecting me to start flinging books off the shelves. Because I'm a spaz, I hid behind the first shelf I came to. (Have I mentioned that I get really embarrassed sometimes, and for no good reason? Seriously, dropping a pile of library books and stumbling is nothing compared to the graceful stunts I pull on a daily basis.) I chose a couple of books at random and went to check out, trying to act as normal as possible. "Is that all?" the librarian asked. "Only three? But you brought back such a large pile. Ah yes, and you have $4.50 in fines."

Apparently, the shelf behind which I had been hiding was part of the "serious(ly painful) literature" section, because I ended up checking out some Solzhenitsyn and two Thomas Hardy novels. I detest Hardy. Reading "Jude the Obscure" was one of the more disagreeable literary experiences of my life. And Solzhenitsyn? I know very little about him, beyond the fact that being able to spell his name feels like an accomplishment. He looks interesting enough, but as I sit here wanting something to read before bed, I'm not really sure that stories from a Soviet work camp are going to cut it. At least all three books are trade paperbacks and won't make too much noise when I drop them in front of the book return.

Thursday, October 07, 2010 Which Shoes are Thrown and Sharks are Battled

So, I thought that encouraging a three year old to exercise his imagination was a good thing. He was going through a pirate phase and, while we were at the park, I suggested that the fort part of the swingset would make a good pirate ship. We climbed aboard and kept a lookout for sharks and storms. He made his little brother walk the plank (or, you know, slide down the slide) and told me to trim the sails and swab the poop deck. (And oh, how he loved saying "poop deck.")

Today, we went back to the playground and, of course, he started yelling, "Climb aboard the ship! There's a storm coming! Ahoy!" I watched from below as the pirate Captain rushed back and forth, issuing orders to his imaginary crew. Suddenly, a shoe came flying out of the fort, followed by the declaration, "Pirates don't wear shoes and socks! They just wear feet! I can't climb the rat lines with shoes!"

I had just finally gotten his shoes back on him when another family showed up with two little boys. The Captain turned to me with a whisper: "Ahhh! Those boys are sharks! There are sharks! Lots of sharks!" Then the whisper turned into a yell: "We need to kill them, Bethany! Kill them! KILL THEM ALL!" Oddly enough, that other family didn't stick around long.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Thing or Two

1) There are some very good things about having brothers with very retentive memories. Like, for instance, when I can't remember what the years of Charlemagne's rule were, or when I really really need to know the country-of-origin of the lead singer in some band.

It can, however, make conversations with them more than a little confusing and VERY bizarre. Particularly when they latch on to a book, movie, or TV show and quote it excessively. For example, they are currently on a "Burn Notice" kick (thanks, Bean). I cannot say how many times in the last 3 days I have heard "Duct tape makes you smart!" inserted into the middle of a seemingly unrelated sentence. Combine that with Andrew's current "Bed Intruder" song fixation (thanks, Pastor and Emma). Every conversation now ends with a chorus of, "hide your kids, hide your wife". Try explaining THAT to your confused relatives.

Which leads me to....

2) I had the nicest lunch with my Grandma and Grandfather Dear today. They're getting ready to leave for several weeks in the sunshine and, for some reason, they wanted to squeeze in one last visit. We met at Cracker Barrel, halfway between our house and theirs. GFD quizzed me on how I'm treating my car and how fast I drove on the way to meet them. (The answers? "Well" and "too fast," respectively.) Grandma, great multi-tasker that she is, talked about random little details of everyday life and looked gorgeous at the same time.

Currently near the top of my list of things that are very handy to have around: Grandparents who give a standing invitation for their favorite-oldest granddaughter to come visit them in Florida. Since said granddaughter starts getting chilled right about now and doesn't feel warm again until March or April, the prospect of a visit to someplace sunny and sub-tropical is very pleasant to contemplate. (Sun....Sand....Seafood....)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"I need to tell you something," he said...

When I was five, I got engaged to a boy in my kindergarten class. Noah. He was cute, we sat at the same table, and we shared glue and scissors. When I moved away just before Christmas, he drew me a picture.

In second grade, Tommy McCann and I decided that we were going to get married when we grew up. In third grade, we were elected to the student council together, proving that our destinies were indelibly intertwined. It just made sense that we--the cutest boy and the smartest girl in the entire third grade (all 26 of us)--belonged together. Plus, his older sister had an amazing dollhouse and flowery hair-wreaths with pink ribbons and two pairs of sparkly fairy wings.

Somehow, I managed to go from then until now without receiving another proposal. Until this afternoon, while babysitting.....

Me: John, eat your crackers, please.
John: I need to tell you something. I need to TELL you something.
Me: Don't talk with your mouth full, silly. Chew. Now, what do you need to tell me?
John: I need to marry you. Can you marry me? And give me some chocolate milk. Please.

Three-year-olds are funny creatures.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 Which Our Heroine Works a Political Event

A friend-of-a-family-friend kicked off her mayoral campaign this afternoon and my brothers were volunteered to volunteer at the press conference and celebratory lunch. To save them from hitchhiking across town, I offered to drive them over ('cause I'm just nice that way). My plan was to get the boys where they needed to be, maybe watch the press conference, and then retreat to my car with a good book. And I was really looking forward to that time with my book.

I didn't realize that merely approaching the building and smiling constituted a binding offer to help, but I quickly found myself presented with a campaign t-shirt ("Just put it on over your sweater. Let me stash your purse for you.") and a pile of stickers ("Make sure everyone is wearing a sticker, then tell them to move in to the back...."). Thus outfitted, I joined the ranks of the faithful. When the press conference started, someone took my stickers and handed me a sign, telling me to go "infiltrate" the crowd and wave the sign around where the cameras could see it. When my sign-waving duties were fulfilled, someone else took the sign and gave me a pile of cards to hand out. (I might add that there were at least 5 other people handing out the same cards, in the same room. Everyone I approached had already been given a card).

As the attendees filed out for lunch, a residue of red-clad campaign volunteers was left along the edges of the room. The rest of crew--all well-acquainted and friendly--gathered together in a clump and discussed how great everything was. Poor poor little me was left standing alone, unneeded and not knowing anyone. I was also painfully aware that my red shirt was clashing with my berry-colored sweater sleeves. And my hair was limp. And I had a headache. And my stomach hurt. And my legs hurt. And, and, and.... I gave up and retreated to my car and my book.

Now that I'm home, I feel pretty silly. I like volunteering for these sorts of shin-digs and I like the candidate for whom I was working. I'll probably work on her campaign again at some point. It should not have been that hard to stand around handing out cards or stickers or whatever else they had sitting there waiting to be distributed. But my introverted-side rose up and did NOT want to talk to another stranger or interrupt another conversation to proffer stickers. And Kipling was waiting for me in the car.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Embracing the moment

As always, I've been meaning to get back to writing. Every few days I think, "Hey, I should blog.... I wonder what we have around here to eat...." And then I eat, but I don't blog.

At the moment, however, it just seemed like the thing to do. I'm sitting in the local independent coffee shop with my Mac, sipping a chai. To fully appreciate and engage in this hipster-y moment, I need to blog.

Ok, so I'm also missing the skinny jeans, plaid shirt, and heavy glasses, but work with me here. It's a start.

And, in the meantime, I can try to think of something slightly more substantial to say.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Zucchini chocolate chip cookies

Lora requested the recipe for these lovelies, so here it is for the delight of all:

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. grated zucchini
4 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2+ t. cinnamon (in my world, there's no such thing as too much cinnamon)
2 t. cloves
1 t. salt
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. chocolate chips (the original recipe called for raisins, but since I have an irrational dislike of those things, I started substituting chocolate chips. Chocolate or shriveled that really a hard choice?!)

Preheat oven to 375. Cream butter, sugar, and eggs. Add zucchini. In separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Add gradually to wet mixture. Mix in pecans and chocolate chips (or raisins, if you can't help yourself).

The original recipe did not specify the baking time, but I found that 10 minutes is about right

2 T. milk
1 c. powdered sugar
3 T. butter

In small saucepan, lightly brown butter. Gradually add milk (doing that nifty tempering thing), then powdered sugar.

I found that the above icing recipe covers just under 5 dozen cookies, while I end up with 9 dozen (small) cookies total. So, 1/2 again or double the icing might be a good plan.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wait. Insects live outside?

I've always enjoyed gardening more in theory than fact. The planning and planting stages were always great fun, but the actual day-to-day maintenance of a plot or bed held no interest for me. I remember, at our house in Spring Grove, I begged my parents to let me have the care of one particular bed. It had wonderful potential, being tucked away in a shady corner behind the garage, and I dreamed of rows of hollyhocks, trellised clematis and sweet peas, coral bells and bleeding hearts, all old-fashioned loveliness. Then I discovered the snake hole. And the spiders. And the ants. So much for my dreams of peaceful, picturesque garden work. The outdoors are dangerous! (I should note that my aversion to a potentially snake-infested garden was kind of ridiculous, given that my friend Brit and I used to play with snakes, frogs, toads, and whatever else our neighbor April could dig out of a window-well. Go figure.)

For the most part, I've maintained that wimpy attitude toward outside work. I'm fine, until the bugs start crawling out of hiding. Ants, pill bugs, grubs, slugs, centipedes...all would send me running inside to shower and don a sundress. Nope, sorry, can't garden in a skirt. Wouldn't be ladylike.

For some reason, it's different this year. Ants get brushed off and ignored. Slugs and grubs go the way of all flesh ('cause seriously, those things have to die). And spiders...well, they merit a screech and a momentary "you can do it, Bethany" pep-talk, but after that they either die (for the big ugly guys) or get flicked away (for the little ones). The pest dealt with, I go back to the important task at hand.

The timing for this abrupt change in attitude could not have been better. When I get home after a day in the office, I need sunshine and fresh air. I could take a book and sit outside, but a good deal of the time I simply don't have the brain power required to read anything more complex than InStyle magazine or Georgette Heyer. In addition, since I'm out of the house all day, I don't get to contribute much to the day-to-day work around here. If I can spend a bit of my evening clearing the weeds out of the garden and deadheading the flowers, it helps me feel a little less like a leech. This Summer, I need that time in the garden.

Although it would help if certain people would stop using and losing my gardening gloves. They say "ladies, size small" for a reason, guys.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Another Sunday School Adventure

Sunday school this morning was a bit of a zoo. If zoos had one uncontrollable animal and one harried and exasperated zookeeper, that is. We had a very difficult time focusing on the lesson (even more than usual) and no amount of simplification seemed to make the story of Jesus sending the seventy comprehensible. Thanks for nothing on that one, CPH.

The capper for this helter-skelter lesson came when we were working on a craft involving lots of paper, markers, and the stickers that came with the lesson. After a few minutes of quiet (quiet because the student was ignoring my questions), she gasped and held up her stickers. "Miss Bethany," she cried,"I didn't know there were girl pastors!"

Wait. What?

She brought her stickers up to me and, sure enough, on of the stickers was a female person in a cassock and surplice. She looked like a female pastor. (Again, a great big thanks to CPH.) I would guess that she was supposed to be an acolyte, but that explanation wouldn't fly since we don't have girls acolyting in our services (for more on that, see Patrick's post on the subject). Instead I told her that some churches have choirs that wear robes, so maybe she was a member of the choir. That seemed to satisfy the student, although she dismissed it as "stupid" that a girl would look like a pastor.

At last, in that moment, we were on the same page.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Surely there are better ways to waste my time.

While our family was sitting around the house this evening, the TV ended up on "House Hunters." Heav-ENS, as Patrick would say. It's been a while since I watched this show.

If you haven't seen the show, it involves an individual or couple looking to buy a new house. They and their realtor look at three properties in their target price-range and location and, at the end, they announce their choice.

It's very strange how invested I get in their selection. I've been known to yell at the screen when the end comes and they make the WRONG CHOICE. (Honestly. What idiot would choose that house? Did you see the kitchen? And it had, like, no yard.) This investment is all the more mysterious when the artificial nature of the show is taken into account. Obviously, they do not follow these people around while they are actually house-hunting. They recreate a few choice scenes in the three most photogenic properties. It would be better if they were all the way with their fabrications and hired actors to play the part of the house-hunters and realtors. As it is, we get the most dreadful performances and jokes imaginable.

A sample....
Realtor: Sooo, heeeere [expansive gesture] we have a luvly deetached home. 1,500 square feet. 3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths. Only $300,000! And guhREAT schools for when you decide to start a family, eh? [winks] Let's look at the backyard firrrst. Isn't this nice?
Woman: Ooooh, that's nice.
Man:[impassive] I like grass. And trees.
Realtor: Now, how about that master bedroom! Isn't this nice?
Woman: Ooooh, that's nice.
Man: [impassive] There's a closet. And a window.
Realtor: And check out that view! [sweeps curtain aside to show view of industrial park] Ok, lets move on to the kitchen....
Realtor: Thiiiiis is what you call a "galley kitchen." Isn't this nice?
Woman: Ooooh, that's nice.
Man: [impassive] I like the refrigerator.
Realtor: Think you can cook up some good stuff in here? Maybe get a bun in the oven? [cackes raucously, uncomfortable laughter from the buyers]

Also, the realtors invariably wear the most unflattering pantsuits. That offends me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What's the moral of this story?

I posted once before about the characters I encounter in the elevator at work.

Add this guy to that mix.

I prepared to go downstairs this evening and, when the elevator doors opened, I found that it was already occupied. A young man--probably my age or a little younger-- was standing in the far corner, leaning one shoulder against the elevator wall. He was wearing sunglasses (!!!), very droopy, frayed jeans, and a very loose white tank top that showed off his myriad tattoos. As I walked in, I noticed that he was listening to his iPod and that it was turned way up. He was also singing along under his breath.

It took me a few seconds to hear exactly what he was listening to, and a few seconds more for it to fully register.

This wasn't quite what I was expecting.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Time for a change

I got tired of feeling cold every time I looked at my own blog. Ice and winter berries just weren't working any longer. I realize that it will still be some time before we get to deal/play with dandelion tufts, but hey. The picture makes me happy and warm.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What were we talking about again?

Student: What's a creditor? Is it a kind of animal?
Assistant: No, that's a predator.
Me: A creditor is a person to whom a debt is owed.
Student: Whom? Whom. [like an owl] Whoooom, whoooom, whoooom.
Student Two: Is a creditor the same thing as a debitor?
Assistant: Debitor? Oh wait. Debtor.
Me: No, a debtor is the person to whom....
Student: [owl voice] Whoooom! Whoooom!
Me: Moving on....
Student: Hey, why does the lesson not match the coloring page? It's, like, not the same story. Look! On this picture, they're eating grapes and blueberries and, like, bread. In this picture, they're eating, like fish filets and bacon. Obviously not the same story.
Assistant: What is it with you children and food? Don't you eat breakfast before Sunday School?
Student: Bethany, who created the first avocado?
Me: God did.
Student: Cool. Who created the second avocado? Was that God too? Did the avocado fall into sin with Adam and Eve?
Student Two: Why do you like avocados so much? I like strawberries.
Student: Yeah, how about strawberries? Did they fall into sin too?
Me: Hey look! It's time for music!
Student: Whoooom. Whoooom.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Seasonal Denial

I have long held the conviction-unsupported by the calendar and cold facts of Indiana winters- that the beginning of March really means the beginning of Spring. In Bethany-land, Summer runs from May to September, September through November constitute Fall, and Winter begins with December and ends with February. March means Spring. Spring means sunshine and rain, gradual warming, and growing things. Grey and mud-brown relieved at last by green and palest pink. Bunnies and birdies. (And bugs, but nevermind them.)

Thus, I woke this morning with high expectations. I purposely left my decidedly Winter Red gloves at home and bore the chill of a frozen steering wheel all the way to work, secure in the knowledge that, whatever my senses chose to tell me, THIS IS SPRING. I considered leaving off my cardigan while working, as if to defy the chill coming off my office window with its overcast view. My lunch break was spent in indecision regarding what sort of Easter hat I want this year (Pillbox? Wide brim? How retro do we go?) and whether I want those Miss Sixty sandals in pink or blue. (Pink.)

At long last, sometime after noon, the sun worked its way through the clouds and, as I enjoyed the warm light, I knew. The air is still cold and there snow drifts haven't yet melted, but Spring-complete with sunshine and rain showers and Easter and baseball and sandal shopping- is coming.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Teaching fail.

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of a one-on-one session with a student. Me and her. No one else showed up, so the lesson went something like this:

Me: ...and what were Moses and Elijah talking about?
Student: Shopping?
Me: Seriously now. Let's look back at the Bible story....
Student: Ok, so they were talking about what Jesus was going to do.
Me: And what was Jesus going to do?
Student: Do I need to answer these questions? You already know the answers. How 'bout I ask you things and you answer. Huh? And then we color.

After 20 minutes of that, I surrendered and let her color.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lunch break

Two words: turtle brownies.

Those lucky ladies who were at bunco last night made a mistake of gargantuan proportions, for which I thank them most sincerely. They left 1/2 a pan of gooey, caramelly, chocolaty brownieness behind. I understand: there were chocolate chip cookie dough brownies, deep dark chocolate cake, and jars of M&Ms. And then the non-chocolate goodies: cream puffs, apricot scones, corn salad, and the famous buffalo chicken dip. (Did I miss anything?) And heck, there were only 11 of us.

All of that to say thank you, Bunco Ladies, for not eating all of the brownies, because today is Monday and I packed leftovers for lunch.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Odds and Ends

I got my hair cut short again today, and it's a good thing I did. My 'do was creeping into "I don't care what my hair looks like as long as it stays out of my face" territory. Practical, but sad. It probably didn't help that work was super busy in the last few weeks and I haven't had the time or energy to think about primping. (Actually, the only thing I seem to have had the energy or desire to do after work is sit around on the sofa in my pajamas, watching Jane Austen adaptations and knitting while my cat sleeps in my lap. You see the problem. This haircut came none too soon. The hairdresser said that it was a very young style, so maybe it can prevent me from turning into a pitiful cat lady.)

Speaking of watching Jane Austen adaptations.... I heartily approve of the new BBC version of "Emma." Patrick and I watched the first two episodes on PBS and, by the time we were halfway through, I got on to and ordered the DVD set. We watched the whole thing (all 4 hours) yesterday evening and I went off to bed grinning like an idiot.

Sorta kinda related, KUDOS to my little brother, who is slogging his way through "Wuthering Heights." He's going to finish it on his first try. It took me four or five attempts-- and four or five aerial trips across the room for Heathcliff and Cathy--before I forced myself to finish it. The agony. (Agony. I suppose that it an appropriate response to that book.)
Anyway, bravo Patrick for having a stronger tolerance for self-indulgent idiocy than I do. Your next challenge is to make it through anything by Henry James and to fill me in on how you did it. In return, I'll let you borrow--and write in--my copies of Machiavelli and the Federalist Papers. Deal?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

I'l take a . . .

I remember, just after the middle of the first semester of my senior year, having a bit of a rough day at school. Several papers were due the following week, I had a major exam to prepare for, and piles of history books and papers waiting to be read and annotated in preparation for my senior seminar project. Before I could settle down for some quality studying time, I needed to make a stop at Starbucks.

Or mornings like the one I had today, when there's nothing exactly wrong but I just lack the oomph to face an entire day at the office. That downtown Starbucks begins to looks mighty inviting.

It's very curious. It's not the caffeine: I only do decaf. It's not the comfort of holding a hot drink, because it works with cold drinks too. Drive through or cafe. Tall, grande, or venti. Coffee or tea. There's just something about getting a drink at Starbucks that makes me feel cozy and relaxed. Add in a pastry and the day gets even brighter. Travel cup in hand, I feel equipped to face tests or papers or 8 1/2 hours in the office with a cranky boss.

Maybe I'm just a victim of highly successful marketing. Well, I'll take it. And a tall decaf cinnamon dolce latte.

(There's no escape! I surrender.)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Some thoughts over lunch break

1) Baked chicken with a dijon and breadcrumb crust, fresh from the oven, bears very little resemblance to the same dish fresh from the microwave. The latter is more reminiscent of an old leather shoe. (Note for my brother: we'll call this dish "Chicken Khrushchev". And we'll even spell it correctly.)

2) If I ever again complain about not having enough to do at work, please--anyone--feel free to smack me. On second thought, don't worry about it. At some point in the next few days I'll be lost beneath the mountain of paper accumulating on my desk and no one will have to hear me complain about anything ever again.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Start time: 11:00. End time: 5:30.

I attended my first deposition yesterday.

No, not that kind of deposition.

No, not that kind either.

It would be fun to describe it and give everyone a little taste of what the day was like, but I am too darn tired.

Actually, that pretty much describes it. 6 1/2 hours of detailed questioning and no food. (The rumor is true. Lawyers really do live on coffee. One more reason I'm just not cut out for law.) I was only there to take notes, charm the co-defense counsel and the client, and ensure that my boss knew when the deponent contradicted the records. Oh yeah, and to make sure the lawyers had enough coffee. It was interesting, though, and it was good practice. Apparently we'll be having an eight-day marathon of depositions for one of our cases in May. Gah.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More Sunday School Quotes

Today was a bit of a rough one, Sunday School-wise. The teacher was frazzled. The students were frazzling, each in their own special way. No one seemed to understand the lesson, but that might have been because no one could stop talking long enough to listen.

Assistant: God knows all about you. He counts every hair on your head.
Student: What if you have head lice?

Student: So, God knows, like, everything, right?
Assistant: That's right.
Student: (thinks for a moment) So, does Jesus like "What Not to Wear?"

Student: (looking at lesson leaflet) What's in this picture? Those look like chicken tenders! Are those chicken tenders?
Me: I don't think they are. So, can anyone tell me....
Student: Does God like chicken tenders? I love them.

I just know that if I was 60 years old and scary, this would not happen.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Whatever you do, don't look in the kitchen sink."

Our church held a potluck this afternoon to celebrate Dr. Evanson's visit.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I love potlucks. Especially potlucks where people bring freshly baked bread, homemade noodles, artery-clogging rice casserole, and mustard greens. Mustard greens. Life is good.

The best thing about potlucks is that the food is brought in and our church family can enjoy lunch together without actually needing to use the church kitchen. Anyone who has seen our church kitchen will understand why this is a good thing. I don't even want to describe it because, well, it's scary down there.

There are, however, degrees of scary.
Loose plaster and cobwebbed pipes are one thing. Bats are another.

One of our friendly little church bats decided to pay the kitchen a visit and he ended up hanging out in the kitchen sink. He wasn't there for long. After entirely too many people had crammed into the kitchen to get a glimpse of the bat, my father came and "dealt with it."

There were some feigned tears and squealing on the part of the little girls who felt so sorry for the poor helpless little thing. "It's so cuuuuuuuuuuuute! Awwww Look at it! It's breeeeeeathing! Can it fly?!"
There were some relieved sighs on the part of the women. "I don't even want to think about it. Those things get in your hair. That's not something anyone wants to deal with. I'll be standing over here, out of the way. Let me know when it's safe to move."
Then there were the weirdos like my brothers and me. "Awesome! No, let me get a closer look. Gross. But cool! Eine Fledermaus-- right Sis? Look at the claws. I wonder if it was hibernating in here? Andrew, get back. It's rabid. You can see it in its eyes.*"

I suppose it's too late now to tell my dad that he "dealt with" an endangered animal.

*Sorry. Absurd family joke, involving a raccoon. Also scary.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

New template

I was tired of the old look. I'm at home sick. It's cold outside. Hence the new look.