Wednesday, January 31, 2007


i'm sick. i feel yucky. my head hurts, and i feel like i'm going to puke.

it's my grandma's 88th birthday. I love you grandma!

::::crawling into bed now:::::

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jibs and Jabs

I have a ton of little things to write about and not much of substance.

On thrift:

Big Lots. Love it. Bought a pair of really comfy jeans there yesterday, for $10. I'm also stoked, because they have tool after tool after tool for gardening, and on the CHEAP. So so exciting!

The Kroger down the street from me has a Pete's Brewer's Box on sale for like $6.99. Yes. 12 beers. Unadvertised. There are three kinds of the beer in the box: Pete's Wicked Ale, Strawberry Blonde, and finally Wanderlust Cream Ale.

On hair:
I last washed my hair on Sunday afternoon. Yesterday was hair looked just as good as it did the day before. Thanks to my new Pssst! brand dry shampoo. Of course it's hilarious. The directions say to lift sections of your hair up, spray, wait a few minutes "for it to dry", then FLUFF, and finally brush really hard. I'm on day 2 without a shampoo now, and it's not horrid so far, even! Psssst! rocks. CosmoGirl recommends it, so it has to be good, right?

On garden: I might be making raised beds after all; the city where I live sells compost by the cubic yard on the cheap. Transportation is another story, but they do have delivery. It's NOT cheap, but I'd not have to load or unload it. I have tentative plans for Pedro and Mom to come up in early April to make the boxes and get the compost in them. And then Jamie is coming up after the last frost (mid- t0 late-April) to help with the planting. Whee!!

On birding:
Yesterday a.m. it was 20º F here. I was out birding, with the coat Pinky gave me, the new long johns I bought up in MI, and many other layers. I didn't have any gloves, as they had been in my old coat's pockets, but a quick stop into the drugstore and $1.06 lighter and I had some chenille tiny gloves. They don't work so well for birding. I'd like to get some of those newfangled fingerless gloves. Brrrrrr!!

I saw a bunch of birds outside the backyard regulars I am used to. The most exciting was a Sharp-shinned Hawk. They're notoriously difficult to tell apart from the larger Cooper's Hawk, but I was lucky to see it close up, unobstructed, in great light and for a long time. To top it off, the bird was perched on a chain link fence, so I took note of how many links the tip of its tail was, relative to the perch, measured it, and extrapolated based on the proportion of tail in the picture to get its likely full size. Which was the size of a "Sharpie" as the lingo goes. Plus I had seen one in mid-November not too far from the same place. Might have been the same one.

Also saw: Hermit Thrush, Golden and Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, Pine Warbler, Brown Creeper, White-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Flicker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Goldfinch. Ever ubiquitous this time of year and therefore not very exiting were the tons and tons of Dark-eyed Juncos, plus Titmice, Carolina Chickadees, Cardinals, Bluebirds....etc.

On jobs:
Have a second interview for the good job. (!!!!!!!! WHEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!)

On friends:
Imperatrix makes a mean "Happy Mix"!! Tomorrow I'll post the eclectic playlist. But for now? THANK YOU SO VERY VERY VERY MUCH!!

On other crap:
My mantra: all will pass, even the stuff that seems scary, freaky, and really stressful.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Life goes on...slip sliding on by

Hey, thanks for the calls and emails yesterday...things look a lot better today. I spent some time brainstorming what to do, and while the short term will continue to suck big monkey balls, the end results will be worth the discomfort. Fiber Optic Jesus will help and combat evil clown-Jesus, who appears at left.

So back to hair: I don't think that the baking soda on the dry hair treatment worked. I woke up this a.m. and it was as greasy as ever. But that's fine. It just gives me an opportunity to go to the next idea: absorbant powder in the form of cornstarch.

I parted my hair down the middle and shook a little baby powder onto the roots. I then parted the hair a couple inches to the left and repeated. Ditto the right side. I then took a brush (of the "space-between-the-bristles" sort) and brushed vigorously, so as to distribute the powder evenly around the head. I followed up with another brushing, this time using a bristle brush. Again, I'm trying to make sure the powder is covering any and all grease producing areas.

The results so far are that I have greasy roots that look like they have dandruff. No fears. For the sake of science I will continue my day with this look. I'm wondering if the powder will absorb the grease and then fall out as the day wears on.

I wondered whether my gal Ols's suggestion about a tinted hair powder designed specifically for this purpose would work better. But I'm not about to buy one.

Here's a fascinating* review of the Bumble and Bumble hair powder, as compared to plain cornstarch, such as I'm using today.

*to people who are currently obsessed with their greasy hair

Here's another fun read, this time about Pssst! spray shampoo. At about $5.99, I think I'll be going to look for it.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I suppose it COULD get worse...

Yeah, so here's the scoop. I have a situation on my hands that needs resolving, and it has escalated in the last 24 hours. It's so bad that I can't even talk about it on the blog. I'm not being paranoid, and I'm only being slightly dramatic. It's not medical. I'm reasonably safe. It's just going to be messy. Whew.

Note that I've disabled comments on this post. I don't want discussion on the record about what the deal might be. Email me or give me a call if you want, though.

Oh, I can't let a posting go by without talking about hair. The hair option of the day is a wash/condition only the very ends/airdry combination to begin. Then, 5 hours after the shower, I've put in a sprinkling of baking soda, per one reader's suggestion. We'll see how that works. So far my hair was shiny in a good way, pre-baking soda, and is not much different after.

I think I'll end up like the clown up there! Anyone up for driving me to Dorothea Dix if I lose it before this blows over*? I'd like to avoid an ambulance charge, THANKS!!

I'm going out to see Volver shortly with Michele, so I'll be out for the evening.

*Please don't misunderstand. I am in no way even close to desiring or needing acute mental health care. In fact, I'm very, very strong right now, even though I'm also in a crap place, if that makes sense. I suppose I wrote that because the situation is very, very shitty, so I made a bad joke about a serious topic. Nothing like an offensive joke that hits slightly too close to home, is there?

Friday, January 26, 2007

The American Tribal Love/Rock Musical

One of y'all just emailed me, wanting an update on the grease situation. I've been documenting the hair status at different times throughout the day, for the past few.

If only I had some more scientific way to measure than observation. Oh well. Here goes.

Tuesday evening I noticed that my hair was worse than usual. I had showered at about 10 a.m., washed and conditioned my hair. After arriving chez Michele to do a little custom riding-boot measurement, I noticed my hair was already greeeeeeezzzzzzy at the roots. Fewer than 8 hours after washing and conditioning it, my hair looked like it used to on Day 2 with no shampoo.

Wednesday morning, by which time the grease was horrible, natch, I decided I'd skip conditioner altogether. Shampoo, rinse, and let's see. First, it was a BITCH to comb out. Snarly snarlson brought me right back to the days of No More Tangles. My mom suffered through years of rats nests at the nape of my neck, smoothly covered with a silky curtain of the hair I had been able to brush through. I wonder if they had conditioner in the 70s.

Wait. They didn't. It was Creme Rinse. THIS explains creme rinse's fall from glory, somewhat. Now it seems to be relegated to animal grooming products.

Whoa, that was an aside.

Back on track. My hair was sufficiently non-greasy during the day on Wednesday, but towards the evening it was showing signs of wear and tear. By Thursday morning it was, predictably, greasy.

Thursday is when I decided to go for broke with the Arm and Hammer solution. I scooped up a nice chunk of baking soda and mixed it with my shampoo. I washed my hair first thing, so that I could make sure it would be as rinsed as humanly possible before the hot water ran out. The washing technique was to concentrate on the roots, merely letting the cleansing power of the shampoo/baking soda synergy kiss the shaft. (Yikes. Porn?)

When I did eventually emerge, my hair was absolutely straw. It looked like uncooked ramen noodles, only tanglier. I had to painstakingly divide my hair into sections and gently, gently, gently work a comb through. No lie, it took 10 minutes to fully comb out my hair. As it dried, the hair took on a fuzzy texture first, probably from the lack of any emollient at all.

This morning it was greasy.

p.s. unrelated to the job, which I haven't heard about yet, my last few days have been REALLY crappy. Boy issues, roommate issues, garden issues, self-esteem issues, medical issues, money issues...lots of stuff is piling on, and I feel SHITTY. Lots of crying the last few days. I fucking hate it.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Not just a miniseries or Canadian clothing brand

There's been both progress and frustration on the garden front, kiddos. As I've mentioned, I've been trying to build up a small stock of basic garden tools. As a way to try to meet that goal without breaking the bank, I'm using a couple of services I've known about for some time, but have not played around with too much before. First, I signed up for Freecycle, both the group for my county and the one for the county I used to live in. (There's a whole post about my experiences so far with Freecycle...I'll refrain from going into the interesting details for now). And, since my time is somewhat open, I also cruise Craigslist. Oh wait, not that kind of cruise. Nope. I look at the classifieds, concentrating on the Free category, but delving into Tools and Household as well.

Craigslist has not panned out, but I squealed with joy (on the inside) when an email came through from Freecycle offering "misc. gardening stuff". Tools were what I was after, but I was not being picky. I walked out with a garden rake, a flat bladed shovel, and a whole slew of other crap. Pots galore, lots of weed killer (which I have no idea how to use, cause wouldn't it poison your food through the soil?), insecticidal soap, sprayer bottles, gardening gloves, and a couple of tools that don't have handles. I think I can get handles though.

So that done, I set about yesterday to do a slew of work. I felt buoyed by the knowledge that Freecycle had come through at least a little bit. Here's where the bulk of the progress and also frustration comes in.

I dug up a little bit more of the bed I've been working on, and raked over it to level the ground. All good so far, except that I know I need to prep the soil with some compost. I'm trying not to buy anything I don't absolutely have to, so I went over to the compost bin to see how things were cooking along. The only compost that's actually ready is at the very bottom of the bin, which is not readily accessible. So I decided that the best course of action would be to take the bin apart and flip the pile. That helps things break down faster anyway, and I'm all about quick results. I'll be flipping more often now, because roots had invaded from the ground.

I felt like an archaeologist. The pile from inside the bin was layered, and my kitchen scrap additions were not so decomposed. I relived the meals of the past few months, and felt new guilt at the food that had gone dodgy before I remembered to eat it. Among the remnants: two entirely intact additions in the form of an apple and a potato. I had added those whole before it occurred to me that I'd speed the process along if I'd just go ahead and cut the things up. Stomping on the apple and potato and tossing them back into the bin was really fun. I might have even said "Hi-YAH!" Not that I'd admit to that, of course.

The really fun part though is that at the very bottom of the pile I got to see what the former tenants contributed to the pile. As I scooped up this layer, which was the only layer that actually seemed to be compost, I came across all sorts of fun things. They ate a lot of brown eggs; the shells were not entirely decomposed, but you can tell that they had leached some of their goodness into the soil from how fragile they now are. Peach pits, avocado pits, a corncob, a spoon, a shoelace and some plastic containers were the other survivors. The not-yet-broken-down-but-they-will-eventually pieces got tossed back into the bin. The others are lying beside the shed.

Wow. That's really a lot of talk about compost. Nobody ever said I was entertaining.

More progress: I have begun seedlings: peas and sorrel. They're cooking inside on the kitchen table, in the sunniest part of the house I could find.

Pretty good, hm? Well, don't worry there's always a balance, you know?

The bad news is that I really don't think the garden plot I've been basing THIS WHOLE GARDEN ON is even usable. I pushed aside the leaves I'd been using to mulch the plot with over the winter, yay new rake!! I figured I could go ahead and turn the soil now, so that when the peas had sprouted I'd be ready to just shove them into spots and hope for the best. Nuh-uh. There's only about 2 inches of topsoil before you hit a dense root system for the invasive yet gorgeous Mimosa tree that sits nearby. And on top of that problem, it seems that the proximity of the plot to the driveway means that there's a goodly amount of gravel thrown in. Roots, y'all, roots. And gravel. I moved on.

I think I'll be making another bed. If I can't use that plot, I'm going to be hard-pressed to dig up enough spaces for me to be able to plant everything I had intended to. I'm pouting. Literally, which in this case does not mean figuratively, like most people mean when they say 'literally' (It's literally raining cats and dogs). No, my bottom lip is poking out and the brow, it's furrowed. I can't furrow 2 inches of soil.

On hair:

Wow, I never expected such a throw-away complaint could yield such comment results! Woo hoo!

I went with no conditioner at all yesterday. Extremely hard to comb out. Despite great care, I lost a lot more into my brush than I was comfortable with. To top it off, it's still greasy this morning at my hairline. (Roots)

Luckily my friends have my back. I got an email from Michele first thing this morning:

I got a haircut last night and talked to my hairdresser about your greasy hair. She said it could be a number of things, from a hormone change to the change in water (which could take a while to show up.) She suggested trying a clarifying shampoo or mixing 1tsp of baking soda into your shampoo and washing your hair with that. She said that should make sure it's clean- it may not be rinsing out as well as you think.

So I'll be taking the Arm and Hammer into the bath today. Report to come. Thanks for being my cat sleuths.

p.s. All's I wanted to do was to make a blog quote. Blogger threw in the damn big quote marks. Sillies.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My not-so-interesting life

Hi. Did I mention I got stopped by the police for the second time in under a year? When I'd NEVER been stopped before that? Yeah, I did. And? It was for the same thing; my little black Honda's registration expired on 12-15-06, yet I had not received a renewal form in the mail.

Apparently in New Town of Residence, an expired registration "usually means the car is stolen," according to the nice cop who stopped me. I was so nervous, for some reason. She let me off with a warning, since the "registration actually came back to [me]". She was so young and petite. She wore a wedding ring. If I were so tiny, I'd be scared of stopping people after dark. But I guess that's why I'm not a cop. Or tiny for that matter.

I felt like I had messed up, and I really couldn't figure out what had gone wrong. I went to renew the registration the following day, and the DMV told me that I had neglected to pay the taxes on the car. Hm. Not true, I thought. WAAAAIIIIIT. That's right. I had written the check for the wrong amount; $2.72 less than I owed. Gah.

Anyway, after one trip to County Seat and then back to DMV, $35.72 poorer, I am now legal again. But I have another problem. My hair.

It's begun to get greasy not 24 hours after washing. I know lots of people who go 2, 3, 4 days with one hair wash. I have dry skin! This shouldn't happen. WAAH!

Oh my...if this is the worst of my worries, I've got it pretty good. (Of course it's not. It's just easier to bitch about than the deeper worries!) I still have it a lot better than other people.

SUCK it up, STEW!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Aigües termals

Over yonder at the Archer Pelican, Phil set up a question about where his readers would like to live. I got to thinking, and gol durn it, I think I have my answer! Let me tell you about my new favorite place to live. I promise y'all will each want to come visit. I'll make sure I have a barn or something to hook you up with.

Caldes de Montbui (or for more info: in Spanish)

Location, location, location

Caldes de Montbui is just 35 kilometers north about of Barcelona, my favorite city ever, which in itself is a huge selling point. You have mountains to the north and are within spitting distance of seaside resort areas. Caldes de Montbui also takes advantage of the fact that it sits on top of hot springs. VERY HOT. 74˚ C, in fact. Right out of the ground. Or at least out of the main square's Font del Lleó, first constructed in 1581.

The draw

Not surprisingly, the town* was established because of the thermae. The HOT, mineral-laden waters were said to cure arthritis, fractures (!) and other aches and pains. The Romans built baths at least as early as the first century A.D. and remains are peppered throughout the city.

The waters get you there. The balnearios keep you. Modern or Modernist, you're still going to get top notch treatments and pampering. And at REALLY reasonable prices, to boot. I've been to Caldes just once, in 2004*. If I'd have known about the town when I lived in Barcelona, I'd have been broke....but relaaaaaxed.

I think I could build a garden there. Shall I? Wonder what the birds are like... OOOH! I bet you have to have a water COOLER rather than a water heater!


*Only 15k people live there, by the way..1% of the Barcelona city size, if I did that math right

**I had a mud-wrap and got some water treatments with my two girlfriends Marta and Ilse, who accompanied me. I went first. Neither of the other two girls could bear the idea that a sub-20 year old boy would be rubbing mud all over their body, breasts included (!!). I figured I could deal with it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Boy howdy

I didn't go out last night at all. I missed both Crazy John's party and the benefit. Earlier, I was really excited, but then when the time came I just lay on the bed with the laptop on my stomach reading Fark. (Now, THAT is bad!) I also ate my weight in spinach pie and some less-healthy foodstuffs as well.

That "Maybe I just don't need to leave the house" thing is rearing its head again, I'm afraid. So in just a second I'm going to go birding for the first time in a month. It's NOT COOL to leave aside the things you like! So yeah. I hope I see something new out there this morning.

I think I just figured out in part why I didn't go out last night. I was afraid. I was afraid I'd run into people at the benefit that would ask me what I'm doing and I'd have to respond that "Oh, no, I'm not working. What a blast!" John's would have been different. Less pressure and all. But still, the thought of facing so many people I don't know overruled the guilt I knew I'd feel if I didn't go. But at least I don't think I was missed.

Related: I have a trick to help when I feel self-conscious about x issue in my life (body, intelligence, job, awkwardness, not going to a party and feeling guilty about it). I try to remember that despite MY concentration on everything about myself that could be found lacking, other people aren't so fascinated in me and probably aren't thinking twice about the things that worry me. And then I say, you know what? They're probably so caught up in their own shit that they aren't even considering how *I* may have messed up. Cut yourself a break, Stew!

Unfortunately that technique was not enough to get me out last night.

Move along...nothing to see here. Just some inconsequential dreck about my failings. And a simmering concern that not only is this entry stupidly uninteresting to other people who may read here, but also that it will prompt people to be all "It's OK! You're a winner! People value you!" which will make my teeth fall out.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Three FOUR things

1. Whee! I THINK...

2. I want to take a photo of my hot mailman. He knocked at the door today. I was not very presentable.

3. Why am I non-stop licking and biting skin off of my lower lip today? I hate that shit. Any cures? (Am currently trying lipstick, on the premise that I won't lick my lips if I want to keep the lipstick on)

4. Evil Woman, by ELO, is an example of a song that has cowbell. Considering I only learned the origin of the expression "needs more cowbell" in the last couple of months, it doesn't surprise me that I hadn't paid attention to cowbell before. So in addition to Don't Fear the Reaper, can you think of other songs that feature cowbell? Sounds like it could be a good mixtape.

Here you go:

Friday, January 19, 2007

Arguing sucks.

The year before my sister was born, the US supreme court ruled that a Connecticut law prohibiting contraception was unconstitutional, because it violated the "right to marital privacy". A few years later, shortly after I was born, the court then struck down a Massachusetts law that made it illegal for unmarried couples to possess contraception. That's right. Contraception was illegal in parts of the United States within my lifetime. That's hard for me to fathom.

I think it's at least in part because I grew up in a pro-choice household with a gynecologist parent, but I've always been very interested in reproductive rights. When I became sexually active, I knew that if I got pregnant unintentionally, I would have to find some way to talk to my mom about it and get an abortion. There's no way I could have been ready for a child. Geeze, I don't think I'm ready for a child even now!

I was almost two years old when the supreme court decided Roe v. Wade, on January 22, 1973. My mom's contemporaries didn't have the rights I have. When they faced an unplanned pregnancy, they had only a few possibilities. If they were well-to-do and plugged in to the underground feminist movement (yeah, right!), they could see if Jane could help. Or they could try to get married, not that that actually solves the problem of not wanting to procreate. They could choose to risk certain death by unsafe abortion. Or they could try to avoid the whole unintended pregnancy issue in the first place by practicing sexual abstinence. Awesome. No Sex. EVER.

Tomorrow night there is a concert in the college town where I used to live, timed to coincide with the 34th anniversary of Roe. All proceeds will go to the advocacy arm of the reproductive rights organization I used to work for.

I'm planning on stopping by after hanging out at Crazy John's end-of-blog party. Anyone want to come with?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Head not itchy anymore

Well, I figured out the unexplained weight loss. It wasn't ever there in the first place!!! The scale was screwed up. This morning I weighed in RIGHT where I expected to yesterday, and even with multiple tries I still weighed 11-ish lbs more today.

Luckily my suit still fit.

Oh yes! I had an interview, this morning, didn't I? It went well, thanks. I got the sense that the woman who interviewed me believed I was a good fit. Maybe almost more importantly, I felt like she and I got along well and would work well together.

I didn't officially get asked back for a second interview on the spot, but I'd be surprised if I wasn't. Cautiously optimistic and crossing fingers...she said it'd be a couple of weeks before the next round.

Monday, January 15, 2007

My brow is knit. Or is it knitted? Eh.

Insecurity sucks.

Scratching my head

Unexpected, unintentional weight loss of 11 pounds since about a month ago? I'm not going to bitch about it. Not a bad way to start the morning, is it?

I got up on time, expecting a friend to come for breakfast. A home-made, BIG, AMERICAN breakfast, inspired by a post on a website I read about this product. I'm guessing he was blown over by the very idea of a breakfast corn dog, because he graciously took a rain check. (I was just going to make pancakes and boca sausage, kids. And we might have, had the breakfast even occurred, pretended to make the pancake-wrapped sausage on a stick delicacies. But now we'll never, ever know. Just cause he didn't "feel well" and "couldn't sleep".)

So I tackled the garden instead. I think I said I'm making new beds, right? Well, it's hard motherfucking work! Chop through the sod, put the shovel through the roots, lift up, toss over into a pile. I managed to clear about a 3'x5' space today; that's 1/4 of the total bed I'm hoping to finish in the next couple of days. It took me about 45 minutes of grunting. Luckily I had rigged the music to blare Xanadu-era ELO (thanks Pinky!). Now the bed is resting, covered with a tarp held in place by bricks. I'm hoping that will discourage any of the grass and weeds from coming back before it's time to plant.

Compost confounds me a bit. I broke up the sod the best I could, given the highly annoying brambles that had made their way into the mix and their tendency to attack me. The sod (and dirt that came up with it) filled my compost bin up almost all the way. I layered it with brown material (leaves). I wonder what to do with it next? Wait, I guess. *stomp!* I want it NOW.

Thanks to a conversation with my local technical support, Maria, I have narrowed down the "must-have" tools to just three: a shovel (of the pointed, long-handled variety, no D-ring at the end. Wait....apparently it's not a shovel but a spade), a heavy-duty spade fork, a hoe and a soil rake.

I have a good job interview tomorrow. Wish me luck. :-)

(Don't forget to comment if you don't normally or haven't before! This means you, Englewood, Colorado! And YOU, Amf Ohare, Illinois! And you, Shanghai! And you, Fengtsun, T'ai-wan!)

(This delurking thing isn't working. I think the site meter may have been a bad idea. I'm obsessing.)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

2 random 2 B put off 4 2 long

This just in. If I marry I won't have a traditional wedding or reception. I want the county court and two witnesses. And then a party, but maybe not right away. I'm getting ahead of myself, since I am not seeing anyone. But I know many a woman who dreamed about her wedding from age 12 on. I am not that woman. Let it be known.

In other news, I really like to drink Milk. Skim is the default; 2% is for when I'm feeling decadent. Whole milk, aka Vitamin D milk, aka homo milk*, if drunk, must be ICY cold or it's intolerable.

That's all.

(Delurk! Please make a comment if you don't usually. You just have to say HI. I mean it. BRENNA, IS THAT YOU???)

*Am I hallucinating or did people call the homogenized, red-capped, vitamin D-fortified, whole milk by all these names when I was young?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Victory (garden) is MINE!!

Y'all? I had a whole mind dump of dreams I had during the 13 hours I slept last night that I was going to post.

Dave Neuhaus explained to me tenderly just why he hadn't come to my last dream/event; He was in the CIA. My former childhood dentist decided to shoot me and a friend point blank into the stomach while we all lay on a white eyelet-covered bed. Luckily he missed me, but my friend was not so lucky, so she had to go to our test with a gunshot wound. I was merely woozy.

But instead of going into even further detail about the dreams (I remembered crazy-specific snippets), I really would rather talk about my new baby: Project Garden.

OMG there's a lot to do! And I don't even really know where to begin. When in doubt, begin with the basics; stock up on gardening necessities.

Taking stock of what I have:

• a broken shovel.
• a rake
• a cheap trowel
• a compost bin that has compost in the bottom of it (yay!)
• two blue tarps
• bricks (to be gathered from around the perimeter of the garden site, which seems to have been the foundation for an out-building in its past)
• garden hose and sprayer thing
• soaker hose, missing an end cap and which doesn't fit onto a spigot
• hand pruner
• 3-4 heavy duty garden stakes
• unknown quantity of non-heavy duty stakes
• hedge clippers
• non-motorized lawn mower
• ingenuity
• time
• thrift
• the internets
• access to seasoned gardeners for consulting services
• a garden plot that may or may not be sunny enough. (Damn you pretty, but non-native, invasive Mimosa Trees and your "filtered sun"!)

OH SHIT! May or may NOT be sunny enough!!

What I need, at minimum, I think:
• Sun
• at least one shovel that works, preferably two: pointy and flat edged. Long enough.
• a cultivator (like the Garden Claw, but dude, I don't need marketing.)
• a ho(e)
• spading fork
• mini weed chopper thing
• gardening gloves
• anti-bunny/small animal fencing (anti-deer? I don't know, because I am pretty urban here)
• a climbing system for beans
• tomato cages
• sprinkler or at least an end cap for the soaker hose

• a multi-hose adapter for my one accessible outdoor spigot
• a programmable hose timer (My stepdad Pedro always gets the "hose man" title for his extreme watering systems)
• mulch
• manure
• more canning jars
• gardening clogs
• aerating fork

Wellspring Caramel Icing
• Deep freezer for all my bounty
• house with sunny acreage and established beds of raspberries, asparagus, blueberries and blackberries. And fruit trees, especially sour cherries, which are not only my favorite fruit, but also the hardest access here.
• hot, nice man who reciprocates my love to garden with
• a job that pays enough to get the first two things on this list, while allowing enough time and inherent enjoyment to actually be able to garden
• the luck/opportunity/whatever to meet, entrance and keep the third

To deal with the possible lack of sun problem, I'm considering ripping out some sod in long strips. One spot by the backyard fence might be ideal. It's sunny, and the chain link fence could be used to trellis beans or cukes or squash or even tomatoes. Alongside the house there's another area I could go ahead and make into another long, sunny bed.

I'm so excited about this project. I hope I don't have a total burnout from it!

Don't forget to delurk, and if you have any feedback to give me on my plans, please let me know.

xxoo Stew

p.s. OMG I just started digging out a new bed. Hard work! Sweating! CLAY soil I'll have to prep somehow with mulch or sand or something...

Friday, January 12, 2007


Hi. I have a sitemeter now. That means I can kind of tell who comes here. I don't know NAMES or anything, but I can see if someone from Devon comes by, for example.

I know I have readers in certain cities. But I also discovered, disturbingly, that there are people who read this regularly and who live in cities I have never heard of. EVER.

I can think of three silent readers in particular. One is in the midwest, one in the northeast, and one in the rockies.

Apparently this week is Delurking Week. (I know it's a tired schtick, but humor me. I want to see who all I can meet here.)

From now until next Friday, please comment! Even if it's just to say HI!

Here's your prize.
I didn't know the internets could do that! Makes my 1982 Stew happy.

p.s. Thanks Pinky, for giving me a new coat to use birding. Poor, poor lavender and white Columbia snow jacket. HI CUTE NEW Black/royal reversible Land's End down jacket!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Student as Ni**er

(N.B. See comments for an explanation of the inflammatory post title)

I'm a Kick Ass Shopper, finding what I want/need for ridiculously low prices. I also have a realllllly hard time spending money. Even when I have the cash to spare, I tend not to buy something I like if it's not 100% neccessary or highly desired. If I need it and it's $5 more than I want to spend? Not buying it.

I'm similarly ruthless when it comes to culling STUFF from my house. I feel no compunction to hold onto things unless they are used often, have intrinsic monetary value, provide extreme pleasure*, or have personal sentimental value. Anything else I'll periodically toss**.

Of course this comes back to bite me in the ass sometimes, like when I sell a bunch of clothes at consignment, only to gain the weight back within a year and have to buy all new ones. Ahem. Not that that's ever happened or anything.

I fell out of that pattern yesterday. I bought something entirely frivolous, at a time when I really don't need to be doing that. I had to really struggle to overcome my gut feeling of putting it back on the shelf, because a strong part of me NEEDED this t-shirt.

Rationalization helped a bit. I had just scored a very well-fitting pair of cords and a button down shirt that matched for $3.06. Total.

Really, could YOU turn this down for another $3.19?



Somehow I don't think it's this Jerry Farber, though I bet he'd approve.

p.s. Nice title! It has quite a ZING to it. Makes me want to read the essay, which I had never heard of before today.

*Fiber Optic Jesus fits this definition
**This means Donate To Local Thrift Store or Elsewise Discard of Without Being Irresponsible, Most of the Time.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What a sham

Not to sound TOO angsty* today or anything, but in addition to being frustrated with losing my jacket, I have failed YET AGAIN to find a freaking bedskirt.

It's not that hard. Really. I want it to fit these characteristics:
• Tailored, not frilly
• Off white or white. Maybe even floor-colored
• NOT patterned. Texture might be OK.
• Queen-sized
• Not a budget buster
• Sold separately

There is no such combination in stores. Even at a budget busting price I can't find what I am looking for.

I'm sick of looking at the boxsprings.

*Can one really be angsty about fabrics?

RIP Parka

Woe is me. Somehow in the last week I lost my new coat. Did I leave it with any of y'all? Do you remember seeing it? It was a pinky/purple and white, Columbia brand, hooded, short, ski-jacket. I was going to use it for winter birding and now I have nothing warm. I called everywhere I can think of where I might have worn it, but nobody knows...

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Don't ever be the first to give a number

Potential Employer: Thank you for your interest in our position. Can you share with me your salary requirements?

Stew: Thank you for responding so quickly! I truly am thrilled at the
prospect of speaking to you more at length about the position.

My salary requirements are flexible; I consider compensation to be a
total package of salary plus benefits, both tangible and intangible.
I trust that Teen Health Center will offer a living wage. That said, my last
position paid $XY,000/year.

PE: Our upper range for compensation for this position would be somewhere in the vicinity of $(X-1)(Y+5),000 but we do offer full benefits, a flexible schedule, and a rewarding work environment! If this interests you and the salary is acceptable, I'd be pleased to discuss our situation further.


It's good to feel wanted. I applied for three, count them THREE excellent long-term career-type possibilities today. I'm glad I'm a shoe-in for this one, cause it made me feel good. My cover letter was hilariously confident, without going too far over the top. "I'm certain that I'd be a perfect match blahdiddy blah blah."

There's not much better than this in the world.

I'm at my gal Emily's house, applying for jobs. On a cuteoverload break, I saw this. We both had some problems keeping from cooing. I know people mock the site for its obnoxio-talk, but I am still SO a proponent of cuteness as a coping mechanism.

Seriously messed up

I have a friend who lives in an African country. Since I switched to this blogging platform he's been unable to see my blog. While trying to get to the bottom of the problem I sent him a bunch of links to some of my other friends' blogs located here.

The government where he lives has blocked all blogspot blogs. Jeeze that's messed up. I bitch a lot about our government, but at least I can blog.

Monday, January 8, 2007

And a Cedar Waxwing in the Maple tree!

swish your bushy tailThis weekend was just fabulous. The weather was freakishly warm, and I spent Saturday afternoon in the company of Jerrypants and Marianne and her Sprog. We started out on the deck, where I tried mightily to not get distracted by birds, and failed. I even put my back to the yard so I couldn't look, but Jerry spied the Cedar Waxwing* of this post's title. And then all bets were off. The binoculars were slung around the neck and didn't come down much from the eyes.

Until the next-door-neighbor's contracted pressure washer came by and told us he was going to be spraying the house with bleach, and so if we had allergies or didn't want our things to be bleached, that we might want to modify our behavior. Oh, sorry man. I didn't mean to want to sit on my back deck and enjoy the crazy warm January weather with some brie and crackers without getting a dousing with bleach! You're totally right. It's MY bad that you want to taint the air and my car with your chemicals. ON A WEEKEND. I'm so sorry I didn't have some kind of plan to contain your business's toxic waste.

(I'm such a hypocrite. I didn't give a shit when the realty company pressure-washed my house, and bleach is excellent at getting rid of yucky mold, which is also toxic. It's just that this time they were getting in the way of my fun time! Also, the guy's attitude was annoying: "I'm going to be spraying chemicals while you're outside, so you need to do something about that.")

Wow. That was a rant. Whoops.

The bleach bomb spurred us to take a walk, though, and the crazy good weather combined with good friends brought out my inner zany. I let loose with another camp song, complete with motions. I swished my bushy tail all over Old West Durham.

(No, that's not me in the photo. No, I couldn't find a better one. Yes, you can click on the photo to see it in its larger, yet still grainy, glory.)

*New favorite word? Frugiverous! I also can't let pass this opportunity to mention that my friend Stephanie, who for now is Charlie's roommate, witnessed a flock hundreds and hundreds of these swoop down on their backyard fruit trees this weekend. No fair! I get the same but with Grackles. I'd much rather live in fear of a bird that looks like Robin.

Friday, January 5, 2007


Epiphanies, a-ha moments, lapses into brilliance...don't usually hit me often. But when they do? WHEN THEY DO!!!! I get knocked over onto my ass or into a bathtub or off the bed with their force.

Last night I almost got in a car crash. After taking the rent checks over to the realty company, I stopped in at a local chain store to do some shopping. Browsing, really. As I walked in, I noticed they had a help wanted sign.

Hmmmmmmmmmm. I almost hadn't gone in to the store. I pass by it all the time. Every month, in fact. It's a highly specialized boutique, and so you really have to have a specific reason to go inside. Mine was research. (Ahem.)

The crash that didn't happen came as I was leaving the store. I got distracted by thinking about the encounter I had just had with the young woman working at the cash register. I had inquired about the scheduling of the position, about the wage, and had requested an application. For the first time in a long time I got excited about a potential job. It's also a really tough left turn. And I didn't crash, which bodes well.

Y'all? I miss the field.*

And there's a LARGE corporation nearby that has some marketing positions open. I've been advised by those who have worked there before to make sure to go with a "suits" position instead of a "proles" job such as working the catalog order phone lines.

I like feeling excited again about working.

*My job before last was running a teen-pregnancy prevention program. The work was awesome. The pay and lack of job security was abysmal.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Square of six

Coming up soon I will be:

• The number of passengers who died on the Hindenburg.
• A perfect score on the ACT.
• The degree of the angles on each tip of a five-pointed star.
• A mathematical puzzle.
• The atomic number of Krypton.
• The length of the Strait of Gibraltar, in miles.
• The name of an extremely unknown band.

Uy uy uy!

A few years ago I decided that I was sick of sitting back and hoping people would remember me on my birthday. I don't really know why it's so important to me. After all, in theory I'm a grownup now.


So as a new tradition, I invite y'all to my house (email for directions) on February 3rd, 2007. We can ring in the actual birthday at midnight.

Oh, that'll also make six months. Which means today is five months. Whee!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Does. Not. Compute.

In response to an online job application I filled out today.

Thank you for your interest in a position with National Natural Foods Grocery Store Chain. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer you further consideration at this time, as the information you have provided does not meet our minimum requirements.


The only information it asked was my address and how many jobs I'd had in the last 3 years. Two is too many, apparently! I can't remember if they asked my level of education, actually. They might have turned me down because of that.

I bet you anything that an in-person meeting with the store manager would be more fruitful. Failing that, I'll call on one friend who worked management at a local branch to make some calls. If that doesn't work, I have one more ace up my sleeve. Another good friend has a relative (close relative) who worked for many, many years as an upper-level exec at said store's corporate headquarters. This person is also a birder.

P.S. No worries, I see the humor in this. :-)

Monday, January 1, 2007

Review and Preview

See these dolls? They swivel.

Good things from 2006.
Great new group of fantastic friends that I've met since I began blogging. And some I haven't. (Yet!) And, of course, all of my fabulous friends and family I was already lucky enough to know.
• Blogging. I've really, really been happy to be able to put my crap into words. Also, it's kind of nice to be able to look back. I've journaled for ages in notebooks. Or on scraps of paper. That get lost. And shuffled out of order, depending on what cute notebook I had with me at any one time. So I'm happy to have an organized view into my life.
Birding. I haven't had a hobby in a long time. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever had a hobby, per se, before getting into birding. And I have Crazy John to thank for getting me started.
• Quitting smoking. This needs no further comment, but that never stopped me from running on at the mouth. I feel better physically, and there's no end to the increase in self-esteem. And I'm saving money.
• Moving to my new town. I loved where I lived before, but the housing costs were out of control. So for the last 10 years I had been living in sub-optimal places. I needed a yard. And my own bathroom. I have both now (and a GREAT kitchen). Also, the move extracted me from a less-than-ideal living situation.

Good Things to Come:
• Spring migration. I didn't even have my own binoculars until sometime in June, I think. So I'm really psyched to think about all the new birds I will be able to see!
• Spring planting. Well, shit, the garden in general. Birding was one hobby I'd wanted to do for ages. Gardening is another. For many years, I've been finding stopgap measures to feed the gardener in me. I've got herbs in containers. I have a hydrangea bush I've coddled for the past 5 years; it began as a 1 foot tall plant from Whole Foods, and now it's easily 3 feet by 3 feet or so. It, too, is in a container. But this year....THIS year I have a garden spot. I've begun composting. I've mulched the plot with the fallen leaves to keep the weeds from overtaking everything. I've selected and purchased seeds. Now I will get to plan a layout so I can get as healthy a yield as I can. There's a lot of planning to do, which is so exciting.
• A new direction, job-wise. I have to have one. I've been so down and out this year and last. Grant funding ended for my low-paying but enjoyable non-profit job. Then the new, exciting, well-paying job at the local private university turned out to be....HELL. It left me shattered, as well as confused about what I'll do next. I'm realizing, I think, that I don't have the ambition or the desire to become the foremost expert on X topic. I just want to work in a job I like most of the time and get paid enough to do it so that I can meet my modest needs. Now I have to conquer the fear of being rejected from jobs I apply for. And of experiencing the horror of that last job. That's what I'm afraid of. So that's what I'll conquer this year!

So, no resolutions, exactly. Just ideas and goals.

Happy New Year, y'all!


So I've taken the plunge. I think I'd mentioned some frustrations over at choppercharles, expecially the inflexibility, but definitely including the fact that I have no interest in restoring motorcycles.

Thanks, Charlie, for the almost a year of hosting the goodness!

And please update any linkies, ok?

xxoo Stew