Sunday, December 28, 2008

More Flooding!

Early yesterday morning I was awakened by a cacophony of drip, drip, dripping. The temperatures were rising fast, all the accumulated snow was melting, and it was raining on top of that. By the end of the day the temperature had risen into the 50s and more than an inch of rain had fallen. There are only a few stubborn patches of white left and, in place of the snow that once blanketed the neighborhood, we now have pervasive flooding including, once again, our basement! Fortunately, the basement only got about an inch of water in the very worst spots. I'm very grateful for the sub-pump, which has been whirring into action like clockwork for the last couple of days. The weather service reports that this was a record breaking year for Chicagoland with 50.58 inches of precipitation total.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve at Aunt Mary's

Stephanie, Malachy and Owen.

Uncle John, Ross, Dad, and Uncle Bill.

Hanging out around the fireplace.

Stephanie, me with Owen, and Mamma.

Malachy and Jamie.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

"Mary's Song" by Luci Shaw

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest...
you who have had so far to come.)
Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so light it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world. Charmed by doves' voices,
the whisper of straw, he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
all years. Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught
that I might be free, blind in my womb
to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Baking Cookies

Yesterday Stephanie, Mom, and I got together to bake holiday cookies. The only thing I know how to bake is a sweet potato, so I was under heavy supervision the entire time. I would like to tell you about all the delicious treats we made but I don't speak cookie. There were coconut things, and chocolate things, and spicey things with raisins. And I witnessed pounds and pounds of butter go into these things. As Mom would say, what else do you need to know?

Sneeze Attack

Another gem from CuteOverload! :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Watching the Snow Fall

The Economic Crisis Hits Home

Anybody looking for a brilliant lead technical artist? Because I happen to know one and, as of today, he's available.

Midway Games to Cut 25% of Work Force

Videogame maker Midway Games Inc. said it will lay off 25% of its work force, close its Texas studio and suspend development of several games in order to cut costs.

Earlier this month, Midway hired investment bank Lazard Ltd. to advise on its options as it grapples with serious debt issues. That move was prompted by controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone's decision to sell his 87% stake in the Chicago-based company to private investor Mark Thomas, activating a change-of-control provision on its convertible notes.

Midway's woes, which include a lack of big-selling games, persist despite recent data from NPD Group that highlight the videogame industry's resiliency amid the recession. U.S. videogame sales in November exceeded analysts' expectations.

Midway said Tuesday the work-force cuts, affecting 180 full-time positions, would be made at its Austin, Chicago and San Diego locations. The suspended projects, which had been scheduled for release in 2010 and 2011, haven't yet been made public.

Mr. Redstone sold his stake in Midway in an effort to resolve his own debt issues at his holding company, National Amusements Inc. Mr. Thomas agreed to buy the stake for $100,000, and also took $70 million of a $90 million National Amusements loan.

Mr. Redstone lost hundreds of millions of dollars on his Midway investment as the stock plummeted this year. Shares, which were flat at 19 cents in Tuesday trading, have fallen 93% year-to-date.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mother and Daughter

Piper hoping that I'll hurl something, anything, across the room so she can chase it.

Meanwhile, Jojo is doing what Jojo does best - chillin'.

Christmas Present

My inability to delay gratification combined with Ross's inability to wrap or hide presents means that I almost always get my gifts early! This Christmas it is a keyboard and I'm soooo in love with it! Thank you, baby!


After a relatively balmy weekend we woke up to a sunny but frigid morning. It took two pitchers full of steaming hot water and a lot of that upper body strength drummers have just for Ross to get into his ice encrusted car. We shouldn't complain though, seeing the nightmare ice storm they had out East!

A man came to the door this weekend and said that he could see we needed new windows, would we like a free estimate. Lol, I guess they do kinda scream "replace me!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter Cat - Quick Painting

I bought a book called 60 Minutes to Better Painting at Half Priced Books a couple of weeks ago I'm turning to the idea of "quick painting" or "studies" advocated in the book to help overcome my painter's block. The author, a very good artist named Craig Nelson, writes "the evil word, procrastination, is the constant enemy of all painters. The blank canvas and the concept of a finished painting can be a burden. The study, as opposed to a finished painting, can eleminate any burden. It is stated as a study; to learn, to improve, to try something, not a precious final piece of art! When procrastinating on what to do, how big, etc., do a study!"

So today I gave it a go and it I really enjoyed it. I gave myself 45 minutes and a very limited pallet and jumped right in, slapping on paint without any preliminary work. The finished product is not something that I feel incredibly eager to post on the blog, but I will anyway. I can tell you that Mr. Nelson's 45 minute sketches from the book make mine look like the work of 5 year old. But I logged in some brush mileage, and learned why exactly you work from back to front.

The blob the cat is standing on is supposed to be the snow covered top of a fence post, lol. The colors are off in this photo, but I figured that's ok cause it's just a sketch.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Grown Up?

I got married, we bought a house, and I turned 30 this year. All this has led me to wonder, am I a grown-up yet? I have my doubts. But I have noticed some differences.

I throw away the socks that have lost their partners.
I can actually be awake and do stuff without music playing in the background.
I only go to the movie theater if there is something good playing.
I wonder "what are their parents thinking?" when I watch movies about teenagers.
I exfoliate twice a week.
I eat fish and vegetables.
I never let the laundry overflow the hamper. Er, I never let the laundry overflow two hampers.
I actually enjoy listening to NPR.
I find myself sitting through concerts.
I own a scale and use it religiously.
I apply moisturizer to my neck as well as my face, and regret that I haven't always.
I no longer consider putting down a book just because it's about old people (you know, 40 or 50 year olds.)

Unfortunately, some things have remained unchanged.

I only open mail under extreme duress, and even then I don't reply to said mail.
I convince myself on a regular basis that I have cancer and am dying.
I like animals more than people.
I make long to-do lists and then promptly "lose" them.
I get mad when I don't know what I am doing.
I believe that the best offense is a turtle's defense.
I make fun of TV news personalities. (Except Allison Rosati, who is perfect and wonderful.)
I get flustered in social situations.
I can give the appearance of being organized without actually being organized at all.

Hmph. It doesn't quite seem fair. If I'm going to start getting wrinkles on my neck I ought to be able to balance a check book in exchange, you know? But I'm not done, er, maturing, so maybe by the time I'm 40 I'll have my day planner all filled in, I'll be on top of the mail, and I'll look on all news people with compassion and generosity of spirit.


Doing dishes in the kitchen this afternoon I spotted a streak of red out of the corner of my eye. There were at least two cardinals and a couple of other birds (finches?) flitting back and forth in the trees. I threw some birdseed out into the yard and when that didn't scare them off I grabbed my camera and snapped a few pictures. According to the tracks, we've also been visited by rabbits, squirrels, and the neighbor's pugs.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


The other interesting story in Illinois right now.

An hour ago the Wall Street Journal reported that Bank Of America has offered to extend additional credit to Republic Windows and Doors so that it can pay the laid-off workers their severance, vacation, and sick pay. Obviously this is not something the bank is legally obligated to do and it seems extremely unlikely that they are going to get a cent of that loan re-payed. I feel happy for the workers, and inspired by the outpouring of support they received, but also vaguely unsettled by the actions of a bank that isn't behaving like a bank. If banks can no longer cut off credit to companies that can't pay them back, are they going to need another bail out in 6 months?

A Theme is Emerging

Whilst searching You Tube today for Cracker I found this:

Ahhhhh. I could watch that 3 or 10 more times.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monday Again? Blech.

Saw this on Cute Overload while surfing for an antidote for Monday-ness. Chase here looks like a fella who knows how to get through a Monday.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Around the House

Last weekend we noticed the popsicles in the freezer had turned to mush. Unexpectedly, our fridge had lost its mojo. We quickly moved the perishables into coolers on the back porch, but going out there in my socks to get the milk every time I want a cup of coffee is getting annoying! So this weekend we will be shopping for a new fridge.

Though the fridge going out is a pain in the butt, I feel like we've been pretty fortunate so far with our aging house and its aging appliances. Besides a clogged drain in the spring, a couple of dripping pipes in the basement, and a leaking porch roof, the house has proved more sound than expected.

Eventually, though, we know there are some very large updates that we won't be able to put off any longer. When we bought the house we were anxiously focused on the updates the experts were warning us we needed - new roof, new wiring, updated plumbing - but when we moved in and nothing catastrophic happened we slipped into a "wait and see" posture.

Instead we've focused on the cosmetics, things that require little skill and little money (right up our alley!) Today I'm on day two of painting the stairwell. Next on my list is replacing some lighting fixtures. Then I'll probably make my way back to the old task of replacing the hardware on all the doors. What I really want to do though is fix up the bathroom, but I'm going to have to learn some plumbing skills first!

In the meantime, I've got my fingers crossed that our wait-and-see approach doesn't make complete fools of us!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

When the scale says I've gained another 5 pounds
When the paint just won't cooperate
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

So here goes...
  • I love my stainless steel carafe that keeps my coffee warm all day long.
  • I love my little, green kitchen radio that pipes in NPR from morning until night.
  • I love the tufts of fur that grow in between my kitties toes.
  • I love mass market paperbacks that fit easily in your hand or your purse.
  • I love playing with Ross's curly hair.
  • I love the smell of Pink Soap when I'm washing my paint brushes.
  • I love riding in airplanes, especially when I get the window seat.
  • I love the way a room can be transformed by merely vacuuming the carpet.
  • I love hand drying dishes with a warm towel, fresh out of the dryer.
  • I love coming home to our little, yellow house.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Monochromatic Monday Morning

Yup, winter has arrived! We hung Christmas lights in the junipers Sunday and by Monday morning they were hidden in a thick blanket of snow, just a random light bulb sticking out here and there. It was such a wet, heavy snow that some of the branches were bent all the way to the ground. I shoveled in the afternoon and when I went to sprinkle salt on the sidewalk I realized that we had mistakenly bought water softener salt. Ooops. Note to self: not just any big yellow bag of salt will do!

View from the back porch.

View from the living room.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Amber in Oil, 9x12

And it only took me 5 months, lol! To see how it started way back in June check out this post.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pleasures to Fill Up the Four Day Weekend

Don't worry, no one will be receiving a purple/orange/black/white pot holder from me for Christmas, I'm just using it to brush up on my technique ;P (Thanks Mama!)

Picked these up at our new favorite store, Half Priced Books. The top three are mine :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What Thanksgiving Sounds Like When My Hips Hurt

November has been rough. My FMS, which thrives in colder weather, has been stalking my days, turning simple tasks into massive challenges. At the end each day I find myself puzzling over how I could achieve so little and yet feel so depleted. Day after day of this can take a toll on one’s morale. It’s the “chronic” and not the “pain” part of a chronic pain disorder that is the real kicker.

Wait a minute, wait a minute. This is the time of year we stop to give thanks, not to whine about stuff! I am thankful to God for the fact that I never have to worry that my FMS will cause irreparable tissue damage, or give me dementia, or make my hair fall out, or destroy any of my organs. I am fundamentally healthy and that is no small blessing!

I am also so thankful that Ross and I are in a position where I don’t have to go out and get a job! In my experience, flexibility and autonomy are great weapons to have in the fight against chronic pain. (If I was making a list, hot baths would also be near the top! ) There have been times in my life that I didn’t have those things (the first two, not the hot baths), and there will probably be times in my future when I won't, but this season of life has been a wonderful gift!

Truly, this fibromyalgia flare-up reminds me that there is so much to be grateful for. Now that I have six years of this behind me I can look back and see God’s faithfulness through it all. I had so many fears when I first got that diagnosis. I was afraid that I would be financially ruined and forced to live in poverty. Didn’t happen. I was afraid my friends would get so annoyed with my constantly backing out of plans that they would abandon me. Didn’t happen. I was afraid that I would never meet a wonderful man who would want to marry me and my only companions through the years would be my cats. Didn’t happen. I was afraid I could never have a satisfying life, a life I could be proud of. I was so wrong!

The lessons FMS has to teach are ones I have been slow to learn, but I am learning this - the fears we hear in our heads are usually lies, and our God is always, always good!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Our First Christmas Tree

I'm one of those sentimental people who is head-over-heels for Christmas. I sing carols to myself all year round and I cry every time I see It's a Wonderful Life. So naturally, one of the first things that occurred to me when we bought a house was "we're gonna have a full-sized Christmas tree this year!" For years I've been toting around my three footer - cramming it full of as many ornaments as its little branches could hold and perching it on book shelves to try to give it the majestic height a Christmas tree should have - but it always looked a little sad. It was, very clearly, a single person's Christmas tree. Well, my friends, those days are over! Ross and I have combined our Christmas powers and we now have a 7.5 foot tree and it looks exactly like a Christmas tree is supposed to look.

Getting to this point was a bit of an adventure. We compared prices at three stores, we nearly ripped the door hinges off of the Gallant trying to fit it in the backseat, and we had to rearrange the furniture layout in not one, but two rooms just to accommodate it's girth! After some tense negotiations over where the dining room table should go, some whispered prayers that the lights would actually reach the top of the tree, and some strategizing on how to keep the more delicate ornaments out of cat's reach, Ross lit the star on top and we stood basking in the glow of our first family Christmas tree.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Plants

I discovered this summer when I bought some flowers and hostas to dress up the yard and then got too attached to them to actually plant them that I like plants. They are nice to have around. Interesting, yet predictable. Beautiful, but not proud. They let you know what they need and they respond when you do something nice for them.

That first round of plants I bought has to stay out on the porch because they have bugs, but now I have two new plants that can stay inside with me, at least until I accidentally kill them. I got a poinsetta ('tis the season) and some sort of Madagascar Dragon something-or-other. (I have no idea what it is but it was a lot of plant for the money and it doesn't need a lot of light.) If things go well with these guys I'm hoping I can get some more!

Monday, November 17, 2008

First snow!!!

We had a dusting of snow out here in Lombard last night. So pretty! I'm not a winter person, but if it has to get cold out then bring on the snow!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


At the moment I have a bowl full of Juniper clippings on the floor in the dining room. I'm holding onto them in the hopes that I will at some point be possessed by the spirit Martha Stewart and craft them into a gorgeous holiday garland to amaze family and friends. I have a suspicion, however, that the will sit in the bowl until they turn brown and I toss 'em. So, family and friends, behold the Juniper.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Where I'm At

Ahhh, the weekend is here! The plan this morning was to sleep in, but Piper was on one of her puking sprees. After I was awoken the third time by the sound of kitty heaves coming from somewhere near my feet, I scrapped the sleeping thing! So, after a bagel and a cup of coffee, I’m back where I spend a disgusting amount of time these days - in front of the computer.

What on earth keeps me attached to this machine so many hours a week? Let’s see - there’s Ghost Hunters on You Tube, there is Spider Solitaire (which is even better when played during Ghost Hunters, since very little actually happens on that show), there is Facebook, there is the blog world, there is Google news, and, I’ll admit it, there are the many websites designed to give hope (realistically and not-so realistically) to women who find themselves consumed by the desire to become a mom.

Most of the women on these sites face the double stigmas of being both childless and objects of the degrading stereotypes about women and their "biological clocks". I’ve always felt kinda sorry for them, in the tepid way you feel sorry for someone you don’t really relate to and can congratulate yourself for bearing little resemblance to. I even managed to get pregnant without ever having to join in on one of the indelicate discussions that goes on in these TTC forums.

But that was before. I’m no longer pregnant, and every month there is an escalating urgency to getting pregnant, which I am having a hard time talking myself down from. If you are thinking right now, “poor Ross,” you are right! But it’s like this mysterious mandate (and please, nobody say biological clock or I’ll kick you!) and I feel overwhelmed by it. One of the things about these sites is that you see a picture of where you could end up - superstitions and crazy diets and unsavory mail order products - and it scares me.

Oh well. This is life. Suddenly we look around and find that, without a lot of forethought or intention, we’ve started off on a new path. I accept that this is my journey right now, and, as embarrassing as it may be, it includes eager attention to minute bodily change, fistfuls of home pregnancy tests, and pathetic Google searches like “negative pregnancy test but still pregnant?”

Friday, November 14, 2008


Pardon me, but I do believe it is time for my daily can of wet food.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Piper and I spent a good chunk of the day out in the leaves and the sunshine yesterday. She took turns rolling around on different surfaces (first the driveway, then the lawn, then a pile of leaves, etc.) while I pruned bushes and raked leaves. Pruning was a challenge because those Junipers in the front yard are so big and tall! Even with a ladder I couldn't reach all the places I wanted to. After about an hour my arms went numb from holding the heavy electric pruner out as far as I could, so that is probably all the pruning the bushes will get for awhile. Hopefully I made a good dent in them and I won't find myself next year with two story Junipers! I also did some raking, but it was one of those days where as soon as you scoop up an armful of leaves a gust of wind blows in more from the neighbor's yard. After filling up two bags I decided to just leave it in the hopes that eventually ALL the leaves will get blown down Washington Blvd. and become someone else's problem ;P