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.