Friday, January 31, 2014

Speaking of Birthdays...

It's my father's birthday today, too. He is 80 years old. I am nearly as astonished over this fact as I am to find myself being 56. Which means he was 24 when I was born. I just did the math. Which means the last time I saw him he was 59 years old. Which is an age I am in barking distance of even as I type. Whoa. That's enough math for today, I'll work on my tax return later.

Blog Birthday

Seven years and nearly 1800 posts ago I sat down at my computer and started telling you all kinds of random stuff. What my day was like. What makes me cranky. What brings me joy. And showing you pictures of my cats, my kids, my yard, my travels. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for becoming a follower. Thanks for your comments. I think 2014 shall prove to be a year of big things happening. When they do, I'll tell you about them here.  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Martha, Schmartha

Several years ago I remember reading some advice from Martha Stewart concerning snow removal. Her recommendation was to remove all but one inch. For aesthetic reasons. I don't know about Miss Martha, but where I live you are expected to remove the snow down to the bare concrete and the full width of the sidewalk. I expect for lawsuit reasons. Or the aesthetics of consistency. I wonder how much actual snow Miss Martha has shoveled. Aesthetically, of course. Is anyone else sick up and fed with winter?   

Fair Warning

Here's the deal. If you are the person in power and I find myself in need of prevailing upon your sense of fair play and judgement in order for something I need to happen, please never say this. 

If I do it for you then I'll have to do it for everybody. 

Nononononono! If you are, indeed, the top level person that I have been sent to who has the power of making the decision then for crying out loud grow some balls and render a decision already! Falling back on an old saw rather than taking responsibility just pisses me off and encourages my stubborn streak and makes me that more intent on winning. For me it's the verbal equivalent of dropping the gauntlet. Trust me, if you utter the aforementioned phrase you most definitely won't enjoy dealing with me because it brings out my warrior facet in her full battle glory. I'd prefer to be told no and be given a reasonable explanation for turning down my request. I won't mind if you call me a bitch to my face! It requires more courage that muttering it at the door that has closed behind me. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I'm The It Girl

Deanna has tagged me, so apparently I'm it. Does that make me the It Girl? I'll just pretend that I am because I do like the idea. We shall start off with eleven random facts about me. The It Girl.

1. I have the freakiest looking feet! Congenital flat feet with bunions yet highly functional, a difficult fit for shoes. Then I call attention to them by wearing sandals half the year and painting my toenails bright colors and wearing toe rings.

2. I love Barbie dolls. I don't have a huge collection but particularly love the witch Barbies that were available exclusively at Target for a few years. I have three of them.

3. Another thing I love is cobalt glass. I have a collection of over fifty pieces.

4. I am a total science geek! I love physics and astronomy!

5. I have a learning disability that has not been officially diagnosed. As soon as I dig through some journals from the time I'll blog about it. Some of the hallmark symptoms are right/left confusion, difficulty with writing despite very high spoken language ability, and an almost entirely intuitive understanding of language. Meaning that I can't diagram a sentence to save my life!

6. When I moved into the house I currently live in I counted over 30 previous addresses. I was 28 at the time.

7. My very favorite book is A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle. I reread it on an annual basis.

8. I have a tendency to overaccessorize. I used to have this friend who would ask me for the "count" before we went somewhere together. Recognize that when I take a shower I am wearing more pieces of jewelry (11) than most women normally wear when they are heading out the door.

9. I have three tattoos and six piercings. Five of the piercings are in my ears.

10. Several years ago my younger son and I won a mother and child look-alike contest. I submitted our baby pictures and we look like twins!

11. I completely embrace my current age, which is 56, and work on the whole aging gracefully concept. Even though I'm not sure what that means. I'm a work in progress! I love that I am still hopeful, curious, and optimistic.

Moving on with eleven questions from Deanna to me...

1. What's the story behind your name? My surname, VanBemmel, was acquired when I got married. I chose to not revert to my maiden name, Broome, when we divorced, probably through sheer laziness. Broome is a Scottish name and was pared down from McBroome at least a couple of generations before my father was born. I was named Carla as a sort of compromise between my parents. My dad wanted to name me after his mother, whose middle name was Caroline, but my mother didn't care for it. I have no idea where my middle name, Jean, came from. Probably the standard list of middle names.

2. How did you end up with the job that you have? I have been out of the work force for over three years due to a workplace injury. But I have to say that I would love to be a published writer and to make my living as one.

3. Which song title would sum up 2013 for you? The Long and Winding Road. 

4. What is your favorite app and why? I don't think I use apps. Do I use apps? I am one of the last dozen people who use a dumb phone so probably not.

5. What was your favorite year of school and why? Junior year in high school. We moved from western to eastern North Dakota halfway through my high school experience, so it was a huge adjustment. But it was a smaller high school where I had more opportunities to participate in activities and I had a couple of teachers who inspired me. A big year of self discovery.

6. What is one website/blog you couldn't go a day without reading? I check into Facebook a couple of times a day. About a year ago I took a six week break from it and didn't really miss it after a week's worth of withdrawal. Then I went back with a new set of priorities about who/what I would engage with/in and it's been a happier place for me. There are so many blogs I love but feel the need to stay away from them for fear I will lift ideas or writing style from them!

7. What is your favorite swear word? I am horrified at how often I drop the F-bomb. But it's just so fucking satisfying to say!

8. What are three things that are always in your refrigerator? mayonnaise, sharp cheddar cheese, butter

9. What are you reading for fun right now? The Brontes, Wild Genius on the Moors, The Story of a Literary Family, by Juliet Barker.

10. Who/What inspires you? Anyone in the arts who makes their living doing what they love. Music, writing, painting, sculpture, anything creative that is from the heart that makes the world a more beautiful, tolerable place.

11. What is your favorite movie quote? From Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. When the children are tasting the lickable wallpaper and Violet says whoever heard of a snozzberry...Mr. Wonka responds we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams. I later learned that these are the opening lines of a wonderful poem by Arthur O'Shaughnessy that has since become one of my favorites.

And I know I'm wimping out at this point but I simply cannot type another sentence so I will not be continuing this meme. My Ballmer Peak has long since faded and my cranky hands can type no more.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Peek at the Peak

My cranky hands have been much better today. Primarily due to the fact that I have done very little with them the last couple of days. This is called resting. It's effective but you have to be in the proper mood for it to work well. Meaning that sub-zero temps outside and movies inside have made this down time possible. I have noticed since the beginning of the neurological pain manifesting in my hands and wrists that alcohol facilitates the process of typing due to the fact that it knocks back the pain to a tolerable level. Halfway into a glass of wine and keyboard and mousing activities are a breeze. The tricky part is maintaining that sweet spot in the blood alcohol level range. By the time I'm well into the second glass my hands are nimble as all get-out but my thought process is not so clear. I can type but the product isn't nearly as clever as I think it is. Reid has suggested that I'm trying to achieve something called the Ballmer Peak. That elusive blood alcohol level that for me combines maximum relief with a degree of mental acuity that would render me capable of holding down some type of office job. Not quite enough booze and my hands don't cooperate. Too much and I'm stupid. Not that I've found a workplace lenient enough to allow an adult beverage at your desk even if the Ballmer Peak could be proven beneficial for productivity. All I know is, when it comes time for clinical trials I will offer myself up as a research subject. And hope like hell I don't end up in the control group that gets a placebo.

Fashion Advice From My Father

Upon his learning that our mother had requested a cowboy hat for Christmas:

Don't buy one for her! She'll wear the damn thing!

This was, quite apparently, based on precedent.

When he saw me wearing my blue ski vest that I was fond of:

That'd be a nice jacket if you put some sleeves on it. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Number Please

I got a phone call today from the number 000-000-0000. Must have been from a former boyfriend. They're all zeros in my book. I wondered what would happen if I called back. There was no message. Life was less interesting before caller ID.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ladies Night

L-R: Holly, Josie, Tami, Heather, Liz, me, Stephanie
Ladies Night is every Saturday at the Old Market. I enjoy saying yes to a half price cosmopolitan. Saying no just seems rude. 

Stephanie holding half price martinis. In my opinion they are more delicious and satisfying than when they are full price. And they're colorful. Colorful is good.


You may have noticed that in the upper right, yes, up over there where the pink typewriter is, the list called Blogs I Read has disappeared. I discovered a couple of weeks ago that only two of the links were still functional so I removed the whole darn thing. I am in the process of adding links to them on my profile page and then having them appear in a feed in the lower right area. Yeah. Down over there. Due to hand crankiness the last two weeks I just haven't gotten it done yet. I'm working on it. The hands are calming down so I will attempt to catch up on things this week. Meanwhile, outside an ill wind is blowing. It even sounds cold. What do you expect? This is South Dakota and it's January.

Beer Night #2

If you have never been to a beer and food pairing dinner I highly recommend it. Incredibly delicious food courses are matched up with complimentary beers. It was amazing. Stephanie and I got to go because we won tickets to the event on our second of two consecutive first place wins on trivia night. Steph took the photos because I was too busy eating and drinking. The food was prepared by the talented staff at the Pheasant and the beers were brewed at Wooden Legs. I never thought I'd say this, but you can't go wrong with a beer float for dessert. I left out the root on purpose. Beer float. With a stout chaser. Who knew.

Beer Night #1

So our amazingly brilliant trivia team keeps winning. First place two weeks in a row! On the first of these two wins we took home two growlers full of Wooden Legs Brewing Company's tasty beer. It seemed like we should regroup and drink it together so I made dinner and invited everyone over.

I always say invite musical people to your dinner parties. It's quite simply the fun thing to do. Reid and Chris are on the couch and Marian brought her brother Marcus along. Marcus is a lefty picker and a pretty excellent one. On the coffee table you can see a likely near-empty growler and a very tiny wine glass. Emma just wanted a little wine.

Emma and Stephanie. Emma is sporting her newly acquired bangs which I think look fabulous on her.

A chair full of lovelies. Emma, Stephanie, Laura and Marian. Their brains win beer! This is a good thing.

Another pic of Laura just because she's so darn cute. I just realized I took no pictures of food or the beautifully set table. As far as you know, this was nothing more than a drunken sing-along that I'm trying to pass off as a classy dinner party. The Cajun seafood chowder was delish as were the corn muffins and smoked salmon spread. The pecan tart was to die for, though thankfully no one did. Ask any of my guests. There was food. Really.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Treatment. Sort Of.

I have no plot. No story, no truly fleshed out characters nor an exotic locale in mind. No international incidents, interplanetary wars, incendiary devices, incipient criminals or insipid significant others dreamed up. I just want a really great movie where Susan Sarandon, Leslie Ann Warren and Julianne Moore are cast as sisters. Because they bear a striking but not cookie-cutter resemblance to one another. Oh, and because they are all kick ass in the actress department. As well as beautiful and aging gracefully. Why are you still here? I have charged you with a task! Make it so!


Whoever you are, 840-348-6635, please stop calling me. You do not exist. According to the FCC, area code 840 is unassigned and therefore your number is not valid! Again, stop calling me. If, on the other hand, there is any accuracy to the rumor that 840 is the area code of the spirit realm, if you are a gentle, benevolent spirit and the energy trace which remains of one of my passed loved ones, please text the pre-agreed password we established first. I'd love to catch up.

Monday, January 20, 2014

According To...

...internet quizzes making the rounds, I made the following self revelations:

City I should live in...New York City

My observation...No way! This quiz didn't even include my favorite drink so how could it possibly be accurate.

Disney Princess I am most like...Snow White

My observation...It would be very difficult for me to find seven guys that I'm taller than to hang out with.

Friends character...Rachel

My observation...I'm not blonde, I'm not attracted to Ross, I'm not whiny.

Star Wars character...Princess Leia

My observation...This totally rocks! I've been told for years that I bear a resemblance to Carrie Fisher. And I love a character that is equally at home as an ambassador in a flowing white dress as well as resourceful in a difficult situation, plus kicking ass in a battle/chase scene. 

Writer I am most like...Walt Whitman

My observation...A revered master, but I think I have more in common with Emily Dickinson or Robert Frost.

Love Actually character...Karen

My observation...I adore Emma Thompson so any similitude to her in any role is taken as a huge compliment! And I would forgive Harry (Alan Rickman) and take him back even though he behaved like an idiot.

Lost & Found Dept

Can you say something was found even though it was never really lost in the first place? I'm answering yes for all of you. I thought I lost one of my fave earrings on Friday night! But discovered that I only put one of them on to begin with! Yay! But I didn't figure it out until yesterday. So when I found one in the dish on the bathroom counter and the other on my dresser I was pleased and relieved. Also wondering if the perceived loss was me experiencing an episode of the dreaded senior moment. I plead distraction and trying to get out of the house on time. I don't know how I managed to not notice the lack of an earring until after the movie and having a bite to eat since I check my ears for the appropriate number of ornaments in a sort of chronically OCDish manner. I have a really sentimental attachment to these earrings in addition to them being favorites. My mother gave them to me years ago, at least fifteen or so, and since her death I feel emotionally connected to objects that I associate with her. I feel close to her when I wear her silver bracelet or dust the carnival glass bowl on my dresser. Things that on their own aren't particularly valuable, but irreplaceable due to what they represent to me. I could almost hear her remarking that had the "missing" earring been a snake it would have bit me. Thanks, Mom.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bowie on My Brain

So Sir Paul is serenading me during soup preparations this evening. He's crooning his way through track six of Kisses on the Bottom, We Three, and every single time I swear I hear the line what good is the moonlight, the silvery moonlight as what good is the moonlight, the serious moonlight. And we thought Strawberry Fields Forever was subliminal. Oy.

Dinner With The Grinch

Oh, the moaning and whining and gnashing of teeth that ensued upon the birthday boy's discovery that the establishment his three fave gals were taking him for dinner was indeed the Knotty Pine rather than the Naughty Pine. Be careful what you wish for whilst blowing out the birthday candles. Speaking of Pines, my favorite is Chris. Of reboot Captain Kirk fame as well as a personal indie fave, Bottle Shock. Saw him Friday night as the new and improved Jack Ryan. And speaking just for me, and likely half the entire population of planet Earth, may I say that Chris is the Pine I would prefer to get naughty with.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cattitude Wins

I really meant to make my bed. Really. But Einstein had this do not disturb me look on his little cat face. If he did not coordinate so well with the bedding, arguably as well as the decorative pillows, I so would have tossed him out. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Plucky Plant

Baby, it's cold outside! But we have perpetual spring in my south window downstairs. Witness my blooming azalea. I like a hardy plant that isn't put off by my brownish thumb. Or, more accurately, survives my brownish thumb.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Perseveration Problem

This song is in my head. It won't go away. If I were a better person I wouldn't share it with you. As they say, misery loves company. Or maybe 80's pop music loves company. Or as I say, dance break!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Cupcake/Muffin Conundrum

Think of what the result might be if a coconut cream pie and a cupcake had a love child. Mmmm-hm. The Perkin's coconut cream mammoth muffin. Pure evil with cream cheese frosting on top. It took me two days to eat it. I don't think I ever will have one again, though, I may not survive the experience to tell about it. It was delicious. And evidence that the line between cupcake and muffin has become so very wide and blurry that the terms are totally interchangeable. I need a Venn diagram. Or a pie chart. That takes into consideration regional variations. If Marie Antoinette were to ask, I'd have to say in this instance I would prefer to have the cake rather than eat it.

Calling Dr Bones

If you have seen JJ Abram's reboot of Star Trek (2009), this image will call to mind a particularly funny moment. If you haven't seen it, I'm making up for your serious failing for having seen it roughly fifteen times. Twice with commentary. Our beloved Captain Kirk is suffering from the oddball side effects of the most recent shot administered by Dr McCoy. His hands are freakishly swollen to nearly twice their normal size and he is clearly distraught over this development. I like to call it Fat Hands Syndrome. My point, you might ask, is what? I finish up my vocational assessment testing this afternoon and it will involve some fine motor activities. When my hands are particularly cranky, as they have been for the last week or so, despite their normal appearance they feel as clumsy and swollen as the Captain's appear. The difficulty I experience with any fine motor movement is painfully apparent to anyone observing. Especially me. It would seem that I need a house call from a certain doc. Anyone have his number?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Drink for Thought

As much as I hesitate to place labels on any person or community, here we have actual statistical analysis in place before assigning the label of binge drinker. So, I have been planning a move to Colorado. And I'm relieved to discover that I will find friends and potential drinking buddies, since I'm moving from Drunk City #5 to Drunk City #4. College towns. Gotta love 'em.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Greetings Earthlings and Others

Hello? Anyone there? I understand, you've found better things to do than check in here since I haven't posted in nearly a week. I have all kinds of stuff running around in my head that I so want to inflict on share with y'all! But my hands are cranky and painful and I must let them rest for a couple more days. Fortunately, my copy of Playing by Heart just arrived and I have rediscovered the 80's sitcom Cheers. Thanks for understanding.

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's Your Turn to Walk the Elephant

Reid is of the opinion that having an elephant for a pet would be seriously cool. But he wants a tiny elephant. About the size of one of our cats. This idea came to him when he observed that Einstein sometimes makes a whuffly sort of noise that sounds very much like a muted version of an elephant's trumpet. This would be an instance where I would heartily approve of genetic engineering. So we could have verrrry small elephants as pets. Either that or work on the time machine portal thingy so we could go back to prehistoric times when pygmy elephants existed and bring one back. This is what the world needs, people, teensy pet elephants. Excuse me while I go make a list of cute potential names for our future pet mini-elephant.

Dear Netflix

As if it wasn't enough for you to switch from the catchy, cachet-laden Instant Queue to the absolutely lame My List, why do you find it necessary to aggravate me by totally shuffling the order of my chosen programming every single time I watch something? Or even when all I do is pop in or out of a movie or series with the remote? I used to know where to find a show based on where it was on My List! For crying out loud, it's mine! Leave My freaking List alone! Thank you.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Warm & Spicy!

Chicken tortilla soup. Delicious and warms you up inside and out. I have seriously modified this soup recipe from the one that was shared with me several years ago. It was basically open 6 cans of stuff and dump together and heat and that just isn't how I cook. I do still open a couple of cans. Don't judge me! It's a culinary work in progress! Eventually it will be entirely from scratch. But until it is, I assuage the guilt by serving the soup with the most bestest, not-from-a-mix corn muffins you could possibly eat. I'll even share the recipes if one of you begs in a comment. Okay, fine. Beg is kind of a strong word. You only need ask. Politely, though. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Year is Here

As far as I'm concerned, the new year doesn't really start until the new calendars are in place. And since I have a tendency to wait for calendars to graduate to that coveted retail designation known as 50% off clearance, some years can take up to nearly a week to get in full swing. I know, I know, electronic devices exist that have taken the place of these totally non-technical ones. But I still swear by the calendar hung in the kitchen on which I scrawl appointments and days to remember. The Kliban cat calendar will reside in that honored spot for 2014. And if you haven't noticed, the other two wall calendars are beautiful! You can't replace a lovely work of art on the wall with a convenient hand-held thingamajig. And to wake my brain up every morning I like to kickstart it with a film trivia question. And to remind me what day it is. Then, once I arrive in the kitchen to brew up coffee I can consult Mr. Kliban's fatcat and see what is in store for the day ahead. Woodland Faeries is in my office and Lunaria is in my bedroom. Us Moonmaidens like to be up on those moon phases. Welcome, 2014! May the next 361 days be filled with love, gratitude, a serious belly laugh every day, lessons learned and hugs. I'll take whatever good fortune thrown my way as well. And chocolate. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dear Anonymous

Last June Anonymous asked me just when the song Fallen for You by Sheila Nicholls can be heard in the movie High Fidelity. Well, Anonymous, this is your lucky day! Whilst untangling and winding up strings of Christmas lights for storage this afternoon I had High Fidelity on in the background. Because the whole light string thing is a highly tedious process that requires entertainment to move the task along. So I kept my ears pricked for the song in question. Fallen for You can be heard briefly at the beginning of the scene where Laura meets Rob for a drink just past halfway into the film. This scene, where Rob wants to know the specific meaning of Laura's use of the word yet in regard to her having said earlier that she hadn't slept with Ian. Yet. Though Rob, immediately after that exchange, dashed out and slept with Maria De Salle. Rob, played with amiable and grungy desperation by John Cusack, whom I adore, actually admits the irony of his behavior. But I'm not here today to examine character motivation, I'm here to locate a song! If you have the dvd, Anonymous, go to Chapter 16, Sleeping Around, to hear it for yourself. At the end of the movie I took a closer look at the music credits and discovered a few, well, anomalies. Like Elvis Costello's Shipbuilding. Which is credited at the end of the movie and appears on the soundtrack cd, but I have yet to identify where exactly it is playing during the movie. Another song, I'm Wrong About Everything by John Wesley Harding, is included on the soundtrack cd, but is nowhere to be found in the body of the movie nor in the closing credits. Two songs clearly heard during the movie, Queen's We Are the Champions and Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves, are omitted from the cd. I know. Music licensing agreements can be tricky. Maybe the film's producers wish to have a certain song in the movie, but don't want to pay the extra for having it appear in the soundtrack cd. Or pay the fee for a song but the scene it plays over doesn't make the final cut of the movie that is released. Details, details. All I know is, High Fidelity is one of my top five fave movies. And one of my favorite movie soundtracks. I have definitely fallen for it.

Hello, 2014

I can't wish you anything more hopeful or all inclusive than Mary Chapin Carpenter does in this one song. Let's all dwell in possibility.