Thursday, December 22, 2011

Grandma Beery's Butterscotch Pudding

1 c brown sugar
1 c water
3 T flour + 1 t cornstarch*
1 egg
1 c milk

Boil sugar and water. Mix together other ingredients and add to the sugar/water. Stir until boiling.

*If making pie filling, increase cornstarch.

Chicken and Coconut Milk Soup

3 stalks celery
3 carrots, peeled
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 qts chicken stock
cooked chicken
2 1/2 c basmati rice
1 can coconut milk
Herbs:bay leaf, thyme, basil, tarragon, cilantro (or herbs of your choice)

Chop and saute celery, carrots, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and fresh ginger (to taste). Cook over low heat and allow to sweat, approx. 5 minutes. Add stock, chicken, rice, and herbs. Bring to boil and cook until rice is cooked through. Add coconut milk. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Mrs. Rhein's Granola

1/2-1 c coconut
4 c rolled oats
1 c sunflower seeds
1 c wheat germ
1/4-1/2 c sesame seeds
1 c chopped pecans
1/4 c flax seeds
3/4 c honey
1/2 c oil
1 T cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Boil honey, oil, and cinnamon. Pour over dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spread on 2 greased cookie sheets. Bake approx. 30 minutes, stirring often. Cool, then break into chunks.

Brownie Pudding

(On a whim, I gathered together a few of my mom's recipes that I've been wishing I had. I'm entering them in here for posterity and convenience, since I don't have much luck with recipe cards.)

1 c flour
3/4 c sugar
2 T cocoa powder
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 c milk
2 T melted butter
1 t vanilla
1 c chopped nuts
Topping: 3/4 c brown sugar, 1/4 c cocoa powder.

Sift together the first 5 ingredients. Add milk, butter, and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Stir in nuts. Pour into greased casserole dish. Mix together topping and sprinkle over top of batter. Pour 1 3/4 c hot water over batter and topping. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dinner Success

Today was the first day of my new job and I cannot express what a relief it is to be working in an Indian-Grandmother-Free zone. I get to act like an adult, no one is yelling at me for who-knows-what-reason, and I'm paid to snuggle a precious six month old boy all day.

This evening, in celebration of "I'm Never Going to be Force-fed Rice Again" Day and "Look What Happens When I Only Have to Work Until 4:00" Day, I made...

...wait for it...

...Indian food. Dal, rice, and parathas, to be precise. The flatbreads were surprisingly easy and I can already tell that they are going to be a staple around here. The best part was the surprised (and pleased) look on my husband's face when he walked in to the smell of spicy lentils simmering away on the stove. He thought I was reheating leftover soup. A wifely coup!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pneumonia and Apple Cake

How's that for an appetizing title?

There are some positives to being sick with something as scary-sounding as pneumonia. Positive #1: I'm not contagious, so it didn't interfere with my scrapbooking weekend with my mother and DoRena. Positive #2: My employeress didn't want me to come back for work this week. I texted her after a trip to the Redimed on Saturday: "Sorry to bother you on vacation. Just found out I have walking pneumonia. Let me know what you want to do about next week." Her return text went something like this: "Take liquids and rest. Nice working with u. Enjoy ur new job." Thus concludes our association.

So, I've had a few days to loll about the house and recuperate. As of this morning, I feel almost 100%. Except for the hacking cough every time I even think about laughing, but I'm sure that will clear up. Azithromycin and codeine have done their work.

Feeling better and lots of time alone in the apartment can only mean two things: cleaning and baking. In the interests of ensuring that my lungs are fully healed before I expose them to anything unusual, I skipped the cleaning and went straight to the kitchen. There were apples to be used! After much searching and a chat with my grandma (always helpful), I settled on this recipe:

Good Housekeeping* Apple-Walnut Bundt Cake

3 c. flour
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 c lightly packed dark brown sugar**
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 + t cinnamon
3/4 t salt
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t ground ginger
1 c vegetable oil
1/4 lemon juice +1/4 c water and 1/2 t honey***
2 t vanilla
3 large eggs
1 lb apples (I used Macs, but something a little tarter would probably be nice), peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
1 c walnuts, coarsely chopped****

1) Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour 10" bundt pan
2) In large bowl, combine first 11 ingredients (everything but the apples and nuts). Beat at low speed until well-blended, scraping bowl frequently. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, scraping bowl. Stir in apples and walnuts.
3) Spoon batter into prepared bundt pan and spread evenly. Bake approx 1:15, until cake pulls away from sides and toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.***** Cool pan on rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool cake completely on rack.

* I give those fine folks some credit, despite my many alterations.
** The recipe called for 1 3/4 c  white sugar, but 1) that sounded like a lot to me, so I cut it back 1/4 c. and 2) I just like brown sugar more. This did not seem to have any negative effect on the texture.
***Sometimes I don't alter things just because I feel like it. This calls for 1/2 c of apple juice and I had to come up with something else since we don't keep juice on hand.
****They also added 1 c raisins, but that sounds like a horrible thing to do to a nice cake.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Bits and Pieces

1) Spelling:The grandmother takes some time every day to read through one or the other of Prita's books, spelling and sounding out all the English words. Often, this starts with a barked, "You: come!", followed by her making space on the couch for me to come coach her through the longer words and those that make no phonetic sense. Prita generally just hangs out next to us while this is going on, taking a moment to snatch the book out of her grandmothers' hands every so often, and crying--nay, screaming--when she realizes that she doesn't have all the books in the house in her pile. Two-year olds. Sheesh.

As a result of all of this reading-practice, Prita has started spelling things on her own. It goes something like this:

Me: What's this a picture of?
Prita: D-O-E dog!
Me: D-O-G, but yeah! Good job! Now, what's this?
Prita: G-O-E girl!
Me: Girl is right...
Prita: E-O-E ellyphant!!!!!!!!!
Me: . . . .

She gets the first letter right most of the time, although sometimes she only recognizes letters that come later in the words. Like, she always spells fox "X-O-E." She also makes up letters, as in, "SNA-O-E" snake!"

2) The Three-Egg Diet: My very own soon-to-be-patented miracle plan. See, you just go work for a family that eats lots of hard-boiled egg whites, but never the yolks. These folks should also feel a little bad about wasting any food and be very anxious to see that everything gets eaten and that nothing goes to waste. Let it be known that you don't hate the yolks, in general. Before you know it, you will have an eighty-year-old Indian woman practically force-feeding you three plain hard boiled egg yolks every day. And don't you dare try to sneak one into the trash or the garbage disposal; you're being watched too carefully for such high-jinks. While you will often feel like vomiting halfway through the second yolk (don't do it), this diet will do wonders for your skin and hair. If you can manage to have the same eighty-year-old spoon-feeding you the skins off of the top of a pot of boiled milk, all the better.

3) "Healthy. Healthy Food." Speaking of food and controlling Indian grandmothers, the last week, I had my lunch prepared for me. Generally, the grandmother will pull a box of rice and a few leftover curries out of the fridge and leave me to it. Well, leave me to it as she hovers somewhere over my right shoulder, telling me to take more and looking really confused when I don't. This week, however, she plated my food for me. Monday, it wasn't too bad. They were running short on leftovers, so we both got reasonable portions. (Of course, she did "encourage" me to eat two very soft apples as a snack later in the day. Gross.) Tuesday, she made my lunch the same was she normally makes hers: two curries mixed in a bowl, topped with a couple handfuls of chickpeas, fresh diced onions, and a sprinkling of lemon juice. Nothing earth-shattering, but edible. After that was finished, she made up a bowl of yogurt and rice for me. As I was standing in the kitchen finishing that, she walked up to me, put her hand on my shoulder, and said with very careful diction: "This. Healthy. Healthy food. Yogurt. Dal curry. Healthy." Thursday was the worst. We had, apparently, left all concern about healthy food behind, as she completely filled my full-sized dinner plate, half with white rice, half with some spiced rice pilaf-y dish. Mounded. Spilling over the sides. Rice.  And then, she gave me more rice so that I would have enough for with my after-lunch yogurt.

4) More Indian TV: Despite my employeress' strictures regarding any TV viewing while her daughter is around, the grandmother continues her soap opera habit. At least naps have been reinstated, so Prita and I can retreat to the bedroom while Granny vegges out. However, her favorite show starts approximately 20 minutes before nap time begins, so I still get to see some of it. And--oh my goodness--it is indescribable. That won't stop me from trying. Imagine a show that seems to be entirely built around 4 characters: (1) the screaming damsel in distress, either standing slump-shouldered and sobbing or laying on the bed or floor, sobbing; (2) the fleshy-cheeked villain whose entire M.O. seems to be to taunt said damsel in the most annoying voice imaginable while bobbing his head smugly; (3) some random crazy-eyed man dressed all in white who is constantly carrying around a bloody knife or machete; and (4) a thicker, tougher, older woman who always seems to be coming to the damsel's rescue, sometimes with the assistance of the crazy man, sometimes without. Now imagine all of this presented in a highly repetitious manner, with exceedingly overwrought background music and quick, zooming camera moves. I really feel like I'm not missing much, not understanding the dialogue. The visuals are story enough.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

"What are you? Like, a walking window?"

A busy last week turned into a busy weekend, which turned into a busy Monday--and here we are!

The weekend was mostly dedicated to Halloween-related activities. Namely, parties.

The MBA student organization had its Halloween bash on Friday night. It was held in a hotel on the Capitol Square, in a bar area overlooking the Capitol building. It was a good party--music, free pizza and beer--and there were some great costumes on display. Really, I was tremendously impressed by the creativity and dedication that went into some of those get-ups. Evan and I had planned to dress as The Walrus and the Carpenter, from Through the Looking Glass, but we ran out of time to get the necessary bits together. On top of that, Evan got home from an MBA-related competition in Michigan at 8:30 on the night of the party, and we had to throw something together at the last moment. Inspired by the fact that Evan won a nice chunk of money at this competition, we decided to dress up as "The 1%." Evan with his hair slicked back, wearing a suit, suspenders, and a tie clip; me in my black cocktail dress wearing all my pearls and my mink cape. We were definitely the classiest couple at the party. That makes the photos of us holding red plastic tumblers even more awesome.

We spent all of Saturday preparing our next set of costumes: Sydney Carton and Madame Dufarge from A Tale of Two Cities.  I won't even attempt to describe those. Just look:

Those costumes took us to a house party thrown by one of the guys in Evan's center. It was also a good party. We ended up leaving around 11:30 with a group of people who were headed down to State Street for the big Freakfest party. We went along for the walk, intending to find something to eat. We left them at the gates (paying $12 to access a street one can walk on any other day for free) and began to make our way home. Somehow that resulted in the two of us walking down Langdon St., aka Madison's Frat Row. At midnight. The night of Freakfest. =:oO For the first ten minutes or so, the drunken antics were amusing. Really, a couple hundred drunken revelers in costume should provide some entertainment value. After we'd been walking for a while, though, the obnoxious caterwauling and profane screaming started to get to me. It was one of those situations where I wanted to go up to every cop (the stand-ins for grown-ups) stationed at the corners and say, "Just so you know, I'm NOT one of them!" It was amusing, too, to see how many passers-by were genuinely delighted to be able to demonstrate that they recognized a guillotine. And then there were the people who had no idea, but felt compelled to yell at us anyway. My costume got some comments too, most notably the jerks walking a ways behind us who were yelling for the "pirate chick" to turn around, and then called me a choice name when I ignored them. Like I indicated before, it's all amusing until it becomes embarrassing for the entire human race.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Goes On

The blog does not get updated when:

1) I am too cranky and cannot find anything amusing to say, particularly as regards my job.

2) I am in Fort Wayne, enjoying some quality time with my six favorite people in the whole world, plus Pastor and Jacqui.

On the job front, I gave notice on Thursday. Everyone cheer! I have another situation lined up, which should be much more reasonable in its demands and much less frustrating. It will also--I anticipate--furnish much less in the way of blog-fodder, so be prepared. I'll be taking care of the 8 mo. old son of one of Evan's classmates. This means that my husband and I will be on the same schedule, most of the time AND I will have Fridays off. Way back in September, I did commit to giving a full month's notice, though, so I will be stuck with my Indian friends through November 18. Oh well. Discounting vacation days (theirs), I only have 16 full days of work left. I imagine I'll pull through just fine.

As to our weekend in Fort Wayne, it was as wonderful as might have been anticipated. We stayed Thursday night at my father's this-is-NOT-a-bachelor-pad. My daddy and I had a nice drive over to Fort Wayne on Friday morning, while Evan attended a career fair in Chicago. Shopping, cooking, eating, visiting with the Petersens over dinner and cake, church at Redeemer, attention from my cat and my little brothers...all awesome.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Paid Jukebox

Prita likes for me to sing to her. A lot. Any time one of her little toys plays music*, she demands that I sing along. If it's a song that doesn't actually have words, I need to make them up on the spot or risk incurring her wrath. She particularly likes lyrics that involve babies. My best effort so far goes something like this:

Big baby, big baby
Small baby, small baby
Babies big and babies small
Big babies and small babies.

Look out, Oscar Hammerstein II. There's a new lyricist in town.

She also likes going through her alphabet cards and asking for songs that correspond with the pictures. "M for Monkey song!!!!" means Pop! Goes the Weasel because--hey!--there's a monkey in the song. M is also good for Hickory Dickory Dock (the mouse, right?). Bye Baby Bunting goes with R for Rabbit. F for Fish results in Have You Ever Been A-Fishin'. Sometimes, though, I'm just stumped. My knowledge of silly children's songs only goes so far, and it certainly stops well before "X for X-ray song!" When she started crying out for a "W for Watch" song today, though, I knew exactly where to go.

Rise, my soul to watch and pray;
From your sleep awaken!
Be not by the evil day
Unawares o'ertaken;
For the foe,
Well we know,
Is a harvest reaping
While the saints are sleeping.

Etc. etc. and so forth.

*I really want to know two things: Who writes the songs that modern children's toys play and WHO PERFORMS IT?!?! Have they no shame? No pride?

Monday, October 17, 2011

On a more cheerful note:


That's all I'm going to say.


I don't normally like to post pure complaints without at least a little sense of humor...but can we just forget today ever happened?

Prita's parents are in the process of getting her to sleep alone--instead of sprawled on top of her mother--and part of their strategy is skip naps so that she's so tired she'll sleep anywhere, anyhow. This works really well for a parent who works full time and doesn't have to deal with a nap-less two-year-old. I really felt very sorry for the poor little thing. By 1:30, she was begging me for a nap. "Sleepy time now? Sleepy time now? Pleeeeease?" I was under orders, however.

You can imagine how well this went. By 3:00, the child was a total basketcase. Everything caused tantrums and crying. Each time I would pick something up from the floor, be it a length of yarn, trash, or a book, she would start screaming for it and would not calm down until I handed it to her. As soon as the random object was in her hands, however, it would be forgotten. She cried because she wanted a bath. When I gave her a bath, she cried because she didn't like it. When I tried to put her anklets back on after her bath, it was as if I was torturing her. She went from sobbing like her heart was breaking to arching her back and screaming to running to her grandma to tattle on me. I'm still not sure why that last one resulted in Granny coming in to yell at me. I'm still confused.

Better still, the time that would usually be devoted to her nap--the best hour and a half of my day--was spent scrubbing the drip pans of their electric range. I'm not sure this had ever been done before,  but Granny decided that today was the day and I was the girl to get it done.

Tomorrow starts at 7:00 a.m. God grant me patience. Please.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Apple Butter

I made up a batch of apple butter yesterday and am preparing to can it right now.

I sorta-kinda used this recipe...but then I changed everything. So this is basically what I did:

5 1/2 pounds apples - cut into eighths
1 scant cup white sugar (I cut this back because the apples were pretty sweet, but you could probably add a little more)
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

Fill a crockpot with the apple pieces and turn it on high. Let that go for something like an hour (or two, if you're like me an a little forgetful). Stir the apples around and turn the crockpot down to low. Let it all simmer down for as long as it takes you to get up the courage to prepare your canning supplies. In my case, this was about 24 hours. Stir whenever you remember to do so, or as often as you want the smell of condensing apples to fill your house. The next day, run the apple mush through a food mill or, if you're like me and just don't get around to buying a food mill in time, squish it through a strainer or mesh colander, just to remove the stringy bits, seeds, and whole cloves.

I have no business telling anyone how to can, so just follow the directions here. Or eat it, fresh, by the spoonful. That works, too.

If you choose to can, this recipe yields approximately 3 pints of apple butter. From 5 1/2 pounds of apples. It's that strong.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Long weekends are the best. I wasn't needed at work Friday, so I 1) stayed out a little later than usual on Thursday, 2) slept until 8:30 and 3) didn't deal with vomit or rude men all day.

One of Evan's classmates held a nice, low-key get-together at her apartment--right across the street from us--that evening.  It was lovely; just a few adults eating snacks, drinking wine, talking like grown-ups, watching YouTube videos.... Four words: LeRoy Jenkins, Chuck Testa.

This morning, we had a tailgate for the WI-IU homecoming game at 9:00. Tailgating in the morning just  doesn't work out as well. There were burgers and brats, as usual, but also a table of baked goods and a Gatorade cooler full of screwdrivers. (The drink, that is, not the tool.) Those got me in trouble, but not for the expected reason. I had no issue with the vodka, but that much orange juice left me feeling utterly wretched. We left a little before 11:00 and went home to take a nap.

This afternoon, Evan spent entirely too long on the phone with Charter, trying to figure out why our internet was not working...again. They got everything straightened out (hence the blog post), and he has moved on to bottling his homebrew. I just cleaned and chopped 5 1/2 pounds of apples, which are now in the process of turning into apple butter.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Excuse me while I smash that plate over your head.

So yes. The father-in-law.

He met me at the door when I arrived this morning with a brief "Good morning" and a "What is your name?" and that was the extent of our conversation for the day. It isn't due to any language barrier; my employeress assured me that he speaks fluent English, "because he's an ophthalmologist." For most of the day, he just pretended I wasn't there. Okay, fine with me.

Not that we didn't interact, after a fashion. I think there was definitely some communication going on when he rattled his dirty dishes at me from his position in front of the TV, waiting for me to take them to the kitchen. His eyes never wavered from the screen. Plate. Bowl. Spoon. Rattle-rattle. This happened three times over the course of the late morning.  On the positive side, the Granny seemed determined to be extra-friendly, as if to make up for her son's treatment. My employeress told me this morning that her grandmother's only complaint about me over the last month is that I simply do not eat enough. I knew she was trying to fatten me up.

On another subject, we had our first "Sig O's" bookclub meeting tonight and it seemed to go pretty well. We read and discussed "A Visit from the Good Squad" by Jennifer Egan. The conversation was more thoughtful and less faux-intellectual than any bookclub I've ever heard of. My one complaint is that I fixed my mother's famous, nationally-known, award-winning buffalo chicken dip and no one ate any. Except me, of course. But then, the other goodies were...let's just say, not up to bunko levels. Wine, cheese, and veggies, nothing fattening, no beer, very little chocolate. That's gotta change.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Friday, Friday, etc.

Ahhhhh, the sweet smell of the weekend. No really. Something smelled really amazing on the way home tonight. Someone was grilling brats and someone was burning leaves (is that legal, here?) and the combination of those smells--along with the earthy smell of the leaves lining the sidewalks--was just heavenly.

Not much to report on the job front. Today was a fine day, despite the fact that I was overly tired and cranky when I got to the apartment this morning. That grumpiness evaporated when I found that my employeress had a canister of chocolate-covered almond butter toffees to which I was welcome to help myself.

Om nom nom nom nom.

The father-in-law arrives on Tuesday, and I'm not quite sure what to expect on that front. Updates will follow, I am sure. The good news is that it sounds like I have next Friday off AND I also have the Friday after that off so we can fit in a long weekend trip to Fort Wayne.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

It's a phase, right?

Prita has a charming new trick. I say something, and she repeats it back precisely, with a loud "NO!" appended to the end of the last word. It goes something like this:

Me: Please pick up your matching cards.
Prita: Please pick up your matching cardsNO!

Me: It's time for yogurt.
Prita: 's'time for yogurtNO!

Me: Get your fingers out of your nose!
Prita: Get your fingers out of your noseNO!

Ah, yes. The Terrible Twos, but with a language gap. She's not quite sure what I'm saying, but she is NOT GOING TO DO IT!!!

This is why Evan and I have decided that all of our children are going to be naturally obedient and compliant....
Just kidding. I know we're doomed.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

It's the little things you notice.

Prita has two stuffed bunnies that she loves. One is purple, the other is white.

I'm trying not to read anything into the fact that, after playing with said bunnies today, she threw up her snack of blueberries (purple) and a later snack of yogurt (white).

Monday, October 03, 2011

Today: A story.

Once upon a time...
We had a good weekend. Rumor has it there were parties and keg stands involved, but I wouldn't give that too much credence. Unless you've seen the video Evan sent my mom.

Things went swimmingly today. The morning hours flew by, the child ate, the child slept, we went to the park, and my employeress came back at a reasonable hour, despite her dire warning that "hours will be longer this week." Of course, she also came home 3 minutes after the bus I had hoped to catch was gone, giving me the choice to 1) wait an hour for the next bus or 2) do my walking thing and meet the bus as far away as I could get in an hour.

My job isn't that bad, but given the chance to but some space between myself and them, I'm always going to choose that option.

Anyway, I walked four miles, rode the bus for about 1 mile, and got back off to meet my husband at Grainger (the business school building).  We did some shopping and headed home. The end.

Epilogue: I found out this morning that my employeress's father-in-law--son of Granny--is going to be coming from India next week to spend "5 days." I put "5 days" in scare-quotes because I'm scared. They told me that Granny was originally intending to stay a month, but she has now been there 5. If they say the father is staying 5 days, what does that actually translate to? This would not trouble me so much were it not for the fact that it sounds as if he'll just be hanging around the apartment all day..... But who am I kidding? More stories!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Catching Up

Before I say anything else, let me just put this out there: chili-masala pumpkinseed pralines. Mmmm mmmm mmmm!

It's been a good week. It started off well, Monday being a day off for me. I used it wisely and took several hours to do some necessary cleaning of the apartment. It was one of the highlights of my week. Seriously. I reveled in my reclaimed domesticity. I also did not-so-fun things like pay bills and get The Worst Passport Photo Ever taken, but all that paled in comparison to the fun I had just getting stuff done at home.

I know you think I'm being sarcastic, but I'm really not.

There hasn't been much to report on the nannying front, at least, not much that provides any entertainment value or inspires me to new heights of hyperbole. Prita is now napping for me. It requires at least 20 minutes of singing and rocking on my part, but at least she's getting some rest. She has some definite favorite songs to be put to sleep by: "Pop! Goes the Weasel" (aka, The Monkey Song), "Baa Baa Black Sheep," and everyone's favorite "Little Bunny Foo-Foo." I should have started keeping track of the number of times we have been through "Bunny Foo," as she calls it. She also requests things like, "Big Baby Song" and "Octopus Song" and I have no idea what she's talking about. My inability to oblige only infuriates her (at least, when she's tired), and the only way to soothe her is to start singing, "Little Bunny Foo-Foo, hoppin' through the forest...."

Granny and I are slowly but surely improving our communication skills. We now serve Prita all her meals, get diaper changes done, give baths, and do dishes and laundry with a minimum of ridiculous gesturing. We had a charming little interlude today when she had me come sit next to her so she could sound out the words in Prita's Mickey Mouse book and have me check it for her. She knows all the letters and can sound things out, but she doesn't really seem to know what the words mean. After she had worked through a paragraph, she had me read the whole thing aloud...and cackled all the way through. I know my reading voice sounds considerably different than my normal talking voice, but really? Am I that funny? Laughing over, she grabbed Prita's Telugu primer and started showing me the letters and how to pronounce their names and the names of the accompanying pictures. I really can't remember a single thing, except that "rumpum" (or something like that) means saw. That'll be a great help, I'm sure.

I've also gotten a little more confidence when it comes to mealtimes with Granny. Previously, I had just been taking some of whatever she thrust at me, regardless of whether it sounded good or if I was even hungry, We've established, now, that I can get food when I want it--she doesn't have to serve me--and that I will not always want rice with curry, followed by rice with yogurt. Sometimes, I may just eat an apple and some nuts or cheese. Consequently, when I do have some of what Granny is having for lunch (or breakfast), I enjoy it a lot more and don't feel gross all day.

Tomorrow is Friday, which means 1) I get paid and 2) I get to look forward to an entire weekend at home, with my husband. Sounds pretty nice.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stay classy, UW-Madison

I'm sorry, but the University of Wisconsin is crazy. These are just some highlights of our trip across town on game day:

--A man with his (pink) pants legs rolled up, showing off his glowing white ankles and blush suede oxfords (worn without socks, of course). On top, he had on a *very* tight red WI t-shirt with the sleeves cut off.

--A pack of girls, all wearing red and white striped overalls with one strap undone, many of them with only a sports bra on underneath

--A man wearing leggings...under a pair of booty shorts with "SCONNIE" emblazoned across his rear end

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Tale of Two Dishwashers

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.... That is, it was 6:15 on Friday morning. Best, in that it was Friday. Worst, in that it was an ungodly early hour and the sun had not yet shown up. I hadn't slept much, thanks in large part to my husband having only that night taken up the habit of snoring. (At least he wasn't sleep-walking.)

My employeress had told me the day before that I should get over to the apartment any time from 7:00 to 7:30. Like any normal human being with a functioning brain, I chose the later of those two options and timed my morning to arrive right before 7:30. On the bus on the way over, I got a frantic call from my employeress, asking where I was and why I wasn't there yet. I jabbered for a moment, trying to figure out how to answer without 1)sounding snotty or 2)apologizing for going along with her plan. I passed her in the hall on my was up to the apartment, looking completely frazzled and harried. When I got inside, I was treated to a scolding from Granny, the only intelligible words of which were "seven," "seven-thirty," and "LATE." I shrugged and smiled what I hope was a winning smile. This is my new go-to answer when I have no idea what's going on or no idea why I'm being scolded.

Speaking of being scolded.... I should mention that I have a big, nasty, problematic fault that is coming into direct conflict with Granny. My fault is this: I HATE being told how to do something with which I'm already well-acquainted. In this case, the issue is dishes. As part of the "light housekeeping" I'm asked to engage in, I'm supposed to clean up the dishes after meals and snacks. I know how to do dishes. My mother made sure of it, even if I did pass that task off on my brothers as soon as humanly possible.

Thus, it really, really, really irks me when I start to clean up Granny's kitchen mess and she stands behind me, looking over my shoulder and giving directions. (I may not understand a single word, but I understand the intent.) Occasionally, she will grab the scrubber and pot from my hands and give a demonstration. I'm never quite sure what the point is, as I clean dishes exactly the same was she does: apply soap, scrub, rinse. The best part of all of this is that I'm supposed to wash all the dishes...before I put them in the dishwasher. If she finds a dish in the (dirty) dishwasher that still appears to have been used, she will pull it out and wave it at me. Finally today I seem to have reached a point where she trusts me to clean everything properly and no longer inspects the dishwasher every time I leave the kitchen.

Contrast this with my home life: We got a new dishwasher a couple weeks ago and Evan has been testing it by seeing how much gunk we can leave on the dishes and still have them come out clean. So far, it seems to have dealt well with everything.

(I'm struggling to find a way to work in a play on Sydney Carton's last line, but my creativity has failed me. Oh well, here it is in all its beauty, sans sense or context: "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.")

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"...the monkey chased the weasel...."

Another 7:00 AM day. It's getting easier to wake up, although no more enjoyable. As Evan astutely remarked last night, "Oh, you're one of those 'eight hours of sleep' people." I had to correct him. I'm one of those 10-11 hours of sleep people.

The early start meant lots of gorgeous morning hours, which Prita and I spent at the park. I used my handy-dandy smartphone (I still can't get over that thing) and found a city park with a playground about a mile away. We walked down and Prita spent the next two hours running, jumping, swinging, sliding, and staring at all the bigger kids. I was happy to let her go as long as she wanted because, of course, lots of exercise means a better nap, right? Or no nap, if you're dealing with this kid. She managed 10 minutes of sleep in the stroller as we walked home. That was it. She was good to go for the rest of the day. Not that I didn't try to get her to nap again. We spent 45 minutes in the rocking chair, singing. If sound stopped coming from my mouth, she would cry. I cannot count the number of times I sang "Pop Goes the Weasel" to the wee beastie.

For all that, it was a pretty good day, and the mother came home over an hour early, so I get to spend the entirety of the evening with my husband.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gone Walkabout

Firstly, we had an excellent weekend in Fort Wayne. Buca was delicious. The Johnny Appleseed Festival was awesome, as always. Church at Redeemer was church at Redeemer, and therefore difficult to beat, this side of Heaven. Even if Pr. Petersen was AWOL. I got hugs from some of my very favorite people (besides my family, I would have to count Jacqui, Lori, Nancy, and the Reunings in that extremely exclusive group).

Our drive home was uneventful and we made pretty good time, despite missing an exit and ending up driving along Hwy 14 through Palatine and Barrington. I only cried sporadically...the whole way home.

It rained all night and into the morning hours, but it stopped just in time for me to make my walk to the bus stop. The rest of the day only got more beautiful by the hour. When I got to work, I discovered that Prita spent the weekend sick with whatever nasty cold I had last week. She seemed to be on the mend, though, with no runny nose and very little congestion. She and I took a long walk late in the morning, just after the sun finally broke through the clouds. I'm seriously considering writing to Google to request that their maps have some way to indicate on which routes you will be forced to push a stroller uphill. I was so warm by the time we got back to the apartment (despite it only being in the 60s, at that point), that Granny was a little alarmed and made me drink some water. She really is a nice old lady.

On toward Prita's 2:00 naptime, I was trying to wear her out by having her ride her tricycle up and down the apartment hallways. As we were heading back toward their unit, Prita started crying out for her mom and, when I turned around, there she was. She hadn't been feeling well all day and finally decided to give up and come home. I felt bad for her, facing the prospect of putting her daughter down for a nap AND stressing out over missing work AND nursing a headache and a cold. But anyway, I got to leave 4 hours early.

Practically skipping with glee, I got outside and pulled out my phone to determine what time the bus would be coming by. Turns out, the buses run much less frequently during the day and the next one was not scheduled to be along for another hour and ten minutes. Rather than go sit somewhere and wait an hour, I started walking along the bus route, keeping track of the stops and planning to stop just in time for the bus to catch up with me further down the line. Originally, I figured I'd just walk a few streets down, until I found a stop with a likely looking bench where I could sit and read. No. Instead, I ended up walking over half the length of the route between work and our apartment. When I got home, I figured I had walked just a touch under four miles. But it was a perfectly beautiful day, and I was full of energy and wearing really comfy shoes, so I didn't even notice.

Evan and I made good use of our unexpectedly free afternoon. We headed over to the DMV (which was, incidentally, on the route I took home) and Evan got his license renewed, while I replaced my IN license with a WI license. That felt oddly final and I'm afraid I pouted a little when I figured out that they weren't going to let me have my old license back. After the DMV, we did our second ever Big Grocery Trip, this time checking out Woodmans. Which was huge and overwhelming and delightfully cheap.

Friday, September 16, 2011

On Vacation

Evan and I are spending the weekend in Fort Wayne, so don't expect much from me for the next few days.

We have all sorts of plans. Tonight, we're having dinner at Buca di Beppo in Indianapolis with my Caston aunt, uncle, and cousins, and also with Grandfather Dear. My Grandmother Dear is ditching us to go hang out with her church ladies. The ostensible reason for the party is that my birthday was earlier this month, Evan's birthday is later this month, and Jonathan never got his birthday party back in April. Really, it's just an excuse for us to visit the family and eat way too much pasta. I'm okay with that.

Just a brief update on the nanny front: yesterday was good, even though it started off with me crying in front of my employer. I was overly tired and had a racking cough and no voice and the combination of the three just suddenly overwhelmed me. I tried to make sure that she knew that I was not crying because I hate my job. And I was not crying because I can't communicate effectively with either Granny or Prita, despite the fact that the tears started rolling just as I started talking about that. She was understandably freaked out, and I got a call later from her husband, making sure everything was okay and that I am really comfortable with the position. The answer, of course, was "Yes. It's only been three days. Any problems we have now will only improve with a little time. Stop worrying. There's nothing wrong here..." etc.

Otherwise, the day was good. We spent a total of 5 hours outside, walking. We walked to the Social Security office so that I could drop off the paperwork to get my name changed with the government. Later, we took a route that just happened to lead right through the nearest Starbucks. Talk about fortuitous. Incidentally, I finally discovered just why Granny wants us to get out of the apartment so often: she uses the time to watch her Indian soap operas. Really. Watch the full 5 minutes, I dare you. The full episode I got to see yesterday was even better.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Walk walk walk walk walk"

Today started off much worse than yesterday, and by "much worse" I mean a whole half-hour earlier. That's right, ladies and gents, I woke up at 5:45 AM and was out of the house by 6:15. At that hour, life is not worth living. In fact, I'm pretty sure I wasn't alive, but rather undead.

Anyway, my zombified form made it to the bus stop on time. The ride went quickly and there were no hiccups or wrong turns. I was even the last one on the bus for the final 4 stops before my destination....Which must be why the driver decided to stop for coffee, 1 mile from my stop and 5 minutes before I was supposed to be there. The look on my face when he said he was stopping to grab some coffee must have been something to see, because he immediately changed his mind and got back behind the wheel, and I made it to work on time.

Granny* offered me breakfast, which in this case involved curried green beans, mystery orange curry, rice, and chapatis. It was all delicious, but my poor, cossetted stomach was not prepared for that onslaught at 7:00 AM. Note to self: buy granola bars. We had essentially the same meal for lunch, minus the chapatis and plus a boatload of homemade yogurt. At one point in the not-so-distant past, I deluded myself into thinking I would be happy eating Indian food all the time. I was so naive.

Prita and I were kicked out of the apartment around 9:00 and told--very forcefully--to "walk walk walk walk walk!" We walk-walk-walked for almost an hour, coming back just in time for the power to go out as we walked up to the apartment. Granny was trying to get lunch started and could not figure out why the rice-cooker wasn't working. Try explaining "power outage" without any common words. After I went around pointing to all the non-functioning appliances saying "power: off" and making a chopping motion with my hand, she caught on. The outage only lasted about 20 minutes, though, and the day got back on track.

After Prita's lunch, we were kicked out of the apartment again with another vigorous "walk walk walk walk walk!" Prita was asleep within minutes, but I couldn't make myself turn around and go back to the apartment. I made a tour of the neighborhood, wishing I had brought my book along on the journey. Finally, after 45 minutes of fairly aimless wandering, I gave up and went back, hoping to get some reading in while Prita finished her nap. She woke up as soon as we walked in the front door. Back upstairs, I laid down with her and she was nearly asleep again when Granny walked in, yelling for me to come eat lunch. At that point, Prita gave up on sleep for the remainder of the day and became her usual, hellion-like self.

Other highlights include peeling a basket-full of onions, being chastised (I think) for letting Prita watch me play Angry Birds to get her to sit still for 5 minutes, and seeing a dead body carried out of another apartment while out walking. Good times, all.

Overall, despite some mishaps, it was a much better day than yesterday. Tomorrow should be better yet: it's the last day I work this week AND I don't have to be there until 8:00.

*I should note that in referring to the grandmother as "Granny" I'm not being disrespectful or flippant. (That's reserved for the actual content of my comments.) Rather "Granny" is how the family refers to her, when speaking English. I haven't the foggiest notion what else to call her. Although, she knows to call me "Brittany." Amazing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

First Day

Ha. Haha. Hahahaha. Hahahahahahahahahaha....

Sorry. Crazed laughter over.

So, I started my new job this morning. I am nannying 40ish hours a week, taking care of a two-year old girl, only child of a young Indian couple. Those 40 hours began at 7:30 this morning. (Rather, they were supposed to. More on that in a moment.)

My wonderful husband got up early to walk me to the bus stop. It was a lovely morning, if a little cool, and he made that walk much more enjoyable. I got on my #14 bus and was on my way. Until the driver missed a turn, drove a couple miles out of the way, circled back around to get back on her route, and made me twenty minutes late for my first day of work.

Thank goodness the people for whom I'm working are very understanding and flexible. I called them and they told me not to worry about anything and just get there ASAP. When I got to the apartment, the husband was at work and the wife was ready to walk out the door, leaving me alone with their daughter and their eighty-year-old grandmother. Did I not mention her before? She lives with them. And she speaks no English.

The little girl--I'll just call her "Prita"--is a squirrel. She doesn't sit down to eat; she runs back and forth and you have to reach out at just the right time to get the food into her mouth. At least today, the grandmother did most of this. She would cajole her for 5-10 minutes (at least, I'm assuming it was sounded like it, but I really have no idea what she was saying) and finally Prita would back up against the far wall, lower her head like a bull, and charge. About the time she pulled even with the grandmother, she (the granny) would force a handful of food into her (Prita's) mouth.

Prita spent much of the day reciting her ABCs to me, or having me write them out one at a time on her Magnadoodle. Prita doesn't actually converse in English--she talks mainly in whatever Indian language the family uses--but she knows a number of English words that she can shout out. She especially likes cats and I cannot number the times she yelled, "C is for KITTY!!!!!"

Prita is on a set schedule of meals and naps, although her mother was out the door before I could ask what time the nap was set for. It took granny and I several tries at gesturing and trying to find mutually-comprehensible words before I could find out from her that Prita goes to bed at 2:00. Well, come 1:00, granny scooped her up, beckoned for me to follow, and carried Prita off to her (granny's) room. She set Prita in the middle of the bed, laid down on one side, and gestured for me to lay down on the other. Uh...come again? I have no problem cuddling with a child who needs to be coaxed into sleep, but cuddling with a child and an 80 year-old woman who I've never met before and with whom I can't really communicate? Weird. I tried it anyway, but Prita was having none of this napping business. We gave up and let her run around for awhile. Several tries at putting her to bed were unsuccessful, so I let granny know that I was going to take Prita out for a walk in the stroller, to see if that would get her to sleep. Don't ask how I got that across, but I did somehow. Granny was also able to tell me to make sure Prita was wearing shoes and to keep the sun out of her face. Bethany and Granny: 1, Language-Gap: 0. That walk was the best part of the day. That that's despite my congested state which made the entire endeavor completely exhausting.

Anyway, Prita never did get a nap, but she did get increasingly moody and clumsy with every passing minute. By the time her mother got home around 6:00, she was mood-swinging like a manic-depressive and running into walls, but she would NOT sleep.

There are so many more quirks in this job, most of them will just have to wait.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Busy Weekend

We attended a family wedding up in Green Bay yesterday. On the way out of town, after the reception, we took a detour past Lambeau Field because, apparently, not doing so would be like going to Rome and skipping St. Peter's. I took a photo with my phone as we drove past, in the dark, and sent it to Patrick, who is now above responding to messages from his sister. That is to say, I don't know that he ever got it. (Did you, Patch? We went five minutes out of our way, just to get that picture. Some appreciation is warranted.)

Rather than drive back to Madison that night, we stayed with Evan's folks in Plymouth, and drove from there to Sussex for church this morning. First, I just have to say how thankful I am that we are able to attend church at Peace. Pr. Bender is great and the people there (not even counting the Gehlbachs, my adopted family) have been really welcoming and kind. The following should in no way be taken as a reflection on that church or the gifts we receive there each week. But there are no adequate words to describe how much I miss Redeemer and my church family. Seriously, I cried like a baby through the first two services away from Redeemer. The third week, Evan's parents were along and I managed to keep myself in check. This week, I didn't cry at the service, but ended up weeping my way through "Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart" at the church picnic. I probably would have cried through "O Lord We Praise Thee", but I was too distracted by the pace at which the organist was playing it--MUCH slower than Kantor Reuning-- and thought of my brothers straining to sing it faster. At one point, I looked up toward the chancel to make a face at one of them, but of course none of them were there. And at the church picnic, I had a perfectly good time and sat with Susan and Katie and made faces at Alia when I should have been paying attention to Pr. Suelflow....But it was almost disorienting to look out at a park pavilion full of church people and not see Osbuns or Lagemanns or Ridleys or anyone else I know.

But just so you know, I'm not complaining. Just reflecting.

We left before the church picnic was quite through to drive back to Madison in time to get ready for a Supply Chain Management center party. That sounds unbelievably awful, but it was a seriously good party, in the most sophisticated, grown-up way. Like Evan said as we walked back to our car afterwards, it was the sort of party that makes you feel like an adult. It had smart people, really good food, a nice selection of drinks, and it was held in a beautiful home, perfect for entertaining.

Tomorrow is my last day of freedom before I settle down and start working for my keep again. I have a whole list of things to get done--cleaning, laundry, picking up a bus pass--but I have this premonition that I will actually spend the whole day watching movies on Netflix. But I really don't know where that thought came from.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Thank You Notes

I love thank you notes. I love picking them out, I love writing them, I love receiving them. For the most part, I have had a lot of fun doing the thank yous for our wedding gifts. Evan and I turned on some music, sat down, and knocked over half of them out one evening last week.

When I woke up this morning, I decided to use my day at home, alone, to get the rest of them done.

Did you know you can have thank-you-note-writer's-block? I sat down, picked out the first name, picked up the pen and...nothing came out except. "Thank you." What else to say? This normally comes so easily. Today, though, nothing. It took me two hours to get nine notes written. Then they sat in a little pile, mocking me and egging me on. By the time Evan got home at 2:00, I had been at it for 5 hours straight and only gotten 30-some notes written (which means my rate had improved, but not enough) and my hands were cramping.

My reward was that we ran to the post office to get more stamps and stopped at Starbucks for pumpkin spice lattes on the way home. And everything was better, because I was out in the sunshine holding yummy coffee with one hand and my husband's hand with the other.

Tomorrow's tasks: finishing the notes for which I was missing addresses, calling a piano tuner, and getting a bus pass. If any of those should produce blog-worthy results, an update will follow.

Monday, September 05, 2011

People Watching

My dear sister-in-law likes to talk about car-spotting. Well, cars are great and all, but I really don't know enough about them to appreciate the hobby, so I just play my own version: clothing-disaster-spotting.

There is, very possibly, no better place to enjoy this pastime than a county fair. Oh. My. Goodness. I'm not about to pick on the legitimate fair people in their boots and flannels, or even the country people in last decade's Walmart bargains. Oh, no. Why descend to petty, income-based mockery when there are targets aplenty?

Take, for instance, the woman walking around with the bottom of her t-shirt tucked up under the edge of her bra. That encounter had the potential to be scarring, except that she had the waist of her pants pulled up to the bottom of her rib cage. That just took it from indecent to inconceivable.

Being newly arrived in Wisconsin, I was delighted to see the men walking around in camouflage Packers jerseys. Really? This isn't Minnesota; there's no need to hide your loyalty. There was a whole display of Packers-themed 4-H homegoods projects, for crying out loud.

Also, a fair classic, was the "skunk" hair phenomenon. Dark hair, light roots; light hair, dark roots; light hair, dark tips; dark hair, light tips, etc.

But, oh. You simply have not LIVED until you have seen the glow-in-the-dark tie-dye t-shirt stand advertising sized L through XXXXXL.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Hair Woes

Ahhh, the perennial topic of complaint.

So, it's like this: I let my hair grow out for the wedding and it is now a little longer than shoulder-length. I would say that this is the length where it starts going flat, but I'm not really sure there is a length where it doesn't do that. The upside to my hair right now is that I can leave it down or put it up and either way it looks semi-presentable. I can finally get a good french braid in, and it's been years since I was able to do that.

The downside to my hair right now is that it goes flat and ratty very quickly. I feel like I can't go anywhere without a hairbrush and I'm not comfortable unless it is pulled back somehow, thus camouflaging its tendency to go lank.

The problem is, I'm not sure how much a shorter cut will help. It could, very possibly, remove the things I like about my hair (being able to put it back) but leave all the things I don't like (flat crabbiness).

I would seriously consider just CHOPPING IT ALL OFF and going the pixie cut route, but I know for sure that my husband would not appreciate that. :o)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Weekend Conundrum

What to do, what to do? It's a Saturday sans big plans and sans big projects. What does one do with a weekend when there are no family parties to attend? No walls to knock down and build back up?

As Evan so-helpfully pointed out, we have lots of small projects to work on, but that makes things even more difficult. Which job do you choose, and how to you keep yourself from project-hopping like an ADD-riddled eight year-old?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Very Important Things

In other news, I am now completely caught up on my back episodes of this season of Project Runway. I missed two whole weeks of drama queens and, well, queens battling to see who could make the crummiest outfit. No, really, there were a few cute articles of clothing mixed in with the dreck. Mainly, I just didn't enjoy watching it as much on my own. How can I form a proper opinion of anything--or mock the entries sufficiently--without my mother alongside? Not good. Not good at all.  Besides which, watching PR brings back alarming memories of being called into my boss's office and alternately having my opinion sought on the last episode of the show and being harangued for someone else's incompetence. (No! I will not let Jane ruin this for me again! No!)

Also, as part of catching up on the show, I finally got through all two weeks worth of posts from Tom and Lorenzo. Not that it mattered or anything.  It had just been a while since I'd read anyone tear apart some random celebrity's wardrobe choices, that's all.

And while I'm talking fashion, pretty-things, and the depths of the internet.... Whose idea was Pinterest? Seriously, I didn't get to all the housework I meant to get done today and my failure is directly attributable to that site.

No more isolation.

Not only do we now have reliable internet at the apartment, I have a super-fancy smartphone.

Ooooooh! Aaaaaah!

This is one of those things that I never really wanted but am now going to be completely addicted to and reliant on. Thanks, Evan. :o) It's amazing. My complete address book, email, Facebook, music: all with me all the time. Oh yeah, and it makes calls, too.

We were at the park this evening with a group of Evan's fellow MBA students and, while they played "networking games" I did not let myself check Facebook. Not even once.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On the Hunt

I finally sat down and got serious about looking for a job today.

Wait...just....give me a minute....


Okay. I'm fine, really. It wasn't that bad. I put in an application at Starbucks, both my home office on the Capitol Square and two others in town. I also looked up all the banks within walking distance and applied to the two that were hiring tellers. I took a deep breath and an antacid and checked the city and county websites for jobs, since that would be the place to find something library-related. No luck there, but that's really okay. As much as I loved my library job, I'd really rather not work directly for the government again. It always made me feel a touch squeamish. While I was holding my nose (or was it my breath? I don't know...holding something and feeling ill, anyway), I also checked one of the job sites with paralegal job listings. Then I came to my senses and realized that I would rather work at Sears--now hiring 7 salespersons--than go back into the law office environment.

I also checked out Craigslist, for the first time ever, and was immediately sidetracked by the weirdness. "YOU CAN BE A SURROGATE MOTHER. $30,000+!!!!!!!" "Make $3,000 a day from home. Not a scam." "Apprentice seeking Jedi Master." All good options, I'm sure.

The search continues tomorrow. And every day until I am successfully bound in wage slavery.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What do your books say about you?

Thanks to Pastor and Susan Gehlbach, we are the proud owners of Enough Bookshelves (for now, at any rate). They brought a load of our wedding gifts--which they had been kind enough to haul up to WI last week--and added in two new shelving units. They're pretty enough to go in the living/family/dining room and we worked on setting up the first one last night.

Evan and I have worked on projects before--see my family's house--so we already know that we work well together. And he knows that I really don't know what I'm doing with tools, most of the time. And that I'm often dreadfully clumsy. So, I guess, when I say that we worked on setting it up, really I mean he worked on setting it up and I just tried not to undo anything important. I did take the job of hammering the wooden pegs into the screw holes and, let me tell you, those are some well-hammered pegs.

After the shelf was built and in place came the very most important process of filling it. Cookbooks were an obvious first step, as they had already outgrown their original home in the cupboard over the stove. We have a pretty darn impressive collection of cookbooks, for newlyweds.  After the cookbooks were in place, we started searching our current shelves for "impressive books." I'm going to blame this one on the first week of business indoctrination: we were working on our brand through the books on our public bookshelves. Sigh. Anyway, our brand is, apparently, composed of old things, pretty things, and things no one else has ever heard of.  We still have that second shelf to set up, so we'll see how the brand goes from there. Of course, if they were to set foot in the guest room, they'd see that our brand is leans much more heavily toward "widely-read language and history geeks with 5 different copies of Pride and Prejudice."

Friday, August 19, 2011


Can I just say how much I LOVE having a wedding ring? It can be awkward, trying to find ways to use my left hand to make my status more apparent, but it is totally worth the effort. Seriously, it's like creeper repellant.

A View from Starbucks

We don't have reliable internet access at our apartment, right now. Madison has city-wide wireless, but it functions about as well as you'd expect. As Patrick said, "In Soviet Russia, you take what you're given." Being disconnected from the world at large is not an option, so I've been spending a couple hours every morning at the Starbucks on Capitol Square. Safely ensconced behind my laptop, drink in hand, I can watch and laugh at my fellow city-dwellers.

Someone just pulled a fire alarm inside the capitol building, so the square is flooded with people in suits, enjoying some time out in the sun. (There couldn't possibly be anything suspicious about a false alarm, pulled just before lunch time, right?) The fire trucks are gone and it looks like they've given the all-clear, but very few people have gone back in, yet.

There's a homeless lady who just came in and ordered a Venti latte in two cups, and the jerk on a bike who keeps riding through her pile of belongings. Sometimes I feel like such a sheltered, small-town girl. Despite having lived in a good-sized city, I am constantly shocked when I see the numbers of homeless people around here. Were they just better at hiding in Fort Wayne, or are there just that many of them here? I'm inclined to believe my hometown to be superior in all ways, so I'm going to say that this liberal Utopia of Madison is just a deeper hole.

A guy has been sitting two tables down from me since I came in. He's on his third iced coffee in an hour and looks wired enough to right every wrong complained about on the bumper stickers covering his laptop. He'd probably get along well with the father and toddler son duo riding around the square, their bikes bedecked with "TAX THE RICH!!!" flags.

In the same vein, there is a group across the square on a long-term hunger-strike. Their placards don't tell us what the strike is about, just that they're angry and hungry. Speaking of which, the Italian beef and Chicago dog cart just outside Starbucks has been taunting me for 3 days. I have food at home, I have food at home....

Busy-looking career women are everywhere, in their serious slacks and cardigans. Mostly I just make fun of them because I want so desperately not to be one of them. I'm perfectly content to sit here in my jeans and Cap'n Curt's t-shirt, looking forward (LOOKING FORWARD!) to vacuuming my apartment and doing more laundry when I get home.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Some Initial Thoughts

Blogging makes more sense when the people who want to know the mundane details of my daily life aren't also the people experiencing those mundane details with me. So this is for anyone who cares to know. :o)

1) Having a small washer and dryer is a pain in the rear. Seriously. The washer maxes out at four towels; I just stuck a sheet set in and it is making me nervous. Granted, there are only two of us here, so the laundry doesn't exactly pile up like it did at home, but the inefficiency of doing five loads where I formerly could have done one is driving me batty.

2) Shopping for two people is harder than I had anticipated. We went to the supermarket on Tuesday evening and neither one of us has any idea how to buy groceries in small amounts. How much milk will we use before it goes bad? How many eggs? If we buy a pack of frozen burritos, will they actually last more than a day?

3) The other side of only having two people eating is that cooking and post-meal clean-up takes no time. We've run the dishwasher twice in three days, and that was mainly to deal with new dishes, glasses, and storage boxes.

4) Leftovers. I get them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

For Adriane...
(Because we can't have her throwing a fit.)

First, I was not expecting the proposal. It was a beautiful, sunny, mild day. Our dinner reservations were for after 9:00, so we had an entire afternoon and evening at our disposal, most of which we had spent sitting around, doing nothing. He suggested that we should take advantage of the waning sunlight and maybe work in a walk. We headed over to Foster Park and strolled along beside the river for a while. I told him I wanted to show him my favorite old sycamore tree before we left, so we looped around and made that our last stop on the way to the car. When we got over to the tree, he stopped, took my hands, and told me that he had been making a lot of plans recently and that I featured in all of them. (There was some other stuff too, but as soon as I figured out what was going on, my mind went kind of blurry and I don't remember much of it very clearly.) He got down on one knee, right there in the snow, pulled out the ring, and asked me to marry him. Again, I'm sort of fuzzy on what exactly happened next. He tells me I said, "Oh, absolutely!" All I remember it that poked myself with my sunglasses, forgot what finger the ring was supposed to go on, and accidentally kissed him on the nose. Yeah, I'm a spaz.

The ring is an antique pearl, for which we're going to design a new setting.