May 31, 2010

Juno, Target, THREE


Lest you think I try pop culture stuff but consistently hate it, yesterday I finally got around to watching Juno, and I loved it so much I watched the whole thing in one sitting when I should have been making Henry's birthday cake, and I sobbed so hard during the movie, and for so long AFTER the movie, that I completely soaked three handkerchiefs. I had tears FALLING OFF MY FACE. And they are welling up again as I type! (I'm sure it has nothing to do with My Baby turning THREE.)


I felt similarly about the movie Little Miss Sunshine. But I know full well there are lots of people who thought both those movies were irritatingly hipster and also way over-hyped by irritating people who like to act all hipster, so don't feel shy if you LOVE the whole Twilight series. I think in fact that because the comments section on my too crabby to read Twilight right now post turned so amusingly anti-Twilight (did you click some of those links? HILARIOUS), we should have a private poll for people to express their pro-Twilight feelings. There, I'll put it over to the right. WE ACCEPT ALL KINDS HERE. Irritating hipsters, Twilight fans, three-year-olds, EVERYONE.


I went to Target yesterday, and if you are experiencing Teh Crankiness (original poorly-thought-out version: The Crabs) may I suggest a similar treatment plan? There were CoverGirl lip glosses in the dollar section, the very ones I've wanted to try but didn't want to risk it at $5 per color. I bought five, and I've tried three so far and I love all of them although really I only needed one because they pretty much all look the same: they look like lip gloss. Perfect for wearing a little bit of make-up when actual make-up seems inconsistent with the sun and sweat.

They also had a deal where if you buy two Olay products you get a $5 giftcard, and it even applied to the $3.69 face wash. And I have wanted to try that but felt sheepish spending $3.69 on it. So I bought two of them and they were only $1.19 each, and now I have something new and fun to try in the shower, which I find mood-lifting. And then after the shower, I can try either my COOL CUCUMBER or my OO-LA-LA LAVENDER deodorants, both of which were on clearance! And then the lip gloss! I realize these are small things but VERY CHEERING nevertheless.

Oh, plus! Henry has been very interested in tools lately, and I found a baby toolbench thing at 75% off, and you wouldn't think he'd like it at his advanced age but he LOVES it and pounds the "nails" back and forth through the bench again and again and again.


May 30, 2010


I had the most boring dream ever. I was waiting for the mail. That's it, that's the dream. It went on and on.

I'm trying to work my way through Twilight, but OMG. If Edward isn't scowling he's chuckling, and if Bella isn't mentioning her clumsiness she's using her naughty-girl voice to make Edward scowl/chuckle. So far the only thing binding the characters is physical attraction, and I hate when a book wants me to think physical attraction = TRULUV4EVA.

Last night I had to put the book down because I was starting to make loud aggressive remarks to the room at large, and the room at large felt it was my own fault for reading the book to begin with. The room at large belongs to the school of thought that if something is very very popular, it is a mark of a person's superiority to decline to partake. I am of the opposite point of view: if something is very very popular it's likely that there's a reason for it, and also at some point it transcends popularity and becomes part of the culture, and at that point I participate whether I like it or not because I don't like missing cultural references. I don't have to read the whole series and watch all the movies, but I'll read the first book even if I sprain my eyeballs doing so, and I'll watch the first movie.

Probably I should wait, though, until I'm in a better mood. I've been like a wounded accountant recently, snapping and peevish and snarling, swinging my mighty paws at people's heads if they walk too close. When I read the first half of Twilight on the plane I was like, "Uh huh, well it IS young-adult fiction after all, and even the Harry Potter books sometimes had these problems," but now I'm all "SNARL SNARL DROOL SNAP." I've been avoiding social interaction because everything makes me irrationally mad. Oh, did you use the word "prescient"? That reminds me of the word president which reminds me of politics and OH GOOD LET'S FIGHT ABOUT POLITICS!!! Did you mention occupational therapy? That's abbreviated O.T. which makes me think of the Old Testament and ARE YOU LOOKING TO FIGHT ABOUT RELIGION, THEN BRING IT ON!!! Mighty paw SLAM!

May 27, 2010

Photoshop Experts, Plz Gather Rnd

Oh, hello! Are you familiar with Photoshop? Because after looking for literally HOURS on Etsy and on various poster/art sites for a something that looked like I wanted it to, I took one of my own photos and modified it with Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Click to see it larger and more textured.

But the thing is, I don't know what anything does. So I kept changing things and changing things until I was happy, and then when I tried to do the same thing to a higher-resolution copy of the same image, I couldn't remember what I'd done, nor could I recreate it even after more than an hour of tinkering.

So if you know what you're doing, perhaps you could tell me what I'M doing.

May 26, 2010

Vacation Report: Bon! Parfait!

So! I am back! I had a great time! I got my favorite seat on all four flights, and on three of the four flights no one was in the middle seat! On the way there I had to run between flights, but on the way home I had time for postcard-shopping AND Wendy's.

I tried not to take too many photos out of the airplane window because those are just never as glorious as they seem like they'll be, but I didn't entirely resist.


Niestle is super-awesome, OF COURSE. She's 14 months old and she likes to POINT.

She also likes to WALK, particularly near edges of things she could plummet from. She likes to shake her head no-no-no. She likes to ride her pink pony (the Fisher-Price, which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND after seeing Miss Cuteness playing with it for ages). She has teefies. She says "bananananana." The hair at the nape of her neck looks like it might curl. And she looks cute in sunhats.

Notice in this picture she is smiling at the picture-taker, and the picture-taker was ME! Niestle smiled at ME! It was a huge triumph. Niestle is a girl of discriminating tastes.

Eric and Anna and Niestle and my co-aunt (Anna's sister, who needs a pseudonym) had nothing but fun fun fun the whole time. We went on a picnic! We went sight-seeing! We went shopping! We got excellent take-out! We talked about babies, and baby names! We tried to woo Niestle into liking me more! We had a ladies' lunch (I wore my new yellow/green/aqua flowery blouse), with mimosas and a real French waiter who said "bon" and "parfait"! We walked everywhere in the gorgeous, gorgeous weather. We came home sun-soaked and leg-sore and fresh-aired, and had wine and watched 30 Rock and ate cookies and stayed up late!

It was a wonderful vacation. You can see why it might be a little jarring to come home to trash and laundry and dishes and so forth. Sigh. I think what this situation needs is wine and cookies.

May 25, 2010


For the first 10 minutes I was back from vacation, I was all "What a refreshing and rejuvenating break!" and "It's so good to be home!" Then there were 6 messages on the answering machine that needed dealing with, including a call from the Census Bureau who couldn't understand their own forms and couldn't imagine a household with more than six people in it and needed to ask if each person in the household including the children had been in prison over the past year, and several increasingly-agitated calls from the swimming lesson people saying I'd filled out the wrong forms (i.e., the ones online marked "2010 Swimming Lesson Sign-up Forms") and needed to fill out an entirely new batch of forms ("If you go online, you can find them") which had been newly updated to make less sense and not include spaces for necessary information. And then Rob claimed the word "delegation" wasn't in the dictionary, and William said he owed us $1.25 and we owed him an allowance and did I have change for a dollar, and Elizabeth knocked over her book stack and needed a spider removed from her room, and all the laundry baskets are full, and there's a huge pile of mail to go through, and bills need to be paid before the end of the month, and I have several hundred new emails, and I still need to unpack, and I haven't had dinner yet, and really I feel like turning around and going right back out the door. It's like that episode of The Simpsons where Marge's hair is falling out so they get a Mary Poppins type to help out, and everything is WONDERFUL, and then the Mary Poppins character leaves and within minutes Marge's hair is falling out.

Oh hai I'm back. I had a great time. I will feel happier in the morning!

May 24, 2010

Having a Wonderful Time

The birdhouse toy I bought to lure the niece is a total success. She didn't want to play with me at all, and then I took out the toy and started playing with it all casual-like, and soon she was handing me birds and I was handing her birds and the birds were going INTO and OUT OF the birdhouse, and it is actually a pretty fun toy for me too.

I love how my hair conceals my double chin. Unintentional score.

Here I am showing the bird's cute little feet (two birds have little flappy feet and two have feet that are little knots in a cord). Do I look a little unfamiliar with hair down and glasses off (and, if you must know, wearing pajamas)? I didn't quite recognize myself, either, when I was rooting through my brother's photo software looking for some to steal (both photos are by my sister-in-law).

She is a great, great niece. We spend a lot of time admiring her.

We also spend a lot of time drinking wine. Great, great trip.

Tomorrow is my flight home. On the way here I got my favorite seat on both flights (even after coming off one flight to see the other flight's status was "BOARDING" and having to run for it, and it turned out the other gate was in an entirely different wing of the airport), and I read an entire book (Speak Softly, She Can Hear, which was a fine book and I would neither recommend nor not-recommend it). This time I'm hoping to have enough of a layover to (1) not do any running, and (2) eat at the airport Wendy's, and (3) buy postcards at the airport shop. Dream big, baby. Dream big.

May 21, 2010

Swistle's Airplane Travel List

Do you like lists? OH ME TOO! I have a Travel List that I print out before every trip, and it makes me feel like I won't lose my mind with pre-travel fretting. If you are bored by lists, you can duck out now: that's all the post is. This is what fits in one carry-on-sized suitcase and one carry-on bag:

Swistle's Airplane Travel List

3-ounce bottles in quart-size ziploc: deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, body wash, body lotion, face lotion, lip balm, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, Febreze

make-up: undereye concealer, powder, blush, eyebrow brush, eyeliner, lipstick, lip balm

snacks: pecans, almonds, apples, chocolate-covered cherries, pretzels, Dove almond squares

EMPTY water bottle
NO Swiss Army knife
all food wrapped

light jacket and flannel shirt
camera and spare batteries and small battery charger
travel alarm clock
cell phone and charger
Sudoku calendar and pen
wallet: license, credit card, heath insurance card, cash, change
books and magazines
earrings and rings
toothbrush and floss
ponytail holders and claw clip
medications including Dramamine, tylenol, allergy, eye drops
vitamins including vitamin C, zinc
prescriptions including dailies, sleep, anxiety
laundry bag
socks and wool socks
sandals and shoes
jeans and shorts
skirt, dressy tee, stockings, dressy black sandals, sparkly earrings
itinerary and boarding pass

Take off shoes
Take off coat
Take out bag of liquids
Take out bag of medications
Take out bag of electronics

Fill water bottle
Take Dramamine


Various notes on the list (because the only thing that can improve on a list is a list ABOUT the list):

The "take off/out" list is so I don't panic in the security check. They don't require you to take out electronic stuff (chargers, phone, camera, clock), but last time they unpacked my whole suitcase to get a closer look at my travel alarm clock so it's easier to just chuck that stuff in the bin. I put them all in a gallon-sized ziploc and keep it in my carry-on until I go through, and then I pack it in my suitcase afterward.

The last two things on the list are for after security. (I remember to pee without putting it on the list.)

Sudoku calendar: When calendars were marked down to, like, a dollar, I bought a sudoku-a-day one. I take off a little chunk of pages to put in my travel bag. Nice and small, and cheap, and I can throw away each page as I finish it.

Glasses: New to this trip's list: before I bought a ton of fashion glasses I was always WEARING my only glasses. Now I have many pairs and needed to remember to bring an extra pair for decorative purposes.

Wallet: I don't like to bring a purse (it would take the place of a carry-on), so I have a wee little zippered pouch I put the essentials in.

Febreze: I found it in travel-size but in a scent I don't like, so I dumped it out and refilled it with the lavender kind. It is so nice for spritzing on clothes at night if you find you probably should have brought an additional pair of jeans.

Lip balm: Not only is it in two different baggies, I have another in my pocket and another in the carry-on's pocket. LET'S NOT RUN LOW ON LIP BALM.

May 19, 2010

Pre-Travel Fretting at Last

Oh, okay, good, now I'm nervous about my trip. I leave around lunchtime on Friday, and right now it is Wednesday evening, and I've been having to talk myself through it. Like: "Even if one of your travel anxiety dreams came true and you forgot all about your flight until you had to leave immediately without packing, EVEN THEN, you would grab your purse and a book and you would board that plane, and when you got to Eric and Anna's they'd take you to Target and you'd buy a package of underwear and a pair of the exact same jeans you like already, and a couple of t-shirts, and a clearance duffle bag to carry it back home with you, and some new books and snacks for the flight home and it would in fact be kind of a fun thing. SO QUIT WORRYING THAT YOUR TRAVEL-SIZE DEODORANT WILL BE TOO SMALL."

Besides, I know perfectly well I will be happy as soon as I'm walking into the airport, my pink suitcase clicketying along behind me as I breeze past all the people waiting in line to check bags, pretending it's because I'm such a savvy traveler rather than that I'm only going away for a few days. I love airports. Lovvvvvvvvvve airports. I will buy postcards, and maybe a doughnut to eat while I wait in the security-check line. After I go through (and I do hope I can avoid the pat-down this time, even though the security guard was very gentle and polite), I will fill my empty water bottle at a drinking fountain. I will calculate the best possible time for a Last Pee Before Boarding. I'll be in the first boarding group (I paid the extra $10 for early check-in) and I'll get my favorite seat (row 20, window, on the left side of the plane as you're walking toward the back of the plane). BEST SEAT.

I will settle in and start reading a book and eating snacks, and then there will be the take-off, which I LOVE, and then I will take too many pictures out the window. And then there will be the layover and I'll walk around ANOTHER airport, feeling all travel-wise because I! Am! Somewhere I'm usually not! More postcards. A weird-time-of-day meal at the airport Wendy's. Onto a new plane with another take-off. And then it's Eric and Anna and Niestle and whoooo!

Okay, now back to fretting, and to doing laundry as if everyone will run out of clothes in the four days I'm gone.

May 18, 2010

Dreams, Pre-Trip, Postcards

Such bad dreams last night! Beaten, tortured, trapped! Fire and explosions! I kept waking up with that whole-body, steeped-in-cold-fear feeling. What the heck, brain?

So far I've had only one Travel Stress dream in anticipation of this weekend's Niece Visit: I dreamed that I kept disappearing and reappearing, like the guy does in The Time Traveler's Wife. This was interfering with my ability to catch a flight.

I'm having lots of fun doing Not-Really-Necessary Pre-Trip Things. Like, baking and freezing muffins so the children will have them while I'm gone, and doing an extra hair-glossing treatment, and browsing travel sizes of things I already have in travel sizes, and ordering a new skirt I probably won't bring with me even if it fits. But still: fun! I wonder if this is why articles like "12 Days to the Perfect Summer Eyebrow!" are popular: they give a feeling of pleasant work toward a pleasant goal, but without being important enough to cause stress?

I've also been working on things I really do want to work on before I go, like my Milk and Cookies post due Wednesday mornings: my flight comes in Tuesday night, so perhaps I should get that done ahead of time? And yet, I am still distracted by last week's post, in which I made a list of postcard sets I've found useful for Postcrossing. Because in the process of writing it, I found a search term ("postcard book cards") that has found me way more cards than I've found before. I've already ordered a book of Marilyn Monroe postcards, and in my cart I have Lincoln postcards, SomeEcards postcards, and flower fairies postcards (even though the artist isn't from the U.S.). I keep browsing through page after page of possibilities.

AND I've been distracted by the post I wrote for tomorrow's Milk and Cookies (edit: it's posted now), which is going to be about small happy purchases (like, $10 and under). Writing such an article encouraged me to research future small happy purchases I could consider. There has been much browsing, and some of it has been of LARGE happy purchases. I want this bird salt-and-pepper set so badly:

May 16, 2010

Drinking Game For Parents

Take one shot each time:
  • a child tantrums
  • a drink is spilled
  • anyone barfs
  • anyone poops
  • anyone uses their pants instead of the potty
  • there's a blow-out diaper
  • someone else's pee gets on you
  • someone's clothes need to be changed between morning dressing and nighttime
  • (additional shot for any of these done in the car)
  • a child wears a white shirt on spaghetti/pizza night
  • a child needs attention between Child Bedtime and Parent Bedtime
  • a child needs a costume for a school project
  • a child breaks something special to you
  • a child tells a joke
  • a child relates the plot of a TV show
  • a child asks an embarrassing question in public
  • a child makes an embarrassing remark in public
  • you have to unclog a toilet you didn't clog
  • a toilet overflows
  • a show/movie you hate is playing for more than the 100th time (1 shot per time over 100)
  • Disney releases a new movie
  • a baby is up more than 3 times in the night, or for more than 1 hour
  • an older child is up more than once in the night
  • any child awakens for the day before 5:00 a.m.
  • someone eats something disgusting
  • bad-tasting medicine must be forced into a resistant child
  • there is spit-up on your shirt
  • there is a moldy sippy cup under the couch
  • a school project needs significant parental assistance
  • you have to attend a school presentation
  • you have to attend a parent-teacher conference
  • you get a call from the principal
  • you get a note from the teacher
  • you get a school fundraising form
  • you put a lot of effort into dinner and someone won't eat it (one shot per someone)
  • you have to track down an unpleasant smell
  • you have to launder barf-covered clothing
  • you get bitten
  • bodily fluids land on upholstered furniture
  • anyone says to you, "You think this is bad, just wait until..."
  • anyone says to you, "Enjoy every moment!"

Please do not actually play this drinking game. Remember: alcohol poisoning KILLS.

May 13, 2010

New Jeans!

I have new jeans! Emily and I have been very, very sorry to see the skinny jeans trend. I really didn't think it would catch on because it looks so ridiculous---and that's exactly what I thought about wide-legged jeans when I was wearing jeans so skinny I had to unzip the ankles to get my feet through. What I'm hoping is that being in my mid-30s gives me a little break on being cutting-edge fashionable---like, maybe dark-rinse bootcut pants are no longer THE VERY HIPPEST, but at least they're a step closer to it than my old taper-legged light denim jeans, and so for a non-fashion-hobbyist I feel PRETTY HIP.

Anyway, my new jeans. They're the Ultra Fit Bootcuts from Lands' End, and they're $29.99 down from $68.50, and there's almost always a free-shipping code for Lands' End. I had one RIGHT HERE and now I can't find it. Oh, here it is: promotion code SUNPORCH and pin number 6125, through May 18, no minimum purchase. [Edit: Crap, it appears that code will only work two times total. But if you sign up for the Lands' End email mailing list, they send out a free shipping code about once a week. I never pay shipping from there.]

Listen, I am just never going to remember
to wash the mirror before I take photos,
that is JUST HOW IT IS.

(I took a photo of them from the back, too, but that goes a little beyond my comfort zone for my new "Okay, I Will Post Photos Of Myself" policy. But if you're thinking of ordering the pants and want to see the back view, email me and I'll email you the photo---which, if you can believe it, is of EVEN POORER QUALITY than the one of the front view. It is challenging to photograph one's own backside, and perhaps that is a blessing anyway.)

I've been wearing the Merona stretch jeans from Target, and I get those in a size 20w but they're Quite Snug in that size, and in fact I think I'd buy the 22w next time. The Lands' End ones are also a 20w but more what I'd consider Just Right. (This is odd because I bought the super-cute Outside Adventure Pants in size 20w, too, but they're too small. No stretch in the adventure pants, I think is the problem.)

They're fitted in the thigh, and quite wide from the knee down. In fact, I would have called them "wide leg" or something because they're more than merely bootcut. You could fit TWO boots in that leg. It seems to me they're cut just like these Modern Wide-Leg Chinos, which, by the way, I think I'd better buy now that they're down to $19.99 from $50.00, don't you think so?

May 12, 2010

Good Morning!

Did you know that the United States post office will let you mail LIVE SCORPIONS but not liquor? It's true! And let me tell you, I had to wade through a TON of that article to get to the information I wanted. How hard is it, you might ask, to say "No, you may not mail liquor"? VERY HARD INDEED, as it turns out. (It is also difficult to say, "Yes, you may mail live scorpions," but at least there is a positive result for all your research.)

Also, did you know it's "scorpions" and not "scorpians"? I did not!


Ug, I had such a bad dream last night: I took Benchley to the vet and they cut off one of his paws because their staff pet psychic told them it was the right thing to solve Benchley's uterus problems. And I was on one hand aware that there was no sense arguing at this point with the paw already gone, and on the other hand I was, "You thought my MALE cat had problems with his UTERUS??" and thinking to myself, "Next time I'm going to have to ask them to call me before they do anything." I was relieved to wake up and squeeze of all of Benchley's soft little paws.


Our (discontinued) flatware pattern was from Target, and it's Hampton Finesse. And for years I have been thinking it was called Hampton Filigree. IMAGINE MY SHOCK. But also I was relieved, because the pattern is not at all filigreeish: it's three little squares in a column at the base of each brushed-metal handle.


I haaaaaaaaaaate the way the batteries have to be changed in the Leapfrog Didj. The instructions are: "*picture of dime* *picture of triangle*" That's it. Those are the instructions. You have to put a dime in a slot and...? All I know is, sometimes the battery compartment pops open when I put the dime in, and sometimes I end up breaking the plastic and hurting my finger on the dime. And there are TWO OF THEM, one on each side of the Didj! I thought having to unscrew a battery compartment was bad, but this is FAR FAR WORSE.


If I see you pulled over on the side of the road talking on your cell phone, I send out such huge love rays in your direction you might get a tan from it.

May 10, 2010

Diet Update; Fashion Update (Edited to Include Photo of Me Wearing Shirt)

So. The diet. I wouldn't say it's OFF, exactly, but it's not exactly ON, either. If you could see through the computer screen to my desk you would see Nutella. You would also see an empty bowl that used to be generously full of chocolate-covered dried cherries.

I just. You know? Just, eh. Food is so yummy. I like to eat it. This results in me being kind of poofy and soft. I'm having trouble getting worked up about it WHILE I'm eating the Nutella. Check back later.

Oh! You know how I wear jeans and a t-shirt and maryjanes Every Single Day? Well, it's pretty clear to me after more than three decades that fashion is not going to be one of my hobbies, but I was very encouraged when I bought a new shirt for that Christmas party last year and found I liked it and felt happy in it. I haven't worn it since, of course. But still! So when I went to Target with Rob and Henry this weekend, I left Rob in charge of Henry and I tried things on.

I tried on ELEVEN things! Including dresses, because Miss Grace has totally inspired me about dresses. I didn't buy any of the dresses (they were designed for someone shorter than me, I think, because they fit perfectly from side to side and yet looked very comical in the vertical, like I should be wearing a lace-trimmed diaper cover underneath), and I didn't buy any of the sleeveless shirts (I still don't like the way they look on me: they emphasize my narrow shoulders and soft upper arms, while de-emphasizing my small waist), and I didn't buy the shorts (they were the pedal-pusher length I like, but tiiiiiiight at the knee which I don't like), and I didn't buy the t-shirts (too boxy and shapeless and short). But I DID buy a Liberty of London shirt, and it is NOT a t-shirt! Dig it:

It does not look quite like this on me. Picture it twice as wide and a few inches shorter, so that the ruffle sticks out like a tutu over my butt if I don't occasionally adjust it.

I didn't think I could wear Liberty of London because they don't have plus sizes (in their Target line, I mean; I don't know if the regular line has them), but I tried on the XL in a what-the-heck moment of breezy confidence, and it fiiiiiiiiiiit. I don't know if I'll ever wear it even one time, because every morning I look in my closet and I choose a t-shirt, but even HAVING this new shirt is a huge step! And it's so pretty and colorful! I just love it! And now I have a "cute top" in case I go to something where such a thing is called for! And it was 50% off!

Edit: Okay, here is a picture of me wearing the shirt. Do you know what's tricky? Taking photos in the mirror. I tried not to pose (hip jutting, 45 degree angle, arm flexed, one leg tucked behind other as if needing to pee), but it was difficult to resist.

I also bought a new pair of the Target jeans I like, because one of the two pairs I bought before is significantly tighter (feels a half-size smaller) than the other, and so I never ever wear those, and so I'm right back where I was, wearing pajama pants while the only pair I like is in the wash. These new ones better fit nice or I'mma gonna fling something (possible the Nutella).

May 9, 2010

Mad and at a Loss

I am at a loss how the last post went so awry. A lot of you DID read it as I meant it: those were the "Ha ha ha!" comments. Some of you "agreed with me"---but about things I definitely wasn't saying. Some of you "disagreed with me"---but about things I definitely wasn't saying. And my guess is that there were tons of people who didn't like the post but didn't leave a comment.

I come from a Christian family and was myself a Christian until I was 21. Many of my dearest friends and relatives---people I love and respect---are Christians, and I wrote the post keeping their feelings in mind. Most of the things in the post are jokes I've cracked to MY MOTHER, who is the Christianyist Christian I know, and she LAUGHED. I mean, "resenting" God! Ha ha ha ha ha!! That title CRACKS ME UP! Like saying an ant resents our town's planning committee's zoning decisions! Ha ha ha!

I went to a Christian college that thought it was not only right but GOOD to discuss (and even joke about) the things in the Bible that are incompatible with what the majority of the world's population would EVER sign up for if it were in the Christianity contract. On paper, looking at the Old Testament, I doubt any of us would join. "Hey, would you like to this religion? God is running on a platform of virgin rape, civilization destruction, and sending bears to massacre little children!"

Er, no. And so my assumption is that Christians DON'T have those stories as part of their belief system, and so those stories are safe to make jokes about. If I make a joke about a story in which God sends bears to maul children for teasing a prophet, I'm assuming that doesn't attack ANYONE'S personal belief system. And if it DOES attack your belief system, uh.....I mean, I guess I want it to, then, just as I would if your belief system involved bombing daycare centers. At my college, the discussion usually ended up with us trying to figure out what was true and what was a parable, and where the line could be drawn between scripture being inspired by God but written down by men, and how much we felt we could chalk up to the human mind not being able to understand the mind of God.

In the family I grew up in, too, discussion and frank talk and jokes about "women not talking in church ha ha ha" were allowed and encouraged. My dad was a minister and a Hebrew language scholar, so he had many excellent explanations for how parts of the Bible had been mistranslated or taken out of context. Blind, unquestioning acceptance of every word in the Bible was not considered part of being a thinking Christian. The conclusion of a hard discussion about, say, killing children for teasing a prophet, was that we DON'T like that and we DON'T understand it, but that not liking/understanding some part of the Bible, or feeling like we don't like/understand a way God did something, doesn't make us bad Christians or non-Christians. What it means is that we have to wait until we got to Heaven to understand the big picture---or to find out how something was mis-recorded.

NOTHING I wrote in that post criticized CHRISTIANS. And I apologize to those of you who thought I shouldn't write about just one religion, but like most of us I'm only FAMILIAR with one religion. I'd write about the others if I knew any others. It's not like I'm a world religions scholar but am singling out Christianity to pick on.

NOTHING I wrote in that post was intended to MOCK anyone, even though the word "mock" came up again and again and again in the comments. "Criticize"? Sure, you could call it that, if you don't think it's okay to joke about anything in the Bible. But "MOCK"? To quote The Princess Bride, I do not think that word means what you think it means. How is it "mocking Christians" to discuss the problems in the story of Job? Don't Christians think there's a problem there too? I was assuming they did. I guess I might have mocked someone if I thought they didn't think there was a problem---but since my assumption was that everyone agreed there WAS a problem, I didn't get around to doing any mocking.

NOTHING I wrote said or implied that Christians were dumb. I don't even understand how anyone could have gotten that. I didn't discuss Christians AT ALL. And again: my assumption is that Christians DON'T think it was awesome when God authorized the rape of virgins. If you thought I was saying Christians DID think it was awesome, I guess you could say I was criticizing Christian beliefs, but saying Christians are DUMB? Whuh?

I don't mind telling you it made me both hurt and angry that a few of you said you were ditching me because of that post. That makes me feel like you expect me to be perfect: one screw-up and I am WORTHLESS and you are GONE. I make mistakes. Sometimes I might do a poor job of communicating what I mean, or sometimes I might make a joke you don't think is in good taste, or sometimes I might have an opinion you disagree with. But if I'm not perfect, or exactly as you want me to be, you're taking off. That's not a fair standard to hold me to, and it's not a standard I hold you to.

Edit: Because of a misunderstanding, I'm editing to add that comments are closed on this post to avoid splitting the discussion into two discussions (one on the previous post and one on this one), which gets confusing for everyone and means that I'm answering/clarifying things in two locations.

May 8, 2010

Things to Resent God For

Creating people who have trouble with a certain kind of temptation, then putting that exact temptation right in front of them FOR NO REASON AT ALL. Then punishing them PERMANENTLY for giving in to the temptation, and not just them but ALL FUTURE GENERATIONS. I wouldn't do that to my kids. Can you imagine? "Hey, Elizabeth, I'm going to put this box of SUPER SECRET AWESOMENESS here on the table right in front of you, but don't touch it! I could have put it somewhere else and never mentioned it, but instead I will put it in the middle of the living room and tell you repeatedly that you can do anything you want EXCEPT play with this box, this wondrous wondrous box. Now I'm going to turn my back and switch on this video camera. ...You touched the box? Then I'm kicking you out of the house, and your kids and grandkids can't ever visit either!" And all this in, like, the first five minutes after humans were created. Creation: FAIL.

The thing with Job, where God got into a pissing contest with a former employee and killed all Job's kids. But he gave Job NEW kids after proving his point, so THAT'S okay. Compensation: FAIL. Why not bring the dead kids back, since that was ENTIRELY POSSIBLE?

The whole Noah's Ark thing, which is for some reason considered a cute nursery theme. Aw, two of every animal, the only two who weren't wiped off the earth by God's tantrum! Adorbs!

Some little kids call Elisha bald, so God sends bears to rip them to shreds. Er? Proportionate discipline: FAIL.

All the TESTS and TRICKS. Geez, a person could get JUMPY with all the set-ups. Touch the ark totally by accident? SMITE! Express doubt that someone who leads people for 40 years aimlessly through a desert knows where he's going? EXCLUDE! Follow the rules set down by God himself in the Old Testament? PUBLIC SHAMING BY JESUS!

All the "women are soooooooo unclean" things. Yes, IF ONLY SOMEONE HAD CREATED THEM DIFFERENTLY, huh?

OMG, all the "virgins as loot of battle" crap. Totally God-sanctioned! Take the girls for your own pleasure, as many as you want! But only the virgins, because Used Girls are ICKY! Kill those ones, ew.

How hard is it to set down some consistent rules? Seriously. If something is forbidden, say so don't pussyfoot around with arch hints and contradictory statements and tiny little mentions and inconsistent anecdotes. We have ONE MANUAL, and it needs a MUCH better writer.

"I'll call you," followed by more than 2000 years of waiting by the phone.

May 6, 2010

Great Mail Day

I had SUCH a good mail day yesterday. I just HAULED IT IN.

FIRST, I got one of Under Construction's wooden hand-painted postcards, and since I (1) collect postcards and (2) felt like I might DIE if I didn't get one of these and (3) didn't know if I'd get one or not until it arrived, it was a very happy mail day indeed.

SECOND, I got my order of postcards from Lila Ruby King on Etsy. I love Lila Ruby King stuff, and the postcards were even better than I'd hoped. Now how am I going to SEND any of them? THEY ARE TOO SPECIAL TO USE UP.

THIRD, I got a GPS with our tax refund, and it arrived yesterday. I am so happy to have it, or at least I will be after I get over the hurdle of taking it out of the box and setting it up. I wince a little as I tell you this, because it seems like bad form to be announcing an expensive electronic purchase when I read your blogs and know some of you would use that same money for, like, BREAD AND MILK AND ANTIBIOTICS FOR YOUR BABY. But I wanted to tell you about it anyway, first because it was on such a good price, second because I always want to know what someone else buys, and third because this is a post about my happy mail day and this was part of it. A GPS! It's not an electronic device, it's ANTI-ANXIETY MEDICATION.

May 3, 2010

PSA: How to Get the Cat Pee Smell Out of Laundry

1. Gather up the revolting laundry, all the while cursing the day you obligated yourself to a creature who would do such a revolting thing. If there is a LOT of laundry, gather up just some of it---about enough for a low-setting load of laundry.

2. Put the laundry in the washing machine and run a plain rinse cycle (no soap or anything, just water). My washer has a pre-wash setting that agitates the clothes for either 2 or 4 minutes, then spins it out, but without running the whole cycle. If your washer doesn't do this, run the clothes through a regular cycle with plain water. This is just to rinse the actual urine out of the clothing.

3. Start again with fresh hot water, this time allowing the washer to fill only enough to barely cover the clothes. As the water is pouring in, add LOTS of white vinegar: for a fairly small load of clothes (with the "low" setting being enough to cover the clothes), I used close to a quart of vinegar. Also add a high-level load's worth of whatever laundry soap you usually use. I added the cups of vinegar and soap right under the pouring water, to help it to mix in as the washer filled. If necessary, use a plastic coat hanger to push the clothes down into the water.

4. Leave that nasty mess soaking overnight or for a full day. A couple of times I used the plastic coat hanger again just to swish things around or poke down clothes that had floated up.

5. After the soak, without draining, put the washer on a higher setting (like, if you had it on low for the soak, put it up to medium) with hot water, and add 1 cup of baking soda, or even a cup and a half wouldn't be overkill. Stupid cat. Run the clothes through a full cycle.

6. Sniff clothes. Better, huh? Put them in the dryer. Glare at cat, and do that thing where you point first at your own eyes and then at the cat's eyes.

7. ...Oh, NOT better? It's possible you're screwed: I had a nylon jacket that NOTHING worked on, not enzyme cleaners, not vinegar, not sunshine, NOTHING. And I had a few items of clothing that smelled okay right out of the washer, but after they were dry I could tell they needed a second run through the vinegar/soap soak and the baking soda cycle. But this treatment saved MOST of my laundry.

8. Buy lidded laundry hamper.

Sweet Corn and Burp Cloths

Today's "feel better" attempts so far: lip gloss, new pens to try (I got the Uniball kind this time), three chocolate-chip muffins, unloading some of the posts building up on the baby names blog, putting a cat on my lap while I sit at the computer, ordering new jeans for me and a couple of clearance dresses for Elizabeth who is on a dress kick.

Score! Land's End dress for only $6.99!

Another Land's End dress, for fall, $9.99!

My sister-in-law sent me a care package, and do you know what is TOTALLY DELICIOUS and I'd never have thought it would be? Dried sweet corn! OMG. It is so tasty. This is the kind she sent me: Sensible Foods Organic Crunch Sweet Corn. I saw it and thought, "Oh, how...INTERESTING to try!" And before I knew it I'd eaten the whole bag (except what I shared with the kids, who also liked it) and was going online to find MORE MORE MORE.

I bought some of Parking at Home's Best Burp Cloths in the World, and I'm excited to see what my friend with a baby thinks of them. I'll do a post on the review blog when she gets back to me. They look GREAT: really cute, and nice and huge, and it was so fun to choose the colors I feel like placing another order just to choose again. I got a navy polkadot with white terry, and a red polkadot with green terry, but I was choosing for my friend's tastes so now I want to re-order for myself! But no one around here is barfing on my shoulder anymore.

May 2, 2010

This Post is Not Entirely About Cats, Despite First Three Paragraphs

The cat is still peeing in our laundry, so I am buying lidded hampers, a Feliway refill, new socks and underwear and t-shirts and towels, Nature's Miracle, and two pairs of Etsy earrings. I am calling the earrings a "thank you for not euthanizing me" gift from Mouse to me.

And check out THIS development:

This is how Benchley sleeps: DRAPED.

I'd have more hope that this meant the end of the Pee Punishment, except that this picture was taken yesterday and she peed in our laundry this morning and then the cats had a big hissy spat. Plus, this might end up meaning my computer chair will be involved in a territory dispute and will need to be burned.

It is less than three weeks until my solo trip to see my brother and sister-in-law and niece and sister-in-law's sister! And then it is only about a month after that until my brother and sister-in-law and niece move to a location an hour away from me! (We are still working on my sister-in-law's sister.) The only downside of their move: I think it will look silly if I still bring my pink suitcase on visits to see them.

I was doing Postcrossing postcards last night and something fun happened. I had just finished a postcard and I got my next address---and the address seemed verrrrry familiar. It was to another person at the same address! I love when stuff like that happens. Once Paul and I both got the same person to send a card to. We realized it because he read aloud the person's wish list and I recognized it as one I had seen a week or two before.

I don't want to get all INTO IT here, because I know all of you with dishwashers already know all the problems with dishwashers. I just want to say that sometime soon I am going to have to point out to someone that "starting the dishwasher running" does not count toward doing one's fair share of dishwasher duties.