Sunday, September 30, 2007

Torchwood 1.4: Cyberwoman

Torchwood dips into its Doctor Who back story ("Army of Ghosts", "Doomsday") in this sorry mess involving Cybermen, bathetic love, a pterodactyl, and a hapless pizza delivery girl. Redeeming qualities are few, but we can always hold out hope that the pterodactyl was mortally wounded and won't return.

Read the rest at The House Next Door.

where did that week go?

Incredibly busy week, with teaching, writing, too many phone calls, a support group meeting, doctor appointments, and much attention paid to the floor situation. None of it was boring at the time, but now writing about it all seems deathly.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Torchwood 1.3: Ghost Machine

Best episode yet.

So far, Torchwood has dished up the pilot episode (Everything Changes) and the fish-out-of-water episode (Day One). Now, with "Ghost Machine," the first "regular" episode, it gets down to the brass tacks of what happens when humans interact with alien technology. "Give me the aliens any day," doesn't just sum up this episode; it may be the theme of the entire season.

Read the rest over at The House Next Door.

Friday, September 21, 2007

slowest game of tag, ever

Reading Virginia Postrel's Dynamist blog today, I recalled that Ross had tagged me some time over the summer with the same meme that Virginia blogged about, the Eight Random Things meme.

Before I get to that, I want to wish Virginia well as she begins her treatment for breast cancer. Damn cancer. I hate it.

Like Virginia, I refuse to tag anyone else, since I don't think I could name eight people who fit the criteria of 1) knowing who I am and 2) being likely to play along. Now, eight random facts about me:

1. I'm left-handed. Two of my six siblings are left-handed, and two of my three children are left-handed.

2. My undergraduate degree is in behavioral science in management.

3. Related to 2, I'm an alumna of a fraternity.

4. I'm on my fourth set of front teeth.

5. The last remaining vestige of my Boston accent: I cannot pronounce an "ing" ending on a verb as anything other than "in" (f.ex., goin', walkin') without feeling as if I am over-enunciating and thus sound stupid.

6. I eat at least one square of dark bittersweet chocolate a day. This has absolutely nothing to do with the anti-oxidant properties this chocolate is reported to have.

7. I briefly dated a Deadhead,and once fell asleep during the extended drum solo ("drums in space") at a Dead concert.

8. I weigh more than it says on my driver's license. Not a lot, but some.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

nothing is easy (about those floors...)

My computer is still in the breakfast nook, and likely to stay there for some time; we're having problems with the new flooring.

DH noticed a "bubble" on one board a week or so ago, where the corners of two boards meet, and one of them was pushed up and deformed. You can only see it if the light hits it exactly right, but it's definitely there.

So, having seen that, we re-examined the floors and noticed that there are many places where the seams are not level. The planks are fitted together correctly, but the laminate surfaces are not meeting up exactly. It's weird.

We had the installer and two supervisors from Lowe's out yesterday to check it out; they did that annoying thing where they speak Spanish so you won't know what they're saying. DH, however, knows enough Spanish to recognize It's all bad when he hears it.

The manufacturer's rep is coming to inspect it tomorrow morning; Lowe's is saying it's a manufacturing defect.

I'm not so sure about that. Compare and contrast this note from the installation instructions (my emphasis)
IMPORTANT Do not open immediately! Before opening the packaging, acclimatize planks for 48 hours by laying each box horizontally and individually in the center of the room, in which they are to be installed.
... with how the materials were delivered.

Delivery was on Friday, installation started on Monday, so there's your 48 hours, easily; but no one ever said a word about laying out boxes individually, away from hot walls (that is a hot wall), and in the rooms in which they would be installed. Not a peep.

Whoever owns up to the error is going to have to re-do the entire floor -- or make a very compelling argument as to why not. Onesy-twosy replacement isn't sufficient because there's nothing to prevent the remaining planks from popping later.

We'll see what the independent inspector has to say. So far, Lowe's has had a great attitude about this; when I called them, they were over here within the hour to look at the floors. They called constantly during the process to make sure we were satisfied with the materials and the contractors (we were). But that was when they already had our money, and weren't looking at having to re-do a pretty big job out of their own pockets. It wouldn't surprise me if their attitude changes.

Stay tuned.


This cracks me up.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Surely an infinite number of women's magazine articles have warned against saying "yes" to every request, and I usually don't. But sometimes the question takes me by surprise, and I find myself saying "yes" much against my better judgment. Then I'm left hoping for the best.

Case in point, today at the kids/family circuit class at the Y. DS1 and I do this two days during the week, and I go on Saturdays while the kids are at tennis. I adore this class, but that's not the point. Our regular instructor has to be away for a few weeks and asked me if I could help out with the class in case they have any scheduling difficulties while she's out.

I said yes without knowing exactly what I was agreeing to, which is the very definition of stupid. I think there would be an official Y person around, but not necessarily someone who was familiar with the circuit class or the circuit stations. At any rate, I'm pretty sure that I'm just a backup, an in case of emergency kind of resource.

Besides, I rationalize to myself, I'll be going to those classes anyway.

Rationalization? A clear sign of a more advanced case of yesitis.

The cure -- well, no real cure, just preventative measures, like learning to say "Let me think about it," before giving an answer. Also, "Let me check my schedule and get back to you," has been known to work really well. I'm fond of, "I'm sorry, I'm already committed for that time," because it's never a lie. If you're going to stay home and watch TV, that's a commitment to yourself, and there's nothing wrong with that.

The key is to be polite but vague when asked, which buys you the time to decide, really and truly, whether this new responsibility is something you want to take on. Then if you say "yes" it will be because you want to do it, not because someone roped you in at an inopportune moment.

some guilt is forever

It doesn't matter whether or not DS1's muscular/skeletal issues have anything to do with the fact that he was allowed to be nearly completely sedentary for a few years while I was having surgery after surgery followed by cancer, more surgery, and radiation treatments. And more surgery.

It's entirely likely that some of what's going may be a neurological problem, since his core strength never seems to improve.

It's also true that his problems are not debilitating, and most likely are non-progressive since we've actually seen improvements over the past few years.

Having said all that, after spending the morning at the orthopedist and then a big chunk of the afternoon scheduling with the neurologist and the physical therapist, I can't get past the feeling that none of this would be happening now if I had just been paying more attention earlier.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I love my job(s) (mostly)

I got a hug today from the teacher I subbed for on Friday, and the exclamation, "My kids loved you! Thank you so much!"

Torchwood's reviews are killing me, and I can't figure out why -- I keep starting out recapping and then ditch most of that and find I've only written about two thirds of the review I wanted to write. It's pathetic, and had better improve with practice. I'm starting earlier on this week's episode, I can't stand another weekend like this last one.

Haven't written a recipe or food column in months now, and have guilt about that... but I have just about finished the reconstruction of my ingredients database, which was lost when our computers were stolen in the spring. It never occurred to me to back it up; what can I say? It was stupid. I have a few things simmering on the backburner, so to speak, and they'll get written eventually.

RE (Religious Education) tonight, our first class, went well, I thought, only to have one student saunter up to me as we were queued up at dismissal to announce, in perfect, accent-free English, My Mom wanted me to have a Spanish class for this, because I'm just not getting it. I told the kid I'd speak to the office about it, but frankly I'm mystified. There wasn't much to "not get" in tonight's class, since I spent most of it giving a course outline of the things we're going to cover. Mostly I think the kid does not want to work! We'll see. The rest of the group seems OK. I hope I can keep them coming back until spring when they can be Confirmed. Oh, and my aide is fantastic, she has a really great attitude.

Last but not least, ThyCa has been rather dormant lately, after a brief flurry a few weeks ago when my co-facilitator was out of town. The news on that front is several members of our group are to be interviewed about our experiences for a new women's health website, so that will be interesting.

Of course none of all that would be possible if the big 24/7 job (that would be parenting) wasn't going so well. We've settled into the semblance of a routine, the house is slowing being put back together, and the kids have all stepped up their responsibility in doing homework and their minimal chores (mainly, delivering their laundry to their hampers each day.) It's astonishing, actually.

If anyone had said to me three years ago that I'd be doing all this now, I would've laughed and said he was crazy. It's hard to imagine life with all your kids in school when you've still got little ones at home all day, every day, and especially difficult when you're dealing with a cascade of increasingly serious medical problems. But now I'm well, and I've got time, so I'm finally getting to take advantage of it.

Life's not perfect, nor is it fair, but I wouldn't change it.

Torchwood 1.2: Day One

Finally, we have independent confirmation that human sexual relations are indeed the best thing in the universe -- at least, if we're to believe this episode of Torchwood.

Read the rest at The House Next Door.

Monday, September 17, 2007

further note

It has been about two weeks since I switched back to my old combination T4/T3 medication routine. I'm amazed at how much more energy I have, both physically and mentally, and how much improved my mood is.

I had thought my minor depression in August was just the usual end-of-vacation blues, lingering a bit longer than is typical. Now I'm guessing that my low T3 levels (as measured in my pre- and post-Thyrogen labs) were contributing as well.

I gave it a good shot, but now I'm calling that experiment a failure. It turns out I over-estimated how much I was spending on the drug anyway. Since I'm taking only the teeniest smidge (5 mcg) of Cytomel per day now, it's only running me around $50 for three months' supply. That's not so bad, especially considering the beneficial effects.

I'll note that regular exercise and getting to bed at a decent hour also have helped tremendously these past few weeks, in spite of all the disruptions in the house.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

quick, quick...

Subbed Friday in kindergarten, the kind of day that is a gift. It's not that the kids were perfect and everything went smoothly -- no, just that I was able to manage all the mishaps. Felt wonderful, and exhausted, by the end of the day. Is it so terrible that I have an absolute favorite teacher, and I love subbing for her, just because of the atmosphere she creates in her classroom? Every time I sub for her, I learn something new about teaching and about my own capabilities.

Saturday, whirl-wind day, trying to get my Torchwood review done amidst a bunch of other stuff. I think I wrote the damned thing over four times, trying to get it to a manageable size while retaining the points I wanted to make. Mostly, it was too much recap, and I need to remember that I don't need to tell the story. I do wish I could have those re-writing hours back, though.

Sunday started with cooking then segued to more re-writing, finally sent off the draft for approval, and then switched to moving furniture (finally) and cooking again, followed by more furniture moving, and culminating in folding four loads of laundry while watching episodes from season 3 of Deadwood. I don't regret not watching it when it was still being produced; I couldn't get past the profanity at the time, and watching it one episode per week would make it difficult to get as invested in the characters as I have become. It's brilliant, and surprising, and now that I think about it, I'm going to be very sad to see the remaining episodes and know that there won't be anymore.

Tomorrow, I can't work as I have an appointment, which is good because I can spend the rest of the day cobbling together a lesson plan for my R.E. (Religious Education) class - fourth, fifth, and sixth graders who will be Confirmed this spring. Classes begin tomorrow at 5PM, so I've got plenty of time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Tuesday, subbed in fifth grade, a bit of a rough day but better than the last time I was in there, as I was draconian with the table points, and that helped keep the kids in line. I like much better to give them out when they complete a task efficiently and quietly -- of course I do both, but the take-aways seem to have a much bigger impact.

Wednesday, subbed in kindergarten, and that was a good day right up until dismissal, when I was forcibly reminded of how young beginning-of-the-school-year kindergarteners are. Some get picked up by a parent, some wait for an older brother or sister, some go to aftercare... but as a class, they didn't have the presence to separate themselves into the two main groups (the pick-ups vs the stay-heres), so things were chaotic but we managed.

Today, Thursday, back to fifth grade, that same class, and a terrific morning followed by a rough afternoon. Must've been something in the lunch, because the after-lunch study hall period was a zoo, and everything after that was a struggle; fortunately, their last class of the day is P.E., so I didn't have to shepherd them all the way through dismissal.

Tomorrow, Friday: kindergarten, again. I'm glad I've already done K once to remind me of the extra time that the little ones need to do certain things, and to adjust my expectations of them -- September kindergarteners are a lot younger than May or June kindergarteners. So much growth and change happens in this year, it's amazing, and I have to remember that these kids aren't there yet.

I'm tired today but not wiped out -- I think I'm finally building up some stamina.

The painting is finished and looks gorgeous, but the house is still in near-complete disarray, since I've been working every day, and thus not available for furniture arranging. We'll spend the week-end getting the place to feel like home again.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Blogger experiments

I'm tinkering with the template so that long posts don't monopolize main page. It's mostly working now, but the "click to keep reading" bit is now showing up on every post. I'm sure there's something I can do about that, I just have to figure it out... later. I've ignored or pushed back a lot of mom-stuff lately in favor of writing, but my schedule today is full of non-negotiables.

Back later.

Later: Got it -- part of the problem is I'm still using my Classic Template even though this is New Blogger. The idea of ditching my template and starting all over with a new layout is too daunting to contemplate now. Here's the Blogger Help page that got me started on this process, and here's the Helpful Resources for New Bloggers page that told me how to get the "read more..." link to show up only where I want it to, otherwise known as "selective post summaries."

Sunday, September 09, 2007

2007's 3:10 to Yuma: where's my Western?

Tucson, AZ, c. 1885

(spoilers aplenty)

"Harsh" doesn't begin to describe the summers here. Even with ubiquitous air conditioning, the heat just beats you down. It starts up in April and doesn't quit until November, relentless and inexhaustible.

Click to read full post with comments

If Westerns are evocative of science fiction, it's because the climate here is so radically different from where most people live that it could just as well be another planet. These alien landscapes have witnessed such dramatic history that places, names, and events have entered the vernacular, even though few people know anything about them. But just ask anyone what happened in Tombstone, Arizona, and you'd hear, "The gunfight at the OK Corral." But who knows what really happened there? Does anyone care about the actual history, when the stripped-down narrative of the shootout is so compelling, even void of context?

All Westerns -- whether they're made in America, Italy, Japan, or Australia -- have a few key things in common. These include a punishing environment, a sense of isolation or separation from civilization, and a redemptive arc. Every Western subordinates its man-versus-nature theme to its man-versus-man themes, but it can never eliminate it; the actors can't escape the environment. There's always at least one bad guy, and there's always a guy or guys trying to make good (which is not the same thing as a good guy.) Newer post-modern Westerns (best example: Unforgiven) give us conflicted heroes, who have been or may still be bad guys; but the black hat/white hat dichotomy didn't always hold true in vintage Westerns, either.

Which brings us to Delmer Daves' 1957 3:10 to Yuma, a spare, tightly-scripted Western mostly notable for the stunt-casting of Glenn Ford against type as the amoral, sweet-talking, murderous Ben Wade. Van Heflin co-stars as struggling rancher Dan Evans, beat down by years of drought and the tough luck of having no water running through his land. In case you've missed all of the plot synopses floating around these days, the story is: Evans and his boys witness a stage coach robbery and murder by Wade's gang. A quirk of fate helps Evans capture Wade in Bisbee, a one-street town just north of the border, when he's careless about staying overlong in bed with the barmaid. Evans needs cash to buy access to the neighboring ranch's water, and so he volunteers to get Wade from Bisbee to Contention (about 37 miles) where he can be put on the train to Yuma for trial and sentencing.

There are holes in this plot big enough to drive a locomotive through, the biggest one being why Ben Wade would ever get out of Bisbee alive, given his rap sheet. The threat of retaliation by his gang is enough to put the townspeople in fear, though, and they figure the best way to save their own skins is to hustle Wade out of there, and make him someone else's problem.

The journey starts at Evans' ranch, continues on horseback through scrub country, and ends in the bridal suite of Contention's only hotel. Throughout, Wade is shown to be a quick-witted flatterer with no morals at all. He flirts with Evans' wife, needles the man himself, and sucks up to his kids. Later he tries to bribe Evans when he realizes that Evans won't be scared off. It's very clear that he considers Evans inferior in all respects, even though Evans is the only one who doesn't abandon the mission of putting Wade on the train.

The final scurry to the train is both awkward and tense, and nearly undoes the film. There were at least a dozen shots Evans should've made to take out Wade's men. It makes no sense at all that both men arrive at the train unharmed, and it makes even less sense when Wade jumps onto the train. The only thing that saves this from being a complete debacle is Evans' incredulity: "Why did you do it, Wade? Why did you jump on the train?" Wade explains he has been to Yuma before, and escaped before, so it's not a big deal. And then it rains, which means Evans didn't need to do any of this, because the rains finally came to end the drought, so he didn't really need that money after all.

That's the point where I want to throw something at the screen. Evans, as a character, was consistent, sympathetic, and honorable. Wade approximated a lovable rogue but was in reality evil; there is no way I bought that a man who had earlier killed one of his own gang during the stagecoach robbery would jump on the train, rather than tackle Evans and push him under it so he'd be ground to bits.

At the same time, I can fan-wank an explanation: by that point, it didn't cost Wade anything to get on that train, he knew his gang could spring him from Yuma anyway. I'm willing to do this because up until that point, everything held together very well. 1957's 3:10 to Yuma is the essence of a Western, with the pressures of the harsh climate underlying and informing all of the decisions the characters make. The isolation of the main characters, combined with the absence of any effective law-enforcement, and tensions between Evans and Wade are the heart of the movie. I admit that I wished that Evans had earned his success, rather than having Wade hand it to him, but the lesson here is that in a setting like this -- in a Western, that is -- you take redemption wherever you can find it, even if it is at the hands of a murderer.

Now fast-forward fifty years to James Mangold's tarted-up remake. When I first heard about this picture, I was psyched, because here was an opportunity, I thought, to correct the 1957 version's character-betraying ending. Unfortunately, this picture is such a mess that even a terrific performance by Christian Bale can't save it. It's not enough that Bale's Evans be struggling with drought-stricken cattle, as in the original. Here, Evans has to deal with dying cattle, and the imminent repossession of his ranch by a wealthier neighbor who not only orders Evans' barn burned down, but also dammed up the stream on his property that was formerly watering Evans' cattle. As in the original, Evans is a Civil War veteran from a sharp-shooting regiment that fought for the North; but here, he's not just a vet who is great with a gun, he's a vet who had his leg shot off by one of his platoon mates during a retreat. To complete this sorry portrait, Evans couldn't sell off his ranch even if he wanted to, because his kid has tuberculosis and needs to live in a dry climate.

At least this Evans still has a pretty wife, but he's also saddled with an obnoxious teenaged son who obviously thinks his father is world-class screw-up. While Heflin's Evans expressed his need to earn his sons' respect with few words, Bale's Evans never shuts up about it. "Don't you forget, son, that it was your father who walked Ben Wade to the train when everyone else gave up," is the kind of thing that quite obviously does not need to be said... and yet there was Bale, saying it. Nice performance, though.

What of Evans' counterpart, Ben Wade, played this time by the charismatic Russell Crowe? As re-written by Welles, Brandt, and Haas, he's still a smooth-talking sonuvabitch, and he's just as ruthless, and he has just as keen an eye for the pretty barmaid. (Interestingly, both films took pains to portray her as a barmaid and not a whore, although it's for certain -- in both films -- that sleeping with men for money was something that she did just as often as tend bar; no respectable woman of that era would've been bedded so easily.) But, just as with Evans, the writers saw fit to embroider Wade's character, making him a compulsive sketch artist with an irritating habit of spouting Bible quotes. (That alone, I'd think, would've been enough to get him killed in a real western saloon.) Not only that, he had a troubled past, having been abandoned by his mother (at a train station! with a Bible!) when just eight years old; but his love for his Mama still burns bright enough for him to use an offhand insult to her as excuse for murder.

So, we've "progressed" from Evans motivated by survival, and at a secondary level, the need for respect in 1957, to Evans-as-Job in 2007. To Mangold & co, it's not enough that it hasn't rained. They've taken the environment out of the equation.

As for the other essential elements, isolation is stripped away, as well, in 2007. These two guys are hardly ever alone, starting out as they do with a posse. The travelogue portion is spiced up with an ambush by Indians who were supposed to have been relocated and a trip through a railroad-laying camp, populated by Chinese who worked as little more than slaves. This West feels like you're never more than five minutes ride away from the next settlement -- although what you'll find there is most likely barbaric.

At least the absence of reliable law enforcement is maintained. I'd give the new guys credit for that, except that they take it too far when Wade's first officer Charlie Prince (Ben Foster, in a widely praised turn that struck me as too much bug-eyed lunatic) offers a $200 cash bribe to anyone in Contention who shoots one of Wade's guards, and apparently dozens of townspeople take him up on it. First of all, with Ben Wade in town under guard and his gang riding in to spring him, who in their right mind would still be out on the street? Secondly, these people have been screwed over by Wade and his gang time and again -- all of them knew at least one person murdered by Wade. Yes, $200 is a lot of money, but is it worth getting killed for? Wade's gang mowed down the sheriff and his deputies as they were attempting to flee -- what makes these townspeople believe they'll live to see the end of this day? In Westerns, people should have a keener sense of self-preservation.

Once we've waded through all this extraneous verbiage -- that's the worst of it, that all of these new details are delivered through various speeches or heated exchanges, it doesn't matter, it's all words -- we come down to a final scurry to the train that is just as awkward and tense as in the original -- except it gets worse, because both Evans and Wade betray their charcters here.

In the crucible of an extended gunfight, a lot is possible; there are no atheists in foxholes, etc. But the idea that Evans and Wade would find a connection that makes them friends, and leads Wade to help Evans when Evans gets shot, makes no sense whatsoever. Wade's a sociopath, and Evans knows that, but by that point Evans is overtly suicidal, and it's up to Wade to pull him through. Evans' "Dying may be the best thing I ever do" attitude is anachronistic at best; it's not as if life insurance was an option back then, and if he dies, then how will his family survive?

At this point we should expect the sucker punch that's coming: at what should be Evans' moment of triumph, where you're thinking he'll survive and everything will be OK even though he did take that bullet, the picture bottoms out. Prince strides up and pumps Evans full of lead (Wade shouts, "No!" too late), and then all laws of Space and Time are suspended as Wade, recovering his gun from Prince, proceeds to mow down his now-assembled gang (none of whom shoot back, oddly enough), with particularly nasty attention to Prince. And then he gets on the train and surrenders his weapon and sits down in the cell, The End.

Oh, wait: Evans' older boy witnesses all this and is somehow supposed to come out of this feeling like his father had earned some respect. If the kid had eyes he'd see that Wade inexplicably protected his father, and that Wade put himself on the train, which should make him think, if he had a brain, that his dad had cut some sort of deal with Wade.

We're supposed to believe that 36 hours with Dan Evans was enough to inspire Ben Wade to give up his life of crime, after all that we've seen him do, and all that we've heard about him? No, sorry. In the original, it cost Wade nothing to get on the train; he did it more or less as a joke. Here, Wade sacrifices everyone and everything except his own life to get on the train, even after Evans is dead. There is no possible way to explain this satisfactorily, and the folks who are cooing over the "transcendence" of this resolution are bought much too cheaply. No one earned this ending; you could just as easily explain it by saying that Wade is really a cyborg whose logic chip was spontaneously reprogrammed when he got winged by a bullet.

Perhaps I'm too cynical. 83% of critics are waxing rhapsodic over this picture, and all I can see is a soap opera, and not a very good one at that.

The scenery is gorgeous, and a lot of it sounds right, too, since big chunks of the original dialog have survived. The pacing is for the most part excellent, and the costumes, props, and sets show that no expense was spared. But the story has been so complicated and the characters so distorted that, as much as this seems like a Western, as much as it wants to be a Western, it's simply not a Western. What a waste. For a real Western, you'll have to stick with the small screen.

Torchwood 1.1: Everything Changes

Russell T. Davies’ new Doctor Who spinoff, Torchwood, starts out several steps ahead of the game. Viewers of Doctor Who already know, and presumably love, the main character, and have been hearing about the exploits of the Torchwood Institute since Queen Victoria founded it in the Who episode "Tooth and Claw". But countering that familiarity, you've got significant factors that could weigh the series down. Set in Wales, populated by a cast mostly unfamiliar to American audiences, and featuring some of the most impenetrable English accents ever, Torchwood might not be as amenable to American audiences as it has been to those in the UK.

Read the rest at The House Next Door. (Yes, this is what I've been working on.)

Big thanks to Ross for getting me into this!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

it's not like I've been doing nothing...

I've been doing lots. Moving furniture around to accomodate the painters, helping kids with homework, doing the circuit class at the Y, plus the usual shopping and cooking.

Saw 3:10 to Yuma at a matinée show on Friday and am still annoyed; stay tuned for more on that.

Since then, I've been working on something new that should be ready for publication tomorrow. The only thing I'll say right now: I love having an editor.

OK, one other thing: I'm more nervous and excited about this than I have been over anything in a very long time.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

awash (painting, day 3)

The house is feeling practically oceanic now.

The painters tackled the stairwell and upstairs hallway; the blue is quite nearly done.

Probably the biggest factor that convinced us to hire professionals for this job: the 20-plus-foot ceiling heights in the stairwell.

Those two little windows up there just add to the fun. The painter had a humongous ladder perched on the stairs for a good part of the day. Scary stuff.

I lack the patience to compose a better shot of the upstairs hallway. Sorry. This is just one corner of it. In addition to the stairs leading up, there are a total of 5 doors which open from this space, plus a large linen closet. The whole thing is maybe 10X8, so you can see why it's not the easiest thing to shoot.

It's shocking how much darker the blue is; it feels as if the stairwell light is off even when it's on. We'll adjust. I love how the blue changes throughout the day, and I love the cooling effect it gives. We spend so many months sweltering here, it's lovely to be able to escape into a home that evokes cool water.

Well, I'm assuming it will be, once we get everything all re-arranged again.

retail therapy

I don't need anything, so why did I go shopping?

Snippets of my reasoning, if you could call it that:
1) to escape paint fumes

2) to see if there was anything worth buying with the frequent shopper bonus money I'd "earned" -- can't let it expire!

3) I'm sick of all my clothes.

Now, isn't this a lovely dress?

It's a nice lightweight jersey, with a lovely drape, but considering that I've become a bit squishy in parts, it's best worn with these.

What else? This sweater in the gorgeous "Baltic" blue; a button-front A-line denim skirt, and a pair of pants, which practically paid for themselves since purchasing any pair gave an instant 20% discount to the entire purchase.

I'm pretty sure I'll wear it all, if it ever cools down sufficiently. Today's high was just shy of 100, which made a noticeable difference. It's too soon to expect those temps to linger, though. Today was an anomalous cloudy day. Temperatures will go back up for at least a month or so. But then I'll be able to wear all this new stuff very comfortably.

"feelin' blue" (painting, day 2)

I'm fine, I'm fine -- that's just the incredibly lame name foisted on this lovely shade of blue by the paint company.

We have blue, lots and lots of blue, with more to come.

It's looking much more gray here than it does in reality, although there is a bit of gray in it. It looks fantastic with the tile.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

painting, day 1

The paint fumes are really wretched.

I'm hoping tomorrow I won't feel quite as ill, since I'll be working at school most of the day. Today I was here from the time the paint cans opened... not such a great idea.

The only one who really had a good time today was Alice, who somehow managed to get into the paint and track bits of it here and there. Nothing that a wet paper towel wouldn't clean up, but more than enough to convince me that tomorrow the cats are getting put up in the bedroom until the paint is dry.

They painted all the ceilings today, and tomorrow they'll start on the blue.

We're leaving the kitchen for last, since all the furniture is currently residing in there. We had to move the bookcases and the curio cabinet, but since I didn't have to do it myself, it took a minute fraction of the time it took before. Now we have furniture oddly free-standing in the middle of drop-clothed rooms.

If you look closely, you can see the colors we're using.

Eventually, everything will get put back where it belongs, when we figure it out again.

here's something different

I discovered scribbit sometime last month while investigating the prevalence of women bloggers. Given that one of my primary topics here at OoS is parenting, you'd think I'd have been more keyed in to the existence of "momblogs"; I had no idea that there was such a huge community. Chalk this one up to failing, yet again, to recognize how niche-filled the blogosphere is.

If you've got an interest, chances are there's a blogging community talking about it.

Scribbit is a fun, diverse blog but one of the things that is driving its success is that Michelle, its owner/author, runs give-aways and contests, weekly and monthly. These are a great way to generate links and traffic, and they provide an opportunity to get exposure for smaller blogs.

This month's Write Away contest's topic is learning. I'd never been inspired to enter a contest before, but for some reason this topic resonated with me, and I knew exactly which post to enter: the person I want to be. So I did. Contest rules request a link back to the contest post (there's that link-generating operation in action), so here it is.

I'm not expecting anything here, but I'm dipping my toe in the waters of momblogging. I've been doing it for years now, outside of the community. Do I want to get into that? I don't know. One of the characteristics of this blog is that it is a jumble of all different kinds of things, personal and analytical, to the point where it sometimes seems schizophrenic even to me. I'm at the point where I don't know where I want this to go, so this little experiment may give me more information to consider in making any decisions.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

tactile memory

Walking barefoot across the family room today, I found myself suddenly trying out ballet moves -- just the simple ones, tendu, relevé . I liked the feeling of my foot sliding across the smooth cool wood.

I was never very good at ballet but I still remember quite a bit of what's supposed to be done, since I studied for several years and didn't give it up altogether until I graduated from college. I never "got it" back then; I didn't work hard enough at it. I was just a dabbler.

It occurred to me that I've had classes in studios that were smaller than my family room. Now I wish I could really dance, and take advantage of all that space.